Plural of Prius, Prii? Not According to Latin Experts

Prius and Prius v

Ever wonder what the plural is for Toyota’s Prius? It’s been something of a gray area to our copy editors, and now that there’s a Prius V, a plural word for the vehicle could come in handy.

Before we could make up our minds, Toyota decided today that the plural form is “Prii” (pronounced PREE-eye). That decision was the result of a marketing campaign in which Toyota asked the public about the plural possibilities: “Prius,” “Priuses,” “Prii,” “Priem,” or “Pri.”

“Prii” received 25%. “Prius” came in a close second with 24%.

We think Toyota is getting a little meta on this one. We’ve certainly heard “Prii” bounced around among auto journalists before today, in a cheeky manner of course. Prii is no longer just a flippant expression; it’s a real word, at least according to Dictionary.com. Other dictionaries, such as Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary, don’t contain an entry.

The original meaning for “Prius” originates from a 19th-century adjective referring to “prior.” There’s an even older noun derivative from the 15th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Nick Young, a Latin and classical studies instructor at the University of Detroit Mercy, told the Detroit Free Press that the plural of “Prius” is actually "Priora" or "Priores."

Ben Zimmer, a columnist for the New York Times, counters that either “Priora” or “Prii” are correct answers, but he told the Free Press that adding Latin plurals to “Prius” seems a bit forced. “We're not speaking Latin. We might as well form the word the way English plurals are formed," Zimmer said.

In that case, the plural really should be “Priuses,” even if it sounds a bit silly.

Comments 

Dan

Didn't you have an article on this exact same topic with pretty much the exact same material a few years ago?

I can remember feeling a bit let down when I learned that dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive. *sigh* You can't use Merriam-Webster to prove someone's an idiot; the idiot might just be cutting-edge.
I confess that I voted for Prii at the Chicago Auto Show last week.

Ira

Soon gas will hit $4 a gallon all you sorry Putz's will wish you bought a Prius like me.

Bob

"Ever wonder what the plural is for Toyota’s Prius? It’s been something of a gray area to our copy editors..."

Wait, what? Your copy editors don't know how to pluralize brand names? It's "Priuses." Toyota's "Prii" is (as the article says) simply a marketing campaign.

See the first few paragraphs of this Grammar Girl article for details:

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/how-to-make-family-names-plural.aspx

thank you for sharing.

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