Can't say I've heard "paparazzi" in the singular. I usually interpret it to be an uncountable/mass noun and that use of the singular "paparazzo" is pedantic or snobby.

Also, don't confuse "collective noun" with "uncountable noun" or "mass noun". The former refers to "pride" of lions, "murder" or crows; the latter two (synonyms) refer to words like "sand" which can't be used with the indefinite article or a number, such as "a sand", "two sands".

A dictionary of all places should strive always to use clear terminology for its own subject matter, words and their usage. — Hippietrail 13:47, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The problem is that the plural paparazzi is an everyday word with a negative connotation ("thronging, obnoxious photographers") while the singular paparazzo is a high-register word without that connotation (you can't throng alone). Since paparazzi doesn't look plural, and doesn't pluralize (because it already is), it gets read as a mass noun ("the paparazzi is a problem"). Sometimes indeed it gets used as a singular ("that paparazzi is a problem, and so are those paparazzis over there") but in standard language it should always be plural ("the paparazzi are a problem"). —Muke Tever 16:25, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)
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