Is it ‘stadia’ or ‘stadiums’?

Blog reader Jo asks:

I recently watched a television interview with David Cameron during which he used the term ‘stadia’ as the plural of stadium. It sounded very affected, but is it correct?

Stadia is indeed the correct Latin plural of stadium. It is, however, far more common for English speakers to use stadiums.

Latin plurals such as appendices, crises and fungi are still widely used in science and academia. But in many cases we drop either the singular or the plural according to which is less in keeping with the English language.

In many cases, English pluralisation feels more natural. And natural-feeling language doesn’t prompt your reader or listener to break their concentration and ponder Latin grammar.

In the case of stadia, there’s an extra meaning attached. It’s also the word for the Ancient Greek unit of length or the land surveyor’s tool, known as the stadia rod.

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