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I know that "stuff" is a collective noun, but other collective nouns like "family" can be pluralized, but "stuffs" doesn't sound quite right to me. However, the spell check on my browser says that "stuffs" is a word.

If "stuffs" is correct, why does it sound wrong to me? If it isn't, then why is it different from other collective nouns?

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  • It is right. "Stuffs" is the plural of "Stuff". As to why it sounds wrong to you - I have no idea. What do you mean by different?
    – user63241
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 2:30
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    It happens in compound like foodstuffs; by itself it looks like a singular present tense verb. Commented May 5, 2014 at 2:39
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    It sounds wrong to me too. I don't know why, maybe because you are already tired after saying 'stuff' and you have to put that extra effort at the end saying 's'. Commented May 5, 2014 at 2:40
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    Your spell-check doesn't dislike it because it is a valid verb tense: "John stuffs Twinkies at the factory for a living."
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 15:33
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    Some Googling suggests stuffs as a noun (by itself) is either in very short usage or just plain wrong. I would avoid it.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 21:40

6 Answers 6

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There are several cases where collective nouns are pluralized. "Fish" can mean one fish or several fish, but "fishes" usually refer to groupings of different types of fish - so it's a pluralization of the collective, not of the singular.

This could be generalized to this case as well. "Stuff" is a collective noun, but "stuffs" would probably be understood to mean distinctly separated groups of stuff.

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From Merriam-Webster's definition of foodstuff is the following example sentence:

// Hyperinflation has put all but the most basic foodstuffs and medicines out of reach, leaving those who remain thin, hungry and sick.
Washington Post, "In Venezuela’s oil capital, life is a struggle. So is death.," 20 Sep. 2019

The pluralization of stuffs isn't that much of a leap from the pluralization of foodstuffs.


There are also other manipulations of English that have allowed for this kind of pluralization.

One has an additional twist, because it pluralizes a noun that shouldn't really be a noun in the first place:

I have all the feels.

Another is a recent slogan from Arby's [YouTube video]:

We have the meats.


Mass nouns are seldom pluralized. However, there are exceptions.

From "What is the Plural of 'Money?'" by Merriam-Webster:

Like common mass nouns such as water and sand, there are occasions when money is inflected with a standard plural, like any count noun. It tends to occur when the reference is to discrete sums of money, obtained from a particular source or allocated to a particular cause.

The spelling in these instance can be moneys or, more commonly, monies:

Some of the 2009 stimulus monies for high-speed rail should end up in the California project and more may be coming.
—James McCommons, Waiting on a Train, 2009


So, the only real reason why stuffs could be considered incorrect is simply because it's not normally used. Since it isn't used, it doesn't sound normal. But that doesn't mean that it can't be used.

Repetition has made all the feels and we have the meats sound somewhat normal. Or at least more normal than when they were heard the first time …

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Stuffs is a verb. "He stuffs his backpack with clothes." Stuffs is not considered correct English as a noun. It doesn't seem to have utility since it is covered by "stuff".

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    – MetaEd
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 15:13
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"Stuffs" as a noun is incorrect. The reason it is different from other collective nouns is because it is also a mass noun. Words like rice, water, smoke, and cement are all mass nouns (or uncountable nouns). You could say "several piles of stuff" to make it plural, but not "several stuffs."

As others have said, "stuffs" is also a verb (present tense singular), so the spellchecker won't count it wrong. Hopefully, a good grammar checker would.

Reference: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/stuff

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Stuffs on it's own is really a verb but if you type "define stuff" in Google and expand the definition of the noun part you'll find one mention of it as a plural one's stuffs it still doesn't sound right though.

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  • Did you really type just type "on it is own"? Save the apostrophe for the contraction. Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 13:45
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I say the plural 'stuffs' is as much a word as any other. I say stuffs a lot, which is the plural of stuff, even though stuff already refers to a collection of (plural) things. However, I do say stuffs a lot for fun. Maybe I can make it a legitimate word in the dictionary.

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    Your effort is appreciated. Bear in mind that Stack Exchange answers are “right” answers. Anecdotes can be useful, but they are usually not sufficient on their own to show that an answer is right. An answer should include explanation, context, and supporting facts. For example, you could offer peer-reviewed evidence. This is what makes answers useful – to the asker, and to future visitors. See: “Real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions”.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 18:27
  • It isn't. Stuff is already a collective noun meaning more than one thing. Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 13:46

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