POLL on a BURNING QUESTION REVISITED: The Plural of “Gin & Tonic” – Daily Rome (not) Shot – 507 – bonus video

Today was a terrific day, in that we – the Heartbeat International group – had a pleasure of visiting a center for women who need REAL health care to keep their babies.  The volunteers explained the workings (and funding) of the place and told us about some of the great stories from their work since the 1970’s.   At the center “the guys”, Floriani, sang the entirely appropriate “Est ist en Rose entsprungen” (in English), the imagery being perfect.   The center itself uses the symbol of a primrose, which often blooms in cold, harsh conditions.

Remember… Heartbeat International provides a hotline for a network of doctors who can prescribe the REVERSAL of the “abortion pill” which is being handed out like candy for free even to underage girls. Surgical abortion is declining but this chemical thing is rising.

Meanwhile, we had a fast trip to the Cathedral of Genoa, where – though the Cathedral was closed off- I was allowed by the sacristan to visit to tomb of the late, great Cardinal Siri.


Moreover during the trip the question of the plural of “Gin and Tonic” has again arisen, as it inevitably does in intelligent and polite company.  For genteel discussion, of course.

As you might guess, auctores scinduntur.   Inspector Morse, whom I believe to be an expert, says, “Gins and tonic”.   He is certainly right… though don’t let me influence you…. ehem.

Years ago, Fr. Thompson said that Graham Greene in the second paragraph of  Brighton Rock, has the character Hale drinking “gins and tonics.”   Well…. we all know about Graham Green… but don’t let me influence your vote… ehem.

And not that it should make a difference that Sir Humphrey Appleby is a rather terrible misogynist and bureaucrat, he says “G &Ts”.   I don’t imagine that that will influence anyone away from the glaring truth.

Someone suggested Latin, Iuniperi cum tonico, which seems right to me.

So, pick your best answer.  Any can vote, but only registered and approved participants can post comments… and I hope you do.   This is far too important a question not to have wide participation.

What is the plural of the drink made from gin combined with tonic?

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As a side note…

Which drink is mine?

And.. a bonus… in the Cathedral of Genoa.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. scaron says:

    “Runs-Batted-In” – therefore “Gins-and-Tonic”

    [Ooooh… good one.]

  2. PostCatholic says:

    I appreciate that you are unafraid of the most vexing religious disputes of this age. Perhaps you’ll eventually move on to brandy & soda?

    “I say, Jeeves,” I said.
    “Mix me a stiffish brandy and soda.”
    “Yes, sir.”
    “Stiffish, Jeeves. Not too much soda, but splash the brandy about a bit.”
    -P.G. Wodehouse, “The Inimitable Jeeves”

  3. Chuck4247 says:

    While @scaron has a point about Runs Batted In, the abbreviated form is RBIs, not RsBI. Thus, I conclude that it is possible for a “Gin and Tonic” to be treated as a single term for purposes of pluralization

  4. JPM says:

    What about “Black and Tans?” Surely that’s closer to “Gin and Tonics” than “Runs Batted In,” whose likely descendant is “Meals Ready to Eat.”

  5. JPaulZ says:

    My gut goes with “Gin and Tonics”. I couldn’t be wrong after saying it that way all these years, could I?
    The center drink is yours.

  6. OK_doc says:

    Sorry Father, wrong question. [No. It is exactly the right question.]
    In this situation, gin-and-tonic are attributive nouns; that is they behave more like adjectives rather than nouns or the objective of the sentence. The noun is “drink” or “cocktail” and is assumed. The gin-and-tonic are descriptive of the noun/subject and so the plural is gin-and-tonic (cocktails), not gins-and-tonics or gins-and-tonic.
    You wouldn’t say reds as in reds cars, unless you were talking about the Cincinnati Reds.
    You wouldn’t say blues as in blues bonnets, unless you are talking about blues music.
    You wouldn’t say pinks as in pinks flowers, unless the flowers are Dianthus, commonly known as pinks.
    You get the idea.
    So, the answer to the question of the plural of gin-and-tonic is gin-and-tonic. The real question is—which gin? [Another good question!]

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    According to OED 2nd Edition, 2009, the proper spelling is gin-and-tonic, though there’s no use of the plural in the examples given in the definition.

    But logically, it should be gin-and-tonics, as these sorts of word combinations are considered as a single word in standard English Grammar.

    OK_doc :

    In this situation, gin-and-tonic are attributive nouns; that is they behave more like adjectives rather than nouns or the objective of the sentence. The noun is “drink” or “cocktail” and is assumed.

    Not when it’s used as a count noun.

    If the question is, “What sort of cocktails would you like ?“, and you answer “We’ll have gin-and-tonic.” , then sure. — But if you go up to the bar and say “I’ll have a gin-and-tonic please.” , then you’re using it as a count noun.

    OED : b.1.b A drink or glass of gin.

       1922 Joyce Ulysses 236 A small gin, sir.    1938 C. Morgan Flashing Stream i. i. 54 Time for a gin before they come.    1938 G. Greene Brighton Rock i. i. 5 He only felt his loneliness after his third gin.    Ibid. iii. i. 98 I’ll have a gin.

  8. Simon_GNR says:

    I would say “gin and tonics” but I wouldn’t be dogmatic about being correct. I do remember there was a character in the English language translation of one of the Asterix stories named “Ginantonicus”.

  9. Herman Joseph says:

    I think OK Doc is right: eg, “Look, deer!” and “Look, a deer!” Deer, same singular and plural, gin and tonic, same singular and plural. Gin and tonic all around, I would like a gin and tonic. This also corrects the ambiguity of gins (many different brands, what gins would you like in your gin and tonic?) and tonics (many different brands, what tonics would you like in your gin and tonic?).

    Wonderful, these civilized conversations about civilized things.

  10. Sandy says:

    Oh, I love Inspector Morse shows!! Bravo for the reference, Father!

  11. drwob says:

    Thanks for sharing the video of Floriani, Fr. Z. Nice to see Giorgio and his schola getting well-deserved attention.

  12. Imrahil says:

    In German, the drink is called a “Gin Tonic”, written like that, with the obvious plural “(ich nehme zwei) Gin Tonics”. So, I voted “Gin and Tonics”.

    That being said, coming to think of it, we have the somewhat strange habit of using the singular for the plural where drinks (alcoholic or coffee) are concerned and a numeral precedes. So, you can also say the German equivalent of “four beer, three glass of wine, two gin & tonic”.

  13. matt from az says:

    Gins and tonic.

    Gin is the substance while tonic is an accident added to it. Therefore Gin takes priority and is the noun that receives the plural.

  14. seeker says:

    If you like gin, consider The Botanist which is made from plants grown on the island of Islay, Scotland. I was on meds that didn’t mix with alcohol, but a bit of research (maybe wishful thinking?) led me to believe this would work. It was delightful. God provides.
    Thank you, Father, for the beautiful sojourn of theology, art and food.

    [An excellent gin.]

  15. PostCatholic says:

    I had this conversation with an attorney colleague of mine at lunch. He asks me to convey the possibility of a different noun altogether, as the plural of “Vicar General” is “Defendants.”

    [I can think of one, a former one at least, right off the bat who belongs in jail. It’ll never happen because of his powerful political connections.]

  16. TonyO says:

    Can I hold out for:

    “Ginses and tonicses, my precious, ginses and tonicses”?

    I suggest “Gins and tonic” would be perfectly appropriate if you were sampling several different gins with the same tonic for each. There the plural is meant to be on the gins specifically, and not on the multiplicity of the cocktails.

    “Gins and tonics” merely makes ambiguous what you wanted to say, or highlights that perhaps you have already had your limit of gin, however much tonic might have been added.

    That leaves “gin and tonics” for a simple and straightforward, not to be misunderstood reference. “Give me 5 gin and tonics” would never be served as 5 gins and 5 (separate) tonics, but as 5 drinks with gin and tonic.

    [Ginses and tonicses. Well done. And, here in Italy, when you order a GT they bring the gin in one glass and the tonic in a separate bottle.]

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  18. WWheatley says:

    I avoid the dilemma. I turn to the bartender and say, “We want gin and tonic — two [or whatever number applies] of them, please.”

    The middle drink with the lemon piece in it is yours.

  19. KateD says:

    I used to not care…so long as they have some gin in ’em., you can call them whatever you like….

    But you would order 2 “gin and tonics”, because if you asked for two “gins and tonics” or two “gins and tonic”, the bar keep, not being a gramatician, might think you were drunk and 86 you….so, GIN & TONICS IT IS!

  20. hilltop says:

    I like several distillers’ gins and keep them handy at home. (Yes, that Botanist stuff is very, very nice.)
    Saying “gins and tonic” gets people thinking and that is always good.
    Attorneys General.
    For these reasons I am for “gins and tonics”

    Also, bring your money, leave your olives in the bottle, and try Monkey 47. Gin distilled in the Schwarzwald of southeastern Germany.

  21. Bob B. says:

    The only mixed drink I ever have is Beefeaters. It’s been so since I returned from Vietnam 50 years ago.

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