What’s the Plural of Rhinoceros: Understanding English Plurals

  • The word ‘rhinoceros’ has three observed plural forms: ‘rhinoceros,’ ‘rhinoceroses,’ and ‘rhinoceri’.
  • Rhinoceros‘ alone can serve as both singular and plural, which is not unusual for English nouns with foreign origins.
  • Language users may choose their plural form for ‘rhinoceros’ based on context, formality, and tradition.

In many instances, the word ‘rhinoceros’ functions as its own plural. This indiscernible shift from singular to plural occurs without any verbal alteration, a characteristic found in certain other animal names in the English language. It’s not uncommon for words imported from other linguistic traditions to maintain their original pluralization forms, blending into English with a distinct identity. As language evolves, these variations can coexist, providing speakers with options based on formality, context, or preference.

What’s the Plural of “Rhinoceros”?

Two plural forms are recognized and correct: rhinoceros and rhinoceroses. Each of these forms has its context of usage, though both are widely accepted.

Standard Plural Form

Rhinoceros (Singular)Rhinoceroses (Plural)
One rhinocerosMultiple rhinoceroses

In more formal or scientific contexts, you might find that “rhinoceroses” is the preferred plural. This is in line with the conventional rule of adding -es to nouns ending in -o.

Alternative Plural Form

Rhinoceros (Singular & Plural)
One rhinoceros
Two rhinoceros
  • Standard usage: “Look at those two large rhinoceroses.”
  • Alternative usage: “Look at those two large rhinoceros.”
  • Singular: I saw a rhinoceros.
  • Plural Forms:
    • I saw two rhinoceros.
    • I saw two rhinoceroses.
  • Frequency of Plural Form Use
    • Rhinoceroses
      • Often considered the most “standard” English plural variant
      • Adheres to English rules for pluralization
    • Rhinoceros
      • Preserves the singular form for plural use
      • Understood within context but less common
    • Rhinoceri
      • Reflects Latin and historical roots
      • Least commonly used and can seem archaic
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Is Rhinoceros Singular or Plural?

Common Plural Forms of Rhinoceros:


Usage of Plural Forms:

  • Rhinoceroses follows the standard rules for forming plurals in English and is often used in formal writing.
  • Rhinoceros, while originally singular, is sometimes used as a plural in casual contexts.
  • Rhinoceri is less common and is rooted in the word’s Latin etymology.

Examples in Sentences:

  • The zoo has three rhinoceros.
  • A group of rhinoceri was spotted in the wild.
  • Several rhinoceroses charge at threats to defend their young.

Nouns That Are the Same Singular and Plural

Examples of such nouns include:

  • Aircraft
  • Series
  • Species
  • Rhinoceros

To understand better, take a look at these nouns in usage:

one aircrafttwo aircraft
one seriestwo series
one speciestwo species
one rhinocerostwo rhinoceros

Few more examples include:

  • Deer
  • Sheep
  • Fish (though “fishes” can also be used when referring to different kinds/species)

Usage of these nouns in sentences:

  • The farmer has one sheep in the field.
  • The farmer has five sheep in the field.

These nouns are particularly common in certain categories such as:

  • Animals: buffalo, salmon, trout
  • Means of Transportation: spacecraft, hovercraft
  • Collective Terms: series, species, folk

To further illustrate:

Singular UsePlural Use
a buffaloseveral buffalo
this spacecraftall spacecraft in the fleet
the folk of the villagefolk around the world

What Are Rhinoceros?

Rhinoceros are large, herbivorous mammals known for their distinctive horn or horns atop their snouts. These creatures belong to the family Rhinocerotidae, and they are native to parts of Africa and Asia. The skin of a rhinoceros is thick and can appear in shades of brown or gray, typically with very little hair.

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Rhinoceros Appearance

HornsOne or two upright, keratinous structures
SkinThick and protective, with minimal hair
SizeVaries by species; can weigh up to 3,500 kg

There are five different species of rhinoceros, and their size along with horn shape and count varies among them. For instance, the Sumatran rhinoceros is recognized as the smallest, whereas the white rhinoceros is the largest.

Species & Traits

  • Sumatran Rhinoceros: Smallest species, and critically endangered.
  • White Rhinoceros: Largest species, has square lips suitable for grazing.
  • Black Rhinoceros: Prehensile liped, known for being more aggressive.
  • Indian Rhinoceros: Single-horned, with a distinct armor-like skin appearance.
  • Javan Rhinoceros: One-horned, extremely rare and critically endangered.

Examples of Rhinoceros Used in Context

Single and Plural Usage

Singular ExamplePlural Example
A single rhinoceros stands tall in the savannah.In the wild, a group of rhinoceros is a rare sight.
The rhinoceros is known for its thick skin.Multiple rhinoceroses were spotted near the riverbed.

Contextual Differences
When the context is clear, the use of ‘rhinoceros’ requires no additional ‘es’ at the end to denote plurality.

  • At the zoo, we observed a family of rhinoceros enjoying their meal.
  • Conservation efforts are focused on protecting the habitats of the rhinoceros in Africa and Asia.

Bold use of ‘rhinoceroses’ often appears in academic or formal writing to explicitly indicate multiple animals.

  • Each year, the population numbers of rhinoceroses are carefully monitored.
  • The sanctuary provides a safe haven for orphaned rhinoceroses.

Informal Context
The informal plural ‘rhinos’ is commonly used in everyday speech and carries a more casual tone.

  • Tourists were thrilled to see a group of rhinos on the safari tour.
  • The documentary highlighted how young rhinos are taught to fend for themselves.
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Examples of Rhinoceros Used in Context

Single and Plural Forms

The rhinoceros is known for its thick skin and large horn.The rhinoceroses grazed peacefully in the grassy field.
A rhinoceros was spotted near the river bank.Several rhinoceros have been relocated to a new sanctuary.

Usage in Different Sentences

  1. When visiting the national park, they saw a rhinoceros by itself near a watering hole.
  2. The documentary featured the challenges that rhinoceroses face due to poaching.
  3. Rhinos have poor eyesight, but they make up for it with an acute sense of smell and hearing.
  • Example sentences with “rhinoceros” in plural context:
    • In the wild, rhinoceros are often seen in groups, mostly consisting of a female and her offspring.
    • Conservation efforts are crucial for the survival of rhinoceros in their natural habitats.

Origin of the Word Rhinoceros

The word rhinoceros is derived from the Greek terms rhino meaning “nose” and keras signifying “horn.” These two Greek words combine to aptly describe the rhinoceros as a “nose-horned” animal, a direct reference to the prominent horns found on their snouts.

The transition of the word into English retained the original Greek meaning, even as it passed through Latin. It’s interesting to note how the word slightly morphed as it traversed through languages but principally kept its descriptive essence. The below table outlines the word’s linguistic journey:


In modern usage, the term rhinoceros has led to a few variants when it comes to the plural form. English offers flexibility, accepting several pluralizations. These plural forms include “rhinoceros,” “rhinoceroses,” and also the less commonly used “rhinoceri.”

  • Rhinoceros
  • Rhinoceroses
  • Rhinoceri

Ultimately, the word “rhinoceros” not only reflects the physical characteristics of the animal but also tells a story of linguistic evolution. The survival of the original Greek description in modern English is a testament to the word’s ability to effectively convey the distinctive features of this massive mammal. It is this precision in word formation that lends the historical tongues their lasting legacy in our current vocabulary.


  1. Definition of rhinoceros.
  2. Origin of the word rhinoceros.

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