Plural of "ox"

Updated February 23, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

The Question:

If the plural of "ox" is "oxen," why isn't "foxen" the plural of "fox"?

The Answer:

According to the American Heritage Book of English Usage, "oxen" is one of only three commonly used English words to still use the "-en" plural. The others are "children" and "bretheren" (though "brothers" is used for biological brothers). The use of -en used to be more common, but fell out of favor. We have no idea why it survives in these specific cases.

Hacker jargon does sometimes use -en to humorous effect, as in boxen.

-The Fact Monster

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