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.)

  • 4
    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, 2011 at 11:23
  • 4
    Why not Mutexen? :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 10, 2011 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.

  • 2
    Perhaps my question should be, "Who favours archaic forms?"
    – Engineer
    Aug 10, 2011 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, 2011 at 11:42
  • Touché. You can see why I am a noob here.
    – Engineer
    Aug 10, 2011 at 11:45
  • Is this a 'no', then? I don't see a yes or a no, or any substantial answer... Aug 10, 2011 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. Aug 10, 2011 at 12:35

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