Thursday, 16 October 2014

Dice - A Plural to Die For

Some dice.
(photo by Ross Websdale)


Noun. Middle English.
[Old & modern French dés. See DIE noun.]

1 Plural of die. ME

2 A game or games played with dice. ME

A die
(photo by Kolby)


Noun. Plural in Branch I dice; in Brack II dies.
[Old & modern French , plural dés, from Latin DATUM.]

Branch I
1(a) A small cube whose six faces are marked with from one to six spots,
used in games of chance by being thrown from a box, the hand, etc.,
the score being decided from the uppermost face;
a cube with different markings, or a solid with a different number of faces, used in the same way. ME

1(b) figurative. Chance, luck. L16

2 A small cubical segment, especially of meat, etc. for cooking. Usually in plural. LME

Branch II
3 A cubical block. M17

4 An engraved stamp for impressing a design on some softer material
as in coining, striking a medal, embossing paper, etc. L17

5 Any of various devices for shaping bulk material, especially:
(a) an internally threaded hollow tool for cutting a screw thread;
(b) a part into which a punch is driven;
(c) a block with a hold through which material is extruded;
(d) a hollow mould into which material is forced prior to solidification. E19

6 A toy. Scottish. E19

Thanks guys!
(though I still feel a bit guilty about this)
I seem to like dice, having previously used them to illustrate the words bone, cleromancy and determinism on this blog. I also remember the exact moment that I learnt the proper singular noun is die, so I would like to thank Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone for their book Scorpion Swamp (which I wasn't allowed to read), and their proper use of die and dice. And yes, I do know that most people just use dice, and I know that when I use die it sounds irrevocably pretentious. But it is die. Look, it says it right there in the OED. It's one die; two dice. So there.

Do please roll out your most cubical comments in the box below.


  1. Here is a use of the word 'die' in electronics technology. All your computers, mobile phones, xboxes, etc. contain 100's, maybe 1000's of dice.

    "A die in the context of integrated circuits is a small block of semiconducting material, on which a given functional circuit is fabricated. Typically, integrated circuits are produced in large batches on a single wafer of electronic-grade silicon (EGS) or other semiconductor (such as GaAs) through processes such as photolithography. The wafer is cut (“diced”) into many pieces, each containing one copy of the circuit. Each of these pieces is called a die." - Wikipedia.

  2. Want to using die without sounding irrevocably pretentious? After your winning throw you say, grabdly, 'the die is cast', and hope that no one's feeling picky.

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