While attempting to answer this question @ProgramFox has been trying to come up with an example of a noun with no plural.

The best I've come up with is egotism and Judaism. (Fluxmay be a viable contender as there is a related question asking about its plural!)

Some of the contenders I've already shot down are air, water, and money. (Airs, waters, and monies are all legitimate plurals.)

My question is, a) Do my two examples have actual plurals? b) Are there any other non-ism nouns that don't have a plural?

  • Mass nouns are inherently non-plural, but probably any mass noun can be used as a count noun to give it some additional connotation, as you have done with airs, waters, and monies. I find "There are many different Judaisms" to be an acceptable way to express the idea that the word Judaism includes people with a wide variety of beliefs, and practices. If you allow stretching words in this way, I don't know that you'll find an answer. – WinnieNicklaus Feb 21 '14 at 17:08
  • duplicate: english.stackexchange.com/questions/153315/… – d'alar'cop Feb 21 '14 at 17:16
  • 2
    Equally different egotisms are manifest in different egotists. – WS2 Feb 21 '14 at 17:20
  • @ermanen The other one has an accepted answer already :p – d'alar'cop Feb 21 '14 at 17:22
  • @d'alar'cop I was asking the question on that guy's behalf anyway! ;-) – David M Feb 21 '14 at 17:53

There is a term called "singulare tantum":

The term for a noun which appears only in the singular form is singulare tantum (plural: singularia tantum); for example, the English words "information", "dust", and "wealth".

Singulare tantum is defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as: "Gram. A word having only a singular form; esp. a non-count noun."

There is still a plural form of "information" but I think it only applies to law.

Most senses of the word “information” are uncountable. The legal sense, referring to court filings, is one that does form a plural.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 1
    Excellent answer, but I have to say in: Over the last decade, I have been trying to put some content into the black box of "institutions" that, it is increasingly agreed, provides the basic reasons for the differing wealths of nations, I'm inclined to agree with the author that plural wealths is better than singular. – FumbleFingers Feb 21 '14 at 18:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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