188

What is the plural form of "status"?

  • I agree that today a similar question would be considered off-topic and probably migrated to ELL but the risk with closing under researched questions is that one day, not today, not tomorrow but maybe in six months time or in five years, this page will be deleted. It's easier to justify deleting a closed question than an open one. And I have seen questions that were closed but had ten or fifteen answers deleted. Deleting a question means deleting all the answers too. – Mari-Lou A Feb 25 at 9:59
113

There are some situations where status may be considered countable. In those cases, the plural form can be used as statuses. MacMillan dictionary gives 4 definitions for status, and 3 of them are referred to as countable. Personally, I would use status as the plural form instead of statuses.

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    That's not always clear in some business uses: "How many status did you maintain on that order?" vs "How many statuses did you maintain on that order?" Obviously one could change that to "state": "How many states did...?" but when the business term in use is "status" then altering the term makes things less clear. Of course this is a specialized use-case. – cori Aug 14 '10 at 20:45
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    +1 For saying that "statuses" is acceptable, and maintaining your position of using "status" as the plural. – Vincent McNabb Aug 16 '10 at 4:56
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    Oh, because its from Latin, not Greek – bobobobo Jan 13 '11 at 16:13
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    @bobobobo: Besides, there isn't a single word not ending in -ius whose plural ends in -ii (AFAIK). Something like statii could only be the plural of “statius”, and only under the right circumstances. (Think of the incorrect *virii, etc.) [Edit: And if you'd read the rest of the answers, you needn't have posted this, and if I'd read the comments on them, I needn't have posted this either. :p] – ShreevatsaR Feb 3 '11 at 18:00
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    I am a developer and I stumbled on this problem. I need to have a method to retrieve me the list of download status of some type of items, so I wrote getDownloadStatuses. I also have another method which retrieve only one specific status of some type of item, namely, getDownloadStatus. I can now distinguish which one returns a list and which one returns a single item given an ID. Just as an example where I happen to use the word statuses, though I could have use the word state(s). – Neon Warge Jan 8 '17 at 7:05
74

In Latin, the nominative plural of status as a 4th declension noun is statūs. This would be uncomfortable in English, and so the English plural is statuses.

The Latin adjective has a different masculine nominative plural of statī, but then means something more like the English static.

18

I see that I've very late to answer. I usually try to avoid the use of "status" as a plural, instead option to use the near-synonym "state".

Take for example these three attempts at pluralizing "status", all of which I've seen coworkers using:

The product should support the following statuses: Red Green Blue
The product should support the following status: Red Green Blue
The product should support the following statii: Red Green Blue

None of those sound natural, and one is objectively wrong. The issue is sidestepped by substituting "states":

The product should support the following states: Red Green Blue

  • 2
    it's helpful, like the alternative – Am1rr3zA Mar 25 '16 at 16:23
  • It's probably trivial, but what about when referring to, for example, more than one Facebook status? – rybo111 Jun 13 '17 at 22:56
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    @rybo111: Great point. Not all situations can be avoided! – dotancohen Jun 14 '17 at 6:57
  • Which one is objectively wrong? – Arlen Beiler Aug 14 '17 at 17:25
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    @Arien The last one. Statii is a non-word. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '18 at 16:36
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Many moons ago, our own tchrist wrote*

… If for some bizarre reason you simply cannot bring yourself to use the normal English plural form “statuses”, then you must learn that the true plural of status is statUs, with a macro[n] over the u [i.e., statūs] and pronounced “statoose”. That’s because status comes from the Latin declension that forms plurals according to that particular rule, which incidentally is just like the plurals of apparatus and prospectus, but unlike the plural of words like radius, which becomes radii because it’s from a different declension, and also unlike genus and corpus, which go to genera and corpora respectively because they are from still another declension. And please don’t ask me about octopus, since it’s Greek not Latin, and we do not care to offend any sensitive octopedal feelings. :-) Wouldn’t it be much easier to simply s/$/es/?

A word to the wise: don’t use fancy forms out of yesteryear unless you really REALLY do know how they work(ed). It just sounds silly.


* Message-ID: <5g2fu0$jve$1@csnews.cs.colorado.edu> in comp.lang.perl.misc, March 11, 1997.

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    This perpetuates the etymological fallacy. At best. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 25 '18 at 1:58
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    @EdwinAshworth How? – Greg Bacon Jan 27 '18 at 14:26
  • ' ... you must learn that the true plural of status is statUs, with a macro[n] over the u [i.e., statūs] and pronounced “statoose”. That’s because status comes from the Latin declension that forms plurals according to that particular rule'. That may well be the rule for the original Latin word/s. But 'true plural' for English words is defined by modern usage, no matter how many desirable / undesirable changes have occurred since their adoption into the language. Thus the ill-formed octopi is licensed by AHD and M-W. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 27 '18 at 15:07
  • ''' Of course, @tchrist may not have been limited by the constraints of ELU in writing the above for a different site. Which would make the above essentially a misquote on ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 27 '18 at 15:14
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    @EdwinAshworth The quoted passage begins “If for some bizarre reason you simply cannot bring yourself to use the normal English plural form ‘statuses’ …” – Greg Bacon Jan 27 '18 at 22:04
9

I always though that status should not be used as plural, but I notice that statuses is reported from the CoCA in sentences like:

Young people across a wide range of socio-economic statuses increasingly value choosing their own spouses, and individual choice [...].
[...], but those with higher threat statuses need even more conservation.
Certain references were also made about specific types of sexual activity including individuals' virginity statuses.

Statuses is used in academic context, with a frequency of 192 (compared with a frequency of 3 and 4 in magazines and newspapers).

5

Usually "statuses", but some people use "status"

As others have mentioned, there are several possible plural forms of status.

  • statuses, regularly formed using the English plural suffix -(e)s. This is listed in various dictionaries e.g. Collins English Dictionary, Merriam Webster.
  • status, taken from Latin. This is listed in a few dictionaries e.g. the Oxford English Dictionary (which actually gives three forms):

    Pl. (rare) status /ˈsteɪtjuːs/, (now usu.) statuses /ˈsteɪtəsɪz/, (rare) statusses /ˈsteɪtəsɪz/.

It’s not objectively better to use the Latinate plural form, or to try to pronounce it similarly to the way the Romans did. Status has been an English word, not just a Latin word, for a long time now. Latinate plurals ending in -us are rarely used in English, and in fact, several usage guides say the English form -uses is generally preferable.

The original Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H.W. Fowler, 1926 (as reproduced in the new 2009 edition) says in the entry for "-us":

Many [words ending in "-us"] are from Latin fourth-declension words, whose Latin plural is -us (pronounced ūs); but the English plural -uses is almost always preferred, as in prospectuses.

The contemporary usage guide writer Bryan Garner wrote the following passage:

nexus. The acceptable plural forms are nexuses (English) and nexus (Latin). Naturally, the English form is preferable—e.g.: "The nexuses of activity for both rooms are the counters where the marijuana is dispensed." Glenn Martin, "The Tokin' Joint," S.F. Chron., 24 Aug. 1997, at Z1. Some writers have betrayed their ignorance of Latin by writing *nexi, as if it were a second-declension noun.

To me, it seems simpler to just go with the regular English plural statuses, but if you prefer to use the Latinate plural status for whatever reason, you’ll have to make some additional choices about pronunciation (it doesn't seem obvious to me how to pronounce it).

Words that inflect similarly

Some other English words that inflected in the same way as status in Latin are apparatus, coitus, fetus, flatus, hiatus, impetus, meatus, nexus.

  • +1 for an excellent answer! I’ve never consciously noticed it before, but status(es) really is quite odd in my idiolect: I tend to pronounce the singular /ˈstatəs/ and the plural /ˈsteɪtəsəz/, with the vowel in the first syllable distributed precisely the other way around from genus/genera and opus/opera. That said, neither /ˈsteɪtəs/ nor /ˈstatəsəz/ sounds odd to me, and I’ve probably used both on various occasions. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '18 at 16:46
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: I've moved the pronunciation stuff into a different post – sumelic Jan 24 '18 at 17:46
2

I see some references to status as uncountable as well, but that doesn't make much sense to me. I've always used statii, apparently incorrectly: Merriam-Webster, at least, calls for "statuses"

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    Why on earth would you use "statii"? Even if you were forming Latin-style plurals for some reason, "statii" would only be the plural of "statius". It's really mystifying why people want to put two ‘i’s; see e.g. Language Log posts here, here, here. – ShreevatsaR Aug 14 '10 at 16:05
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    That's a good question. "Statuses" just sounded wrong, I suppose; I never really considered whether it was correct or not until I read this question. The place I've used the plural form the most is in discussions about reports from a business system at my employer, and "statii" was the commonly used term there. Now I know better.... – cori Aug 14 '10 at 20:39
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    In Latin the plural is neither 'statii' nor 'stati': it is 'statūs' (4th declension, or "-u stem" to an Indo-Eorpeanist) – Colin Fine Oct 6 '10 at 13:01

protected by RegDwigнt Sep 27 '11 at 8:57

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