What is the plural form of ethos? I have always thought it was "ethoi," but I'm not sure.

  • 2
    Wiktionary gives ethoi as a/the 'hypercorrect' plural and ethoses as a/the 'nonstandard' plural of ethos. Neither is much used if one is to believe Google data, though ethoses seems to be the less uncommon choice. 'Ethoi' is apparently what one would expect the Greek plural to be if ethos were a masculine noun. I'd go with the modern trend to use more standardised forms, and use ethoses, which is more transparent. Mar 10 '15 at 14:25
  • @EdwinAshworth ethos is neutral in Greek, thus ethe would be the Greek thing to say..
    – gsamaras
    Nov 30 '18 at 10:38
  • @gsamaras natural over on GLU, possibly. Oct 23 '19 at 18:52

Since there are two reputable seeming answers (one in comments), I though I would sort out which plural is correct: ethoi, ethea or ethe.


Edwin Ashworth in the comments is right to say that the hypercorrect plural is ethoi (as per Wikitionary).

  1. (hypercorrect) plural of ethos

I would, however, like to define what Wiktionary means by hypercorrect:

hypercorrect Incorrect because of the misapplication of a standard rule; for example, octopi used as the plural form of octopus is hypercorrect because -us → -i is the rule for forming plurals of originally-masculine nouns of the Latin second declension, whereas octopus actually derives from Ancient Greek and has the plural form octopodes consistent with its etymology.

It is important to note that hypercorrect words are explicitly incorrect.

Not ethoi then.


As Uli Troyo has partly explained, this is the contracted form of the Ancient Greek plural.

From the Ancient Greek ἤθη ‎(ḗthē), the contracted nominative plural form of ἦθος ‎(êthos).

(Emphasis mine)


From the Ancient Greek ἤθεα ‎(ḗthea), the uncontracted nominative plural form of ἦθος ‎(êthos).

As far as I can tell, there is no semantic difference between the contracted and uncontracted plurals.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that since it has assimilated into English, ethoses is acceptable (and probably far wider recognised), even if it lacks etymological backing.

  • See this answer for a more detailed treatment of octopus. (Also, I think you're missing an a in the last header.) Oct 13 '16 at 6:35
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Right you are! That could have been confusing! Oct 13 '16 at 15:53
  • 2
    empirically, ethe seems to rule Nov 22 '16 at 3:47
  • As modern Greek, I would expect ethe, but maybe it's the Greek instinct talking . . I agree with @MichaelChirico...
    – gsamaras
    Nov 30 '18 at 10:35

According to Wikitionary, it can either be "ethe" or "ethea".

Origin: From the Ancient Greek ἤθεα (ēthea), the uncontracted nominative plural form of ἦθος (ēthos).

  • Personally, I think "ethea" sounds much cooler, as in "the respective ethea of two nations".
    – Uli Troyo
    Mar 10 '15 at 14:29

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