Why are these World Championships (f. e. the ongoing one) called Aquatics and not Aquatic? I understand that the whole event should be called plural Championships because many sets of medals are available to be won, but why is the adjective plural?

Although the Championships represented by different disciplines, I think the adjective Aquatic suits them all, so I still don't get why the plural form is necessary.

  • I'd prefer 'World Acquatics Championship' Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 13:13

1 Answer 1


I would say because the sports that are being competed in are "aquatics".

"2. aquatics Sports Athletic activities performed in or on the water."
American Heritage Dictionary

"(Swimming, Water Sports & Surfing) sports or pastimes performed in or on the water"
Collins English Dictionary

2.aquatics Sports played in or on water
Lexico.com (Oxford dictionaries)

2.plural in form but singular or plural in construction : water sports
Merriam-Webster dictionary

In some cases it doesn't matter whether an organization or event makes sense to us grammatically or sounds intuitive in the modern day; often the answer is something like because of historical reasons or tradition. One example is the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It was formed in 1909 when calling African-Americans may have been the norm, and despite calls for its name to be changed to reflect today's language, it still retains that name:

Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term colored people, referring to those with some African ancestry.
NAACP - Wikipedia

I personally think "aquatics" sounds better anyway because, as I said, and as shown in the definitions, "aquatics" is what they're doing. "World Aquatic Championships" actually sounds a bit strange to me. However something like the "International Aquatic Sports Championships" or "Games" would sound fine.

Also, a point I left out which is probably of importance, "Aquatic" is an adjective, "Aquatics" is a noun. Championship titles often call for the noun representing the sport or sports being played:

Alpine World Ski Championships
World Para Athletics Championships

Actually the ski one is probably a bad example, but the athletics one probably is in the same category as "aquatics"; ie., "athletics" refers to a number of different games.

You can think of it as "championship of athletics" or "championship of aquatics", which is how some competitions are named.
List of world sport championships - Wikipedia

  • Thanks! So does it mean that I assumed a wrong thing and it's actually not an adjective but a noun? In that case I see it should be plural. Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 13:59
  • Yes, as far as I know "aquatics" is always an noun, it's listed that way in dictionaries. Nouns can also be used very similarly as adjectives, but they're not considered real adjectives. This can be called "attributive" use of nouns, or "noun adjuncts" or go by some other name. For example, "(noun adjunct) noun Grammar. a noun that occurs before and modifies another noun, as toy in toy store or tour in tour group." - Random House Unabridged Dictionary
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 14:06
  • @ArtyomLugovoy By the way "World Aquatic Championships" I don't consider would be wrong either, "aquatic" here would be an adjective, but although it doesn't quite sound as right to me, I don't see why it would be wrong. The "championships" could be described as being "aquatic" if all the sports in the competition are water sports.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 14:09
  • Thanks a lot! I see. :) Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 14:28

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