Now, if you study dictionaries, you see that an animal or poultry is a countable noun when you refer to a living thing. For Example,

fish [countable] a creature that lives in water, breathes through gills, and uses fins and a tail for swimming

They caught several fish.

but an animal or poultry is an uncountable noun when you refer to its flesh as food

fish [uncountable] the flesh of fish eaten as food

I like frozen/smoked/fresh fish

However, we don't have this pair "count - uncount noun" for all animals in English because English people don't eat these kinds of animal. But people in other countries do.

For example,

mouse(n): a small animal that is covered in fur and has a long thin tail. Mice live in fields, in people’s houses or where food is stored.

a field mouse

We have no "mouse" as an uncountable noun that refers to its flesh as food.

So, Can we invent English words based on similar usage?

We can invent a new word "mouse" as an uncountable noun that refers to its flesh as food.

Eg, which one is correct?

can you eat a mouse? (this sounds like you eat it raw???)

can you eat mouse?

I don't want to mean we eat it raw. I mean we can cook it before eating it (ie, we see it as a kind of food like fish or chicken).

Note: I noticed that people often put "meat" before these not-considered-for-eating animals. For example, "dog meat", "cat meat".....

DO you think that it is safer to put "meat" before these not-considered-for-eating animals?

Extra question:

I am not sure if it is wrong to say:

"I eat 2 chickens & 3 fish" since chicken or fish is considered as an uncountable noun when we see it as a kind of food.

  • 1
    Since, at least in the US and Europe, it's not common to eat mouse flesh, dictionaries don't list "mouse" as an uncountable noun. But used in that sense it is -- you might (if you're ever invited to a Donner party) eat "mouse" or "cat" or "dog'. There is nothing wrong with this usage (even if you object to the diet).
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 29, 2017 at 2:35
  • 2
    First off, ew! Second, birds are animals, last time I checked. Anyway, yes, you can use the countable form for food -- Costco sells fresh rotisserie chicken; I bought three chickens! As for would you like some more mouse and potatoes? sure, it works fine. I don't think it's a hard and fast rule about specific animals, but more about the context -- If you were really crazy, you might have grilled brick for dinner or maybe sauteed book. I think this also applies (more normally) to plants -- I might pick an artichoke and then we would have artichoke for dinner. Jun 29, 2017 at 3:32
  • @HotLicks Mouse was certainly on the menu in the Pax Romana of Europe. A recipe in Latin (Apicius) exists for the preparation and cooking of a dormouse. Jun 29, 2017 at 5:35
  • By 'Can we invent English words based on similar usage?' you mean 'Is massification of animal names when referring to eating the animal's meat a totally productive feature in English?' If there's an idiomatic plural alternative (I've never eaten snails / cockles / mussels ...), I'd stick with that. Using say 'We were eating helmetshrike / gnateater / Australasian babbler / pardalote / gerygone // carpsucker / hammerjaw // sloth' sounds quirky or worse, and these are probably better rephrased. But massification is very common, and certainly hereabouts. Jun 29, 2017 at 6:41
  • @EdwinAshworth, I found a lot of "eat dog meat", so the safest way is to put "meat" before "dog", "mouse".....
    – Tom
    Jun 29, 2017 at 7:25

1 Answer 1


You can use the uncountable form even for animals that are not typically considered food.

PolitiFact ran an article titled In context: Obama's comments on eating dog in Indonesia.

Similarly, in an interview Anthony Bourdain states: "I'm not eating rat under any circumstances."

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