Normally, we use the term ‘mouse’ if we are referring to a single mouse and we use the term ‘mice’ if we are referring to more than one mouse. In general, ‘mice’ is the plural form of the word ‘mouse’, but what if you are referring to lots of computer mouse? Should you say computer mouses or computer mice?
Mice – In the natural world, mice is defined as the plural form of a mouse, a small rodent that has a pointed snout, small rounded ears and a scaly tail. It’s as simple as that, and one can’t deny that the term ‘mice’ is indeed the plural form of a mouse.
In computer terms however, pertaining to the pointing device named by Douglas Engelbart, it is not that simple. Both, the terms ‘mouses’ and ‘mice’ are acceptable, but ‘mice’ is the most commonly used one according to Google searches.
If you ran into its rumored acronym (Manually-Operated User-Selection Equipment), or backronym (specially constructed phrase to represent the source of word), according to the American Psychological Association, it is pluralized with the addition of the letter ‘s’ (standard form) but without the apostrophe. It would then now imply that a computer mouse’s plural form would be computer mouses. But then it’s not an actual acronym, but simply a backronym which in the first place may also be invented with a serious or humorous intent.
Mouse – In the natural world, a mouse is a small rodent with a pointed snout, rounded ears, and a scaly tail. It is the singular form of the word ‘mice’.
In computer terms, a mouse is a pointing device that detects two-dimensional motion. The motion is usually translated into a pointer on a display performed by the mouse user. Typically, a mouse consists of an object that looks like a small rodent with one or more buttons. It is connected by a cable or signal to a computer device.
According to the online Oxford Dictionaries entry for mouse, the plural form of the small rodent is mice while the plural form of the computer mouse is either mice or mouses. It states that the more common plural form is ‘mice’, and also since the first recorded usage of ‘mice’ for computers dates back to 1984, there were actually several earlier ones like J. C. R. Licklider’s “The Computer as a Communication Device” in 1968.
So to summarize, ‘mice’ or ‘mouses’ is acceptable when referring to a computer pointing device, it is all up to you which one to use.
Note: There really is no official ruling about the usage of mice or mouses as the plural form of a computer mouse. Companies usually avoid the problem by using a different phrase like “mouse devices” instead.
|Plural form of a small rodent called ‘mouse’||Singular form of a small rodent|
|Plural form of a computer pointing device||Singular form of a computer pointing device|
|‘Mouses’ can be used as a plural form for a computer pointing device||‘Mouses’ can’t be used as a plural form of a small rodent|
|i.e. The field is infested with mice||i.e. There is a mouse running around the kitchen|
Here is an experimental video about the communities’ perception of the usage of mouses and mice (pointing device).