Learn English – the plural of the word formula


I study mathematics and as I'm sure you can imagine, often read the word formula. I also quite often come across formulas used as the plural. This always annoys me as I was under the impression that the correct plural of formula was formulae?

Is there any consensus or information as to why there is two (seemingly) accepted forms of this? I thought that formulae probably has a Latin derivation and formulas may be Americanized?

Best Answer

It appears that the plural formulas has become the most common term also in scientific context:

for·mu·la /ˈfɔːmjʊlə/: - n. pl. for·mu·las or for·mu·lae.

Usage note:

  • The word formula has two possible plural forms, formulae and formulas. The traditional distinction is that formulas should be used in general writing and formulae in mathematical and scientific contexts, but analysis of the Oxford English Corpus shows that formulas is increasingly the dominant form in both technical and general uses. (ODO)

Ngram and Ngram: the graphs suggest that the most common use is 'formulas'.