Why is it that the plural of goose is geese but the plural of moose is moose? The same goes for mouse and house. Mouse becomes mice, yet house becomes houses.

  • 3
    This is the well-known issue of O-E ablaut.
    – tchrist
    Apr 18, 2013 at 18:17
  • Why do you think the plural of buck is bucks, but for quid its quid and for money its money?
    – Fr0zenFyr
    Apr 18, 2013 at 21:11
  • 1
    @tchrist, umlaut, not ablaut. ;-) May 13, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    @Skooba ~ how can this be a duplicate of what you linked to when it predates it by over three years? :)
    – user180089
    Jul 25, 2016 at 0:31
  • How many hice do you have? :P
    – Dog Lover
    Jul 25, 2016 at 0:38

2 Answers 2


Why is there so much diversity in how English nouns are pluralized? answers most of your question quite well, I think. The relevant summary is that English (a) has major influences from a very wide range of sources (b) is rooted in Old English, which has several pluralisation schemas for different classes of word. So some Old English words pluralise by suffixing -s, some by suffixing -en, some with a vowel shift and some stay the same. Some words (ox/oxen, louse/lice) have kept their old plurals, and others have 'normalised' due to pressure on the language to be regular (cow/kine). Wikipedia has a nice reference on English plurals if you feel like exploring.


The word "goose" comes into English from an ancient Germanic language that had something called strong declension. Basically, what it means is that these words, which include "foot" and "tooth," pluralize by changing the "oo" to "ee" (like foot/feet and tooth/teeth). So that's why the plural of "goose" is "geese." Similar rules come into play for the words "louse" and "mouse." While people may have used a word similar to "hide" as the plural form of "house," the word was simply modernized into the more standard form of English pluralization (addition of the letter -s) while the others were not. "Moose" comes into English from a North American/Native American source around 400 years ago and does not follow the ancient Germanic language rules. The similarities between the two words is simply coincidental.

  • 5
    Goose didn't really “come into English from” any ancient Germanic language that had strong declensions—English is in origin an ancient Germanic language that has/had strong declensions. Aug 8, 2014 at 7:38

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