The Die is Cast

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Simon Simon 75 4 4 bronze badges. The original Latin, attributed to Julius Caesar, is Alea iacta est. Enjoy the Wiki article on the subject.

Definition of 'the die is cast'

It's probably a misconceived usage, confusedly assuming that 'die' serves as an invariant plural whereas in fact 'dice' is now accepted as both plural and singular. I note that in English GCSE maths papers aimed at age 16, and all levels of abiltiy the word "dice" is used in the singular and plural, whereas in A-level, age 18, and selective it is "die" in the singular. EdwinAshworth Be duly apprised that dice is never acceptable as a singular cisatlantically; that practice seems to be a peculiarly insular variation.

Dan Dan 16k 3 3 gold badges 25 25 silver badges 63 63 bronze badges. Better not to link to the OED, since many users do not have subscriptions.

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TimLymington - Thanks. I do realise not everyone can see the OED, but it is what I use? Dan - Are you answering for yourself or for other people? I think my inner grammar freak just died of rage. Dan Mock rage, I hasten to add :- People using "dice" as the singular form is a pet peeve of mine; the double error of thinking "die" is plural AND "dice" is singular is even worse, and I'd never heard it before. The first usage instance of this saying in English dates back to The die has been cast : An irrevocable choice has been made. Origin: This expression has nothing to do with the modern-day process of die-casting of metal - the die here is the singular of dice.

The Die Is Cast: Precision Electrophilic Modifications Contribute to Cellular Decision Making.

The earliest citation of the phrase that I can find is in Sir Thomas Herbert, A relation of some yeares travaile begunne anno , into Afrique and the greater Asia, "Aiijb, Is the die cast, must At this one throw all thou hast gaind be lost? Nemo 1 1 gold badge 3 3 silver badges 16 16 bronze badges.


  • the die is cast.
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Well I'll be. I thought this was close to "set in stone" in terms of die-casting being permanent. Guess not. As with most of these old sayings there are different opinions as to which one was the correct one. This doesn't really address OP's question about using die as a plural form. Josh Sorry, maybe I'm thick. I get that die is supposed to be singular and so does OP. The question is why is it ok to say, "the die are cast" instead of, "the die is cast".

You show usages of, "the die is cast" just as we all expect. Josh I agree, and OP's first thought is that he agrees as well, but how does one explain the multiple usages in the OP's cited examples? Are we to say that they are all "just ignorant morons that don't know that die is singular? Past Subjuntive Were is correctly used not only as the plural past "they were" and second person singular past "you were" , of BE , but in the case of the idiom in question and though highlighted and discarded by OP for some cases, it must be so if correct it is also used for the subjunctive past.

But, since there is no plausible interpretation for the "past subjunctive" here ,this is irrelevant, and the given phrase stands as an error. Colin Fine - I have already given the only possible interpretation in my answer: the English subjunctive is used to form sentences that do not describe known objective facts, and though "the die is cast," if unaware of the result of a cast die, the utilization of the subjunctive past of BE conjugates as "the die were cast.


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If we assume the grammar is correct, then the past subjunctive form of BE is the only option available that allows the grammar to be correct. But what does it supposedly mean? I see an abstract description of the grammar of this supposed form, but no interpretation, in the sense of a statement of what it means.

idioms - "The die were cast." - English Language & Usage Stack Exchange

ColinFine The meaning of the idiom is identical to what it always is, i. For example, had Caesar spoke English and literally uttered "the die were cast," the meaning is "we can't go back now, only forward to whatever unknown fate awaits, win or lose. Compare this to: "we can't go back, only forward to our inevitable victory. The Wikipedia article does not contain a single example of the past subjunctive in a declarative sentence. Unsurprisingly, because that is not part of English grammar. That is unpractical and one may assume that speakers tend to change the system. Why not post the links to these dictionaries that state that dice can be either singular or plural and how it is different in AmEng.

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Sign up using Facebook. Definition and synonyms of the die is cast from the online English dictionary from Macmillan Education. Show more. Show less. Using the thesaurus. Close What are red words? Close Thesaurus.

Unlikely or impossible to change: unchanging , firm , rigid Explore Thesaurus. STEAM science, technology, engineering, art and maths: an educational approach that integrates art and design with the sciences and technical subjects BuzzWord Article.

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