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Wordy Weekly II

(Picture taken in the gorgeous National Archaeological Museum in Athens - do go!

Visit the beautiful website at: )

So, Octopus is the derivative for today.

I chose this because they are beautiful creatures and because it is an interesting word. We shall certainly look at the plural, once erroneously believed to be 'Octopi'. 'Octopuses' has become acceptable in English.

However, the true plural of octopus is 'OCTOPODES'. Now, you can find this out via the indispensable Oxford English Dictionary. Here., I shall go into the ancient origins in a little more detail.

'Octopi' could only have been the plural had the word originally derived from Latin and been a particular form of noun. In Latin, nouns form plurals by changing their endings. So, 'dominus', meaning master, would become 'domini' to be 'masters'. Had octopus belonged to this word group in Latin, then 'Octopi' would be correct.

Now, the meaning of the word is important. You will probably know thanks to shape names that 'octo' means EIGHT ('but why is October tenth month of the year?' you cry. Topic for another week, I am afraid). And you know an octopus has ;eight legs/arms/tentacles. The name means 'having eight feet' or 'eight-footed'. Now, this also tells us that octopus does not originally come from Latin. Why? Because the Latin for foot is 'pes' not 'pus'. The creature is not an 'octopes'.

The 'pus' part of the word means 'foot'. 'pus' is the Greek for foot - πυς. Like Latin, Greek changes the end of words to create plural of πυς is ποδες. So, put it all together...

ὀκτω + πυς = one octopus

ὀκτω + ποδες = two or more octopodes

There you have it, a cute creature, with a cute story about the origins of its name.

Here's another sweet fellow finish.

Another cool derivative next week.

(Taken by yours truly of a pot I bought my husband as a present on a school trip to Greece.)

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