Singular form of dice



Singular form of the word dice is a die but is it old fashion? Are we still using the word die for addressing a die today?


Posted 2016-03-18T09:47:18.957

Reputation: 505



I'm not sure if it's "old-fashioned", but your inference is right. People just call it 'dice' even it's only one in number.

This is the Google Ngram comparison for the usage of 'Roll the dice' VS 'Roll the die', which clearly shows how "Roll the dice" is used more frequently. Now, if you wanted me to tell you a reason for this, I can't be certain, but I can give you a guess why it maybe so:

Although "Dice" are extensively used in board games, they are used in casinos and for gambling. Most casino and gambling events involves more than one dice (die?). So from prolonged usage, they started to being referred to only as "dice". This is just a guess though. To be frank, I've never used the word "die" unless it's when I mean referring to an action of death.

Edit: A commonly used idiom still ensures the usage of "die" - "The die is cast".

Varun Nair

Posted 2016-03-18T09:47:18.957

Reputation: 7 920

1Well, well, 'The die is cast'. (an idiom, not commonly used). (+1) – shin – 2016-03-18T10:01:47.793

1@shin, Yes, that's something that's still used now. That's because we rarely see idioms change even if the words in them are hardly used nowadays. Good point though ! – Varun Nair – 2016-03-18T10:07:23.473

3You are not interpreting the Ngram results quite right. Given that most dice games require more than one die, the results are heavily biased. Only if all dice games just used one die, the results from that Ngram would be useful. But that's just not the case. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket – 2016-03-18T10:17:45.540

1ngram for "roll a die" and "roll a dice" suggests otherwise. – v kumar – 2016-03-18T10:38:37.687


"People just call it 'dice' even it's only one in number." - Yeah, well, people are stupid and wrong. The singular is die and the plural is dice, and usage bears that out. I think people don't hear "die" too often because usually we're referring to more than one, or referring to them in general.

– stangdon – 2016-03-18T16:08:19.197