Of Platypodes and Puggles

I’m a big fan of Cuteoverload.com, visiting their site every day for my fix of all things cute, cuddly and snorglable (and that’s totally a real word). As if I didn’t love them enough already, a couple of days ago they printed this picture:

Which, aside from being cute as all hell, introduced me to the phrase “tiny velvety platypi”, because that’s what they called it.

Tiny velvety platypi. The more I say it, the more I love it. It’s one of those phrases that gets in your head and stays there, and it’s well and truly stuck in mine. Tiny velvety platypi. Tiny… velvety… platypi.

“Look at the tiny velvety platypi! Aren’t they just the sweetest ickle things?”

Then I looked at the comments under the image and there were lots of people wondering if the plural of ‘platypus’ is, indeed, ‘platypi’. Some were sure that it was ‘platypode’ and others were convinced you could say ‘platypuses’. Intrigued, I Googled it and I came across this post on a science forum from a rather clever sort of fellow:

The ‘pus’ in Platypus (Flat Foot) and Octopus (Eight Foot) is Greek, so the plural is ‘pode’. The ‘pus’ in Hippopotamus (River Horse) is part of ‘potamus’ (horse) and is Latin, so uses ‘pi’ for the plural.

Platypode, octopode, and hippopotami.

So if you’re really, really anal about these things, you should listen to the clever fellow. However, ‘tiny velvety platypodes’ doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

In other news from the cuteoverload.com discussions, baby platypi are apparently known as ‘puggles’ (which may or may not be true, as there’s some debate on the matter) and their little rolls of fat are called ‘collops’.

And if you fancy some more pedantic word fun, go here for a list of the names of groups of animals. A shiver of sharks? REALLY?


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5 responses to “Of Platypodes and Puggles

  1. I like a murder of crows, a parliament of owls and a tower of giraffes but my favourite has to be a mischief of mice … 🙂

  2. Lerxst

    Ah, but English is a living, evolving language unlike Latin or Ancient Greek. Frankly, ‘pode’ sounds both clunky and singular. So, on the basis of aesthetics and common usage, the correct English plural is clearly platypi! 🙂

    Oh, and awwwwwwwww….

  3. In Dutch it is easier. In our language a platypus is called a “vogelbekdier”, which actually translates as “birdbeak-animal”.
    So plural is just “birdbeak-animals”, or “vogelbekdieren”.
    They do look cute though….

  4. jaynenelson

    Neil: A mischief of rats is definitely my favourite, but then I kept rats for a decade and know for a fact that ‘mischief’ really sums them up!

    Lerxst (which, incidentally, means what exactly? I’m curious!) : I don’t want to think about the English language evolving. That means that, one day, people might actually be able to say ‘would of’ instead of ‘would have’ and it would be correct. NOOOOOO!!!!!!

    Ruud: The Dutch are much wiser than the English. This is the proof.

  5. Lerxst


    I’d hate to think ‘would of’ would ever be correct, but, given some of the recent reports of teachers and professors calling for spelling to be disregarded, you might have a point.

    As for ‘Lerxst’, the reality is quite banal: it’s a music reference. For reasons which aren’t entirely clear, the nicknames the members of Rush have for themselves are Dirk, Lerxst, and Pratt (Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart respectively).

    So yes, I stole someone else’s nickname….though as a tribute, of course. A self-confessed Rush-nut, years ago I adopted it as an alias for something, and it’s just sort of hung around: handy on the politics sites given I’m supposed to be impartial.

    Anyway, you’d have to ask Alex what it actually means, but apart from the music reference, I just rather like the unlikely run of consonants! I do remember, in my uni days, it confusing a staff member at the Oxford Laserquest who kept referring to “The Lexicist”….. 🙂

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