Sign up ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When referring to the plural of a movie title (in the case where the movie has sequels), do you have to obey the pluralization rules of the last word in the title, or do you just add -s or -es to the end? For example, if I wanted to watch each of The Matrix movies, would I say, "Let's watch The Matrixes" or "Let's watch The Matrices?" The latter sounds kind of silly, but is it proper?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I think it's best to avoid changing the movie title at all; it should be left intact as the author intended it to be. In your example, I'd paraphrase, and say:

Let's watch The Matrix movies!


Let's watch The Matrix trilogy!

share|improve this answer
makes sense, I'm not sure why I didn't consider this. Thanks –  Carson Myers Jun 6 '11 at 10:42
Seems like the best way out. Although, really, let's just stop watching after the first movie, right, folks? –  Ilari Kajaste Jun 6 '11 at 10:56
Matrix Trilogy? There only was one surely? –  neil Jun 6 '11 at 11:16
Not sure whether you're joking but in case you're not, there were 2 sequels to The Matrix: The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. These form a trilogy. :-) –  Jez Jun 6 '11 at 12:30
Obligatory xkcd reference –  user1579 Jun 6 '11 at 13:00

Steven Pinker is a linguist and psychologist who studies this type of question -- how words or compound phrases do, or don't, keep the irregularity of their parts. The essentials are captured in his paper "Words and Rules,".

Pinker gives several examples to show how irregular forms (like "matrices" as the plural of "matrix") are kept in compound forms that extend the meaning of the rightmost morpheme: grandchildren not grandchilds, overate not overeated, etc. They are dropped when the compound form (or in this case phrase) does not mean a specialization of the rightmost morpheme: Mickey Mouses not Mickey Mice, Walkmans not Walkmen, Toronto Maple Leafs not Toronto Maple Leaves. Because grandchildren are children and overeating is eating, but Mickey Mouse isn't a mouse, a Walkman isn't a man, and a Toronto Maple Leaf is not a leaf.

Referring to The Matrixes is correct if for some reason you wanted to do that. But it is certainly less clunky to refer to The Matrix movies.

share|improve this answer
This may be a digression, but is The Matrix series correct? I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard the host referred to Mad Max: Fury Road as the latest installment of the Mad Max series –  RexYuan Jun 10 at 6:23
… except Mickey Mouse is a mouse, and Walkmen is quite commonly used, too. Indeed, to some people, like me, Walkmans is utterly bizarre and actually ungrammatical. Similarly with Batman: the movies would be the Batmans (Michael Keaton starred in the first two Batmans), but the characters would be Batmen (there are several different Batmen in the Marvel Universe). –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 10 at 9:15
@RexYuan: yes, that's fine. The Matrix is a noun modifier of "series." –  Will Briggs Jun 11 at 19:10
The kind of Mickey Mouse you can have more than one of, though, isn't a mouse. Two actors in Mickey Mouse costume; two Mickey Mouse cartoons; these are actors and cartoons, not mice. If you had Mickey Mouse and his clone in a show, maybe, but... six-year-old Julia Child and her clone would not be "the Julia Children," because "Child" here means last name, not her age. The man in "Batman" does mean "man," so of course a couple of Batman heroes are Batmen, as suggested above. –  Will Briggs Jun 11 at 19:19
If you believe Walkmans is ungrammatical and Walkmen is right, please cite a source. Sony has given its view. The plural of Walkman, they say, is something like "Sony Walkman Personal Stereo Systems." –  Will Briggs Jun 11 at 19:22

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.