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The phrase axis mundi is used frequently in archaeology and art history to describe certain places as a "world center" or "center of the universe" in Indigenous or ancient/historical thought. How would this phrase be correctly pluralized? For instance, "By the early first millennium BCE, new urban centers developed across the region and were conceptualized as axes(?) mundi(?)." Any insight would be useful!

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    Is the axis mundi the center of the world, or is it that which everything else revolves around?
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 13:00
  • @RonJohn That'd make a nice separate question! The exact meaning of the phrase and also axis in itself is worth exploring properly.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 25, 2021 at 15:24

1 Answer 1

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Yes, the nominative plural of axis is axes.

Mundi 'of the world' is the genitive singular of mundus 'world', and you probably wouldn't pluralize it in most contexts (presumably there's still only one world), but should it become necessary to do so, the genitive plural is mundorum 'of the worlds'.

Axes mundi reads correctly to me, for your purposes.

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  • Axis mundi, "centre of [a/the/one] world"; axes mundi, "centres of the world"; axes mundorum "centres of [some/the/multiple] worlds"; and for completeness, axis mundorum "centre of the worlds". Is that correct? Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 6:42
  • @TimPederick Axis means axis/axle, not centre, but otherwise yes.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 12:52
  • @Cairnarvon the axle is in the center of the wheel.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 12:59
  • @Cairnarvon: I was just using OP's phrasing. Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 14:12
  • @RonJohn The nose is in the centre of the face and you'd still be wrong to translate nasus as centre.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 15:07

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