Why moose in plural is moose, and goose in plural is geese?

5
votes

Is there any explanation about why moose in plural is still moose and goose in plural is geese? Last weekend we were eating some popcorn covered in dark chocolate from the company Harry & David. That popcorn is called "Moose Munch", and we started to talk about moose with our friends. Nobody had a clue about the plural of moose. I looked it up here and it is still moose. But, then the question is why not "meese"? grin

22229 views
updated DIC 27, 2014
posted by 00e46f15
This is like the fish/fish thread or sheep/sheep world

11 Answers

4
votes

From what I've read it's because they have different word origins so they don't have to follow the same rules. Moose is from the Algonquin language, and Goose is not.

Look at "mongoose", which is of Asian origin, but we don't call them "mongeese"

updated DIC 26, 2014
posted by TheSilentHero
oops...beat me to it
OED: "The proper plural form is mongooses, but mongoose, mongeese, and other variants are occasionally used."
4
votes

It could have something to do with the varied etymologies of the words:

Moose - from algonquian

Goose - passed down from proto-Indo-European to German to Old English to Middle English to Modern English and likely picked up its spelling patterns along the way.

Similar changes in spelling patterns from singular to plural (i.e. goose → geese) can be found in other words that share this common heritage (and which likely shared an earlier phonemic connection as well):

mouse → mice

louse → lice

updated DIC 26, 2014
posted by Izanoni1
Glad you said that before I typed out my answer, so much easier to click on vote for someone with a wornout backspace/ erase key!
See? I even skewered that!
3
votes

It's because words like "mouse" and "goose" go back to Old English, also known as "Anglo-Saxon." In this, ancestor form of English, plurals were commonly formed by changing the vowels in words.

Examples: Mouse/mice goose/geese fot/fet (modern foot/feet) man/men tooth/teeth louse/lice

etc. . .

updated DIC 27, 2014
posted by buddah714
Forgot to add that "moose" were not known until Europeans discovered the New World, by which time, the rules for forming plurals had changed.
3
votes

Welcome to the English language.

updated DIC 26, 2014
posted by Eddy
2
votes

Gracias por todas sus respuestas. Estoy más que preparada para decirles a mis amigos todo lo que aprendí.

updated FEB 7, 2015
posted by 00e46f15
2
votes

I don't know if there is an explanation, you just have to learn the plurals of different animals. There are many. Here are some more:

Plural of deer is deer (not deers)

Plural of fish is fish

Plural of elk is elk

Plural of sheep is sheep

Plural of buffalo is buffalo

It really gets fun when you get into what a group of specific animals is called like:

A herd of elk

A gaggle of geese

A murder of crows

updated MAY 16, 2010
edited by scottdoherty
posted by scottdoherty
You can say "fishes" as the plural of fish, though it is not used very often
1
vote

(with the risk of making a complete fool of myself)

And why not mouses instead of mice?

updated DIC 27, 2014
edited by Petirrojo
posted by Petirrojo
And why houses instead of hice?
1
vote

Again Mongoose is a word borrowed from Marathi and does not share the same etymology as either moose or goose - Izanoni1

Even if it did share the same etymology, English is not consistent in its importation of words from other languages. Sometime we use their masculine/feminine or singular/plural forms and sometimes, we do not.

updated MAY 15, 2010
posted by samdie
1
vote

To add to the craziness, the plural of mongoose is mongooses so we have:

Moose/Moose

Goose/Geese

Mongoose/Mongooses

The more Spanish I learn the more I look back on English with one eyebrow raised saying "What were they thinking?"

updated MAY 15, 2010
posted by Delta33
Again Mongoose is a word borrowed from Marathi and does not share the same etymology as either moose or goose
1
vote

There are some words that double as singular and plural. "Moose" happens to be one of them

updated MAY 15, 2010
posted by MeEncantanCarasSonrisas
1
vote

We ask ourselves this same question all the time. Why not "meese?"

Also, many English speakers would not know that the plural of "moose" is in fact "moose."

updated MAY 15, 2010
posted by --Mariana--