What is the Plural of Beef?

May 23, 2024

cow 486987 640

Nouns that don’t change in their plural form are called “zero plurals,” and some examples would include aircraft, moose, and sheep. They can each refer to the singular or plural of the word. And we all know that more than one chicken would be chickens, a bunch of fish is fish (though there are some instances where the word “fishes” is correct), and more than one cow would be cows. But what would be the plural form of the word “beef?” If you guessed “beef,” then today will be your lucky day because you’re going to learn something new.

The plural form of “beef” is “beeves.” It really is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says so, as does Dictionary.com. It sounds like the word should be the name of the brother of a butler, but when has anyone ever used it to refer to a whole bunch of beef?

It so happens it has been used rather commonly to speak about a group of cows, steers, or bulls. It’s just that it hasn’t been used to refer to a group of cows in recent times. A 1926 news article titled “Raising of Baby Beeves Is Usually Profitable” helps dispel the myth that this is some word from medieval or ancient times. Or how about a 1951 article titled, “Lower Prices Paid For 4-H Baby Beeves.” But these talk about young cows, when has it been used for adult cows?

Well, here’s your answer. An excellent 1949 article titled, “Prized Beeves Go On Sale At Piggly-Wiggly.” There’s even a more recent story from 2003 in The Bunkie Record in Louisana mentioning adult beeves, but it’s in a quote from someone talking about an event that took place in the 1940s. I’m not sure why it quit being used, but maybe give it a try the next time you’re at the supermarket.

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

Follow the Stew