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The update on the "virii" form reflects the current usage of this alternate form which is used almost exclusively in the "computer" sense. As of Nov 18 2004, on all english pages searched by Google, that referred to a computer and some form of a virus, approximately 10% used the virii (viri) form.

Examination of these pages show that the term is not being used as a joke, or in a joking fashion.

I say virii sometimes, not necessarily in a joking fashion, but knowing that it's not the regular plural. I do think we need to note this form and virii should have its own article. But I don't think it belongs in the headword with the recognised plural. Also, it's rather common usage even outside the realm of computers, just not to the same degree and it's probably less acceptable too. The usage section is a bit biased to the computer sense. — Hippietrail 11:53, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I don't think it's ever used outside of the computer realm, unless it has spilled over from the computer crowd's usage. It was most likely used as a joke in the beginning and picked up by people who didn't realize it was a mistake (which it is). - Nickster


I think this in the current usage note is just wrong: "Often mistakenly used where malware would be the correct word." It's analagous to hacker vs cracker and also does not account for the long period of time between when the word virus gained its computer sense and when the word malware was coined, also the long period of time between the two words being accepted in wider use as shown by inclusion in print dictionaries. — Hippietrail 16:53, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

Seconded. Remove Usage Note. --Stranger 18:28, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

I have a question: Are viruses microbes?

Etymological question[edit]

Does anyone know why on earth the Latin looks masculine? Is it something to do with vir? I've always been curious. Medellia 01:14, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

No, it has nothing to do with that. It's an old PIE stem, cf sanskrit visam, greek ios. What's curious about it, is that in latin, it's restricted almost entirely to nom and acc singular. Properly plural, though, is vira. It's a weird noun, I wish the OLD explained why it looks masculine.--Ioshus (talk) 01:26, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for the information. I think I'll have to consult the TLL next time I can wheedle my way into the graduate student library. Medellia 06:26, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

From RFV[edit]


I've just commented out the spurious plurals "viri" and "virii" from virus. They are not interchangeable with the standard "viruses". I think we've discussed the plural of "virus" before, but we should take note of what this Wikipedia article has to say before considering restoring either, and then only with clear usage notes. — Paul G 16:18, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Hmm. I think viri has rare English academic usage - 99 of the first 100 of the 6000+ b.g.c. hits are for non-English usage, but one is a US academic journal using it as a plural of virus (in the medical sense). It seems likely that the remaining 5900+ hits would gain enough for normal CFI. For virii, about a quarter of the first 100 of 600+ b.g.c. hits are as English plurals of virus in the medical or computing senses, so it clearly passes normal CFI. This compares with over 28000 b.g.c. hits for viruses. No doubt, some (or most) will want to call viri and virii uncommon misspellings, but personally, I would tag them (non standard, hypercorrect) and leave them. --Enginear 20:48, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
If we want to consider them variant plurals, then both do meet CFI; three of the first ten Google Patents hits for "the viri"go are English-language patents using it in this sense, and similarly with six of the first ten Google Patents hits for "the virii"go. The question is, do we consider them errors? If so, they must meet a much higher standard to be included, and I don't think they do (with viruses beating out viri by a factor of 17 and virii by a factor of 84). —RuakhTALK 23:14, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
They are pompous and pretentious but still used by various folk who are a little odd to say the least! Non-standard would be my prefered tag, and a warning to those of us who like to converse with each other in English we can all understand easily, that theses bizzare plurals are certainly not the norm. As for hypercorrectness, this unfortunately smacks of pompousness.--Williamsayers79 09:40, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
virii is used for the computer sort, not to be pretentious, but rather for amusement, as with boxen. The entry at virii is fine, I added a link to it in See also at virus, because there should be a link there somewhere. By all means leave it out of the inflection line. Robert Ullmann 09:58, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
struck Cynewulf 17:19, 1 June 2007 (UTC)