One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Treated as plural: a former class of coelenterate organisms including jellyfish, comb jellies, siphonophores, and (originally) sea anemones. With singular concord (also in form acalepha): an animal of this class (usually in plural, the animals of this class collectively).
Early 19th century; earliest use found in John Fleming (1785–1857), naturalist and Free Church of Scotland minister. Partly from scientific Latin Acalepha, class name, alteration of Acalephae; and partly from scientific Latin Acalephae, class name, feminine plural from ancient Greek ἀκαλήϕη stinging nettle, sea anemone (so called on account of its stinging properties), of unknown origin. Compare French Acalèphes, plural (Cuvier: see above).
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