Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sun Feb 10 18:26:46 UTC 2008

from yesterday's "wait wait ... don't tell me" on NPR, two uses of
"buttockses" in reference to israeli soldiers who entertained
themselves by mooning palestinians.  each soldier exposed his
buttocks; as a group, they exposed their buttockses (parallel to
"asses", "backsides", "butts", etc.).  so, a double plural, where the
standard form would just be plural, regardless of how many people are

"buttockses" gets 263 google webhits (with dupes removed).  most of
them are double plurals --
"thoughts on buttockses", "that wacky british royal family and their
tattoed buttockses", and the like -- but some are pretty clearly
references to one person's buttocks, as in

   Cause like, you know, when you're poor, your nails aren't manicured
and your buttockses aren't waxed and you're just altogether ewwwww. ...

   Most thirteen year olds probably wouldn't want to talk about Benj's

there are other cites that suggest that some people have reanalyzed
"buttocks" as a singular, but as a synonym of "ass", "backside",
"butt" etc. that just happens to have an -s in it (like "shingles" the
disease, "linguistics", etc.):

   This is because he is just the biggest, beefiest hunk of studly
manhood ever to come down the pike, which in turn is why his buttocks
is featured in every ...

   ... his buttocks is covered with bright red bruises.

that's not what's going on in the examples of "buttockses" 'buttocks
of one person', which would seem to have "buttocks" meaning 'buttock',
as in

   I checked the damage to Alex and was stunned by the wounds the dog
had inflicted on his left arm, his left leg and his left buttocks.

   Dr. Douglas R. Johnson recorded a history of the claimant waking up
that morning with pain in his left buttocks radiating down the left
leg ...

the standard system has
   sg. buttock
   pl. buttocks [used for one person or several]

one reanalysis:
   sg. buttock
   pl. buttocks [of one person]
   pl. buttockses [of more than one person]

another reanalysis:
   sg. buttocks 'buttock'
   pl.  buttocks [?of one or more than one person]
(this could be combined with the previous reanalysis to get a one
person/more than one person distinction)

still another reanalysis:
   sg. buttocks 'buttock'
   pl. buttockses [of one or more than one person]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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