Roll the dice.

Games   Thursday, October 23, 2003, 15:02 GMT
What do you usually mean when you say ''roll the dice'', do you mean plural or singular? When some people say ''roll the dice'' they mean only one die.
Simon   Thursday, October 23, 2003, 15:41 GMT
Ah but the the is a definite article. The dice have already been announced. Therefore the other person should know. "Roll dice" would have been ambiguous.
Jim   Friday, October 24, 2003, 04:01 GMT
When I say ''roll the dice'' I mean plural because I'm a smart-alec who thinks he knows better.

At least I know better now. For many years I believed that "dice" was both singular and plural. I was only a kid when I learnt that the singular was "supposed" to be "die". Eventually I curbed my "bad" habit.

But, on the other hand, there are so many using "dice" as singular, could you really call them wrong? This is a tricky issue. A similar question: "Is it wrong to use 'octopi' as the plural of 'octopus'?"


"Roll dice" would have been ambiguous with respect to which dice but not with respect to plural or singular. Even those who (mis)use "dice" as singular would have said "Roll a dice".
Clark   Friday, October 24, 2003, 04:21 GMT
On a sort of related singlular/plural issue; I have noticed that many people in my area use "fishes" as the plural instead of "fish" being both singular and plural. Gosh I hate that! I hate it even more when I catch myself saying it.
Tremmert   Friday, October 24, 2003, 08:18 GMT
I thought that you could use either way - and it was the same for most animals, eg 'there's a herd of elephant' or 'there's a herd of elephants'
Simon   Friday, October 24, 2003, 09:36 GMT
Or dice the roll. To make croutons for example...

I've never heard of a herd of elephant. It's either a small herd or a big elephant.
Jim   Monday, October 27, 2003, 05:34 GMT
If you said "Dice the roll." to me, I might throw it out.


I don't think so.

"One elephant, two elephants, a herd of elephants ..."

"One fish, two fish, a school of fish ..."

The plural of "elephant" is "elephants". The plural of "fish" is "fish".
Jim   Monday, October 27, 2003, 07:58 GMT
"One die, two dice, a gang of dice .."
Jim   Monday, October 27, 2003, 08:01 GMT
"One dies, two die, the whole gang dies ..."
Simon   Monday, October 27, 2003, 09:10 GMT
Impressive, Jim.
Jim   Tuesday, October 28, 2003, 00:23 GMT
Why, thank ye, kind sir.
Sima   Tuesday, October 28, 2003, 05:51 GMT
I'm learning something new today.
I thought the plural of dice is unchanged. So we say one dice, two dice,...
so I see 'die' is the singular for dice. But isn't it dated ? Do you Egnlish speakers still use die as the singular of dice ?
Is the idiom "no dice" popular in the US ?
Peggy   Tuesday, October 28, 2003, 05:52 GMT
What about 'the die is cast' ? is it still in use ?
zi   Tuesday, October 28, 2003, 05:55 GMT
I heard "load the dice against somebody". Does it mean to put somebody at a disadvantage ? Is it common to use it ?
mjd   Tuesday, October 28, 2003, 06:10 GMT

Yeah, while it's not a common phrase, I think "to put at a disadvantage" is the correct meaning. You'll also sometimes hear the expression: "to have the cards stacked against...."

This has the same meaning as the phrase in your question.