Can I Really Get My Arms Around This Animal?

It’s time we talked about octopuses. I hear you saying: “Annie-the-English-major: Don’t you mean octopi?” That’s the first misconception we must clarify right away. All those years we’ve been talking about octopi? We’ve been wrong. Well, not everyone agrees, but here’s what the Oxford Dictionaries say: “The standard plural in English of octopus is octopuses. However, the word octopus comes from the Greek, and the Greek plural octopodes is still occasionally used. The plural form octopi, formed according to rules for some Latin plurals, is incorrect.” So I’m taking the strictly classical position; I dare not intermingle Greek and Latin grammar. It’s possible, of course, that your more pressing question is: Why is it time we talked about octopuses? I shall explain.