What is the plural hippopotamus?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

The plural form of the word “hippopotamus” can be either “hippopotamuses” or “hippopotami.” Both forms are considered correct, and the choice between them is largely a matter of personal preference or style.

I remember learning about hippopotamuses in school, and they have always fascinated me. These large, semi-aquatic mammals are native to sub-Saharan Africa and are known for their massive size and intimidating appearance.

When it comes to discussing multiple individuals of this species, the term “hippopotamuses” is commonly used. This plural form follows the standard English convention of adding the suffix “-es” to the singular noun. It is straightforward and easy to understand.

On the other hand, some people prefer to use the term “hippopotami” as the plural form. This form is derived from the Greek word “hippopotamos,” meaning “river horse.” It follows the pattern of other words borrowed from Greek, where the “-us” ending of the singular noun is changed to “-i” in the plural. While less commonly used, “hippopotami” adds a touch of linguistic flair and reflects the word’s etymology.

To summarize, both “hippopotamuses” and “hippopotami” are acceptable plural forms of the word “hippopotamus.” The choice between them is a matter of personal preference or stylistic considerations.