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Dec 17, 2001
This week's theme
Words with irregular plurals

This week's words
occiput
opus
numen
chrysalis
virtuoso

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

So what is the plural form for the word "atlas"? Atlases? Yes, but not always. When used to refer to collections of maps, it is "atlases". However, in architecture, where atlas is a column in the form of a standing or kneeling figure, the plural form of the word is "atlantes". While the rules for pluralization in the English language are relatively simple, there are exceptions, especially when the rules are inherited from the language the word came from. Let's take a look at words that pluralize in rather unusual ways compared to the most common rules of pluralization.

occiput

(OK-suh-put), plural occipita (ok-SIP-i-tah) or occiputs Pronunciation RealAudio

noun: The back part of the head or skull.

From Latin occipit, from oc-, from ob- (against) + ciput, from caput (head).

Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.)
Is planning a ban on smut.
Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.
And his reverend occiput.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and do your dut.,
Gird up your l--ns,
Smite h-p and th-gh,
We'll all be Kansas
By and by.
(Opening para of Ogden Nash's 1931 poem on Sen. Reed Smoot whose anti-porn stance led to a newspaper headline "Smoot Smites Smut".)

X-Bonus

The trouble with life in the fast lane is that you get to the other end in an awful hurry. -John Jensen

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