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

  • n. Any of numerous carnivorous marine mollusks of the genus Octopus or related genera, found worldwide. The octopus has a rounded soft body, eight tentacles with each bearing two rows of suckers, a large distinct head, and a strong beaklike mouth. Also called devilfish.
  • n. Something, such as a multinational corporation, that has many powerful, centrally controlled branches.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.
  • n. The flesh of these marine molluscs eaten as food.
  • n. An organization that has many powerful branches controlled from the centre.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A genus of eight-armed cephalopods, including numerous species, some of them of large size. See devilfish.
  • n. Any member of the genus Octopus.
  • n. 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 The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

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


New Latin Octōpūs, genus name, from Greek oktōpous, eight-footed : oktō, eight; + pous, foot.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ὀκτώπους (oktōpous), from ὀκτώ (oktō, "eight") + πούς (pous, "foot"). (Wiktionary)



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  • 1759 Philos. Trans. 1758 (Royal Soc.) 50 778 The Polypus, particularly so called, the Octopus, Preke, or Pour-contrel.

    July 23, 2008

  • wow

    May 24, 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

  • 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

  • Oughtn't it be octopi?

    January 27, 2008

  • Octopuses have personalities.

    January 27, 2008

  • 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

  • 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

  • Love the quote and the book!

    November 9, 2007

  • Have you ever heard a blind-folded octopus unwrap a cellophane-covered bathtub?
    --Norton Juster, 1961, The Phantom Tollbooth

    November 9, 2007

    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