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Whaddya call two hybrid Toyotas?

by | Mar 29, 2022

No, it’s not a dad joke.

Mike Principato and I recently were wondering what the plural of “Prius” is, because we needed to reference multiple vehicles in some copy. Now, even though we get paid to sling words around this joint, we don’t work in Latin too much, and I didn’t take it in high school. (Although to be honest, I think Mike’s so old that he may have been speaking it during his formative years.) I realized after looking at something he had written that I didn’t have a dang clue about what the plural should be. “Prius” is actually a Latin term for something that comes before or precedes. So whaddya call two of ‘em?

Prius badge

This is definitely how the singular form is spelled. Toyota Motor Co. image.

Before I answer that, I’m gonna pinch a quick excerpt from a Merriam-Webster article to explain why this is not cut-and-dried. “One common misconception floating around the English language is the notion that all Latin-derived nouns that end in the suffix -us in the singular should end in -i when they are plural…However, there are quite a few Latin nouns that do not have an -i plural even in their original language that have become naturalized in the English language.”

Now for the answer to the article title and the reason why:

The pluralized form is Prii. Why? Because Toyota announced as much in 2011 with a press release I find completely absurd. They arrived at this conclusion by holding a poll and taking votes, and “Prii” won out. (Losers included Prius, Priuses, and Prium.)

Did this problem need solving by the manufacturer? Was this a great way to bring attention to the Prius sub brand? Should normal non-pedantic editors be permitted to disobey the laws of grammar decency? My answer to all of these is “nope.”

But no one asked me. Two Toyota hybrids parked next to each other, it seems, are Prii.

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