Nope, it isn't Prii. Or Priuses. If you want to be scrupulously correct when you refer to your fleet of Toyota hybrid vehicles, it's Priora.
Language columnist Jan Freeman, writing in the International Herald Tribune, got the scoop from Henry Harry Mount, author of the new book Carpe Diem: Put a Little Latin in Your Life:
"Yes, it's Priora," he told me, "because it's neuter plural. But if you cheated a bit and made the car masculine or feminine - and I do think of cars as female - then it would be Priores. And Priores has nice undertones of grandness - Virgil used it to mean 'forefathers' or 'ancestors.' "
Via Autopia, with a hat tip to David Sturtz.
Photo of 2007 Toyota Prius via Fuelzilla.
So sorry to be dismissive, but that bit about the Prius plural is all complete tosh.
"Prius" as a noun has no plural because it is manufactured by Toyota. The plural is therefore whatever they say it is.
"Prius" as a REAL word is a Latin adverb so talking about its plural is a waste of time...
Eg: JM Latin-English Dictionary
prius ADV: earlier| before| previously| first
Posted by: JerryW | January 08, 2008 at 07:54 AM
Thanks for the mention, Nancy, but loyalty to my employer compels me to note that my column is actually written for the Boston Globe, and only sometimes picked up by the IHT.
And JerryW, of course the discussion is all tosh, and our Priuses will end up with an English plural. But why shouldn't Latin lovers have their fun? According to my experts, prius is not just an adverb but also a comparative adjective. As an adjective, it's neuter (the ending shows) and is declined by the rules of that class, even if it's an adjective used as a substantive ("The First").
Cheers, Jan Freeman
Posted by: Jan Freeman | January 08, 2008 at 11:52 AM
I would have to vote JerryW, and in fact go one better and say that the plural isn't what Toyota says, it's whatever it is that people end up using. Toyota might own the brand, but they don't own the word. :-) As for "Priora" (whether correct or not in Latin), I say that speaking English should not require a working knowledge of Latin and Greek (or any other language). Once a word accepts an invitation into English, it pretty much has to play by English rules. Or as some might say, "When in English, do like the English [speakers]", haha.
Posted by: mike | January 08, 2008 at 08:03 PM
So what's the collective noun for a fleet of Priora? Would that be a 'smug'?
Posted by: John Russell | January 09, 2008 at 06:28 AM
...as opposed to a 'smog'?
Posted by: John Russell | January 09, 2008 at 06:30 AM