[Ads-l] Meese - 1878

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 8 10:16:28 EST 2016

Wiktionary recognizes meese as a chiefly comical plural of moose (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/meese <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/meese>, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/moose <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/moose>) and the Urban Dictionary has it, too (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meese <http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meese>).

The online Oxford Dictionaries do not have it, but there is an article claiming that "the plural of moose is not and has never been meese” (http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/03/plural-moose-meese/ <http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/03/plural-moose-meese/>).

I didn’t try to find an earliest date for the ADS list, but Doug Bayer mentions the word on 21 September 1995 (http://www.americandialect.org/americandialectarchives/sept95.txt <http://www.americandialect.org/americandialectarchives/sept95.txt>).

1. “A Moose Story” in _The Churchman_, vol. 38, p. 54
18 July 1878
http://bit.ly/2gfHncd <http://bit.ly/2gfHncd>

You know that when you see a lot of “gooses” together, you always call them geese, but it would not answer at all to say that these little crosspatches were “meese,” so we shall have to name them Jack and Tom.

2. “Pleasantries” in _The Christian Register_, vol. 65, no. 42, p. 672
21 October 1886
http://bit.ly/2h71cPM <http://bit.ly/2h71cPM>
quoted from the Cambridge Chronicle 

If the plural of goose is geese, the plural of moose should be meese; but every hunter who ever camped in the woods of Maine knows that it isn’t. Moose hasn’t any plural. A fellow thinks himself lucky if he sees one.

3. _The New Yorker_, vol. 15, issue 2
http://bit.ly/2houfOk <http://bit.ly/2houfOk>; see also http://bit.ly/2gfH9lr <http://bit.ly/2gfH9lr>

I was near the end of the story, with the Canucks all beaten off and two carcasses of gigantic meese hanging to trees, before I reached the surprising news that the word “moose” had no plural but remained unchanged ad infinitum.

4. Appears to be the first occurrence of a normalized, non-linguistic use
_Between Ourselves_, issues 30-45
http://bit.ly/2h9zODM <http://bit.ly/2h9zODM> 

One of our flights had spotted two meese a few miles away.

5. _The Adventures of Paul Bunyan & Babe_, p. 13
William Ratigan
1958, Google-dated
http://bit.ly/2gFOA1q <http://bit.ly/2gFOA1q> 

Paul mostly lived on moose-milk mush,
And—for an extra snack— 
He ate a hundred meese or two, 
Like peanuts from a sack

6. _His_
1967, Google-dated
http://bit.ly/2hoqAQr <http://bit.ly/2hoqAQr>

It is said that Minnesota has more fish and meese than people.

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

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

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