Moose, meese, or mooses – what’s the plural of moose?

Moose, meese, or mooses. The plural seems to be one of the most straightforward aspects of English. However, there are still words that don’t follow the rules, and moose is one of them.

moose or meese or moose? Which form is correct meaning definition correct form difference examples

Moose, meese, or mooses? Definition & etymology of moose

A moose is a large mammal belonging to the deer family that lives in cold climates. The word was borrowed from an indigenous North American language, but that’s not the only thing English speakers borrowed. What stayed the same as in the original language was this word’s plural form.

Moose, meese, or mooses? The plural of moose

For reasons stated above, moose doesn’t have the regular plural form ending with -s. In the case of this word, the plural looks and sounds the same as the singular form (moose). Although words with irregular plurals are in the minority, they’re more common that you might think – consider, e.g.: person, man, woman, child, fish, foot, tooth, leaf, mouse, and many more.

Moose, meese, or mooses? Why not mooses or meese?

The incorrect form “mooses” is an attempt to apply the rules of regular plural nouns to the word moose, which is not an option. The more mysterious form, “meese”, might be the result of some speakers trying to create the form based on similar words with irregular plurals, e.g. goosegeese. Although these words look strikingly similar, their origins and plurals are completely different.

The last question that remains to be answered is this: how do we know whether the word moose is used in the singular or plural if the two forms are identical? The only way we can tell is context.

See if you can spot some more irregular plurals in the examples below:

Moose, meese, or mooses? Now it’s all clear! Examples from literature

Deer in the Northeast; alligators in the Everglades; buffalo in the prairies; grasshoppers in the Great Basin; rabbits in California; moose in Alaska: all were pursued by fire.

Charles C. Mann, 1491, 2005

At the turn of this century, it was estimated that there were no more than a dozen moose in New Hampshire and probably none at all in Vermont.

Bill Bryson, A Walk in The Woods, 1998

Written by

She is a translator and EFL teacher with an MA in English studies, who dabbles in writing, subtitling and academic proofreading. When not pondering the complexities of linguistic correctness, she enjoys DIY, cycling and playing any type of guitar she can lay her hands on.