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Plural of Octopus

plural of octopus

The word ‘octopus‘ has long fascinated both language enthusiasts and marine biologists. Not only is it a term for a remarkable sea creature known for its intelligence and unique physiology, but it also presents an interesting case in the realm of grammatical plurality. The plural of octopus has been the subject of debate and discussion, making it a particularly intriguing example in the study of English language plurals.

The Singular and Plural Of Octopus


The plural form of octopus is not straightforward. In English, three primary plural forms are recognized: octopuses, octopi, and octopodes. Each form has a different origin and usage, which contributes to the ongoing debate about the most appropriate pluralization.

octopus plural spelling

Understanding Octopus

The word ‘octopus‘ originates from Greek, where ‘októpus‘ means “eight-footed“. This etymology is important because it influences one of the plural forms, octopodes. Typically, words derived from Greek follow the Greek rules of pluralization, leading to octopodes. However, octopus was actually adopted into English via Latin, which is why ‘octopi’—following Latin rules of pluralization—is also used. Most commonly, however, ‘octopuses’ is used, following regular English pluralization rules.

Examples of Octopus in Sentences

  1. Octopuses: “The aquarium had several octopuses, each displaying unique patterns on their skin.”
  2. Octopi: “During the dive, we were lucky to spot a few octopi nestled among the coral reefs.
  3. Octopodes: “The marine biologist specialized in the behavior of octopodes in Mediterranean waters.

Common Mistakes and Confusions

  • Octopi vs. Octopuses: While ‘octopi’ is widely used, it is technically less correct since ‘octopus’ comes from Greek, not Latin.
  • Octopodes: This is the least common form and might confuse those unfamiliar with Greek pluralization.
  • Singular as Plural: Using ‘octopus’ to refer to multiple individuals is incorrect.

Commonly Asked Questions

  1. Which plural form of octopus is most correct?
    • While all three forms are acceptable, ‘octopuses’ is most commonly used and aligns with standard English pluralization rules.
  2. Is ‘octopi’ grammatically incorrect?
    • Not exactly. It’s less about being incorrect and more about the mix-up of Greek and Latin origins. However, it is widely accepted in general usage.
  3. Can ‘octopus’ ever be plural?
    • No, ‘octopus’ as a plural is incorrect. The plural should be octopuses, octopi, or octopodes.


The plural of octopus – octopuses, octopi, octopodes – offers a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of English pluralization, especially for words derived from other languages. Understanding these nuances is crucial for accurate and effective communication, especially in academic and professional contexts where precision in language is essential.


What is the correct plural form of “octopus”?

The plural of “octopus” can be “octopuses,” “octopi,” or “octopodes.” “Octopuses” follows the standard English rule for forming plurals. “Octopi” is based on the mistaken notion that “octopus” is Latin (it’s actually Greek). “Octopodes” follows the Greek rule for plurals, as the word comes from Greek.

Why are there multiple plural forms for “octopus”?

The existence of multiple plural forms for “octopus” stems from its Greek origin and subsequent Latin influence. While “octopuses” aligns with modern English usage, “octopi” became popular through the mistaken belief that the word is Latin. “Octopodes,” though less common, is the correct plural in Greek.

Which plural form of “octopus” is most commonly used?

“Octopuses” is the most commonly used and universally accepted plural form in modern English. It adheres to the standard English pattern of pluralization.

Is “octopi” a grammatically correct plural of “octopus”?

While “octopi” is widely used and understood, it is technically incorrect since “octopus” comes from Greek, not Latin. However, its usage is so widespread that it is generally accepted in informal contexts.

Can “octopus” be pluralized as “octopodes” in English?

Yes, “octopodes” is a grammatically correct pluralization, following the original Greek. However, it is less common and may not be widely recognized in everyday English usage. It’s more likely to be used in formal or scientific contexts.

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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