1

You would say "rat infested" but would you say "mouse infested" or "mice infested"?

Sidenote: I think we would say "mouse infestation" so I'm assuming we would also say "louse infestation" as opposed to "lice infestation" as well.

  • If there were a bunch of houses on a street throwing a yard sale, it would still be a "yard sale", as opposed to a "yards sale". Similarly, a coin-operated machine does not become "coins-operated" when it requires more than one coin. Further, a "cylinder engine" does not become "cylinders engine" for having more than one cylinder. – Michael Dec 5 '15 at 22:37
  • yes, but those are all regulars. When the plural is irregular (goose geese) then it would go into plural form, i suppose. People eater as opposed to person eater. – Rod Johnson Dec 17 '15 at 0:00
  • Hmm. People is a peculiar one, but what about "mouse trap" rather than "mice trap"? Also, why is it then "wild goose chase" instead of "wild geese chase"? I mean, if you were chasing the things, there would probably be more than one. Personally, I would be more afraid they would be chasing me. – Michael Dec 17 '15 at 3:43
  • I think this only applies to participle adjectives on nouns with irregular plurals – Rod Johnson Jan 6 '16 at 20:50
3

I think both forms are acceptable and they are both used according to Google books:

  • While mice-infested is undoubtedly accepted and used by some speakers, it seems that most speakers still prefer to stick to the stem-form modifier and say mouse-infested.

(The Handbook of English Linguistics By Bas Aarts,April McMahon)

Ngram mice-infested vs mouse-infested

  • And note the use of the hyphen to make it a compound word. – WhatRoughBeast Dec 5 '15 at 20:11
  • Hyphenated when used as a preceding adjective (mouse-infested barn), but usually not (or not necessarily) otherwise (the barn was mouse infested). – Cargill Dec 5 '15 at 21:44
  • @WhatRoughBeast 'Particle board' is as much a compound noun as 'ink-well' and 'inkwell'. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 5 '15 at 22:00

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