Not Just a Rhetorical Question (or Three)

Is the plural of “roof” roofs or rooves? Is one U.S. usage and the other a Britishism? Which is which?

3 thoughts on “Not Just a Rhetorical Question (or Three)

  1. Bryan Garner says “Pl. roofs not rooves. But the mistaken plural occurs with some frequency.

    All American dictionaries I have make no mention of a Britishism “rooves.” OED has this brief mention:

    1903 Dialect Notes II. 352 Roof, n. pl. rooves. Common plural in Mass. 1938 C. HIMES Black on Black (1973) 165 W’en de panic cum an’ de Lawd tek yo’ food an’ yo’ clothes an’ de rooves off’n yo’ haids, den laff. 1939 [see council (housing) estate s.v. COUNCIL 17].

    I’d stick with roofs.

  2. Actually, that’s kinda what I thought; I’d just stared at “roofs” until it looked like it couldn’t possibly be right. I suppose the confusion came because I’ve always pronounced the plural “rooves.” Which I guess mostly tells you where I come down on the “rufe” vs. “ruff” debate.

  3. It’s spelled “roofs”, but in some countries it can be pronounced “rooves”. Australia is one such: I just checked our national dictionary to see if it reflected that, and it does: /rufs, ruvz/.

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