The Top Ten: Plurals that have become singular

  • @johnrentoul

I used "data" as a plural the other day, which is a bit old-fashioned. Data, dice, graffiti, panini, media and politics are usually singular nouns these days, and I know only one person who treats news as a plural, but Rich Greenhill came up with many other words that were once – unknown to me – plurals. Here are the best...

1. Quince: Middle English plural of Old French cooin, from Latin for apple of Cydonia, now Chania, Crete.

2. Stamina: Latin plural of stamen, thread or essential element, before it was applied by analogy to flower parts.

3. Chintz: Plural of chint, a stained or painted calico cloth imported from India, from Hindi chimt, spattering, stain.

4. Pox: Plural of pock, as in pock-marked.

5. Truce: Plural of true, Middle English, in the sense of belief, trust.

6. Invoice: Plural of obsolete invoy, from French envoy, envoyer, to send.

7. Broccoli: Italian, plural of broccolo, cabbage sprout, head, diminutive of brocco, shoot.

8. Dismal: Originally a noun, for the two days in each month which were believed to be unlucky, from Anglo-Norman French dis mal, and medieval Latin dies mali, evil days.

9. Sweden: Originally a plural of Swede, a Swedish person.

10. Bodice: Originally bodies.

Next week: Best rhymes in songs.

Coming soon: Underrated family films (such as 'The Emperor's New Groove'). Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to