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

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

| improve this answer | |
  • 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

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.