from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various carnivorous marine cephalopod mollusks chiefly of the family Octopodidae, having a soft body, eight arms with suckers, a large distinct head, and a mouth with a strong beak.
  • noun Something, such as a multinational corporation, that has many powerful, centrally controlled branches.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The typical genus of Octopodidæ and Octopoda.
  • noun [lowercase; pl. octopi (-pī).] A species or an individual of the genus Octopus; an octopod; a poulpe; a devilfish. See also cut under cuttlefish.
  • noun Hence Figuratively, any centralized organization which has many branches and secret connections, and thereby maintains an oppressive hold upon the public.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A genus of eight-armed cephalopods, including numerous species, some of them of large size. See devilfish.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any member of the genus Octopus.
  • noun Something resembling an octopus in having numerous controlling arms or branches that reach widely and influence many activities; -- used mostly of organizations, such as diversified corporations.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of several marine molluscs/mollusks, of the family Octopodidae, having no internal or external protective shell or bone (unlike the nautilus, squid or cuttlefish) and eight arms each covered with suckers.
  • noun uncountable The flesh of these marine molluscs eaten as food.
  • noun An organization that has many powerful branches controlled from the centre.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun tentacles of octopus prepared as food
  • noun bottom-living cephalopod having a soft oval body with eight long tentacles


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[New Latin Octōpūs, genus name, from Greek oktōpous, eight-footed : oktō, eight; see oktō(u) in Indo-European roots + pous, foot; see ped- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek ὀκτώπους (oktōpous), from ὀκτώ (oktō, "eight") + πούς (pous, "foot").



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.


    Tell me, O Octopus, I begs

    Is those things arms, or is they legs?

    I marvel at thee, Octopus;

    If I were thou, I'd call me Us.

    Ogden Nash

    April 18, 2007

  • Have you ever heard a blind-folded octopus unwrap a cellophane-covered bathtub?

    --Norton Juster, 1961, The Phantom Tollbooth

    November 9, 2007

  • Love the quote and the book!

    November 9, 2007

  • Getting all of one’s addictions under control is a little like putting an octopus to bed.

    --Anne Lamott, 1994, Bird by Bird, p. 93

    November 16, 2007

  • I read about a little octopus who was given a small toy figure of Mr. Potato Head and the little octopus became so attached to this toy that he would become aggressive if his keepers tried to remove it from him. He became adept at opening and closing a small compartment in the back of the toy. Somehow this story makes me love octopuses and appreciate them in a whole new way. I think it is a sad tale.

    January 27, 2008

  • Octopuses have personalities.

    January 27, 2008

  • Oughtn't it be octopi?

    January 27, 2008

  • The preferred plural in English is "octopuses". "Octopus" comes from Greek, not Latin, so if a classical plural is used it should be "octopodes". "Octopi" is a well-established back-formation, often used in jocular contexts.

    January 27, 2008

  • Thanks! Always wondered about that. (See mongoose.)

    Not sure I'd get too jocular with octopuses, or octopi for that matter, given then Mr. Potatohead story; they don't seem to have much of a sense of humor.

    January 27, 2008

  • wow

    May 24, 2008