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In basketball, football, hockey, and many other sport the teams get a set number of timeouts.

I was watching a summer league NBA game and there were some stat nerds talking and one referenced that "timeouts" was the incorrect plural form for a timeout. He said it should be times out. This to me is nonsense and hits my ears bad but a few others agreed with him. What is the plural of timeout?

  • What he said^. Timeout is the word, not time out. You should definitely trust yourself over the stats nerd(s). – Jake Regier Jul 28 '15 at 17:17
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    I thought you would know better than to listen to stat nerds. Ask yourself this: is ‘times-out’ one of the many screw-ups perpetrated by stat nerds… or is it one of their many screws-up? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 28 '15 at 17:39
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - If I can be fooled by some dude on ELU I can be fooled by some dude from the MIT. – RyeɃreḁd Jul 28 '15 at 18:12
  • After reading your question, what comes to my mind is the word "passerby." Its plural is passersby. It think that's what the other person was trying to convince you; yet I don't know if this can be applied to the word "timeout," too. – N.R. in Seoul Nov 26 '15 at 0:45
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Information from Grammarist.com:

Timeout vs. time out In American and Canadian English, timeout is one word in sports-related contexts, where it means an official pause in the action. Timeouts is its plural. In all other uses, time out is a two-word noun phrase.

I think the one guy was tweaking the other. I can get a rise out of my husband insisting that "RBIs" (runs batted in) in baseball should be "RsBI." It makes him crazy. (This was answered in the EL&U question, "In baseball, is it proper to pluralize 'RBI'?")

  • The Grammarist page is not correct. Timeout (as a count noun) is not generally considered incorrect in British English. The OED, which is thoroughly British, spells it timeout in all countable uses, but has both timeout and time out as basically variants in non-count uses of the sports sense. In other words, you call time out, but you take a timeout. (The OED also gives times out as a rare plural of timeout.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 28 '15 at 17:37
  • I do like the use of "RsBI" though. The next time we are having drinks after work I am going to have to convince my coworkers that it is truly RsBI and RBIs is purely for the incompetent layman. Then I just sit back and listen to the fantasy baseball RsBI talk and giggle. – RyeɃreḁd Jul 28 '15 at 18:16
  • @Janus, the Grammarist quote refers to American and Canadian English. I do take your point though, about "time out" in the sense of "The Raiders asked for a time out." It would be two words in that sense, right? Ryebread, wouldn't an English professor such as I know the correct pluralization of RBI? lol It drives people nuts. – ewormuth Jul 28 '15 at 19:38
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    @ewormuth I meant the part where it says that in British English timeout would be considered incorrect—that's not right. Personally I would say (like the OED does) that the Raiders asked for a timeout; but to do so, they called time out. But I doubt there's anything very hard-and-fast about it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 28 '15 at 19:45
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As RK01 referenced:

In sports it is timeout, and so the plural is timeouts -- in North America. In British English, it is two words, so the more correct plural is probably indeed times out, along the lines of attorneys general, where the second word is the modifier, not the noun.

The electronic and computer engineer term is also one word (timeout/timeouts).

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    The Grammarist page is not correct. Timeout (as a count noun) is not generally considered incorrect in British English. The OED, which is thoroughly British, spells it timeout in all countable uses, but has both timeout and time out as basically variants in non-count uses of the sports sense. In other words, you call time out, but you take a timeout. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 28 '15 at 17:37

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