Stati or Statuses

August 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm 3 comments

With the popularization of microblogging, aka twittering, aka updating a status on facebook, aka a one line blurb about what you are doing at that very moment, I have to ask the question. When referring to a set of status updates, is the group consider stati or statuses?

I know that grammatically, statuses is correct. But it seems like an odd word. I guess it’s like any other word that ends in “us”, like hippopotamus or octopus. Making these words plural sounds odd, but what can you do.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Phil Dokas  |  August 12, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Well, the -uses/-i suffix is actually a variable thing. -uses is the standard English plural suffix for anything ending in -us, however in cases where the word is being used in an archaic sense or especially as a word borrowed from its original language, then yes you would use the original language’s suffix. For instance, octopi isn’t correct by any account, as it’s a Greek word and the Greek plural would be octopodes. Anyway, I’m getting pedantic here, Mr. Steve. The answer to the mystery is that the Latin noun “status”, “stage” is a fourth declension noun and has a plural form of… drumroll please… “status” and so you should probably just stick with “statuses”.

    And people always told me taking Latin in high school would be useless! Little did they foresee THE INTERNET.

  • 2. steveconroy  |  August 12, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for the grammar lesson Phil. I searched for a nice INTERNET article explaining basically what you did, but none existed (at least in a concise version like yours). Your friendship proves useful once in awhile.

  • 3. Phil Dokas  |  August 12, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Steve, rest assured that I will always be ready and willing to tackle pedantic grammar issues for you. Especially the ones that have to do with languages that effectively keeled over and died 1000 years ago.


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