From the Language Police Blotter

What do you call two of these?

What is the plural of “Prius”?  Many people I know say “Prii,” but a professional writer friend, who knows about language, insists that because “Prius” is not actually a Latin word, it has to be “Priuses.”

In the movie The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg’s antagonists are known as “the Winklevii” although they certainly were not Latin.  Strictly speaking, I suppose, they should have been known as the Winklevossen.  Maybe the idea is that in the same way you can pick your name, you can pick your plural.

That would mean that it would be Toyota’s call.  What’s yours?

UPDATE: I recall a Saturday Night Live sketch from the late 70’s, in which Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi played the “Elvii”: Aykroyd was the classic Elvis, and Belushi was “Elvis after he discovered carbohydrates.”  Now, as it turns out, “Elvii” is pretty much the language on the street when you have multiple Elvis impersonators.  That would speak in favor of “Prii.”

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Reader Comments

One Reply to “From the Language Police Blotter”

  1. I was interning at The Nation in 2004, and while fact checking an article, the Prius plural issue came up. I called up Toyota PR for their opinion; I believe the guy said there was no official answer (and Toyota materials always seem to not have to use the plural. Though that was then and I haven’t checked since.) But I think he said that people around the office did say “Priuses”. And when I checked to see what other publication did, that seemed to be the most common answer, and it’s what we went with.

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Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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