Meaning of hectocotylus in English:


Pronunciation /ˌhɛktə(ʊ)ˈkɒtɪləs/

nounplural noun hectocotyli/ˌhɛktə(ʊ)ˈkɒtɪlʌɪ/ /ˌhɛktə(ʊ)ˈkɒtɪliː/

  • A modified arm used by male octopuses and some other cephalopods to transfer sperm to the female.

    ‘In some species, the specialized arm tip may be pinched off and left in the female's mantle cavity: this is known as the hectocotylus arm.’
    • ‘The hectocotylus is used to deliver the spermatophores (sperm-filled sacs) to the female during mating.’
    • ‘In some cephalopods, the end of the hectocotylus snaps off and remains imbedded in the female.’


Mid 19th century modern Latin, from hecto-‘hundred’ + Greek kotulē ‘hollow thing’, a name given by Cuvier to what he mistakenly took to be a genus of parasitic worms.