Discussion in 'English Only' started by hapax legomenon, Jul 11, 2006.

  1. hapax legomenon New Member

    It seems to me that people prefer saying "dice", even when it should be singular.

    Is this simply due to a reluctance to say "die"? In other words, is the singular of "dice" taboo to some extent? It's an odd plural as well - why not dies? Any thoughts?​
    "A cube of cheese no larger than a die
    May bait the trap to catch a nibbling mie".

    Senator Depew​
  2. moirag Senior Member

    English, England
    I'm sure you'll get replies referring you to other threads on this.... My opinion is that you're absolutely right: we say "one dice" and "two dice". Those of us who say "one die" - and some instructions in boxes of games(it varies) - are being a bit pedantic. I don't think it has anything to do with an avoidance of the connotations of "death", as I, perhaps wrongly, think your question may imply. Most people in the UK say "dice" for singular, too.
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The form dice is much more common as both singular and plural.
    I don't know if this is some latent distaste for the word die or simply a reflection of the fact that in many instances it is dice (plural) that are cast so that throw/cast the dice is the natural phrase.
  4. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I think that it is all of the above plus the fact that dice is less likely to be confused with other like sounding words.

    Even though I know that it is incorrect I do not say die because of the death connotation.
  5. A90Six Senior Member

    England - English.
    I agree. Many people in the UK would not even be aware that die is the singular of dice. Some even believe that when die is written in games instructions it is a typo with a missing c, much as some think that paté is a typo of paste.
    The only time die is really heard is in the expression, "The die is cast," meaning - something has been done or a decision has been made that will now have to run its course and fate will decide the outcome.
  6. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    My statistics prof used the word die all the time and I've used it ever since even though I usually have to explain it.
  7. Kevman Senior Member

    Phoenix, Arizona
    USA English
    "One dice" grates on my ears, but, as moirag notes, I'm being a bit pedantic.:)
  8. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    The OED lists dice being used as a singular noun back to 1388, so you guys knock yourselves out. Me, I still prefer 'die' but that might be the old punk rocker in me.
  9. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    In a way, that's true!

    pasta, paste and pâté, along with pasty, pastry and patty, derive from a Greek word paste meaning "barley porridge".

    Like river, I only discovered that the singular of dice is die while studying maths at uni.
  10. maxiogee Banned

    If one wants to dice potatoes, one shouldn't use a grater! :D

    If i remember correctly from the board-games of my childhood, the "contents" list used to say "die" usually, and then the rules just said "throw a six" — with no mention of dice/die.

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