Some words in English are spelled in unique ways when used in plural. Spellings that you wouldn’t expect unless you knew them beforehand. And those unique spellings can then cause confusion as to how the original word is spelled, especially if the plural form is the most common one. Such is the case of today’s question. After all we can all agree that lenses is a plural word, but of which word exactly? Should we write lense or lens? Which is after all the correct spelling? Stick with us as we answer that question and learn how the confusion came to be.
Lens or Lense?
To make the story short, the correct spelling is lens, and when it’s in plural we write lenses. There’s no case where lense is an accurate or even real word, so lens is always the way you should spell it. Lenses are one of the simplest optical devices, which allow us to either focus or disperse light. It might sound a little weird out of context, but it’s actually a pretty simple idea, and the best example of a lens is just a magnifying glass.
If you pay attention a magnifying glass isn’t really flat, instead it has a curved surface on both end. This is common in all lenses and is in fact why they received that name. Lens is the Latin word for lentil, the food, and the people who named lenses did it because they closely resembled lentils in shape. As such there’s no doubt that the proper and intended spelling is lens.
So how did the doubt between lense or lens came again to be? Well it really comes to the use of the plural form. Most plurals are really just the word and an s at the end. But as lens already ends in an s that form of plural can’t be used, hence the word lenses. And the plural form is just more common in regular discussion so many people who only had heard of lenses, and never of a lens took a simple guess. “If lenses is the plural form, and given that most plurals just add an s to the word then in singular it must be lense”, That sums up the thought process that lead to the confusion.
However as we’ve detailed above the proper spelling is and has always been lens, and anything else is just a simple and honest mistake, nothing else.