Information

Plural of “dibamus”


Migrated from English site.


Dibamus is a genus of legless lizards in the family Dibamidae, of the infraorder Dibamia.

Genera are usually given in singular, so what is the correct plural of Dibamus?

Families and orders are usually given in plural, so what are the correct singulars of Dibamidae and Dibamia?

Bonus question: What is the etymology of the root dibam-?


This is advice from a website on plants, but its advice is equally valid for plants or animals.

For example, if you wish to discuss several Pinguicula species, do you call them Pinguiculae or Pinguiculas? The answer is that you can do neither! Pinguicula is the name of the genus, a single group of plants which was very carefully named. If you make up a word like Pinguiculas, you are either implying that the genus has a letter "s" at the end (which it does not), or you are saying that there is more than one genus with the name Pinguicula---a logical absurdity.

So it is just wrong to fabricate a plural form of a genus name. If you find yourself writing a sentence where you want to create a plural form of a genus (suppose you wanted to say, "I saw several Pinguiculas"), reconstruct the sentence slightly into something like "I saw many Pinguicula plants" or "I saw many Pinguicula species," whichever you meant. It is not only correct, but also much clearer.

There is a caveat to this, which is when the genus is borrowed into English as a loanword, for example, a plant of the genus Delphinium has the common English name "delphinium", or an ape of the genus Gorilla has the common English name "gorilla". In this case, the English word is pluralised into "delphiniums" and "gorillas". Note that it is still perfectly correct to say "I saw two apes belonging to the genus Gorilla", but it is just long-winded.

In your case, the lizard does not fall into this category, so you should word your phrase as "several Dibamus lizards" or a similar alternative phrasing.