While editing a medical article I just came across the term “tetraplegia”; I assumed it should be quadriplegia, since it wasn’t in my Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate, but a Google search led me to the relevant Wikipedia article, which says:
Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, is a symptom in which a human experiences paralysis of all four limbs… The condition is also termed tetraplegia; both terms mean “paralysis of four limbs”, however tetraplegia is becoming the more accepted term for this condition. Tetraplegia, used commonly in Europe, is the more etymologically correct version since both “tetra” and “plegia” are Greek roots whereas “quadra” is a Latin root.
I wasn’t aware that anyone still cared about what used to be called “bastard words,” and I’m very pleased to be proved wrong. Now if only they’d do something about television…
Of course, I’m not comfortable taking Wikipedia’s word for it; does anybody know whether the tetra- form is in fact increasingly used in English?