I see that the Oxford dictionary has a plural dice for "a small cube with a different number of spots on each of its sides, used in games of chance". However, there is no plural listed for "a block with a special shape that is used for shaping pieces of metal" (both definitions summarized).

Researchgate has a photograph of "Two dies arranged side-by-side".

Is dies the correct plural of this meaning of die? Why do the two meanings have different plurals? Which was in use first?

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    You have two words here that look and sound the same. Not the same word with two meanings. I can and tin can, too. Jul 14, 2023 at 19:26
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    The claimed duplicates neither directly query nor answer about the use of 'dies' not 'dice' as the plural of the 'tap and die' sense of 'die'. Jul 15, 2023 at 11:29
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    @PeterShor - language is irregular for a number of reasons. Trying to understand when and where irregularities appeared is part of our job, I think.
    – user 66974
    Jul 16, 2023 at 16:24
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    @Barmar - that what I’ve been trying to say, but there are users who just reply “that’s English, darling” and are happy with that.
    – user 66974
    Jul 25, 2023 at 9:42

1 Answer 1


They are not 'multiple plurals of the word "die",' nor anything like that, any more than either of those nouns has to do with the verb 'die' as in 'cease to live'.

How sure are you that Oxford actually has a plural 'dice' for 'a small cube…' rather than 'small cubes'?

Which other dictionaries listed no plural for 'a block… used to shape things'?

FYI the small cubes are so commonly pluralised as 'dice' that many, if not most native speakers think there is no separate singular term. That one cube is 'a dice.'

Quite separately plural shaping blocks are, 'dies' and the differences between the nouns - and the verb - prolly stem from which has French, German or Latin origins.

  • -1: This answer shows no research whatsoever. They all have the same origin, from the French word de ( in modern French). And the word for "block used to cast things" originated in English from the word for "gambling cube". Aug 20, 2023 at 21:22
  • PeterShor Thank you so much, and how could that matter here? Do you reallydoubt that whatever their roots or routes, they are not 'multiple plurals of the word "die",' nor anything like that, any more than either of those nouns has to do with the verb 'die' as in 'cease to live'? Aug 21, 2023 at 18:16
  • What I'm doubting is that the difference between the nouns "prolly stem from which has French, German, or Latin origins". Both nouns derive from the same French word. Aug 21, 2023 at 18:21
  • PeterShor How could those doubts matter, in the context of the Question? I tried to make that Answer as general as I could, suggesting some vague difference among routes from French, German or Latin roots. I think that view both valid and so vague it's not worthy of challenge. If you want 'routes' instead of 'roots,' just say the word! If you'd like to explain in detail the route by which both nouns derive from the same French word yet arrive at different meanings in modern English, please do. If you'd like to explain how either noun differs from the modern English verb, please do. Aug 21, 2023 at 18:39

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