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Plurals of foreign words

A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Since this type of a settlement is unique to Israel, its name is in Hebrew and it doesn’t have a translation in other languages.

The plural of kibbutz in Hebrew is kibbutzim, which is also the form that the Wikipedia uses. However, this is not a correct English form, and when a non-Hebrew speaker reads kibbutzim they don’t necessarily understand that it’s the plural form of kibbutz.

What form is the proper English plural form of kibbutz: should it be kibbutzim or kibbutzes?


1 Answer 1


I consulted five or six dictionaries linked from OneLook.com, and all listed kibbutzim as the only plural form, except Cambridge¹ which recognized kibbutzes as a second plural form after kibbutzim.

It will be fine to use kibbutzim. Anyone already knowing the word is likely to know the plural; anybody not knowing the word will have to look it up anyway.

If this word becomes well known, it will follow the usual pattern: it will appear less and less often in italics (used to indicate a foreign word), and more and more often with the English plural form instead of the Hebrew.

  • 1
    +1. Much as I would have answered. The OED gives the plural as 'kibbutzim (occasionally kibbutzes)'. However, the Corpus of Contemporary American English has 85 records for kibbutzim and the British National Corpus 14. Neither has any records for kibbutzes. Dec 30, 2012 at 9:44

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