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Why is movie not spelt like movy?
I thought all nouns that end in "y" should be changed into "ie" when it's a plural.

  • 2
    Really? Are there rules about how one thing is spelled?! – M.A.R. Feb 27 '15 at 19:41
  • I'd guess because it qualifies as a diminutive, like Howard becomes Howie, not Howy. 2nd point monkey doesn't gain an 'ie' when plural… so it ends up being a bit like the "I before E except after C" which has more exceptions than agreements in English ;) – Tetsujin Feb 27 '15 at 19:42
  • Your "rule" does not apply to "movie" since it doesn't end in "y". You can pick the plural nouns ending in "ys" out of this list Words ending in ys in the Litscape default word list. Seems your thought is wrong. – user3169 Feb 27 '15 at 19:52
  • Exactly what noun ending in -y are you thinking is relevant here? Movie is derived from the verb move via the phrase moving picture; there's no 'y' involved anywhere. – Martha Feb 27 '15 at 20:35
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    While we're on the subject, let's not forget about cookie, brownie, moxie, pixie, prairie, and rookie. – J.R. Mar 2 '15 at 3:17
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If I understand the logic behind your question, you are asking:

Since movies is plural, why is the singular movie and not movy?

In general:

Well, just because there is a common and helpful rule that states

A noun ending in a consonant and then y makes the plural by dropping the y and adding -ies

this does not mean that you can always apply this rule backwards to any plural word ending in -ies to get the singular of that word.

That is, there is no rule that says a word whose plural form ends in -ies comes from a singular form that ends in consonant plus -y.

You can apply the rule backwards, when it was originally to a word, as in

daisies : daisy
ponies : pony

But you cannot apply the rule backwards when it was not originally applied. Thus the following does not work

monies : mony

(Note that money has two plural forms, moneys and monies.)

In Particular

And the following does not work:

movies : movy

Because the singular of movies is not movy but movie. The why of that has to do with movie coming from moving picture. Mov(ing picture).

The -ing picture was replaced by the ending -ie. I suppose it could have been replaced by y (after all, we have such nouns as gravy.

I suspect that movie(s) originally had a diminutive meaning, in which case the ending -y seems to be fine only in words whose last consonant is doubled (doggy, granny) while -ie goes with those kind of words (doggie, grannie) or...

with words whose consonants are not doubled (sweetie, birdie). I guess movvy didn't quite work, any more than movy.

A similar word to movie, now outdated, is

talkie

It has the plural talkies. The word talkie apparently does not come directly from talking pictures, but from movies. The mov- was replaced by talk-.

Note that we have 'walkie-talkie'. This conforms with -ie usage in words whose ending consonant does not double. But later on came the form 'walky-talky'. One can only guess why this variant spelling came about.

  • As a native English speaker, I've never heard or read "monies" or "moneys" before. Could you use it in a sentence? – Zgialor Feb 28 '15 at 4:28
  • @Zgialor There are some examples in the ODO at Definition 1.1 – user6951 Feb 28 '15 at 7:15
  • @Zgialor, In addition, see usage at Google Ngram: * monies,* moneys – CoolHandLouis Feb 28 '15 at 7:43
  • @CoolHandLouis Hm, interesting. Looks like it's usage has largely declined over the years, but not that much (although the sudden increasing trend for "moneys" from 2004 to 2008 is interesting). Perhaps I have seen it before, but I didn't think it was that significant, so the instance wasn't stored in my long-term memory. – Zgialor Feb 28 '15 at 18:37
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Adding the singular -ie ending is a common way to make a diminutive name for someone or something in English. It came from Scots dialect in the 1600s. Some examples:

cookie, mousie, lassie, Annie (diminutive for Ann), Carrie (diminutive for Caroline), Charlie (diminutive for Charles), and many more

It's not consistent, though. Some of these diminutives are spelled with -y in the singular:

baby, mommy, daddy, puppy, kitty, Johnny (diminutive for John), and many more

Some are spelled both ways. For example, Johnnie.

The word movie is short for "moving picture". The Oxford English Dictionary lists one instance of movy, from George Bernard Shaw's play Heartbreak House, written in 1919:

"Talk like a man, not a movy."

But that spelling is long gone. As for why the "movie" spelling prevailed over "movy", that is probably unknown and unknowable today.

-1

"Movie" was derived from "moving picture", which already had the "i".

  • 1
    And because the meta discussion is still fresh in my mind here's a quick supporting citation: Origin 1905-10; mov(ing picture) + -ie. I don't think the -ie was added because moving had an "i" in it though. I think it's more along the lines of "selfie" or "wedgie". – ColleenV Feb 27 '15 at 23:02
  • "selfie" and "wedgie" date from well after "movie". Their "ie"s might be derived by analogy to "movie"'s "ie". – Jasper Feb 27 '15 at 23:06
  • It's possible. I did see some mention of -ie becoming more popular than -y when I was looking at the etymology. I don't know if it's attributable to movie or not. I wasn't able to find much in the brief search I did. – ColleenV Feb 27 '15 at 23:49
  • @ColleenV Guys, I think it's doggy versus movvy when it comes to -y or -ie. Some consonants don't take to doubling. Also sweetie, birdie (a pre-movie word), not sweetty, birdy, sweettie, birddie. An allowable doubled consonant can take either (doggie, grannie). – user6951 Feb 28 '15 at 1:49

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