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What is the plural of "Batman"?
December 9, 2010 1:34 PM   Subscribe

What is the plural of "Batman"?

If a newspaper article captions a photograph of several children dressed up as Batman for Halloween, they seem to be always be referred to as "Batmen".

But should it not be "Batmans"?

"Batman" - unlike "batman" - is not a generic noun. I believe it is a proper name - like "Zorro" or "Proudfoot".

The plural of "Zorro" is not "Zorri". The plural of "Proudfoot" is not "Proudfeet".

Unless "Batman" is some kind of title? Making Bruce Wayne "The Batman" as Rocky Balboa was "The Champ"?
posted by Joe Beese to Writing & Language (60 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Batmans.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:35 PM on December 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, for starters, Zorro isn't pluralized as Zorri because it's not Latin, but rather Spanish.

As for Batman, he is often referred to as 'The Batman,' and indeed, depending on which canon you're dealing with, the name is simply a pulp journalism appellation. I'm going to go with Batmen.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:36 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, Batmans.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:37 PM on December 9, 2010


In the example you cite, it should probably be "Batman costumes" especially since they aren't the real Batman.
posted by nomadicink at 1:37 PM on December 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


In the comics the proper term seems to be "Batmen", as in "The Batmen of All Nations".
posted by fearthehat at 1:37 PM on December 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I figure, if there's more than one, at once, it's "batmen" - i.e. "We had three batmen, four Teddy Roosevelts, and a chicken at the Halloween party." But if we're talking the various incarnations of the Batman, through the ages, it's "Batmans" - i.e. "Of all the Batmans in the 80s, I like the one in 'Dark Knight Returns' the best."
posted by notsnot at 1:39 PM on December 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


10 children, each dressed as Batman
posted by starman at 1:39 PM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Funny you should ask...

See, recently Bruce Wayne died and during this time, Dick Grayson took over as Batman. But now Bruce has come back from the dead, and he's decided during this that there should be more than one Batman -- Grayson will remain the Batman for Gotham City while Wayne works as Batman, going around the world creating an army of men (presumably) who will wear the cowl of Batman.

In the DC universe, recently, they have used "Batmen."

I'm not sure if the grammar police would agree.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:40 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


(They have also, upon checking, used Batmans.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:40 PM on December 9, 2010


If you were to clone Batman and you had multiple "actual" Batmans, the Joker might say,

"I see 10 Batmans!"
posted by starman at 1:41 PM on December 9, 2010


It's like "Fish" and "Fishes." If there are a bunch of different sorts of instances of Batman -- like the Batmen of All Nations -- then it is "Batmen." If there is a whole bunch of the same Batman, then it is "Batmans."
posted by griphus at 1:41 PM on December 9, 2010


Batmen
Batmans
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:43 PM on December 9, 2010


The plural of "Proudfoot" is not "Proudfeet".

Proudfeet is an acceptable pluralization of Proudfoot, along with Proudfoots.
posted by muddgirl at 1:43 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Batman brand super-heroes."

But seriously, Batmen. If only because "Batmans" sounds like the possessive and the whole point of language is to facilitate communication.
posted by Etrigan at 1:43 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


A colony of batmen.
posted by bondcliff at 1:47 PM on December 9, 2010


Proudfeet is an acceptable pluralization of Proudfoot, along with Proudfoots.

In the movie, at least, "Proudfeet" seems to be offered as a joke. And a hoary one at that.

Does Tolkien's narrator ever use that name?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:47 PM on December 9, 2010


Google Fight results:

Batmans: 135,000
Batmen: 27,500
posted by CathyG at 1:49 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Batmans. Only because it would make my day if someone asked me "woah! did you just see all of those Batmans??"
posted by pwally at 1:54 PM on December 9, 2010


Only because it would make my day if someone asked me "woah! did you just see all of those Batmans??"
At which point you'd say "What? I saw nothing - but you meant 1, just one Batman right?" and when they say "No, Batmans" it would totally ruin your day :)
posted by episodic at 1:58 PM on December 9, 2010


Batmans.
posted by Beardman at 1:59 PM on December 9, 2010


Yes the proudfoot/proudfeet joke is in the book as well.

In the construction "each dressed as batman," of course, "each" prepares for the singular. All of them are dressed as batmans.

I'm called Tilman. If I'd collect several others of the kind, everyone would be witty and say, "look at all those Tilmen." Correct would be Tilmans. We only don't laugh about Batmen, because he isn't there to make a sour face.
posted by Namlit at 2:00 PM on December 9, 2010


Batsmen.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:16 PM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


That would be Bat'smen...
posted by Namlit at 2:18 PM on December 9, 2010


An aside I realise, but it was 'batmen' for the military valet type it seems
posted by Abiezer at 2:20 PM on December 9, 2010


Batfolk.
posted by Iridic at 2:23 PM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bathumankind.
posted by madred at 2:37 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would say "Batmen" only because "Batmans" is jarring to the ear.

Actually it's more like mother-in-law. The correct plural is "batsman".

Only if he's playing cricket.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 2:41 PM on December 9, 2010


My boss suggests "Justice League of America".
posted by Gridlock Joe at 2:44 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, is "Batman" merely descriptive or is it a name? Is Batman a person, or something that Bruce Wayne dresses up as? If it's only a costume, then it's Batmen. You don't say policemans, you say policemen because a policeman is a man dressed as a cop. Being a cop is not the man's nature.

I would argue that, like Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne is the alter-ego and Batman, like Superman, is the core identity. He's not a man who is a bat. He's Batman. Superman is not a man that's super. He's Superman.

But then, the question comes up about how the various wearers of the cowl identify with it. Dick Grayson conceivably takes on the identity of Batman, having grown up mentored by him and feeling the obligation to wear the cowl when the original Batman died. So, Bruce Wayne as Batman and Dick Grayson as Batman are Batmans. Some random badass who has been given a cowl to wear probably does not identify primarily as Batman, though, so two random dudes who fight crime as Batman are Batmen. But then what if Bruce-Wayne-Batman is standing with Random-Dude-Batman? It's Batman and a Batman.
posted by cmoj at 2:48 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or we can just go with Batpersons.
posted by cmoj at 2:49 PM on December 9, 2010


As mentioned above, here's the source for The Batmen of All Nations.
posted by davextreme at 2:55 PM on December 9, 2010


There's a rule that plurals of compound words are treated differently depending on whether or not the word is head-final. "Snowman" is headfinal because "snowman" is, to an approximation, a kind of man; and we say "snowmen." This is different from "Proudfoot," which is not a kind of foot. Batman is a kind of man; thus, Batmen.
posted by Jeanne at 2:56 PM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think both options are ungrammatical for me, which is a little bit unusual. I would have to say "three children dressed as batman".
posted by advil at 2:57 PM on December 9, 2010


Batmania.
posted by anniecat at 3:03 PM on December 9, 2010


Batpeeps.
posted by mdonley at 3:13 PM on December 9, 2010


Except in the very specific circumstance that MCMikeNamara cites, it would be "Batmans" as "Batman" is a proper noun. It is the character's name, not a more general appelation. A group of men dressed as generic bats would be "Batmen."
posted by Morrigan at 3:14 PM on December 9, 2010


Batmanfred Mann.
posted by fight or flight at 3:32 PM on December 9, 2010


I would say "Batmen" but not "Proudfeet" because Batman is a man, but a Proudfoot is not a foot.
posted by shponglespore at 3:33 PM on December 9, 2010


In a recent blogpost on DC's official blog "batmen" is used (also "bat-men" but that seems to be to emphasize the plural).
posted by Kattullus at 3:49 PM on December 9, 2010


If the way this has been handled with other superheroes can be seen as setting precedent, then it could be helpful to look to how DC handled this when there was more than one Superman in the "Reign of the Supermen" story of the nineties.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:04 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


""Batman" - unlike "batman" - is not a generic noun."

Could be both, though: Batman could be Batman (proper noun), a batman (generic noun), and one of many batmen (generic plural) simultaneously (i.e., if my name were Man, that wouldn't make me any less of a man -- if anything, it'd help drive home the point -- and it certainly wouldn't affect the plural).

Whatever the semantics, though, I concur with some above comments: the comics should be authoritative on this one.
posted by astrochimp at 4:51 PM on December 9, 2010


Batmen, of course.

Think of how childish you'd sound, babbling about policemans or firemans.

Of course it's Batmen. And (from Nazi Germany and Ed Wood) for the other big DC hero: a race of Supermen.)

And they're not making 'em anymore, but those signs I'd see in Circuit City for Walkmans!?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Walkmen. The memory of that signage still makes me cringe.
posted by Rash at 5:04 PM on December 9, 2010


Batmanim.
posted by biscotti at 5:52 PM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like Rohirrim. Yes, that's the way!

This reminds me of the English cartoonist Giles's plural form: Father Christmii. Are we sure we shouldn't give the old Bat a Latin accent?
posted by Namlit at 6:00 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


+1 'Batmen'.
posted by pompomtom at 6:48 PM on December 9, 2010


batman (batmen plural ) In the British armed forces, an officer's batman is his personal servant. n-count usu sing, oft poss N
posted by JayRwv at 7:10 PM on December 9, 2010


Batmany.
posted by Sallyfur at 12:55 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chiropteran-Americans
posted by permafrost at 6:13 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


maunds.
posted by Akeem at 7:46 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Had to log on just to say that either Batmans or batmen could be correct. Sometimes its just a guy in the costume, this is a batman. Sometimes it is Bruce Wayne fighting crime, this is the Batman. Sometimes there are multiple normal dudes in bat suits, these are batmen. Sometimes you've got a situation with multiple Bruce Wayne clones and a few Dick Graysons thrown in for good measure, these are Batmans.
posted by cirrostratus at 10:20 AM on December 10, 2010


Batmen.

Actually it's more like mother-in-law. The correct plural is "batsman".

Only if he's playing cricket.


Actually, then it wouldn't be plural. Batsman singular, batsmen plural. (For cricket)
posted by bardophile at 11:01 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, do newspapers write about groups of kids dressed up as Batman that often?

Anyway, because "Batman" refers to the name (and not title) of a unique individual, I'm inclined to go with "Batmans," technically. "X-Men" works because they're each "an X-Man," not "X-Man."

"Batmen of All Nations" is different because it connotes an army or legion of people like Batman. But for an article about kids in costume, I'd think "Batmans" is correct. And none of the kids would say "I'm a Batman," but "I'm Batman," even if he's not the only one there.

And, if you have a guy whose name was, say, "Joe Bateman," you wouldn't say, "How many other Joe Batemen are there in the world?" but rather, "How many other Joe Batemans are there in the world?"

"Superman" is a little more vague because "superman" can be used in the generic sense. Ditto "wonder woman." But "batman" or "spider-man" isn't (unless maybe you're referring to human hybrids or something).
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:18 AM on December 11, 2010


Half men, half bats -- they are batmen.

but the proper noun Bruce Wayne likes to use --y'all got it wrong. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE TRUE BATMAN. But you CAN have Batman-impersonators (plural).

I like the Wonder Woman comparison. If i had two action figures I might have a Spiderman and two Wonder Womans, but would you ever say i had two Wonder Women?
posted by custard heart at 6:32 PM on December 11, 2010


PS rash -- Germany might have been striving towards the Ubermensch -- but they weren't exactly trying to make a nation of Supermans.
posted by custard heart at 6:34 PM on December 11, 2010


Re: Walkmen, just discovered on their Wikipedia page:
According to Sony, the plural form is "Walkman Personal Stereos", rather than "Walkmans" or "Walkmen".
So perhaps the answer that would please strict grammarians would be
Batman superheroes -- or imitation Batman Superheroes.
Even though we all know Bruce Wayne has no actual super-power.
posted by Rash at 4:42 PM on December 13, 2010


Bruce Wayne's superpower is psychosis.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:24 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Batmen.

It's similar to man/men, woman/women, Frenchman/Frenchmen.

And I like cmoj's non-sexist "batpersons", maybe we could introduce batbeings?
posted by easilyconfused at 4:57 PM on January 22, 2011


I queried some friends, this is what I got:

HOLY SHIT THERE'S MORE THAN ONE?
WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE GONNA DO?

and

"what is the plural of VENGEANCE?" answer that, and you have your answer to the plural of batman.


I'm on the "Batmans" side of this one.
posted by nile_red at 12:26 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


answer that, and you have your answer to the plural of batman.

Like, Batmances?
posted by Namlit at 3:00 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Namlit, I laughed out loud. No, literally. Batmances.
posted by nile_red at 6:19 PM on July 8, 2011


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