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I found the plural for Looker-on as both Lookers-on and Looker-ons!!
Is this possible? Also the plural for Terminus is given as Termini and Terminuses!
Please clarify the plurals for Looker-on and Terminus...

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  • one question at a time, please
    – nohat
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 6:02

2 Answers 2

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "terminus" can be pluralized as either "termini" or "terminuses". Terminus is from Latin, wherein termini would be the correct pluralization, and which sounds better to me.

Additionally, the OED only lists "lookers-on" as a word. "Looker-on" is two words connected with a hyphen. The "looker" is pluralized because it's a noun, whereas "on" is a preposition and cannot be pluralized.

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Yes, it's possible for words to have more than one acceptable plural. But in this particular case, "looker-ons" is not one of the valid choices. "Onlooker" is the proper singular and I would normally use "onlookers" for the plural, but for certain constructions and tones of speech I may also use "lookers-on," and I wouldn't fault anyone for using either of those.

"Terminus" is a Latin word, and so has a proper pluralization of "termini," though in common speech pluralizing those sorts of words as "-uses" is becoming more accepted (terminuses, octopuses). I will still hold out for "-i" in most of those cases.

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