The English language is very complicated. Even if it is your first language, it is difficult to master. This is why Google exists and why spellcheck exists too. Most people rely on autocorrect to fix the mistakes they make when typing a word out. But it is good to brush up on your English spelling knowledge because there is always a chance that you’ll be writing something down on pen and paper, and you won’t have spellcheck to depend on.
Our word of the day, “squid,” is only five letters. You may think this would be an easy word to pluralize, by just adding an “s.” Well, you’d be half right. It is possible to use squids as the plural form and also to use squid (pronounced skwɪd). Let’s dive deeper into this.
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Usually, the word squid is used as the plural for squid. However, if you are referring to several different species of squid, then it would make sense to use the word squids.
When referring to a group of squid, these may be called a shoal or a school. Schools are used to describe large groups of many different marine creatures. This includes herring, fish, sea horses, and other sea creatures. Some people think that a group of squid should be called a “squad.” There is even a petition on Change.org for this.
Is Squids a Real Word?
Squids is a real word; however, squid can also be the correct plural form of the word.
Squids are often mistaken with octopus. They are similar creatures, both with the characteristic soft squidlike shape, but have different features. Squids also have gills, just like fish.
Some larger types of squid can weigh more than 1,000 pounds. In fact, the words giant and squid are frequently seen together, making them a collocation. The only predators that giant squid have are sperm whales. According to the site Squid-World, “squid are believed to be the fastest of all the invertebrates in the world.”
What Does the Word Squid Mean?
To better understand this word, let’s look at its definition. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of squid is, “any of an order of cephalopods having eight short arms and two usually longer tentacles, a long tapered body, a caudal fin on each side and usually a slender internal chitinous support.” Other cephalopod mollusks include octopus and cuttlefish, and these sea mollusks are categorized by their triangular tail fins, long tentacles, and a long soft body.
They are classified within the order of Teuthoidea and include squids with the Ommastrephes classification and the genus Loligo.
The verb squid means, “to fish with or for squid.” This could also be used as “squidding.”
In British slang, “squid” means one pound sterling.
Is a Squid a Fish?
Squid are not considered fish. Certain aspects of squid physiology and biochemistry prevent them from competing directly with fish. According to the Canadian Journal of Zoology, “ These advances are reviewed against the background of detailed information on fish from the perspective that the basic inefficiency of the jet-propulsion system has required bioenergetic, physiological, and biochemical adaptations in squid which maximize their metabolic rates. Such “high-energy” adaptations are suggested to have resulted in the short life history and semelparous reproductive patterns that seem to characterize these coleoid cephalopods. Conversely, the physiology and biochemistry of fish give them distinct advantages for long lives and iteroparity.”
Squids do not have an external shell like mollusks. Instead, they have an internal shell where the muscles attach.
The History and Origin of the Word
The etymology of a word is a great way to understand it better. According to Etymonline, the word squid originates in the 1610s, but there is no exact trace. It is of unknown origin, but it is thought to have come from a sailor’s variant of “squirt” because of the ink that squids expel.
Nearly all cephalopods, such as a squid, can squirt ink as a defense mechanism or as a way to escape. Octopus can also do this as well as cuttlefish. The gland that holds the ink sac is mostly melanin, which is the same pigment that colors human skin. It is mixed with an enzyme that impairs the sense of smell and taste.
The word for squid in the English dictionary is quite distinct from those in other languages, including the Spanish calamar or calamaro, the Turkish kalamar, and the Polish kałamarnica. In Portuguese, the word for squid is lula, in German, it’s tintenfisch, and in Vietnamese, it is mực ống. In Arabic, they are called hibarr, and in Thai they are Plāh̄mụk. Clearly, there is a large variation in the word for squid.
Examples of the Word in Context
A great way to get clarification on how to use a word properly is to see it being used in context. That way, you can incorporate the word into your vocabulary and sound well-read. Here are some example sentences for the plural squid:
Squid and octopus are eaten dried, pickled, stewed, steamed, and grilled.
People have seen giant squid attacking whales for food.
The squids in the ocean come in all shapes and sizes.
Squid eat shrimp crabs and even other squids.
Synonyms for Squid
To get a better understanding of a word, it can be helpful to look at other words that are similar in meaning. Here are some examples of synonyms for squid, straight from the thesaurus:
Calamari: “squid used as food”
Animal: “any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (such as protozoans) that typically differ from plants”
Cuttle: “any of various marine cephalopod mollusks (order Sepioidea, especially genus Sepia) having eight short arms and two usually longer tentacles and differing from the related squid in having a calcified internal shell”
The word calamari comes from the Italian word for squid. In the U.S, it refers to a battered and fried appetizer.
Whether you say squid or squids, it is likely that no one will try to correct you, unless they are a grammar fanatic. But if you do feel unsure in which one to use, remember that you can use squid as a singular or plural, but if you are referring to different species of squid, it makes more sense to say squids.
Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand how the word squid works, where it came from, and how to use it properly. Next time you need to write about it or use it in conversation, you will be prepared!
Kevin Miller is a growth marketer with an extensive background in Search Engine Optimization, paid acquisition and email marketing. He is also an online editor and writer based out of Los Angeles, CA. He studied at Georgetown University, worked at Google and became infatuated with English Grammar and for years has been diving into the language, demystifying the do's and don'ts for all who share the same passion! He can be found online here.