Plural of Rhinoceros

What Is the Plural of Rhinoceros?

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The Quick Answer

The plural of "rhinoceros" is "rhinoceros" or "rhinoceroses."
The original and most common plural of "rhinoceros" is "rhinoceros," but "rhinoceroses," which adheres to the standard rules for forming plurals in English, is also commonly used.
  • Weighing around 600kg, Sumatran rhinoceros are the smallest. White rhinoceros are the largest, weighing up to 3,500kg. correct tick
  • ("Rhinoceros" is the most common plural.)
  • Male rhinoceroses are called "bulls" and female rhinoceroses are called "cows." Their young are "calves." correct tick
  • ("Rhinoceroses" is an acceptable alternative.)

Table of Contents

  • Are You Good at Plurals?
  • The Standard Rules for Forming the Plurals
  • Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of Rhinoceros?
  • Ready for the Test?
plural of rhinoceros

What about "Rhinoceri"?

The noun "rhinoceros" has a Greek root. More specifically, it comes from the Greek word "rhinokeros" (nose-horned), which is an amalgam of "rhis" (nose) and "keras" (horn). As "rhinoceros" derives from Greek, there is no justification for the plural "rhinoceri," which would be a Latin-style plural.

What about "Rhinocerotes"?

In recognition of its Greek root, some academics opt for the plural "rhinocerotes," but, put simply, this is not an English word. It is not the English plural of "rhinoceros."

What about "Rhino"?

The word "rhino" is a common alternative for "rhinoceros." With "rhino," there is no debate. The plural is "rhinos." If your text is informal enough to use "rhinos," go for it. Easy life.

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The Standard Rules for Forming the Plurals

The table below shows the standard rules for forming the plurals of nouns in English.
Type Example of Type Forming the Plural Plural
Most Nouns lamp
add s lamps
Noun Ending s, sh, ch, x or z rhinoceros
add es rhinoceroses
Nouns ending [consonant] o hero
add either s or es
(There are no rules for this - you have to know.)
Nouns ending [vowel] o patio
add s patios
Nouns ending [consonant] y story
change the y to an i and add es stories
Nouns ending [vowel] y donkey
add s donkeys
Nouns ending f or fe dwarf
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
hooves or hoofs
Exceptions man
some nouns undergo a vowel or letters change men
More exceptions salmon
some nouns do not change at all salmon
Foreign rulings radius
some nouns adopt foreign rulings radii
Read more about English spelling rules.

Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of Rhinoceros?

Confusion arises over the plural of "rhinoceros" because the erroneously assigned Latin plural "rhinoceri" grew in popularity, most probably because it sounds funny and clever. The original plural of "rhinoceros" was simply "rhinoceros" (i.e., no change), but native English speakers are more drawn to "rhinoceroses," which adheres to the standard ruling for forming plurals.

"Rhinoceros" is more common than "rhinoceroses." [evidence]
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.

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