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Old 06-13-2016, 06:55 PM
boffking boffking is offline
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Plural of Iron Man

I have a T-shirt that shows all the different versions of comic book character Iron Man. Whenever I wear it, people always debate if it shows "Iron Men" or "Iron Mans". Which is the correct form?
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  #2  
Old 06-13-2016, 06:59 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Iron Mans. It sounds wrong but it is grammatically correct.
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Old 06-13-2016, 07:00 PM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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If it is always Stark in the suit, then Iron Mans. If Rhodes is in one of the suits and Stark in another, then Iron Men.
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Old 06-13-2016, 07:16 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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I have a T-shirt that shows all the different versions of comic book character Iron Man. Whenever I wear it, people always debate if it shows "Iron Men" or "Iron Mans". Which is the correct form?
"Genius . . . Billionaire . . . Playboy . . . Philanthropist."
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Old 06-13-2016, 07:18 PM
boffking boffking is offline
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Another Iron Man question.
I have a pair of Ironman sunglasses. They are well built athletic sunglasses. They don't appear to have any connection to Stark, metal suits, or the comics. What, if anything, are they named after?
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Old 06-13-2016, 07:22 PM
araminty araminty is offline
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Another Iron Man question.
I have a pair of Ironman sunglasses. They are well built athletic sunglasses. They don't appear to have any connection to Stark, metal suits, or the comics. What, if anything, are they named after?
The sport.
  #7  
Old 06-13-2016, 07:22 PM
markn+ markn+ is offline
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The general rule in English is if an adjective modifies a noun but leaves the overall meaning of the noun unchanged, then you use normal pluralization rules. But if the adjective changes the meaning of the noun, then you just append "s".

So for example, the plural of "leaf" is "leaves". A maple tree has a lot of maple leaves. But the Toronto hockey team is the Maple Leafs because they are not a bunch of actual leaves. If you buy more than one Sony Walkman, you're buying Walkmans, not Walkmen, because the music players are not actual men.

So the question is, is Iron Man actually a man? This case is a little tricky because there's an actual man involved, so it's a little ambiguous whether Iron Man refers to the man in the suit or the suit. That's probably why people have difficulty with it, while their intuition works ok for the Maple Leafs and Walkmans.

--Mark
  #8  
Old 06-13-2016, 07:50 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Iron Mans. It sounds wrong but it is grammatically correct.
Agreed, for the reason explained (if not fully embraced) by markn+.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
So the question is, is Iron Man actually a man? This case is a little tricky because there's an actual man involved...
I say you're overthinking this. Iron Man, whether he's based on a man or not, is not a natural man. If there's more than one Iron Man character they are Iron Mans.

Quote:
...so it's a little ambiguous whether Iron Man refers to the man in the suit or the suit.
It refers to the combination of the person and the suit -- the man WHILE IN the suit. Neither the person by himself, not the suit by itself, is Iron Man.

Now, if you have a tough guy who earns the sobriquet "Iron Man" (but who is still quite clearly a natural man), and there's another just like him, they are "Iron Men."
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:12 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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It refers to the combination of the person and the suit -- the man WHILE IN the suit. Neither the person by himself, not the suit by itself, is Iron Man.
And if there were two such men-in-suits at a time, I'd call them Iron Men.
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:19 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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Oh never mind.

Last edited by smiling bandit; 06-13-2016 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:21 PM
markn+ markn+ is offline
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Yeah, I think it's not as clear-cut as Gary T is arguing for. Normally we don't think that a person changes his identity depending on the clothing he's wearing, even if it's very special clothing. Clark Kent is Superman, whether he's wearing the colorful underwear or not. It would seem a little (but not totally) odd to me if Tony Stark claimed that he was Iron Man, and some one objected, saying "no you can't be because you're not wearing the suit".

--Mark

Last edited by markn+; 06-13-2016 at 08:22 PM.
  #12  
Old 06-13-2016, 08:24 PM
dtilque dtilque is online now
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Iron Persons
  #13  
Old 06-13-2016, 08:25 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Wasn't that the point of the third Iron Man movie, Stark realizing that he was still Iron Man even when he wasn't suited up?
  #14  
Old 06-13-2016, 08:45 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Conventionally, Supermen is the plural of Superman. I've read that many times, but I don't remember seeing Supermans.

In fact, Reign of the Supermen is canon.
  #15  
Old 06-13-2016, 08:55 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Conventionally, Supermen is the plural of Superman. I've read that many times, but I don't remember seeing Supermans.

In fact, Reign of the Supermen is canon.
A storyline that featured one Clark Kent, a/k/a Kal-El, a/k/a The One True Superman.
  #16  
Old 06-13-2016, 08:57 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Conventionally, Supermen is the plural of Superman. I've read that many times, but I don't remember seeing Supermans.

In fact, Reign of the Supermen is canon.
But that entails 4 different people (i.e., more than 1 "man"), which is only one type of scenario being discussed. And just because a comic book did it, doesn't make it grammatically correct.
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:00 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Iron Mans. It sounds wrong but it is grammatically correct.
No it's not. It should be Iron Men in this case.

Last edited by Colibri; 06-13-2016 at 09:06 PM.
  #18  
Old 06-13-2016, 09:10 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Wasn't that the point of the third Iron Man movie, Stark realizing that he was still Iron Man even when he wasn't suited up?
Yep, he is Iron Man. The suit is just a whole-body prosthetic that Iron Man wears. So, the t-shirt shows neither Iron Men or Iron Mans--it shows Iron Man Suits.
  #19  
Old 06-13-2016, 10:00 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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But that entails 4 different people (i.e., more than 1 "man"), which is only one type of scenario being discussed. And just because a comic book did it, doesn't make it grammatically correct.
Why should usage care about what's grammatically correct? It never has and it never will.
  #20  
Old 06-13-2016, 10:15 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Yep, he is Iron Man. The suit is just a whole-body prosthetic that Iron Man wears. So, the t-shirt shows neither Iron Men or Iron Mans--it shows Iron Man Suits.
Now that I think about it, it should be "Iron Man's Suits".
  #21  
Old 06-13-2016, 10:16 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Originally Posted by Ethilrist View Post
Yep, he is Iron Man. The suit is just a whole-body prosthetic that Iron Man wears. So, the t-shirt shows neither Iron Men or Iron Mans--it shows Iron Man Suits.
Or at most different versions of Iron Man.

Is Iron Man a trademarked name? If so (and I think so) then the rules regarding pluralizing trademarked names (recently in the news regarding iPod pluralization, most grammatically properly "multiple iPod devices" rather than "iPods" ) may apply. Trademarks are properly handled as adjectives. There are various depictions of Iron Man characters on that shirt. The fact that it is handled as a noun within the fictional universe is immaterial to how it is handled within the real world. Within the fictional universe pluralization is up to the creators or perhaps the characters, be they Proudfoots or Proudfeet.
  #22  
Old 06-14-2016, 03:01 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Iron Mans. It sounds wrong but it is grammatically correct.
And since when is English consistently grammatically correct? It's Iron Men.

I'm surprised no one has suggested Irons Man (Jeremy notwithstanding).
  #23  
Old 06-14-2016, 04:10 AM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
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I thought about suggesting Irons men, just to be terribly obnoxious, but it's wrong, since there's no way "Iron" is the noun.

However, the plural of Virgin Mary is Virgins Mary.

And computers have mouses.
  #24  
Old 06-14-2016, 05:08 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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However, the plural of Virgin Mary is Virgins Mary.
But Bloody Marys, right?

I'd hate for a bartender/grammar Nazi to correct me.

ETA: "a coupla bloody marys to the virgins Mary down at the end of the bar, please."

Last edited by kayaker; 06-14-2016 at 05:10 AM.
  #25  
Old 06-14-2016, 08:05 AM
Kiber Kiber is offline
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Aren't they all Fe-ple?
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:27 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Well you'd never say "Batmen". So I vote "Iron Mans."
  #27  
Old 06-14-2016, 08:36 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
Normally we don't think that a person changes his identity depending on the clothing he's wearing, even if it's very special clothing. Clark Kent is Superman, whether he's wearing the colorful underwear or not. It would seem a little (but not totally) odd to me if Tony Stark claimed that he was Iron Man, and some one objected, saying "no you can't be because you're not wearing the suit".
Yes, Superman has all his characteristics regardless of how he's dressed or what he's called. But no, Tony Stark is not Iron Man out of the suit. He can't fly, he can't bear most attacks, he can't fire repulsor rays. It's not clothing, not even "very special clothing." It's an integral part of the entity known as Iron Man.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Wasn't that the point of the third Iron Man movie, Stark realizing that he was still Iron Man even when he wasn't suited up?
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Originally Posted by Ethilrist View Post
Yep, he is Iron Man. The suit is just a whole-body prosthetic that Iron Man wears.
Movie-schmovie, I disagree. Stark is certainly the human portion of Iron Man, but he alone is not Iron Man, and the suit is much more than just a prosthetic (see above).
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:58 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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But no, Tony Stark is not Iron Man out of the suit.
Tony Stark held a press conference and announced "I am Iron Man."
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:00 AM
Lucas Jackson Lucas Jackson is offline
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Aren't they all Fe-ple?
Nice.
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:06 AM
Alan Smithee Alan Smithee is offline
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Tony Stark held a press conference and announced "I am Iron Man."
When they finally decide Robert Downey Jr is too old and replace Tony Stark in the movie universe, they should have a scene in the movie where Tony announces his replacement by standing next to him at a press conference and announcing, "We are Iron Men! No, wait. We are Iron Mans! Iron Mans or Iron Men? We are Iron Men? That doesn't work either. Wait, I got it. I AM IRON MAN! AND SO IS HE!"
  #31  
Old 06-14-2016, 09:14 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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"I am IRON MAN; he is IRON MAN 2; that's IRON MAN 3."
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:20 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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If it is always Stark in the suit, then Iron Mans. If Rhodes is in one of the suits and Stark in another, then Iron Men.
Wouldn't be one Iron Man and one War Machine (or Iron Patriot)?
  #33  
Old 06-14-2016, 09:36 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
Yeah, I think it's not as clear-cut as Gary T is arguing for. Normally we don't think that a person changes his identity depending on the clothing he's wearing, even if it's very special clothing. Clark Kent is Superman, whether he's wearing the colorful underwear or not. It would seem a little (but not totally) odd to me if Tony Stark claimed that he was Iron Man, and some one objected, saying "no you can't be because you're not wearing the suit".

--Mark

LT Pete Mitchell is still "Maverick" even when he's not in the cockpit of his F-14A Tomcat.

What happens if Rhodes and Tony switch suits?


I feel I should also point out that the Black Sabbath song Iron Man is about a different Iron Man.
  #34  
Old 06-14-2016, 09:36 AM
yabob yabob is offline
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Well you'd never say "Batmen". So I vote "Iron Mans."
I wouldn't say "Batmans" or "Supermans" either. Same problem.

The bottom line, as alluded to above is that we shouldn't expect absolute consistency, and BOTH constructions just SOUND wrong. In practice, I'll weasel out of it by saying "Iron Man suits" or something like this. And "Iron Man's suits" also sounds wrong. "Iron Man" is a modifier for the type of suit. I wouldn't say "Boy Scout's uniforms", although I suppose some people might.

However, for a group of participants in the triathlon event, I would say "Ironmen" without hesitation, as everybody else seems to.

BTW, that "computer mouses" thing never seemed to take root, thankfully. Many dictionaries considers both correct, and "mouses" sounds too close to a Tom and Jerry cartoon ("meeses"). Computers have "mice", IMO.

When the grammarians aren't able to reach a conclusion, give up on them and trust your ear.
  #35  
Old 06-14-2016, 09:44 AM
yabob yabob is offline
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Excuse me ... a "Pixie and Dixie" cartoon.
  #36  
Old 06-14-2016, 10:50 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Again, Batmen is canon.

So is Spider-Men.

And so is Iron Men

"Men" just sounds more natural as a plural. Usage is going to prefer it. Grammar does not have a role to play here.
  #37  
Old 06-14-2016, 11:13 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Originally Posted by yabob View Post
BTW, that "computer mouses" thing never seemed to take root, thankfully. Many dictionaries considers both correct, and "mouses" sounds too close to a [Pixie and Dixie] cartoon ("meeses"). Computers have "mice", IMO.
What are you, a man or a meese? I mean a men or a mouses? I mean...ah, fuhgeddabout it.
  #38  
Old 06-14-2016, 11:15 AM
jtur88 jtur88 is offline
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Generally, I assume that a compounded structure that contains an irregular plural, reverts back to regular plural form, if it does not make literal reference to the noun's thingness. Like the Toronto Maple Leafs (who are hockey players, not botanical appendages), but a yard full of maple leaves. This is not restricted to nouns. A baseball players flied out to center field -- not flew out, which would have a whole different connotation. But I've noticed more and more commentators nowadays saying "flew out", so I guess the pedants must be putting their feet to the fire.

So if an Iron Man is a shirt, and there are two shirts, they are Iron Mans. When I was a kid, our house had a furnace in the basement made by Iron Fireman. Lots of people had Iron Firemans, it was a popular brand.

Last edited by jtur88; 06-14-2016 at 11:16 AM.
  #39  
Old 06-14-2016, 08:14 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Aren't they all Fe-ple?
Persons of ferrous composition.

And computer mouses.
  #40  
Old 06-15-2016, 06:49 PM
Wallaby Wallaby is offline
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More importantly

If we have more than one Ironman - what do we call the grouping?

A Filing of Ironmen (mans)?
A Lode?
Perhaps an Ore?
A SNAG?

This needs to be clarified. I'd hate to have to call on superheroes, and not get a response because I used the wrong collective noun.
  #41  
Old 06-15-2016, 07:09 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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I'd say a curtain of Iron Men.

And when they aren't around, a deficiency.
  #42  
Old 06-15-2016, 07:13 PM
dtilque dtilque is online now
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Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
More importantly

If we have more than one Ironman - what do we call the grouping?

A Filing of Ironmen (mans)?
A Lode?
Perhaps an Ore?
A SNAG?
a wrought
a cast
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