Re: The new MML / vir- i ii uses ?

From: Alfie Costa (
Date: Mon Oct 14 2002 - 21:44:14 CEST

On 14 Oct 2002, at 14:03, Renato <> wrote:

> Are you sure, Michele? I thought it was viri with a single i.

This topic is still going... (forgive me Michele, for adding to it!) so here
is a page that goes on at length about Latin grammar of viri/virii/viruses:

What's the Plural of `Virus'?
by Tom Christiansen
        The plural of virus is neither viri nor virii, nor even vira nor virora. It is
        quite simply viruses, irrespective of context. Here's why...

Despite 'virii' being bad latin, I can think of these arguments in defense of

1) Easier to type. 'ii' uses only one finger, 'uses' requires three fingers.

2) It's in common usage. A Google usenet scan of the last week shows 200-300
hits. Some of which are on threads about this very topic, so maybe those
shouldn't count. A usenet scan for 'viri' in the last week shows fewer than
100 hits. A scan for 'viruses' shows 600-700 hits.

3) Virus authors themselves are often naughty kids or oddballs who like to
spell things funny as a mark of distinction. For example "phreak" for 'freak',
"d00d" for 'dude', "3lit3" for 'elite', and so on. So 'virii' might be
deliberately eccentric slang. To correct it reinforces its distinctive

While no slang is universal, (or else it wouldn't be slang), most everyone on
the net seems to use some slang. On this list terms like "newbie" are common,
as are emoticons... :-) ;'] :^) .

Conclusion: "viruses" is formal correct English, seems to be the most popular
usage. "virii" is informal slang, second most common. "viri", least common,
perhaps coined by Latin students who object to 'virii'.

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