The Plural of Genus: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

If you have ever taken a science class you learned about genus. What you may not have learned is the plural form of the word and how to use it correctly. In this article, you will learn what genus is, where it originates, its synonyms, and how to use the word in context. Pay close attention so you can show off your in-depth knowledge of this topic next time you are in class.

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What Is the Definition of Genus?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, genus is:

  • A class, kind, or group marked by common characteristics or by one common characteristic. 
  • Specifically: a category of biological classification ranking between the family and the species, comprising structurally or phylogenetically related species or an isolated species exhibiting unusual differentiation, and being designated by a Latin or Latinized capitalized singular noun
  • A class of objects divided into several subordinate species 

History and Origin of the Word

The word Genus originates from Latin and dates all the way back to the 1550s. It was first used to define kinds or a class of things such as race, kind, family, birth, descent, or origin. Gene means to give birth or beget and can refer to the procreation of families or tribes. 

Genus in Biology?

When studying biology you will find genus between the family and species ranks of biological classification. Taxonomic ranks break down different organisms or species into more and more specific categories. This system is known as Linnaean, named after Carl Linnaeus a Swedish botanist. He first used this system to place organisms into categories based on similarities anatomically, morphologically, and physiologically.  

Genus is part of a system involved in the classification of organisms, otherwise known as taxonomy. From top to bottom it goes Life, Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. If you noticed, the order goes from more general to very specific.  Biological classification is also known as binomial nomenclature. When naming a species the genus name is the first word used followed by the epithet, it is then put in italics or within quotes. In order for species to be grouped together, they must have monophyly which means groups based on shared derived characteristics or traits that set apart this group from another. Morphyly was first defined by a German biologist by the name of Willi Hennig. The scientific names provide a standard that is used and respected all over the world. For example, the genus for foxes under the dog subfamily canidae is “vulpes.”

Is Genuses a Word?

It turns out genuses is not a word. The correct way to use the plural form of genus is genera. You may also confuse genus with the word Genesis, these are very different things. In the American English language, we typically want to add ‘es’ at the end of a word to make it plural. In order to find the correct way to make a word plural, we must first look at the root language and follow its rules.

The Latin language is not often studied any longer and is considered a dead language. However, when looking at an English word that has its root in a Latin word, it is important to understand why we need to ignore our brains telling us to add ‘es’ and instead use the plural form genera. The Latin “genus” or “genera” is a third-declension noun

If you are looking at how to make different words plural, you will find that this is often the case with words that Americans are oft confused with, we tend to forget that Germanic languages come from a melting pot of different languages. The modern American English language we use today is made up of other Germanic languages and Latin. This is fitting considering America is also a melting pot of different cultures and languages and we have borrowed from those cultures to create not only the American culture but also American English. 

Synonyms of Genus From a Thesaurus

  • Sort – person; an individual
  • Variety- a number or collection of varied things, especially of a particular group; an assortment
  • Species –  a class of individuals or objects having certain distinguishing attributes in common, given a common name, and comprised with other similar classes in a more comprehensive grouping called a genus
  • Family – a father, mother, and their son’s ad daughters; also called a nuclear family. 
  • Class – a major category in the classification of animals, plants, etc., ranking above an order and below a division or phylum: it can include order or many similar orders: the Latinized class names are capitalized but not italicized
  • Classification – a grouping of people or things in a systematic way
  • Group –  an assemblage of persons or objects gathered or located together
  • Kind –  type race or category; a group of entities that have common characteristics such that they may be grouped together. 
  • Type- an individual considered representative of members of its taxonomic group

Example Sentences of the Word in Context

  • Three types of trees were identified in the soil, the paper says. The first, of the Eospermatopteris genus, was a short-lived, weedlike plant also found at the site in Gilboa. – USA Today
  • BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Texas – Experts say fossil remains discovered in the 1980s at the Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas have been identified as a new genus and species of duckbilled dinosaur.- USA Today 
  • The subsequent discovery of the 2-million-year-old adult female and juvenile male remains in the “Cradle of Humankind” set off contentious debate in the scientific community. New research confirms the species is closely related to the Homo genus and fills a key gap in humankind’s history between early humans and our more apelike predecessors.- USA Today
  • In one of its papers, Berger’s team also make the claim that the naledi emerged about 2 million years ago, just about when the Homo genus was getting started and was around long enough to be on the continent with near-modern humans. – USA Today 
  • In the new tour of Walking With Dinosaurs — The Arena Spectacular, which officially launches Thursday at Barclays (after one preview at the venue, and a tech tryout in Cleveland), Fanning, a London-based dancer, appears as several of the title characters. (There’s only one human role, that of a paleontologist who narrates.) Among them is the feathered, flamboyantly colored Utahraptor, a genus dating back to the Cretacious Period of roughly 145-66 million years ago.- USA Today