This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Mrs. D. M. A. asks: "Will you please give in the Monthly, the derivation and pronunciation of Coleus, and how to form the singular and plural?" [It is an ancient Latin word, signifying a peculiar form of bag or purse, and to which the unexpanded flower has some supposed resemblance. It is pronounced as if written, coal-yus, the e being of very short sound. Gramatically, if you were writing a treatise on Latin, or conversing in the Latin tongue, you would make coleus for the singular and colei for the plural. But Coleus has been made a part of the English language by its every day use, and it will therefore have to follow English grammatical rules. It will therefore be quite safe, when talking to your neighbor to say Coleus for the singular, and Coleuses for the plural. There is an attempt in some quarters to carry the Latin forms of plurals with the Latin words, after they have come into common use as English ones; and in this case Colei would be used in every day language, - but with no more reason than there would be for using the various forms which the Latin noun goes through in forming its cases.