How do you pronounce Nudibranch?

The question that even the wisest of sea slug enthusiasts struggle with! Most people seem to agree that the first part “nudi” is pronounced as “new-dee”. This has led to their popular nickname ‘nudi’, by which they are commonly referred to. The tricky part arises from the last part ‘branch’.  Is it new-dee-branch (like the tree)? Could it be new-dee-brank (like with a hard ‘a’)? Or said with an air of snobbery like new-dee-brahnk (saying the ‘a’ like you do in father)? Or is it simply ‘bronk’ like how you would pronounce the start of bronchitis?

Diver with Nudibranch
Scuba diver looking at a Nudibranch

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary online has a good sound bite for how to pronounce nudibranch: However, your pronunciation might just come down to where you’re from! If reddit and various dive/nudibranch forums are anything to go by, it seems that there still isn’t a solid consensus when it comes to the pronunciation of our beloved sea slugs. Ms. Frizzle from the magic school bus pronounced it the tree branch way (which gets a decent amount of pushback for being ‘wrong’!).

Let’s look back at its origins. The scientific name for the order is Nudibranchia. The word nudibranch is made up of a Latin and Greek word. The Latin ‘nudus’ which means naked and the Greek ‘branchia’ referring to gills. It stands to reason that the only ones allowed to hassle you for pronunciation are those who are fluent in both Greek and Latin. This pronunciation debacle seems to be uniquely tied to the English language. I wonder if Germans are squabbling over how to say ‘Nacktschnecke’, or the Japanese over the articulation of ‘umiushi’ (ウミウシ)?

Vintage drawing of Nudibranchs
Vintage drawing of the sea floor with Nudibranchs

What if you want to refer to multiple nudibranchs? What is a group of nudis called? That’s also for you to decide! There doesn’t seem to be an official group label that has been bestowed upon them yet. A group of snails can be referred to as a rout, walk, hood, or escargatoire. While that might suffice for the land snails, I think our colorful nudis deserve something a little more sensational and equally as splendid as a squadron of manta rays, a flotilla of swordfish, a shiver of sharks, or a smack of jellyfish! A nebulous of nudis? A gaggle of gastropods? Oh, the possibilities!!

In summary, pronounce nudibranch however you please! Considering there are different accents in the English language and 1.5 billion people who speak English as a second language, everyone needs to chill out and let you go around pronouncing nudibranch however you want! After all, there are some people who have never even heard of nudibranchs so you’re already ahead of the game knowing this wonderful group of sea creatures exists!

If you want to play it safe, no one will hassle you for saying nudi or sea slugs!

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