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I'm wondering about the pluralisation of "ho" (as in slang for prostitute) in the phrase "Bros before ho(e)s". To me, hos makes sense because it's consistent with bros. Hoes could also refer to a particular type of gardening equipment, although given the context of the phrase there should be no ambiguity.

On the other hand, hos looks like it's pronounced "hoss" whereas bros doesn't really suffer from that problem. A Google Trends search between "hos" and "hoes" shows that the words by themselves are used equally frequently.

However a Google Trends search between the phrases indicates that "Bros before hoes" is more popular (note the scaling), barring a large seasonal spike in "Bros before hos". In the latter case, it's almost as though brothership and camaraderie is strongly tied to Christmas cheer, but on closer examination it seems to be because of a World of Warcraft holiday achievement. Even then the phrase is a play on "Ho ho ho" and not to do with ladies of the evening.

So I'm still undecided between hos and hoes. Can anyone "help a brother out"?

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The title would better be: "Which is correct: to put bros before hos or before hoes?" or even just "bros, before hos or before hoes?" Btw, why the down vote? –  Kris Jan 12 '12 at 7:31
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I disagree with the second paragraph. "Bros" looks like it would be pronounced "bross", and indeed that's how the 80s boy band Bros is pronounced. –  slim Jan 12 '12 at 9:35
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Hey Verge, you got any Jane Austen questions? –  cindi Jan 12 '12 at 10:11
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The apostrophe to the rescue! From the wikipedia article concerning the acceptable uses of an apostrophe, one is "The marking as plural of written items that are not words established in English orthography" for example "P's and Q's"

Clearly "bro" and "ho" are not standard English, so making them plural via 's is acceptable.

Therefore, I would write it as "Bro's before ho's"

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The apostrophe here makes sense as Neal points out.

However, it is so because word bro is the elided form of brother, like typo, porno or even zoo. Hence the apostrophe makes more sense here with regard to the word being elided than with the -o ending, again compare with folios, videos, trios and cellos. Inflexions in -s before a -o can lead to adding an -e- as with cargoes and volcanoes.

I don't know if there is a strict rule for the -e- infix, but in the case of elided words it seems unnecessary.

In the end dictionaries show bro can become bros in the plural. It might just be a matter of style or an orthography in transition. The beautiful thing about living languages, is that you take part in their making. So the choice is yours I would say.

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protected by Robusto Jan 13 '12 at 20:11

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