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Mice vs. mouses

  • For the small device used to guide the cursor on a computer display, many dictionaries endorse both mice and mouses as the plural form, and few usage and style guides offer a definitive preference (exception: AP says “mice”). We assumed mouses was standard for the computer device, but we were wrong. Searches of current news articles reveal 31 instances of “computer mice” to only seven of “computer mouses.” And on the whole web, Google finds nearly 10 million results for “computer mice” to only around 200,000 for “computer mouses.”


     

    These ratios might be skewed by a greater tendency to use “computer” with “mice” to avoid confusion with the rodent. But this may be partially offset by instances of mouses as a simple-present verb (e.g., she mouses over the image). In any case, we can safely say that mices prevails by a large margin.

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    Examples

    That was followed closely by computer mouses, bathroom paper towel handles, water fountains and sink faucets. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

    If you have any equipment, from laptops to cables, keyboards to mice … you can donate them at special events throughout January. [BBC]

    Instead of relying solely on keyboards and mouses, ultrabooks will also incorporate touch screens as an alternative means of entering information. [Stuff.co.nz]

    That will make obsolete the era of mice and remote controls. [Los Angeles Times]


    Comments

    1. Popularity doesn’t count. Specialist terms take the regular plural. Grammarist, Grammarists; mouse, mouses. Only the traditional irregular noun maintains its irregular plural: mouse, mice. And it leaves you with a degree of satisfaction that you’re not following the unthinking masses of the great unwashed. We know what’s correct. Hell, even the American dialect is dropping agreement in number: they each went to their house. As they say, d’uh!

      • john_aj says:

        It does matter, though. Usage always prevails over grammar. However, it seems you’re a prescriptivist and I’m a descriptivist, so that’s probably why your opinion differs.

        • Chaitanya says:

          IMHO John, usage makes the convention. Thank goodness its still house/houses and not hice.

      • Illuminati Kämpfer says:

        Love this comment!

    2. Hmmm, yeah.! says:

      Maybe you should all get a life, lifes, or lives?

    3. Those numbers are not even close to being correct.

    4. iLuvSatan666 says:

      I say mouses.

    5. NorthernShadow says:

      I can settle this… Mouse Devices…

    6. Daniel Cederqvist says:

      The worst thing about Googling for the “correct word” is that you end up on articles with dedicated linguists or tongue troopers in the comment section…

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