The use of kudos in English began in the early 19th century. Borrowed from ancient Greek, the English word was originally British university slang for praise or renown,1 and that’s roughly what it means today. To give kudos to someone is to give credit and praise for an achievement.

Like similar Greek-derived words ending in –os—for example, pathos and chaoskudos was originally a singular mass noun. Yet because it sounds plural, many writers treat it as such. On the web, “many kudos” is about three times as common as “much kudos,” suggesting that it is usually treated as a plural noun instead of a mass noun. In searches covering edited news publications, the ratio is closer to even, though “many kudos” has the edge.

The OED lists kudized as a derivative verb, but we find only one instance of the word in action, in the Harvard Crimson (see below).


Kudos are due to ProPublica for ferreting out the story of the unseemly and dishonest Democratic politicking. [Los Angeles Times]

And what unedifying boasting and envy will there be in the school playground, where personal kudos is measured by proximity to football? [Independent]

I got a lot of kudos recently for finishing the Tokyo Marathon, my first long race. [New York Times]

But in recent years it started happening elsewhere, and Melbourne’s cultural kudos has begun to be seriously challenged. [The Age]

Spitzer should have been kudized. [Harvard Crimson]


1. Kudos in the OED (subscription required)

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