I thought the singular version was"specie," and the plural was"species." Was "species" always an acceptable equivalent to "specie?"


According to the following sources, the origin of the word comes from the Latin 'species' and the term has been used with biological reference both as singular and a plural since the 17th century:


  • The noun species, referring especially to a group of organisms sharing common characteristics, can be either singular (e.g., that species is purple) or plural (e.g., these species are yellow). This is the convention in scientific writing, and it is usually followed elsewhere.

  • The word does share a Latin origin with the singular noun specie, but species and specie have diverged in meaning over the centuries and are now unrelated in all their main uses. Specie now refers primarily to coin money, and it appears in the phrase in specie, which means in coin, in kind, or (in law) as specified.


Etymology, Species:

  • late 14c. as a classification in logic, from Latin species "a particular sort, kind, or type" (opposed to genus), originally "a sight, look, view, appearance," hence also "a spectacle; mental appearance, idea, notion; a look; a pretext; a resemblance; a show or display," typically in passive senses; in Late Latin, "a special case;" related to specere "to look at, to see, behold," from PIE *spek- (see scope (n.1)). From 1550s as "appearance, outward form;" 1560s as "distinct class (of something) based on common characteristics." Biological sense is from c.1600. Endangered species first attested 1964.


  • 3
    "the origin of the word comes from the Latin 'specie'" — this is not correct: both specie and species come from Latin species. This word can be either singular and plural in Latin, which probably explains why English also uses species for singular and plural. There is no Latin word specie in the casus rectus (undeclined form). – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Aug 1 '14 at 4:32
  • specie (n.) "coin, money in the form of coins, metallic money as a medium of exchange" (as opposed to paper money or bullion), 1670s, from phrase in specie "in the real or actual form" (1550s), from Latin in specie "in kind" (in Medieval Latin, "in coin"), from ablative of species "kind, form, sort" (see species). – user66974 Aug 1 '14 at 4:55
  • 2
    Yes, but you were talking about the origin of the English word species. Besides, I said casus rectus. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Aug 1 '14 at 14:52

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