Make Your Editor Cry: Cactus (Awkward Plural)

Make Your Editor Cry:  Cactus (Awkward Plural)

BLUF: (Bottom Line Up Front)
The plural of cactus is properly cacti or less commonly cactuses and rarely cactus.

cactus: any of a family (Cactaceae, the cactus family) of plants that have succulent stems and branches with scales or spines instead of leaves and are found especially in dry areas (such as deserts)

The singular of cactus is cactus. The plural of cactus is properly cacti. The noun cactus has a Latin root, which is the derivation of the plural cacti. Through common usage, cactuses (which conforms to the standard rules for forming plurals) is also acceptable, though less common and considered by many incorrect. The word cactuses will not even pass many spell checking programs.

Very rarely, cactus is used as the plural for cactus as if it is an uncountable noun. Webster allows for it, though it is about as common as an honest politician.


Most cacti live in habitats subject to at least some drought.
The great majority of cactuses have no visible leaves.

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