When examining intriguing etymologies, Merriam-Webster often brings up a historic movement to regularize the English language by making it more like Latin, as they do in this video examining the pluralization of octopus.

I know that this movement was at least prevalent in the eighteenth century, and I believe it started even earlier. I tried to research it, but all of my queries returned articles about the modern impact of Latino culture on English and a push to expel foreign language from usage in public American facilities, such as schools.

What is the name for this movement? How could I find more information on it?

Please include additional tags if you feel they are appropriate.

  • You mean en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… ?
    – tchrist
    Jan 2, 2018 at 1:28
  • @tchrist I believe so! The video I linked at least talks about a very similar practice: people used octopi even though octopus is not Latin in origin. Thank you for that link! Jan 2, 2018 at 1:31
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    It was nothing like a "movement". It was some cranks who got some power in some places, who were predictably ineffectual and silly in their beliefs, and whose legacy, if any, is ignorance. Jan 2, 2018 at 3:51
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    You're talking about those responsible for the p in receipt to make it look more like recepta, right?
    – KarlG
    Jan 2, 2018 at 7:48
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    David Crystal's book "The Fight for English: How the Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left" covers this well.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 2, 2018 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


Willam Shakespeare was famous for creating neologisms. Shakespeare introduced many Latin and Greek words into the English language as well as creating many new words.

  • 1
    "neologism" is not remotely what is being asked about. There was no "neologism" movement... Feb 1, 2018 at 22:15

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