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.

I found the plural for Looker-on as both Lookers-on and Looker-ons!!
Is this possible? Also the plural for Terminus is given as Termini and Terminuses!
Please clarify the plurals for Looker-on and Terminus...

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by MετάEd, tchrist, nohat Oct 9 '12 at 6:02

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.

    
one question at a time, please –  nohat Oct 9 '12 at 6:02
add comment

2 Answers 2

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "terminus" can be pluralized as either "termini" or "terminuses". Terminus is from Latin, wherein termini would be the correct pluralization, and which sounds better to me.

Additionally, the OED only lists "lookers-on" as a word. "Looker-on" is two words connected with a hyphen. The "looker" is pluralized because it's a noun, whereas "on" is a preposition and cannot be pluralized.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Yes, it's possible for words to have more than one acceptable plural. But in this particular case, "looker-ons" is not one of the valid choices. "Onlooker" is the proper singular and I would normally use "onlookers" for the plural, but for certain constructions and tones of speech I may also use "lookers-on," and I wouldn't fault anyone for using either of those.

"Terminus" is a Latin word, and so has a proper pluralization of "termini," though in common speech pluralizing those sorts of words as "-uses" is becoming more accepted (terminuses, octopuses). I will still hold out for "-i" in most of those cases.

share|improve this answer
add comment

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