The proper plural form of “moose” is actually “moose.”
The reason is that the word is not native to English and uses the rules of the language in which it originated.
Certain English words cause all sorts of grief even to native speakers. This confusion is often the result of foreign words and expressions becoming integrated into the language, which is the culprit for many exceptions and unconventional grammar and spelling.
Many of those scenarios involve irregularities, such as when the plural form does not follow the standard English language convention of adding an +s (or +es) to the singular noun.
One such word that many people avoid using in the plural is “moose.” The reason for this is that they often debate whether the correct plural is “mooses” or “meese” or something else entirely.
Not to worry! Today is the day you finally sort this mess out and feel safe to use the proper form both in speech and in your writing.
Many prospective “moose” users find themselves looking to similar words when trying to determine how to address that extensive collection of large, antlered creatures standing across the way.
The most apparent similarity comes with a fellow animal: the goose.
It’s only natural that “moose” would convert to “meese” since the plural of “goose” is “geese.” Sorry – you’re going to be disappointed.
As much fun as it is saying “meese,” that is not the proper plural. Goose itself is an irregularity, and its unusual plural is the result of a sound change absorbed from Proto-Germanic language (which is also why “foot” becomes “feet”).
Moose, however, has a different origin, so it doesn’t follow the same guidelines.
I had a horrible nightmare that three meese stood over my bed, staring at me.
Incorrect (but fun).
The two meese made their way to the water and began to drink.
Still incorrect (but still fun).
Standard procedure dictates that you add an “s” when a noun becomes plural.
Through learning the language, children quickly pick up on rules such as this and begin to apply them to other words, which is an excellent indicator that they are grasping the fundamentals.
Therefore, you could be excused for making the same assumption and spelling this plural as “mooses.” You’d be wrong, but you could be forgiven.
Even my spell-check is offended that I spelled the word that way (interestingly, it also thought “meese” was fun and let it slide).
“Moose” is a word integrated from another language, along with its rules for plurality. More on that here in a minute.
I saw two mooses when I was hiking in the Alaskan wilderness.
When the moose made a loud call, three nearby mooses raised their heads and responded.
Then What IS the Proper Form?
You may not believe this, but the singular and plural of moose are the same.
In a way, that makes it easy because you can plug in the same word no matter how many meese . . . mooses . . . moose happen to be around!
Check it out:
The two moose looked like they were about to flee.
Many moose show up outside Sarah’s house since she lives in the woods.
It probably doesn’t feel right to use the word that way, and if that’s the case, it’s because of the irregularity. You’re just going to have to get used to it, unfortunately.
What Is the Origin of the Word?
“Moose” is not native to the language and came along after the sound changes responsible for the conversion of “goose” to “geese.”
It was lifted from an American Algonquin language because English enjoys stealing from other languages when it doesn’t have a word for something. In this case, it brought its rules along, and the singular and plural forms happened to be the same.
Now that you know, you can use “moose” confidently and even correct your friends when they try to tell you how much they like meese. Or mooses. Or some other variation.
If they try “mice,” remind them another irregular animal noun already takes that form.