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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

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Computer mouses or computer mice?

Normally, the plural of mouse is mice when you are referring to those real rodents. However, in the case of a “mouse” used for the computer, can you still use the plural form “mice”, “computer mice” if you are referring to lots of computer mouse? “Computer mouses” i guess is not proper. What do you think?

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This is a tough one, because there really is no official ruling on this usage yet. Computer companies usually avoid this problem by using the phrase "mouse devices" instead. I would advise the same strategy if you mention the equipment in a formal paper, article, etc.

Since neither "mouses" nor "mice" is the official plural of "computer mouse," using either one is acceptable. Technically, since "mouse" is an acronym for "manually-operated user-select equipemtn," it sound probably be pluralized as "mouses." But since hardly anyone is aware of the word's etymology, and because it sounds less awkward, most people pluralize it as "mice."

whitneygallienNO Oct-05-2005

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Ahem. That should be "manually-operated user-select equipMENT." Sorry!

whitneygallienNO Oct-05-2005

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If mouse is an acronym for "manually-operated user-select equipment" and equipment is plural already, wouldn't mouse (as an acronym) be plural already?

Bubba1 Oct-05-2005

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Would this really matter since usually a computer only has one computer mouse?

DJjothic1 Oct-05-2005

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whitneygallienNO Oct-06-2005

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neither of them are correct.

no_name_says Oct-06-2005

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cold_fusionMX: Computer companies usually avoid this problem by using the phrase "mouse devices" instead???
cold_fusionMX: weird..
cold_fusionMX: sir we sell mouse devices
mei lang: heheh they didn't know the mouse is akready a device
cold_fusionMX: mouse is a device for PC..
mei lang: it's like a computer shop saying...we also sell computers
cold_fusionMX: so do u have device that could make ur mouse an iron?
karuro11: you said u have mouse devices..
mei lang: heh

cold_fusionMX Oct-06-2005

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Um, guys, Doug Engelbart invented the mouse. He called it a mouse cause he thought it was cute AND the long cord reminded him of the disproportionately long tail on a real mouse. It is NOT a legitimate acronym. The letters MOUSE can, indeed, stand for the phrases you folks stated, but those letter assignments were made AFTER Engelbart coined the term.

Everyplace I have ever worked, we called the plural "mice" as in "are there any extra mice around?". Presumably that would not be ambiguous except in a lab setting with both lab mice and computer mice!

Janet1 Oct-07-2005

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I think "computer mouses" sounds better, although it is probably a case of personal preference until there is an offical ruling on it.

Gohai Oct-08-2005

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Every mouse manufacturer and their grandmothers refer to them as "mice".

good Oct-08-2005

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As brilliant as you think you are, I'm a tech writer who works with computer and software companies. Believe me, these companies use the phrase "mouse devices" to avoid the sticky plural argument.

whitneygallienNO Oct-11-2005

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I'm sorry. I'm afraid I have to agree with Bubba. From now on, I'm going to refer to it as a computer MOOSE. and when I have TWO computers, I'm gonna have TWO computer MOOSE!!!!
After all, the MOOSE is a cute animal, but its tail is rather stubby. I guess that would make mine a WIRELESS MOOSE!!!!

porsche Oct-20-2005

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meeses if you wanna be real cute about it.

okawkward Oct-21-2005

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No, Mousies. Computer Mousies.
Pronounced mou-seez. Yaiy.

BernardtheBunny1 Oct-23-2005

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Janet1 Nov-06-2005

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"manually-operated user-select equipment"

It's a backronym, but a very plausible one. ¬¬

Moltare Nov-15-2005

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There is no such thing as an official ruling. Language doesn't work that way. In this case, the plural chosen in a natural language fashion would be 'mouses'.

The power of the internet and various trade magazines may override the natural language choice and we might well end up with 'mice'.

That's how language works. What becomes the majority choice is the 'correct' choice.

DBP Nov-27-2005

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We shall let the web search decide!

"computer mouse devices" - 358
"computer mouses" - 45,800
"computer mice" - 511,000

Mice wins!

IngisKahn1 Nov-29-2005

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In your "spare time" reading or if you need a chuckle


a.candreva Jan-24-2006

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Well, 40 years in computers , and a mouse user since they first became commercially available, I have yet to hear the plural as being anything but "computer mice". And thank God for that. Mouses is a totally unutterable usage and should be subject to a Rentokil extermination.

Dave_Janetts Jan-26-2006

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I have recently been in an argument with a fellow student who is decided on it being "mice". I believe that it dosnt really matter, no matter what it is, the Americanish language has so many slangs already, like for instance if I were to say F***, you would all think I were swearing, but in reality, the word was officaily a word used to express "to plow". So I do believe it dosnt matter much anyway.... cause everyone knows what you mean. Why does everyone have to be so troublesome?

Richard4 Feb-10-2006

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slangs? to plow? ??!??

Anyway, there's no valid argument here. Both common sense and popular usage point towards "mice"... "Mouses" is accepted as an uncommon usage.

IngisKahn1 Feb-12-2006

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I believe "manually-operated user-select equipment" is an attempt at a joke. Since 1964 when the first mouse was introduced by creator and inventor Douglas Engelbart, the device has been called a mouse simply because Engelbart thought the cord coming out of the small, wooden, three button device made it look like a mouse.

As for the mouses/mice/meese/moose debate. I have not seen "mouse devices" used but I have seen "computer mice" but by far, the most common plural I have seen, and in fact use, is "periphreals."

My 2¢ worth.

riqui.gardner Oct-07-2006

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Oh my gosh, Who knew that a GOOGLE search for the correct word for the plural of the "computer mouse" would have been such an interesting but utterly fruitless expedition!!


So I guess either which way I write my user manual for University purposes. nobody can penalise me!!


Meya Oct-20-2006

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Riqui, I swear I didn't realize who you were when I typed this rebuttal, but then I looked at the user name and hovered over it and sure 'nuff, it was you.
Anyway, the problem with just referring to mice/meese/mouses/mousse (mmm.. chocolate computer devices) as peripherals is problematic in at least 2 ways: Firstly, the mouse on my computer isn't a peripheral. It's built-in, in the form of a touch pad, but is still referred to as a mouse in the manual; secondly, if you go to CompUSA and ask for "peripherals," you'll get directed to not only mice (as I'll refer to them because it's how I always have, and people know what I've meant), but speakers, printers, external hard drives, and anything else that can plug in to your computer.
As far as what to call them "officially," I say, if the guy who invented the thing named it after the furry critter, and the plural form of said critter is "mice," then the plural form of the device is "mice" as well.

Heather3 Oct-21-2006

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*raises eyebrow*

Technically, "mice" is the correct English plural of "mouse".

Although, the English language can be quite confusing when it comes to pluralising a word, because it doesn't follow a strict convention. Therefore, maybe "mouses" could be acceptable. Afterall, we accept things like "persons" as plural for "person" when in fact it should be "people."

I'm not quite sure about the meese.

Mousies sounds cute though.

Luv Jazka

Jazka Nov-30-2006

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I could be "computer mouses" if it's an exocentric compound, like

Maple Leafs
still lifes

These compound words are not kind of leaves, lives, or feet respectively. Their meaning is not specified by the head word. In the same way, a computer mouse is not a kind of mouse.

I'm not saying that "computer mouses" is the plural form. I'm saying that if it is the plural form, this is the reason.

John4 Nov-30-2006

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Mice has to be correct if it is truly named after the rodent. (which i found to be correct after looking it up and finding an interview with engelbart)

Taking a plural other than "mice" wouldn't make any sense, even though its not the same thing as the rodent. When has definition ever effected pluralization?

"Mouses" is just something someone thought of to be annoying and try and complicate this language even more.

Anna_ Jan-27-2007

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"When has definition ever effected pluralization?"

In exocentric compounds, like the examples I gave. "Maple Leafs" are different from "maple leaves". "flat foots" are different from "flat feet".

John4 Jan-31-2007

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Why would you have more then one mouse??? Each computer has a mouse!!

kthackel2008 Feb-06-2007

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This has been a wonderful discussion, it has all finally come out, and the beast is exposed. We can use whatever seems right at the moment we are met with the need to pluralize.

It depends on where you are and whether you want to sound knowledgeable, agreeable or plain silly, which are all acceptable by the way.

Christine1 Feb-06-2007

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Wonderful question, and something I have thought about before. I decided to stick by my mouses, prevailing opinion be damned.

Mice is plural for the furry little rodents. But I suspect that irregular plurals do generally become regular when the word changes meaning.

"Mice" just doesn't sit well with me, but I have to admit it's simply a style choice.

ghoti1 Feb-07-2007

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discusses this, and gives Engelbart's opinion. But it's not really up to him, is it?

ghoti1 Feb-07-2007

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I recently purchase a 5 pack of the "devices in question" from Logitech.
The main label on the box says "OPTICAL MOUSE Enterprise Edition 5-Pack".

On the list of package contents it is listed as "Optical Mouse (qty.5)"

They never refer to mouse in the plural.

That - to me - says it all... Even the manufacturers don't know which to use so they don't use the plural.

Personally I prefer mouses.

tripp May-28-2007

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Hey Trip, maybe they ARE referring to it in the plural and they think the plural of mouse is mouse!

anonymous4 May-29-2007

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1 computer mouse
2 computer myse

adopt my new usage, or....don't.

AO May-29-2007

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Everyday upon waking till we return to bed, we are inundated with NEEDLESS rules: what fork must I use, when is it improper to laugh, to hug to kiss or breast feed my infant. "Mouses" has become absolutely refreshing and gets my vote!

r_sernau Oct-14-2007

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Damn, here i was looking for confirmation to explain to my Spanish students about the mouses/mice debate.According to Steven Pinker in "The Language Instinct" there are headless nouns (John above calls them exocentric where the right-hand element does not denominate the type of thing (a race hores is a type of horse, a horse race is a type of race). In words like low-life and sabre-tooth, they aren't types of life or teeth but a person who lives a seedy lifestyle and an extinct cat. Therefore we automatically block off the irregular plural and say low-lifes and sabre-tooths.Similarly, plural of Walkman is Walkmans, not Walkmen, cos it isn't a type of man.
(similarly according to Pinker, in baseball, a ball that flies out in the past is "flied out", not flew out- tho don't follow the sport so not really sure)
Does all this apply to (computer) mouse?Dunno, but mouses sounds more logical to me.
Some people think plural of octopus is octopi. Doesn't much matter really

Al1 Oct-23-2007

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I just love listening to KPIG.

Ken3 Oct-30-2007

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Interesting, very interesting.

Jeff1 Nov-14-2007

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I think the correct term shiould be Mouse devices. I am a teacher and think that confusing young minds with Mice, Mouses would be detrimental to their studies

mkristofulani Nov-22-2007

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Fbio Nov-23-2007

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If "mouse" is an acronym for "manually-operated user-select equipment," then "mouse devices" is not proper simply because that this phrase equals to "manually-operated user-select equipment DEVICES".

We do not say "ATM machines" since "ATM" stands for "automatic teller MACHINE".

Is that right?

monkey1 Nov-24-2007

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al gets my vote for computer mouses from a logical linguistic stand but I could be persuaded to to take on ao's "myse", sfter all how many thousands of new words have been invented for the technological revolution.

John4 Mar-08-2008

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by the way, monkey, while you may be technically right, many DO say ATM "machines".

anonymous4 Mar-10-2008

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While this thread has gone on for years now (Yearses?) why not keep it going? Yes people say ATM Machine; but they are wrong. How do I know they're wrong? Because I say so.

I have a magazine from either "RUN", "Compute!", or "Byte" from the early '80s in a box in my garage somewhere that discuses mouses. The box is easy to find since it's labeled "Commodore-64". It specifically states that mouse is an acronym. I don't care what the inventor says. He's wrong too! How do I know? See previous paragraph.

But aren't acronyms capitalized? (With the exection of special acronyms: scuba, radar, I'm sure there are dozens more) I think mouse is the most special of acronyms, just like YAHOO. Can you look up an acronym on an acronym? Hmmm.

I have always called them mouses.

jim2 May-21-2008

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Is there any other field of study where someone would say "It's wrong because I say so"? Whales are fish, because I say so. Tomatoes are poisonous, because I say so.

John4 May-21-2008

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Mouse (computing)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[edit] Etymology and plural
The first known publication of the term "mouse" as a pointing device is in Bill English's 1965 publication "Computer-Aided Display Control"[2]

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary (third edition) and the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language endorse both computer mice and computer mouses as correct plural forms for computer mouse. The form Mouse, however, appears most commonly, while some authors of technical documents may prefer either mouse devices or the more generic pointing devices. The plural mouses treats mouse as a "headless noun."

flashmojo Jul-02-2008

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Please how do you pluralise a phrase like 'head of department'? Is it 'heads of department' or heads of departments'?

adelekefakoya Jul-08-2008

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That would be "department heads".
I work at an English Language college, and nobody believed me when I said it was "mouses, so I came here to look it up. Guess I wasn't as correct as I thought I was.

kylierain Nov-05-2008

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What do you mean, Kylie? If you read everything here, you should conclude that you were completely correct. You would only have been incorrect if you insisted that it was the ONLY way to say it.

anonymous4 Nov-06-2008

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No, People, I am the father of modern technology!

Darth_Vader Nov-20-2008

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Whitey Nov-20-2008

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it's mouses, the pope told me so.

bob_dillon Dec-19-2008

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I sleep with a pillow under ym gun.
Fuck yo' mouses...

Chuck_Norris Dec-19-2008

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I am a nobber.

Weeza_Cardose Dec-19-2008

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i think its a very interesting topic. The views of Whitey are very informative and i took this on board while trying to search for my solution. After hours of deliberation and a thesis conducted by myself last year i came up with the following conclusion:

does it matter much? u know what i mean what eva i say, thats what language is for!

though most people agreed from my surveys that it was mousification units!

sleep better!

dan Mar-06-2009

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For those of you running Windows XP (possibly other operating systems, too), if you go to "device manager" you will find that your mouse is listed under "Mice and other pointing devices". I guess that means that Microsoft prefers "mice".

porsche Mar-07-2009

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I think people should respect academic issues for the value they add to our society. Making comments that don't edify anyone - even the writer! - is, to say the least, like clouds and wind without rain.

projectenglish May-08-2009

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Mouses...mice...mices....we all know what we mean right?

pauline.kay9 May-19-2009

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New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd Edition. © 2005 by Oxford University Press:

(pl. also mouses) Computing a small hand-held device that is dragged across a flat surface to move the cursor on a computer screen, typically having buttons that are pressed to control computer functions

I guess it's OK if we distinguish the rodents and devices grammatically :)

mykhailo May-19-2009

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One sheep, two sheep, three sheep (yawn);

The plural of 'mouse' devices is also mouse (i've just decided); so its...

One mouse, two mouse, three mouse, three blind mouse

ewdark Jun-12-2010

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It used to be common among hackers (in the MIT sense) to pluralize things using the (normally non-productive) suffix -en (as in oxen). Thus, the correct plural for (computer) mouse is undoubtedly...mousen!

peter3 Jul-10-2010

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poop Nov-09-2010

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tasman Nov-09-2010

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If we can survive with, "one sheep, two sheep," why can't we live with "one mouse, two mouse."

fmerton Nov-29-2010

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If you are doing a test, "correct" is what your teacher says is correct. Otherwise it is not a very useful word in the context of a living language.

There is no official grammar of English, and no academy or central authority to tell us what is correct or not, so usage reigns.

With newish terms, when there is not enough experience to establish some sort of convention (or standard), the best we can do is make a guess at what our audience will most approve of.

Unless of course they are the sort of people who do not approve of prepositions at the end of sentences, when we do well to ignore them.

rmensies Nov-30-2010

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It's not a problem for the Irish as they pronounce house as hice so mouse would be mice

bcdmul Dec-02-2010

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"Unless of course they are the sort of people who do not approve of prepositions at the end of sentences, when we do well to ignore them" --Stevens

This sort of rule monger-er seems to me the majority of those posting messages on this board. Of course the particular rule you mention is now disgraced, but there are plenty of others. Also, such people are hard to ignore as they are often in powerful positions.

fmerton Dec-02-2010

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It is mouses. I've read from several sources, including PC Gamer, PC Maximum, online sources, as well as television programs that all say "Computer Mouses" is the official pronunciation, while "mice" is acceptable. I personally have always said mouses, as well have many of my friends and family members. I leave on this:

mdangeli01 Dec-09-2010

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Actually I read somewhere that computers refer to them as mouses and not mice at all, I think the computer would know

wolffighterx Dec-17-2010

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Well, on a lighter note, since we - non-feline folk - can't decide it, shan't we call in a real cat to tell us what's what? At least a cat would be able to tell where his mouse is buttered -- I beg your pardon, how his MICE are plural(ised)!

adelekefakoya Mar-05-2011

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I have to toss in with the 'mouses' group.

Talking about the 'mice' in the building just might bring down the wrath of the Health Department. And that just results in RATS on the premises.

Red1 Mar-07-2011

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I agree with Red. If there is yet no "official" plural, then "mouses" would avoid confusion.

Steve George Mar-08-2011

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Official ruling? Do we have a National Academy as they do for Spanish?

AnotherTry Jun-10-2011

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hello, i belive the answer to this question is mouses, i do not believe mice is appropriate in this context, thank you for your time and consideration.. love you all, sincerley, mouses

vicky k Jul-08-2011

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Throwing my vote into the hat with mouses. Some lady corrected me today, all condescending, "I think you mean MICE." I wanted to argue with her, but wasn't completely sure I was right. Apparently there's no consensus, but at the very least it seems mouses is an accepted form (and seems to have the majority in this thread).

I've always said mouses and I'm standing by it.

justin2 Jul-20-2011

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I am a student in the OIT department for my university and I had to put several mouses, mice, meeses, myse, mousen away today and that's what brought me here... geeks are awesome! great debate! ( I thought mouses sounded right due to walkman/ walkmans but I wasn't sure-now I am REALLY not sure- Microsoft or Oxford Dictionary)

joanna Aug-19-2011

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Dear sir I would like to purchase two computer mouses . . . . mice . . . mmmm...
Dear sir, I would like to order a computer mouse.

PS. Make that two!

Pete1 Oct-05-2011

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I think it would sound gramatically incorrect to refer two of these devices as mouses. Lets not worry about the etymology of the term. Dont you see it really look like a real mouse...therefore, mice when two or more.

Everisto Oct-25-2011

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"...when has definition ever affected pluralization?" As well as the "exocentric" compounds already mentioned, here's another example of a different kind: index in the sense of a serial number (e.g. in a formula or indexed table) has the plural 'indices', but books have alphabetical 'indexes' at the end.
Bringing the Google vote up to date, its now Mice 43,000,000; Mouses 8,070,000; Mouse devices 98,600 and (my favourite till today) Mouse units a mere 1,290. So I guess I'll use mouses in speech (while it's still plausible), but in formal writing I'll have to change from mouse units to mouse devices. Definitely out, though, is Mouse pointers, which is used to mean Cursors.

Cadfryn Dec-01-2011

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How about "pointing devices"?

user106928 Dec-01-2011

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it's rather unfortunate that,Douglas is no more.anyway,if Douglas named the device after the living creature 'mouse',he never gave a plural form of the device and so it'll remain that way.the only mention name that i'll go by is 'mouse devices' as the plural of the computer mouse.i think it's a matter of preferance,be it mice,mouses,meeses or mooses because not any one of them is said to be wrong.

andani Dec-08-2011

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Is 'pointing devices' another term for fingers?

jeljms Feb-10-2012

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Why does it have to be so illogical?

mouse : mice :: house : hice ??

mouses is just very logical to me.

some Feb-13-2012

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It's been that way since Old English:
mus > mys ... mouse > mice
lus > lys ... louse > lice
hus > hus ... plural for hus in OE was betokened by make the article plural. Once the article became fixed and no longer showed gender and number, then house was regularized by adding an 's'.

AnWulf Feb-14-2012

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mouse - mice. computer mouse - computer mice. goose - geese. mongoose - ?

Did you hear about the man who wanted two, and didn't know what to ask for at the pet shop? He thought about it, worked it out, went in and said "I want to buy a mongoose. And another one."

Yes, really!

Brus Feb-15-2012

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The word mongoose comes from Marathi maṅgūs. The anglicized spelling has nothing to do with its plural form and, as is normal for most outlander words, it was given the regularized English 's' plural form.

AnWulf Feb-16-2012

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Yes AnWulf, but the man in the pet shop didn't know that because you were not there to tell him.

Brus Feb-16-2012

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Mongeese is noted so often that maybe it should be thought of as alternativ plural! However, Google NGrams show that mongooses still heavily outnumbers mongeese in usage but, hey, mongeese doesn't hurt my ears.

AnWulf Feb-17-2012

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I worked with a Tech guy awhile, and we prefer calling them "mice," after the Rodent. We don't call them computer mice, just Mice. but hey, this topic is long enough to where it's become more of a rant.

Theseus12 Apr-27-2012

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Someone said earlier that mouse is an acronym for "Manually Operated User Selection Equipment". This is wrong. That is a backronym: a fictitious acronym made up after the fact. Those of us who were there when this all happened know it is called a mouse because it vaguely resembles one.

Donald May-22-2012

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In Dutch: muis - muizen
In German: maus - Mäuse
In Spanish: ratón - ratones
In Portuguese: rato - ratos
In French: souris - souris

Can't we just keep it simple and do
mouse - mice
in English?

PimpleMaze Jul-03-2012

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I prefer to say/write "mouses". It sounds better to me than computer mice. Let rodents be rodents and distinguish it. I sometimes have two computer mouses on my table, but they just stand still on their place, they don´t have eyes, legs and I'm sure they don´t run across my table all the time (without my interference). They aren´t afraid of me, as well (or at least I hope so :D) so there´s no reason for me to call them like animals.

computer "mouses" [+1 Vote]

kohout Aug-16-2012

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If you put the word 'computer' in front of it then everyone will know what you mean. Just sayin'...

schlim01 Sep-28-2012

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I have my doubts on what PimpleMaze said, in my country we speak spanish, and we dont say, " Quiero comprar un ratón". We say, "Quiero comprar un Mouse" (Quiero comprar un... = I want to buy a... in spanish) but i don't know, the creators didn't made a plural form for it, so we can be creative with it I think. Give me three of those mouse things.

PUOST01 Oct-08-2012

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It is "mouses". Has been official ever since Compute Magazine did a reader survey and ruled on it back in the mid 80's.

WayneMV Nov-11-2012

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I had this question in a computer test about 20 years ago. M.O.U.S.E actually stands for "M.ovement O.riented U.ser S.ignal E.quipment and because the original non wireless device looks like a mouse with a tail. I think it was born in Xerox labs in Palo Alto way before Microsoft Windows.

BiBostin Dec-20-2012

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Backronyms give me geesepimple.

Robbert Forbes MacGregor Dec-23-2012

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