Octopuses are intriguing creatures and are considered one of the most intelligent invertebrates. They belong to the order Octopoda, which has about 300 species, including squids. This soft-bodied species has a bulbous head, eight appendages, two eyes, and a beaked mouth at the center of the limbs.
If you’ve been wondering, “What is a group of octopuses called,” you’ve come to the right place. While there isn’t a formal answer to this question, the consensus is that a group of octopuses is called a consortium. Notably, octopuses are solitary animals, so they aren’t often found in groups or collectives in the wild. So, let’s explore what an octopus is and where they get their name.
A Consortium of Octopuses: Do Octopuses Live in Groups?
The way octopuses move is fascinating. Their soft bodies ripple like waves, and they can alter their shape to squeeze through small spaces. Octopuses’ tentacles flow behind them when they swim, and they can change color and texture to camouflage themselves for protection against predators.
Octopuses live in every ocean of the world of various depths. You can find them as far down as the ocean floor to coral reefs. In addition, they create dens for themselves and hide under rocks and in small crevices.
Octopuses are solitary animals and spend about 40 percent of their time hiding under rocks and in dens. However, they aren’t very territorial. Some are pretty social, and you may find them in groups of 40. There is no widely accepted collective noun for a group of octopuses. However, some suggestions that have been made include a “consortium of octopuses.”
A consortium is a Latin word for “partnership,” fitting for octopuses. These groups often develop for a common goal, for example, when they get forced to share resources or for hunting and mating. This partnership shows an octopus’s social nature and how they can work together for a common cause.
Octopuses have very short lifespans – 1 to 3 years. Males often die after mating, while females live long enough to protect their eggs, which can take up to 5 months.
Where Does the Name Octopus Come From?
In ancient Greece, long before the octopus got its name, they were called polypous or polupous by Aristotle and Pliny. These names later got used in Latin as polypus. By the start of the 1500s, the English and Dutch adopted the name polypus for an octopus. Other names they used are “polypus-fish,” “polyp,” “devilfish,” and “preke,” among others.
The first known use of the name “octopus” in English was in 1759, but the name has been around a lot longer than that. Octopus comes from the Greek word “októpus,” which means “eight foot.” Since the word is Greek, the plural form of octopus will end with an -es.
What about octopi? While the latinate form of the name is “octopi,” it is not grammatically correct. In fact, according to Fowler’s Modern English Usage (rev. 3rd ed.), “octopuses” is the only appropriate plural name in English.
Octopuses vs. Octopi vs. Octopodes
The earliest recorded plural form of octopus is “octopi” in the 19th century. Later in the same century, the English version of “octopuses” got recorded. The name “octopodes” has been widely accepted throughout history but is the least used. According to Merriam-Webster, “octopuses” and “octopi” are both acceptable, with “octopodes” being the rarest of the three.
Since there is no formal collective noun for a group of octopuses, you can call it exactly that. However, a consortium of octopuses is a great choice too!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/:TheSP4N1SH
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