Discussion in 'English Only' started by Hutschi, Oct 17, 2006.
what is the right plural of "computer mouse", and why?
It's always been mice where I work.
Because the plural of mouse is mice.
Yup, panjandrum is right. It is MICE.
WHY? Because mouse is an arregular noun that changes completely when pluralized.
I asked this, because I found examples for "computer mouses", especially in a book from Stephen Pinker about words and rules.
But this was some years old. He stated that in the beginning "mouses" was used additionally to "mice", because they are new technical devices and the connection to the living mouse could be blocked in the brain.
Actually, I've heard mouses quite a bit, and more than mice, I'd say. (To tell the truth, a lot of people where I work hesitate a second before saying either mice or mouses, pick one, and grin sheepishly no matter which they've said.)
The Merriam Webster and American Heritage dictionaries list both forms.
I prefer mouses because it distinguishes the computer gadget from the rodent, but that's just personal preference.
I think mice has pretty much won out-- I hear it and use it, and I don't much like rodents either.
I think I'd go with mouses.
You can call a person a louse. If a second person treats you as 'lousily' I honestly can't imagine anyone saying, "What a couple of lice!" You would say 'what a couple of louses' and you wouldn't be wrong.
What do you know, went ahead and checked the OED. Nothing on 'louses' but under mouse they list the plural 'mouses' specifically for sense #4:
Technical uses. Applied to various things resembling a mouse in shape or appearance
There's even a citation using 'mouses' from 1769.
Thank you very much. The discussion supports, that the usage is not fix yet. At the end, it is what Pinker wrote. There are two different rules excluding each other in this sense. So it may depend on who is my audience what to select as technical writer.
Wait a sec., google prooves "computer mice" is 7 times as popular as "computer mouses", I would go with it. This thing is a rodent.
Agreed! Working as a network admin over the last 6 years, we run into this all the time. ...and it's always stated with the same confused face. "Did you bring the, er, Mouses? ...Mice?"
I prefer Mouses because it sets apart from the rodent. But seeing as how it was probably name a mouse becuase of the resemblence, Mice is probably more correct. I will not conform though
What an excellent point!
Correction: The correct name of the author, I mentioned above, is Steven Pinker.
Just to let you know, i found myself asking the same question and found the below helpful!
MOUSE is an acronym, and is short for Manually-Operated User-Selection Equipment so technically MOUSE is already the plural (... Equipments?) Most people, however pluralise acronyms, and initials in general, by adding a small s, so it would be MOUSEs, which seems a bit silly. Mice is also wrong, as it doesn't stand for anything, but it does make more grammatical sense than calling them MOUSE or MOUSEs. (NB: If a MOUSE was so called because it looked like the animal, then mice would be correct, but that isn't the case, although small body, long tail, who knows...)
Hi Lady, and welcome to the forum.
But are you sure about that acronym? Is the story perhaps apocryphal? There are (especially in IT) lots of acronyms that were thought up "after the fact," so to speak. Can you offer any factual corroboration, references, ancient documents or such like?
Whether or not mouse is an acronym, and having been in the IT industry since long before mice I very much doubt that, the current industry plural is mice.
Manually-Operated User-Selection Equipment is a fairly awful backronym - a retrospective pseudo-humorous attempt to find words for which mouse could be an acronym.
The device does not select users, apart from anything else.
The original word "mouse", when referring to computers, is not an acronym. To avoid all this confusion, you can simply say "mouse device" or "mouse devices". This is in common usage and widely recognized (it's also what Microsoft suggests for technical document writers).
That being said, I'll stick with "mouses".
It has always seemed to me that those people who see an actual resemblance between computer mice and real mice are blessed with very great imagination ... or crap eyesight
Welcome to the Forum, ITLady
20 years ago in Asia's IT field, it was called "pointing device". Only in mid 90s I noticed it was been changed to "mouse" to move along with MS Windows 3.1.
So I would go for Manually-Operated User-Selection Equipment.
The word "Mouse" in computing goes back to 1965.
I've checked a bunch of websites with acronym databases, and all of them list "Manually Operated User Selection Equipment (humor)". I believe this would mean the original term "mouse", when used in this sense, is not an acronym.
As it happens, I also go back to 1965 in computing, but the only mice I can remember were those under the floor eating the cables. Can you offer any factual corroboration, references, ancient documents or such like? (This is getting to be a habit!)
I'd like to stick with my version
But if someone gives a better explanation then i could be swayed!
Didn't expect any response from this as i replied to a 2006 post, but its nice to see what you have all replied!
M.O.U.S.E. is a backronym. The acronyms constructed after the fact are very common, I think because people find them attractive, regardless of their validity. The device was called a mouse as early as the 60s, after its similarity to a small creature with a tail (the cable).
"Mice" is the more usual plural, but mouses is accepted on the basis of it being a "headless word", a word in some way divorced from its original semantic origin, and therefore looked at afresh when constructing a plural or other grammatical forms. Another example is "still life", a form of artwork, whose plural is "still lifes".
Coincidentally, I had a conversation with Hewlett Packard customer support yesterday regarding malfunctioning mice and I used the plural "mouses" without thinking. I was a bit surprised at hearing myself say this, but I must subconsciously feel that I should treat it as a "headless word".
A nice article on the topic:-
It was first written as "mouse" in Bill English's publication "Computer-Aided Display Control."
Checking one of my PC Assembly language book which was published in 1994, plural of mouse, which is pointing deice, was refered as "mice".
If I remember correctly, IBM OS/2 and Apple called them pointing devices till MS Windows 3.1 ( I believe even window 3.0 called it as pointing device ). It was developed in 1965 and wasn't called "mouse", I am very sure of it.
It is probably alright to use either mouses or mice - as we can pronounce either as eye-thu or eethe - that is there doesn't have to be a rule, both are acceptable. I hope this addresses your question.
Check out http://www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/features/mouse/mouse.html, an interview with the creator of the mouse.
Further to the Stephen Pinker quote, I believe that Walkman (the play-back gadget) is always Walkmans in the plural, rather than Walkmen.
Years ago, on my first day of ‘computer basics’ training, I, too, wondered about mouse and mice (for about 20 seconds) and decided that, if in doubt, I would do as Sylvester the Cat does (if indeed it is he) and splutteringly refer to the infernal things as ‘meeces’.
Over at NewspaperArchive.com the earliest use of the word "Mouse" for the input device is September 4, 1986. It's an article explaining what this input device is and the plural they use is "mice."
Tyrone (PA) Daily News.
I love this discussion and, here definitely, I will thank the French (they love to "ergoter"). "Souris" spells the same singular or plural ! (Actually, the word "souris" is feminine and, no, the masculine form isn't "rat" !)
I think I say 'mouses' ... not sure because I seldom refer to more than one of them. (I talk about real mice far more often)
I've been casually collecting examples of this usage for a few years now. And just when I was about ready to declare "mice" the undisputed champion in this fight, I saw a box labeled "mouses" in the electronics section of a North Florida thrift store the other day.
... but there is no reason to feel certain that, had the box been in the pets department and contained real live rodent-type mice, it would still not have been labelled "mouses." I think you should carry on with your former belief, Kitenok.
I have a feeling that all neologisms (save in some cases where they are a compound word) and introduced words are regular. It therefore would depend on whether you see 'mouse' in this sense as a neologism or an adaptation.
I also have a nagging feeling that there is at least one (more) example of a noun with an irregular plural in the original meaning and a regular one in the new but I simply can't bring it to mind.
Maybe you're thinking of that other venerable obsolete chestnut Walkman, Mr.Q
I've always thought brainchildren was a funny-sounding word, as in
(Not really: I've never pluralized brainchild in my life.)
"Brainchildren"! I see "The Village of the Damned/The Midwich Cuckoos" - of course there's always mongoose/mongeese...
The American Heritage "Science Dictionary" lists both mice and mouses as the acceptable plural. I suspect that will be the norm going forward. I prefer mouses, just because it is then set apart from the animal. In the "Computing Dictionary" as referenced at dictionary.com, it lists the defintion of a mouse as "The most commonly used computer pointing device, first introduced by Douglas Engelbart in 1968." which seems to differ from some of the history I have seen in this forum. I agree that the acronym also referenced in this forum was probably coined later.
Separate names with a comma.