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plu·ral (plrəl)
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adj.
1. Relating to or composed of more than one member, set, or kind: the plural meanings of a text; a plural society.
2. Grammar Of or being a grammatical form that designates more than one of the things specified.
n.
Grammar
1. The plural number or form.
2. A word or term in the plural form.

[Middle English plurel, from Old French, from Latin plūrālis, from plūs, plūr-, more; see pelə-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

plural·ly adv.

Our Living Language In English, plurals of nouns are normally indicated by the ending -s or -es, or in a few cases by -en, as in children and oxen. Some vernacular varieties of English do not use plural endings in measurement phrases such as three mile and ten pound. This zero plural has a long history and was not formerly as socially stigmatized as it is today. It appears in literary works dating from the Middle English period to the present day, including works of dialect writers, such as this example from Mark Twain's Huck Finn: "The nearest white settlement warnt nearer nor four mile." · In adjectival constructions even Standard English has no -s plural: a five-pound box of candy is acceptable, whereas a five-pounds box is not. These adjective phrases derive from an -a suffix in Old English that marked plural adjectives. This ending has long since fallen away, leaving behind the unmarked root forms. · The absence of -s in the plural form of animal names (hunting for bear, a herd of buffalo) probably arose by analogy with animals like deer and sheep whose plurals have been unmarked since the earliest beginnings of the English language. See Note at foot.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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