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After singletons, twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, septuplets, and octuplets, what comes next?

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Exhaustion, I suspect. –  MT_Head Jun 27 '11 at 1:54
    
Which is correct: "decaplet" or "decuplet"? –  Daniel Jun 27 '11 at 2:07
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I assumed "decuplet" at first, then looked at Wikipedia and changed my mind to "decaplet." However, no "real" dictionary within reach (except Wiktionary, which I consider only mildly more reliable than Wikipedia - both incredibly useful, but I wouldn't bet the farm on either one) has an entry for either spelling at all. So... "decaplet", I guess, in the absence of better testimony. ("Decuplet" feels more correct to me, but...) –  MT_Head Jun 27 '11 at 2:32
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The word itself doesn't 'really' exist, in part because it has no 'real-world' referents. But this NGram quite clearly shows that decuplet is overwhelmingly prefered. Wikipedia is vulnerable to such howlers because in many cases we're just getting one person's misguided opinion... ngrams.googlelabs.com/… –  FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 3:32
    
@Fumble - Thank you for that; I'm ashamed of myself for backpedalling. –  MT_Head Jun 27 '11 at 4:34
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3 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

We don't often need it, but the word is nonuplet.

Next after that comes decuplets, who according to the Guinness Book of World Records were born at Bacacay, Brazil on April 22, 1946. (I must admit I'm somewhat sceptical).

It's hard to be dogmatic about the spelling of a word that probably doesn't make it into many (if any) 'authoritative' dictionaries, but I will just say that - Wikipedia notwithstanding - I don't have much time for decaplets. Here's an NGram showing that not many others do either (in fact, there are 5 instances of decaplet in the NGram corpus, as opposed to 2450 decuplets).

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I wasn't aware that there'd been even an unofficial sighting! –  MT_Head Jun 27 '11 at 2:25
    
@MT_Head: I wasn't aware that there'd been even an unofficial sighting of a unicorn, but that doesn't stop us deciding in advance what we'll call it and how we'll spell it, before we actually come across one. :) –  FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 15:15
    
I posted that before the whole kerfuffle of spelling came up; I was simply referring to the fact that I'd never actually heard of a decuplet birth (let alone a "natural" one, without benefit of fertility drugs.) –  MT_Head Jun 27 '11 at 15:26
    
@MT_Head: Yes, I knew. I meant that between us we've nailed the spelling for ten babies. So the current score is Wikipedia:0, EL&U:1. –  FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 15:31
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E-L-U! E-L-U! E-L-U! (or for soccer fans, 'Elú, elú, elú elú!') –  MT_Head Jun 27 '11 at 16:04
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Next is nonuplets followed by decaplets. I'm pretty sure there are no recorded decaplet births, let alone greater.

Update: After further investigation, I came across this image on Wikimedia Commons:

Undecaplets

"Pregnancy with 11 fetuses (after Paré)." Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) reported the case of an Italian woman, Dorothea, who allegedly gave birth to undecaplets after having given birth to nonuplets. This illustration is a copy of an original by Ambroise Paré from the 1900 edition of Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle.

Related: The article "Multiple birth" on Wikipedia.

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Related question... –  MT_Head Jun 27 '11 at 2:36
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Nonuplets. There doesn't seem to be any record of decaplets, undecaplets, dodecaplets, etc.

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My goodness; they all died! –  Daniel Jun 27 '11 at 2:03
    
In the natural order of things, they generally would. It's only due to the Miracles of Modern Medicine© that we can have such wonders as OctoMom©. –  MT_Head Jun 27 '11 at 2:08
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