What is the correct plural form of the word "offspring"?

From the dictionaries I have looked at, I am guessing it is just "offspring", but Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster say "offsprings" is also acceptable.

offspring noun (plural offspring, offsprings)


offspring noun (plural offspring, offsprings)


offspring noun (plural offspring)

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

offspring noun (plural offspring)

Oxford Dictionaries

Macquarie Dictionary and OED have no mention of the plural form.

The sentence I want to use the word in is:

...more long-legged frogs exist to generate long-legged [offspring(s)].

In this context "offspring" as a plural (without the "S") doesn't sound right.


4 Answers 4


From Google Books Ngram Viewer, Offspring is more common, in the past 200 years, so the negligible usage of Offsprings might be attributed to a few ignorant authors.

Very common usage of Offspring vs negligible usage of Offsprings
Very common usage of Offspring vs negligible usage of Offsprings

Very common usage of Fish vs smaller (but not negligible) usage of fishes
Very common usage of Fish vs smaller (but not negligible) usage of fishes

Possible Explanation:
Fish and Fishes are both correct, but the singular is generally more common, and the ratio looks good. So we can consider that both are used normally.
Offspring is correct and is used commonly, while Offspings, being "wrong" in some sense, has negligible usage, and the ratio is "abnormally low". So we can consider that Offsprings should be avoided?

  • 4
    How do you differentiate between the use of "offspring" in the singular from the plural? Obviously, as with "fish", the far more common use of the word is in the singular, and this is what the Ngram Viewer is showing you.
    – dotancohen
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 11:32
  • 1
    @dotancohen That's a really good point. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind.
    – Dog Lover
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 11:39
  • @dotancohen , hope my edit answers your question.
    – Prem
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 13:09
  • The plurial of "fish" depends on whether you are talking about several individuals of the same species or several species of fish. "Fishes" is used when we are referring to several species of fish. Example coming from here and there: There are a lot fishes in the sea. or The fishes of the Fraser River include salmon and sturgeon
    – Remi.b
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 22:44
  • @Remi.b: That's an over-simplification. "If wishes were fishes..." doesn't mean "If wishes were different fish species."
    – herisson
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 14:15

From the 16c. to the early 19c. a plural form offsprings was current but since then this ancient word (found already in OE) has been invariable in form (Fowler's Modern English Usage).


  • The widows and the offsprings of the poorer, the indigent clergy (1756)
  • These are the offspring of Muslim parents; the son tried to become the worthy offspring of his famous father.
  • Better to start when the offspring are young and will have no solid memories of particularly rough times.(Washington Times, May 27, 2015)
  • The Norway rat has a three-week gestation period and can produce five litters a year, each with four to eight offspring. (The Verge,May 13, 2015)

I just Googled around and found that some of the other references like

All of the above supports the plural form offsprings.

Even in medical or biological contex, offsprings is used as a plural of offspring. (As per the American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary)

However, the use of Offsprings is too less.


One modern example of the use of "offsprings" is in the 2016 edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible in Galatians 3:16:

16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

The intent here is to emphasize the difference between the singular and the plural.

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