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What is the plural of "print out"?
May 7, 2008 1:56 PM   Subscribe

What's the plural of "print out," as in, "hey John, if you're going near the printer could you get me that print out?" What would we say to John if we wanted him to get us more than one?
posted by ChasFile to Writing & Language (48 answers total)
 
I always use "print outs".
posted by procrastination at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2008


Umm.. "those printouts"?
posted by Hargrimm at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2008


"those printouts"
posted by ottereroticist at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2008


Those print outs?
posted by yellowbinder at 2:01 PM on May 7, 2008


Those printouts.
posted by sveskemus at 2:01 PM on May 7, 2008


Copies.
posted by lou at 2:03 PM on May 7, 2008


If "print out" is singular then the doubular form would be "print outs"
posted by doorsfan at 2:04 PM on May 7, 2008


Results 1 - 10 of about 3,200,000 for printouts
posted by ALongDecember at 2:04 PM on May 7, 2008


Ok, I didn't want to influence things, but since nobody else has brought it up, but what about the fact that the plural of "attorney general" is "attorneys general" and the plural of "court marshal" is "courts marshal"?

In the noun phrase "print out" isn't "print" the noun and "out" the (prepositional) adjective? And since you can't pluralize an adjective (see previous paragraph) shouldn't the plural of "print out" be:

"prints out"
posted by ChasFile at 2:05 PM on May 7, 2008


There is a certain appeal to calling them prints out, like courts martial, attorneys general, notaries public, and chiefs of staff. But the one that you use if you don't want to sound like a douchebag is print outs.
posted by hindmost at 2:07 PM on May 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


Why don't we just call them "Prints"?
posted by gyusan at 2:07 PM on May 7, 2008


Results 1 - 10 of about 3,200,000 for printouts

Results 1 - 10 of about 698,000 for irregardless
posted by ChasFile at 2:07 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think printout is one word and so printouts is also one word.
posted by jessamyn at 2:09 PM on May 7, 2008


In the noun phrase "print out" isn't "print" the noun and "out" the (prepositional) adjective?

No. You could argue that print is the doing word (not a noun) and out is the describing word, but it doesn't matter. Because "print out" is the noun in that sentance, both words, together. So more than one of them are "print outs".
posted by shelleycat at 2:10 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


print-outs, definitely. I'm assuming you're testing between that and "prints-out". But I don't think "print" in this case is even a noun. I see the whole shebang as a two word noun. Sure, you can have a "print" of something, but that is not the meaning of "print" in "print-out". It's a thing that prints out, so it's a print-out. I can't think of something quite parallel, in the form verb-adverb, but there are things like carwashes, underpants, etc. These things are different from lieutenant-generals/lieutenants-general, because, if you take the British/commonwealth view, general is not a noun, it's a modifier of lieutenant. Here in the states, the situation has been reversed over time, so that now we have generals of different rank, such as lietenant-generals, where lieutenant is used to modify general. But we're not talking about prints that are out, outs that are print, even though originally print was the noun. We are talking about things that are printed-out. So the plural of a print-out is print-outs.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 2:12 PM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Printout" (the noun) is one word, thus "printouts" is the plural. "Print out" is a verb.
posted by serialcomma at 2:12 PM on May 7, 2008


I think printout is one word and so printouts is also one word.

Source? Because I'm not sure it is.

I'm not trying to be a "douchebag" or threadmod or anything, here, I just feel like there must be a more satisfying answer to this than "common usage."
posted by ChasFile at 2:13 PM on May 7, 2008


Particularly in the absence of any evidence of anyone anywhere saying anything else ever, common usage is a good and satisfying explanation. Practically, though, unless John is our boss, we are likely to say, "Hey, John, pick up all that shit off the printer."
posted by Wolfdog at 2:15 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Prints!

WTF is a print out, other than redundant?
I've never printed into a printer, though I have scanned and faxed on a multi-function printer.

I guess an argument could be made that you could print out to a collator - but if that's the case, you don't get your documents (another acceptable word for this situation) until they come out of the collator anyway.
posted by terpia at 2:16 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd argue that printout or Print Out isn't a noun at all, but a verb. A separable prefix-style one at that, vis-a-vis "aufschreiben", which may or may not be a german word in any form. In this case, you're saying "Print Out" or "Printout" as a compound noun, so it would have to be "Print Outs" or "printouts", and cannot be "prints out", as the "out" part is part of the compound noun.

This debate sort of reminds me of "I've got a scratch!" "Well itch it!" (Actually you have an itch and you scratch it.) Point being that USING A VERB AS A NOUN DOES NOT A NEW NOUN MAKE.

But, this is English. Do as you please.
posted by TomMelee at 2:18 PM on May 7, 2008


It's not "a print out", it's a printout, which solves your problem.

You can only log in if you have a login.

Do you hang up on people? I hate hangups.

When you went to the gym to work out yesterday. How was the workout?

This is a noun vs verb thing. You don't pluralize your verb phrase.
posted by rokusan at 2:20 PM on May 7, 2008 [8 favorites]


"Them prinnouts"
posted by Greg Nog at 2:21 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The OED uses "printout", if that's a good enough cite for you. So it would be pluralized as printouts.

printout, adj. and n.
A. adj. (attrib.). Photogr. Of, relating to, or resulting from printing out (printing out n. at PRINTING n. Compounds 2b).
1893 Photogr. Ann. 444 A new toning agent..said to be superior to any yet introduced for the toning of albumen or gelatine print-out papers. 1897 Times 27 Oct. 12/5 Examples are shown of lantern slides made upon Eastman's transparent film, the film being placed..upon special print-out emulsion on glass. 1930 O. WHEELER Photogr. Printing Processes iii. 28 Daylight is still commonly employed for exposure in print-out processes. 1973 W. THOMAS SPSE Handbk. Photogr. Sci. & Engin. vi. 407 Sufficient exposure of an emulsion to light causes visible darkening without development (a print-out image).

B. n. Computing. A sheet or strip of printed matter produced by a computer or other automatic apparatus; the production of such matter. Also fig.
1953 IRE Trans. Instrumentation June 68 An hour's operation includes some 40 print-outs of the complete memory. 1969 New Scientist 1 May 238/2 Everyone should be entitled to a print-out of the information in the data bank in regard to him. 1971 K. GOTTSCHALK in B. de Ferranti Living with Computer iv. 31 The drafting and print-out of leases, wills and forms used in lawyers' offices. 1979 M. BABSON Twelve Deaths of Christmas xvii. 87 Sod your computers, I'm getting the printout from the marrow of my bones. 1992 Sci. Fiction Age Nov. 68/2 He's killing time..in a cruddy office festooned with hardware, surge-protectors, and sheets of printout. 2002 Post Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.) 8 Nov. B3/6 The document was a printout of computerized information containing the home addresses and telephone numbers of members of the..Sherriff's Department.
posted by MsMolly at 2:26 PM on May 7, 2008


terpia is right. If you want to be precise with no chance of any confusion, “print” won’t confuse anyone. The “out” is unecessary.

If anyone asked me to fetch their “prints out” I would have to think hard.
posted by KS at 2:28 PM on May 7, 2008


I don't know. The OED's reasoning pretty much seems to be "common usage," too, and I just wish there was something more satisfying as an answer. Whatever, it's pretty trivial.
posted by ChasFile at 2:31 PM on May 7, 2008


The OED's reasoning pretty much seems to be "common usage," too

It is the dictionary of record. If etymology won't convince you, nothing will.
posted by jessamyn at 2:34 PM on May 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's the English Language, ChasFile, a living language that is constantly in flux. "Common usage" is the best we get.

rokusan has the most technical explanation for why it's "printouts" - the same reason it's "workouts" "logins" and "break ups".
posted by muddgirl at 2:35 PM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Printouts.

(BTW, what would qualify as a "satisfying answer"? Just curious...)
posted by equalpants at 2:36 PM on May 7, 2008


Ok, so it is "prints out." Evidentially the OED and Barron's isn't enough. So go down to Burger King and celebrate with 2 Whoppers Junior.
posted by ALongDecember at 2:38 PM on May 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Just use printout, unless you mean that you sent several different documents to the printer.
posted by acoutu at 2:40 PM on May 7, 2008


A heffalump of printouts.
posted by WCityMike at 2:51 PM on May 7, 2008


Merriam-Webster also says "print out" is a verb only, and the noun is "printout."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:56 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those printouts.
posted by limeonaire at 3:00 PM on May 7, 2008


If it helps convince you, ChasFile, God has told me in a vision that the plural of "printout" is "printouts".
posted by Meatbomb at 3:07 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ok, I didn't want to influence things, but since nobody else has brought it up, but what about the fact that the plural of "attorney general" is "attorneys general" and the plural of "court marshal" is "courts marshal"?

Court martial, and the form of both of those, which are famous in part as outlier examples, comes originally from French constructions that differ from English in terms of modifier placement. Which is not to say that there aren't other native constructions that can go the same way (e.g. "runs batted in"), but the general rule in English is to pluralize with a terminal +s, and if there isn't a specific reason to do otherwise you're probably going to get weird looks.

Hence, print outs or printouts.
posted by cortex at 3:09 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I began using the phrase "prints out" my office-mates would team up to give me a wedgie from hell. And I would deserve it.
posted by jayder at 3:17 PM on May 7, 2008


"Gemme my stuff from the printer." But really, as everyone else has said, "printouts". Or you could say "my printing".
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:27 PM on May 7, 2008


I usually just say "hey, would you mind grabbing my printing?" They then laugh at me because I sit kind of close to the printer... and I'm just being lazy.
posted by latch24 at 3:38 PM on May 7, 2008


Webster's has it as a compound word, so: "printouts."
posted by rtha at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2008


To clarify what cortex said, "court martial" is a noun-adjective construction which kept its original French word order when it moved into English (which usually puts the noun after the adjective). It means a martial, not "marshal" court, i.e., a war court. The plural would thus be "war courts" or "martial courts" - but for quirky reasons it stays "courts martial," keeping the odd, original French noun-adjective order.

Same goes for "Attorney General," which means someone with a general power of attorney, or a general attorney, not "a general among attorneys." The Wikipedia page has a section that explains this, which applies to secretary general - a secretary with general duties - as well.

Once you understand that "attorney general" and "court martial" are nouns modified by trailing adjectives, you can easily see why the plurals are "attorneys general" and "courts martial," and why the noun "print-out" (or even "print out," a noun usage of a verb phrase) doesn't work the same way.
posted by mediareport at 3:52 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not like "printouts" is an anomaly here. There's sit-ins, walk-outs, walkups, walkabouts, walk-throughs, cutouts, takeoffs, runoffs, put-ons, put-downs, letdowns, standups, sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, wrap-ups, cutups, lay-ups, lie-downs, turnovers, popovers, leftovers, do-overs, go-overs, go-betweens, tag-backs, buybacks, buyouts, handouts, dropouts, drive-throughs, slip-ons, hard-ons, turn-ons, turn-offs, jackoffs, fuckups... the list goes on.

Whether or not it's the "logical" thing to do, it's consistently and overwhelmingly what English does. Verb+preposition compounds get pluralized by putting an -s on the end.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:57 PM on May 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Results 1 - 10 of about 3,200,000 for printouts

Results 1 - 10 of about 698,000 for irregardless


Stellar argument. Put it in context, will you?

Results 1 - 10 of about 698,000 for irregardless
Results 1 - 10 of about 121,000,000 for regardless

Results 1 - 10 of about 486 for printsout
Results 1 - 10 of about 3,200,000 for printouts

Results 1 - 10 of about 1,190,000 for prints-out
Results 1 - 10 of about 3,260,000 for print-outs.

In every case printouts comes out on top. This is even considering that the majority of results for "prints-out" are actual sentences such as "this program prints out a shopping list" and so on.

Considering those results, it's pretty obvious what the accepted usage is. You can gripe about it, but English is not a perfect language with grammar rules that make perfect, simple sense 100% of the time with no exception. It is what it is.
posted by splice at 4:26 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some day my prints will come. For now, get me those printouts!
posted by SPrintF at 4:32 PM on May 7, 2008


Source? Because I'm not sure it is.

The very page you link to shows the noun as one word (printout) and the verb as two. I'm not sure why you're so resistant to accepting the facts, but if one more voice will help: printout is one word and the plural is printouts. There is nothing even faintly controversial about this.
posted by languagehat at 5:32 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just feel like there must be a more satisfying answer to this than "common usage."

What languagehat (and lots of other folks) said. Compound words can be annoying, because they can go from being two separate words to being one, they're in the dictionary. That's how a lot of words get added to dictionaries - common usage.

When in doubt, look in a dictionary. In this case, dictionaries say "printouts."
posted by rtha at 5:42 PM on May 7, 2008


you back up your machine, then you have a backup. do it a few times you have backups.

you print out stuff, then you have printouts.

i would ask him "could you please bring me the 25 copies of my resume off the printer?"

"would you be kind enough to retrieve the multiple copies of my buttocks?" if you DON'T want him to look at it.
posted by KenManiac at 7:28 PM on May 7, 2008


mediareport is correct, and, more specifically, his reasoning is correct. And, sheesh, you never argue with languagehat about issues dealing with grammar and language!
posted by Mael Oui at 10:40 PM on May 7, 2008


I'm with languagehat; I don't see why "printouts" is controversial. The only alternative that's been given, "prints out," doesn't make sense because the word "print" is a verb in the phrase "print out," not a noun. We do routinely encounter compound words like backup, workout, and everything else people have pointed out, though.

Although if you want to say "prints out" and have people think you're an asshole, I guess that works, haha. Really play it up, though: "Pish posh, these prints-out displease me! Fetch me another batch!"
posted by Nattie at 10:46 PM on May 7, 2008


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