0

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/opus attests that some people in the classical music world use "opi" as a plural for "opus." I think this is just a joke, giving a pseudo-learned false-Latin form for the plural. But I want to make sure.

Can anyone here who is familiar with the usage at first hand tell me whether it is generally meant as a joke?

  • From the article: "The most common plural of opus in English is opuses. Some people use the Latin plural, opera. Opi is fairly common in the field of classical music, though mostly in informal contexts." So "informal" yes, but "joke" is up to interpretation. The plural of opus is also opera (e.g. wordhippo.com/what-is/the-plural-of/opus.html) – jimm101 Oct 11 '19 at 16:09
  • 1
    @WeatherVane Yes, the first is correct Latin, the second follows English rules, and I hope the third is intended as humorous. – Colin McLarty Oct 11 '19 at 16:17
  • 1
    Latin: opus:opera latindictionary.wikidot.com/noun:opus opi is not the nominative plural of opus. – Lambie Oct 11 '19 at 16:41
  • 1
    Yes, it is an in-joke, which I can confirm as a former instrument player in orchestras. It's not confined to the arts world though. I have heard people jokingly pluralise other words with -i that don't even end with -us. It's probably more common among those who learnt Latin at school (as I did). Allied is the use of 'platypi' colloquially but in this case the word platypus is made up from Greek. – Weather Vane Oct 11 '19 at 18:05
  • 1
    @WeatherVane Can you make that an answer? It does answer the question. – Colin McLarty Oct 12 '19 at 12:22
0

Yes, it is an in-joke, which I can confirm as a former instrument player in orchestras.

It's not confined to the arts world though. I have heard people jokingly pluralise other words with -i that don't even end with -us. It's probably more common among those who learnt Latin at school (as I did).

Allied is the use of 'platypi' colloquially but in this case the word platypus was neologized from Greek roots.

| improve this answer | |
1

(Dredging up my schoolgirl Latin) Many Latin nouns ending in -us are second declension, with plural -i. However, opus happens to be a third declension noun, and its plural is opera. See latindictionary.wikidot.com/noun:opus

As others have pointed out, octopus and platypus are derived from Greek, so they don't have plurals in -i either.

| improve this answer | |
  • How does this answer the question? 'Octopi' is a licensed English word, no matter how unimpressive its pedigree. The 'correctly formed' 'octopodes' is nigh on unidiomatic. Sometimes apparent rules are followed, sometimes they aren't. OP is asking about a particular candidate word. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 12 '19 at 15:09
  • @EdwinAshworth Since Latin is less widely taught nowadays, I was just clarifying why it is that not all words ending in -us have -i plurals. – Kate Bunting Oct 13 '19 at 8:05
  • That would of course be useful. In a comment, as (1) it doesn't address the situation with OP's 'opi' directly, and (2) can't be taken as giving rise to a strict rule, as the bastardised 'octopi' is nevertheless seen as acceptable by some. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 13 '19 at 12:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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