Dice or Die – How to Use Each Correctly
What’s the Difference Between Dice and Die?
Dice and die are the singular and plural form of the same word.
Dice is the plural form of the noun die. It refers to a small cube with one number (from one to six) on each side. Dice are used in games of chance or in gambling.
- The gambler rolled the dice. He needed at least a roll of 10 to win.
Die has the same meaning, but it means one die instead of two dice. It also can be a verb that means ceasing to live.
- Roll one die to make your move, and roll two dice to see how many points you’ll get. (first definition)
- All people must die eventually, at least until someone discovers the secret of eternal youth. (second definition)
Let’s look at some further details about these two words in order to help you avoid making the error of forgetting which is plural and which is singular.
Using Dice in a Sentence
When to use dice: Dice is the plural form of a noun that describes a small cube with one of the numbers 1 – 6 on each of the six sides. People roll dice to get a random number during games or gambling.
- Yahtzee and Monopoly are two popular games that use dice.
- He has a pair of dice that are weighted specially to always land on six. He uses them to cheat at games.
There are a few expressions that use the word dice:
- loaded dice: dice that have greater weight on one side to increase the chance that they will land on a certain number
- You aren’t allowed to use loaded dice while gambling.
- roll the dice: to throw the dice (literally) or to take a chance (figuratively)
- It’s your turn. Roll the dice so you can move forward on the game board.
- We already have all this food prepared for the picnic. I know it might rain, but it also might stay clear. I say we roll the dice and start driving out to our picnic spot.
- no dice: not possible or no way
- Did you just say you want to borrow my new Mercedes? No dice!
As you can see in the roll the dice example above, dice can refer to literal gambling or merely taking a chance.
Using Die in a Sentence
When to use die: Use die anytime you would use dice but need the singular form. It is also possible to have a die with more or fewer than six sides. In this case, the number of sides is often stated, such as a twenty sided die. This can also be abbreviated to d20. You can also use die to refer to the verb form of death.
- This game only requires a single die, but it must be a four sided die. (noun form)
- Leonardo di Vinci died hundreds of years ago. (verb form)
Die appears less frequently in the noun form than dice because many people don’t realize it is the singular form.
Remembering Dice vs. Die
Let’s look at a couple ways to help you remember which word is the plural form and which is the singular form.
One way to remember is that die has fewer letters than dice, and singular is fewer than plural.
Alternatively, dice sounds like it ends in an s sound, and most plural words end in an s sound.
- The former prosecutor said Simpson took a gamble when he rejected an offer to avoid trial by pleading guilty to a felony that could have gotten him 2½ years in prison. “He thought he was invincible, and he rolled the dice,” Roger said. –Denver Post
- In other words, if you roll a pair of dice and come up with a seven, there is exactly the same chance that you’ll roll a seven on the next turn, and the next, and the next. Each roll of the dice is independent. –OC Register
- A Texas woman has died after eating contaminated oysters while on vacation, according to reports. –New York Post
- Comedian and social activist Dick Gregory died Sunday at 84. –LA Times
Quiz: Die vs. Dice
Instructions: Fill in the blank with either die or dice.
- I lost the two ___________ so we’ll have to play a card game instead.
- Please don’t ______! I’m not ready for you to go!
- I lost one of the _________ for this game.
- I don’t want to take any chances, so I’m going to wait until next year when I can choose my own advisor rather than rolling the _______ this year and getting one at random.
- Hey! He’s playing with loaded ____________! Get him out of here.
See answers below.
Should I use dice or die? Remember that these are the plural and singular forms of the same word.
- Dice is the plural form of a small, numbered cube that people use in games of chance.
- Die is the singular form of dice, and also the verb form of death.
Use the information you learned today to avoid confusing dice and die.