By Sarah Binning

Flash back to Saturday. My roommates and their moms and I are all relaxing in the living room, when the age-old dilemma rolls into the conversation: “What do we want for dinner?” The humidity and rain clouds filled us with laziness, so we settled on the classic solution: order pizza.

“What kind do we want?”

“Pepperoni.”

Of course, this response shifted the discussion away from actually ordering our pizza to: “What is the plural of Pepperoni?”

Oh boy, here we go. Everyone had a different answer: Pepperoni is the plural. No, pepperoni is both singular and plural. No, the plural is pepperonis. Are you serious? There’s not way the plural is pepperonis!

The room fell silent as all eyes focused on me, as if I magically knew the answer. Come on, Ms. Grammar, what is the plural of pepperoni?

My vote was that pepperoni was the plural, but I didn’t know for sure. So I did what every good writer should do, research.

Researching the plural of pepperoni was no easy task. Website after website, article after article, no one could seem to agree on the plural. This site said pepperoni is singular and plural. That site said pepperoni is plural. And so on and so forth. But we wanted some hard data. We needed an answer. So I turned to a more reliable source: my faithful friend dictionary.com.

The answer? Well, we’re all a little correct. Pepperoni is an Americanism developed in the early to mid 1920s. The term originates from the Italian word peperoni, which is plural for a “peperone cayenne pepper plant.” Pepperoni is a plural misspelling, adapted by Americans.  However, Americans mess everything up. When we adopted the word, we of course adopted it in a SINGULAR sense. According to dictionary.com, the plural of pepperoni (when used in English, not Italian) is pepperonis.

Example: I pick pepperonis off my pizza.

Of course, it is impossible to discuss the plural of pepperoni without allowing the conversation to switch to other English quirky plurals.

What is the plural of Octopus? The answer might surprise you. The original, correct Anglicized plural form is Octopuses. However, the incorrect term Octopi is so commonly used, the dictionary adopts and accepts both plural forms. The same is true for hippopotamus (hippopotami and hippopotamuses).

To wrap up this entry: I thought I might include some other interesting singular to plural transformations that trip up most Americans: (singular/plural)

Crisis/Crises … curriculum/curricula … medium/media …

And because I’m in the middle of job hunting, I think it’s also interesting to touch upon plural courtesy titles. These courtesy titles can become difficult to spell, because they are in fact French words. (Yeah for French!)

Mister/Messieurs …. Misses/Mesdames … Miss/Misses

To see the abbreviations for these titles, I recommend this site.

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