Writing for Business

Dec 23 2009   3:07PM GMT

The plural of “OS”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore


Which is correct?
Running only Web apps is expected to make Chrome more secure than other ______.
a. OS’s
b. OSes
c. OSs

Answer: c.

I have to say, I prefer OSes myself, probably because I prefer spellings that reflect pronunciation when there’s any question. However the usual form for pluralizing an initialism or acronym is simply to add an s, even if the word already ends in an s. See a debate about this issue here.

This post has been edited — and the answer changed — in response to an extremely irate email I received yesterday. Oh my! People feel very strongly about spelling issues. We’re heading into the festive season here and so I would prefer not to be tarred and feathered. Nevertheless, I would have stuck to my guns if I’d felt justified.

To my dismay, I found that according to Microsoft’s style guide and some other technical sources, OSs is the standard plural of OS. I don’t like it, but it is not up to me.

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3  Comments on this Post

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  • LesterSmith
    The [I]Chicago Manual of Style[/I], as well as the publication manuals of the Council of Science Editors, Modern Language Association, and American Psychological Association, all say "c" is the correct choice. CMS and CSE go on to explain when an apostrophe might be used to pluralize an abbreviation such as PhD. But there doesn't seem to be any documentation at all for "b."
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  • 1rabella
    Lester, Thanks for your comment. We follow AP style (mostly) at TechTarget. My recollection is that I found a reference to that being AP style for abbreviations ending in "s" but I'm not entirely sure. I'll continue to look into this one, but for the moment, I'm sticking with my "treat it as a word" justification. Ivy
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  • HomerJS
    The plural of an acronym is an 's'.  The correct answer is C.  
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