Aug 15 2014

What is the plural of iris?

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A co-worker just walked into my room and asked this question.  Normally things ending in -is are made plural by changing the -is to -es, as with axes being the plural of axis.  (And pronounced /’ees/.)  I thought /IrEEs/ sounded too weird, so I tried to think of  English cognates to iris for hints before I answered.  Remembering iridology, I guessed “irides” (/IridEEs/).  He laughed and said he had already looked it up and just wanted to see if I knew (or in this case, could guess.)  Irides is correct.

On a side note, things that end in -us most often go plural by replacing the -us with -i and -os with -oi.  Thus vir-es is incorrect, as is hippopotam-i.

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