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[ok-tuh-puh s] /ˈɒk tə pəs/
noun, plural octopuses, octopi
[ok-tuh-pahy] /ˈɒk təˌpaɪ/ (Show IPA)
any octopod of the genus Octopus, having a soft, oval body and eight sucker-bearing arms, living mostly at the bottom of the sea.
something likened to an octopus, as an organization with many forms of far-reaching influence or control.
Origin of octopus
1750-60; < New Latin < Greek oktṓpous (plural oktṓpodes) eight-footed; see octo-, -pod Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for octopus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Government, that in theory represents a union of effort and a saving of force, sprawls like an octopus over the land.

    My Discovery of England Stephen Leacock
  • Not until she was elbow deep in suds did she recall her dreams about the octopus.

    Weak on Square Roots Russell Burton
  • He was a football player too; his hug was that of an octopus which swallowed you all.

    Lore of Proserpine Maurice Hewlett
  • And so far, getting along with Russia was like trying to get along with an octopus.

    Slingshot Irving W. Lande
  • He was born in the province of Posen, so violently seized on by Prussia, that octopus of Europe.

    Serge Panine, Complete Georges Ohnet
British Dictionary definitions for octopus


noun (pl) -puses
any cephalopod mollusc of the genera Octopus, Eledone, etc, having a soft oval body with eight long suckered tentacles and occurring at the sea bottom: order Octopoda (octopods)
a powerful influential organization with far-reaching effects, esp harmful ones
another name for spider (sense 8)
Word Origin
C18: via New Latin from Greek oktōpous having eight feet
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for octopus

1758, genus name of a type of eight-armed cephalopod mollusks, from Greek oktopous, literally "eight-footed," from okto "eight" (see eight) + pous "foot" (see foot (n.)). Proper plural is octopodes, though octopuses probably works better in English. Octopi is from mistaken assumption that -us in this word is the Latin noun ending that takes -i in plural.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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