Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When we create new words ending in -ex (mutex being short for mutual exclusion), should we (may we?) use the Latin plural form because the suffix is similar to the latin suffix -ex?

(Personally I've always favoured the -ices form.)

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by Thursagen, Grant Thomas, z7sg Ѫ, kiamlaluno, simchona Aug 10 '11 at 18:02

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3  
When you create a new word, you may do whatever you please with your invention. Whether or not it will fly is a different question altogether, and pretty much unanswerable. –  RegDwigнt Aug 10 '11 at 11:23
3  
Why not Mutexen? :-) –  T.E.D. Aug 10 '11 at 13:26

1 Answer 1

As you say mutex comes from mutual exclusion, which is, obviously, not Latin origin; emulating Latin etymology is therefore a case of introducing unnecessary complexity.

EDIT(2): As noted in the comment by RegDwight, when you create new words, you can do almost anything you want with them. Mutex is relatively new term and it is not in any dictionaries, so prescriptivists, for example, could not rule your ?mutices as ungrammatical.

However as words are added to dictionaries according to usage, and usage shows that mutexes is commonly used1 as plural it will most likely remain mutexes when it is added to dictionaries.


1 See ngrams - there are no ?mutices, but many mutexes in the indexed corpus. Also take a look at a related discussion on stackoverflow.

share|improve this answer
2  
Perhaps my question should be, "Who favours archaic forms?" –  Nick Wiggill Aug 10 '11 at 11:25
3  
@Nick Wiggill, it is not an archaic form; for example if you take a Greek word and make it plural according to Latin grammar rules, that is not archaic form; if you take an English word which etymologically comes from English words and use Latin rules to create plural, that is not archaic (at best it could be pseudoarchaic). Other than that - how could we possibly know who favors archaic forms? –  Unreason Aug 10 '11 at 11:42
    
Touché. You can see why I am a noob here. –  Nick Wiggill Aug 10 '11 at 11:45
    
Is this a 'no', then? I don't see a yes or a no, or any substantial answer... –  Grant Thomas Aug 10 '11 at 12:02
2  
The key here is that people already say mutexes and nobody (to my knowledge) says muticies. I know I wouldn't have understood you if you said it to me, and I'm a programmer and use mutexes from time to time. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 10 '11 at 12:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.