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I was reading a book called Bigfoot vs. Chupacabra in which this issue was raised. I suspect it derives from Tolkien, per the Proudfoots vs. Proudfeet dispute.

  • What is the proper plural of the colloquial American term for Sasquatch?

The book also touches on Yeti, which seems to be both singular and plural, although "Yetis" is proposed as a correct, if less graceful, alternative. I mention it because there may be a plural usage for Bigfoot: "Stay away from the crick--there's a herd of Bigfoot down there eatin' blueberry bagels."

As I am regularly accused of assaulting the English language, I though I'd bring it to the experts.


This question on "mouses vs. mice" provides some very good insight, but I'm also interested in these specific terms, and the idea of the plural use of the singular form, thus Yeti/Yeti/Yetis. (In other words, it also relates to deer and deer (singular and plural, respectively.)

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    The Wiktionary entry for sawtooth << sawtooth (plural sawteeth or sawtooths) [a] (plural "sawteeth") A cutting bit of a saw. // [b] (plural "sawtooths") sawtooth wave >> illustrates the problem with solid compounds whose head forms an irregular plural. The only ways to decide these tricky problems: (1) explore reference works which use a certain variant, or, if these aren't available, (2) see which way most reasonably competent Anglophones opt (in a Google search, say). – Edwin Ashworth Jun 29 '17 at 19:21
  • Invariant plurals for animals has already been covered at Why is the plural of “deer” the same as the singular?. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 29 '17 at 19:21
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    I should think the Sawtooth Mountains were known as the Sawtooths way before Bilbo's farewell party. In fact, a Google Ngram shows that 'Proudfoots' itself had been used by 1836. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 29 '17 at 19:42
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    I'm not sure why you didn't post these Google Ngrams yourself. 'Bigfeet' seems to be on the up. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 29 '17 at 19:49
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    Why would Bigfoot need a plural form, when there's only one of him? – Mark Jun 29 '17 at 23:26
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There isn't really any way to define a "proper" plural for a colloquial term for a mythical creature.

English plural formation, although mostly regular, permits an indefinite amount of irregularity for any particular word. Consider the case of people, which is, at least from an etymological standpoint, a suppletive plural form of person that is not related at all (from a synchronic standpoint, I suppose the initial "p" that these words have in common could be considered a shared element, although it's not clear what type of element it would be).

From what I understand, a hypothesis has been proposed that plurals or other inflected forms have to be formed regularly if they are compounds and the last element is not the semantic head, but there isn't clear evidence that this hypothesis is true and there are a fair amount of counterexamples. To me, it seems more like an argument based on the logic of how it seems pluralization should work than an actual established fact about how pluralization does work. See the following Language Log posts by Mark Liberman:

In a whimsical context, someone might even use an "improper" form deliberately: does that mean it should be considered "proper" in a way after all? It just seems like a matter of opinion to me. (E.g. consider the relatively common fanciful forms "meese" and "mongeese", or the form "mie" in the couplet "A cube of cheese no larger than a die, may bait the trap to catch a nibbling mie" (Ambrose Bierce, attributed to "that eminent poet and domestic economist, Senator Depew".)

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    Thank you! This is very informative. I suspected the authors were being playful. (I re-read the Hobbit recently and noted a degree of post-modernism. The re-reading also rekindled an awareness of how whimsical Tolkien could be, an element often overlooked per the "heaviness" of LoTR;) – DukeZhou Jun 29 '17 at 16:48
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In this case I would choose "Bigfoots." As in, "Three Bigfoots were spotted in the Sierra Nevada mountains over the weekend."

If you say it the other way, it is confusing: "Three Bigfeet were spotted...."

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    Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals Bravo for sticking your neck out! – Mari-Lou A Jun 29 '17 at 17:11
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    (1) Stress patterns would differentiate. (2) As Matt Gutting has said: 'What we're really looking for (on this or any other Stack Exchange site) is a supported answer; one that you can support with authoritative references (in this case an encyclopedia, dictionary, or some other such document). Edit your question and put in your support ...' / Answers without supporting references are indistinguishable from (and perhaps only) personal opinion. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 29 '17 at 19:00
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    @Mari-LouA Bigfoots, but Wolfmen? – Azor Ahai Jun 30 '17 at 0:05
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    @Azor-Ahai Yes, b/c wolfmen are men, of a sort, but bigfoots are not a sort of foot. – peterG Jun 30 '17 at 9:47

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