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tricky plurals in Romanian

Folks, did you know some Romanian words have more than one plural, each with a different meaning? (This is news to me.) These words are homonyms (i.e. words that look and sound the same, with different meanings) only in their singular form, but not in the plural. (I am not sure if the converse also happens, i.e. if Romanian words can have different singulars but the same plural form?) Here are a few such examples.

The word corn has thee plural forms, depending on meaning:

-- coarne (antlers/animal horns)

-- cornuri (croissants/rolls)

-- corni (plants called the Cornelian cherry, or "cornus mas" in Lat.)

The same si true of the word masă:

-- mese (table)

-- mase (crowds)

Moreover, some words change their meaning completely in their plural form:

argint (silver) --> arginți (old type of money, silver coins)

lapte (milk) --> lapți (milt, i.e. the seminal fluid of fish)

Enjoy! Some people hate grammatical complications, but we Duolingo heroes love them. :-)

June 8, 2018



Adding something:

Vise (Dreams, those that are dreamt at night etc.)

Visuri (Well, this still means dreams, but those that are seen like objectives in life, like something one would want to become)

Examples: He has good dreams every night. (Vise) He has big dreams about meeting X. (Visuri)

Btw, most natives don't really know the differences to these plurals either, at least for certain words (including, and especially, this one); with these two plurals, they mostly use "visuri" in either case only :)

Another one'd be cap(head):

Capi (Heads, leaders and so on; this word is kinda old though, and not really used anymore, only seen in older texts; perhaps maybe ironically.)

Capuri (So apparently, this one means "promontories"..)

Capete (This one is the proper one, meaning "heads", a part of body).

All of these have as singular the noun "cap" which I suppose has its meanings... Haha (very) pretty sure 90% of (native) people would have no idea about these differences ;d


Cool, thank you for these!


Interesting! Yes, I probably knew that at some point although I haven't thought of it in a long time. I'll mull it over and see if I can come up with any homonyms myself. When I saw coarne, my mind also went to this type of wild fruit that I remember from my chidlhood: coarne de pădure (coarne from the forest). They were very red and quite tart. I looked them up and it seems that they are the fruit of the Cornelian cherry or Cornus Mas plants you mentioned. They are believed to have medicinal properties.

Speaking of which, it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I found out that the English name for another popular plant from my childhood, soc, was elderberry. A popular beverage named socată is made from elderberry flowers, and I recently discovered a similar beverage made in the UK: elderflower cordial.


OK, I thought of one: pas

doi pași (step/steps)

două pasuri (pass/passes as in the geographical term)

I wonder if short words are more likely to have multiple meanings. Corn and masă are short words too. The longer a word the more specialized it seems to be.


Cool, thank you! And an interesting observation.


Romanian language is a beautiful language. With tricky plurals we can continue:

  • ochi (eye or eyes) --> ochiuri (eggs sunny side up)

  • creier (brain) --> creieri (brains) but also --> creiere (rulers, leaders)

  • nivel (level, floor) --> nivele (floors) --> niveluri (levels of, lets say, knowledge)

Have fun! It's really a beautiful language.


Yes, the converse also happens, i.e., there are Romanian words that can have different singulars but the same plural form. The following recent comment by @coto.i made me think of one:

fier (iron) = 1. the material (the chemical element Fe); 2. any piece of metal (any metal or alloy, not just iron) - in which case it has the plural fiare https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29297747

Naturally, fiare made me think of fiarele pădurii (the wild animals of the forest), which are sometimes mentioned in our povești, povestiri și basme (fairy tales, stories and fables).

o fiară, două fiare = big wild animal
According to dexonline.ro fiară can also be used to describe an extremely evil, cruel or violent person.


c très interessant


Foarte bine. Felicitari pentru explicatii!

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