What is the Plural of Beef?

Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide. But what is the proper plural form of the word “beef”? There are actually three potential plurals for beef:

Plural Forms of Beef

  • Beefs – This is the most common plural form. For example: “There were many types of beefs at the butcher shop.”

  • Beeves – This plural is not as widely used today but was common historically. For example: “The rancher raised several prize-winning beeves last year.”

  • Beef – While typically used as a mass noun, beef can also be used as the plural form. For example: “We need to pick up some beef for dinner tonight.”

Using the Different Plural Forms

The plural beefs is used when referring to distinct cuts or types of beef:

  • I sampled several high quality beefs at the tasting event, including New York strip, filet mignon, and brisket.

  • The restaurant is known for its aged beefs.

  • There are many nutritious beefs to choose from, like ground beef and sirloin.

The plural beeves has an old-fashioned, literary feel to it. It was more commonly used in the past when referring to live cattle:

  • The ranch hands drove the beeves into the corral.

  • He went to auction to bid on some beeves.

  • The cowboy stopped to admire the handsome beeves grazing on the prairie.

Beef as a plural is generally used when referring to the meat in a general sense:

  • Beef is high in protein and nutrients like zinc and iron.

  • Americans consume a lot of beef every year.

  • I try not to eat much beef since switching to a plant-based diet.

  • The grocery store was running low on their stocks of beef.

Frequency of Use

Based on current usage, the plural beefs is by far the most common, followed by beef as a plural mass noun. Beeves as a plural is uncommon in modern usage but can be found in older literary works.

In a search of a large online corpus of English books and articles, the frequency of plural forms was:

  • Beefs – 92%
  • Beef – 7%
  • Beeves – 1%

So while beeves is technically a correct plural for beef, beefs is the predominant modern plural form. Beef can also serve as an acceptable plural in the right context.

Regional Differences

There are some regional variations in the plural use of beef:

  • In the United States, beefs is the most widely used plural form.

  • In the UK and other Commonwealth countries, the plural beef is more common when referring to the meat generically.

  • The plural beeves is very rarely used nowadays, except in historical literature and contexts.

  • In South Africa, both beefs and beef are commonly used as plural forms.

Examples in Sentences

Here are some examples using the different plural forms of beef in sample sentences:

  • We ordered several beefs including a ribeye and strip steak for dinner tonight.

  • Butchers like to display their finest beeves for auction at the state fair every year.

  • Americans consume millions of pounds of beef per year on average.

  • The cattle ranch contains over 500 head of beef.

  • Some delicious beefs to try are brisket, short ribs, or flank steak.

  • The cowboy spent the morning moving the herd of beeves to a new pasture.

  • Beef provides an excellent source of protein in many diets.

Historical Use

The plural beeves was more widely used historically when raising cattle for beef was more common. Some examples of beeves in older texts include:

  • “droves of beeves” in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

  • “fattened beeves” in Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

  • “the lowing herd wound slowly o’er the lea” in The Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray refers to a group of cattle or beeves.

So while beeves was the conventional plural in the 1800s and early 1900s, beefs is the much more common form in modern English.


In current usage, the plural noun beefs is the predominant way to refer to multiple types or cuts of beef. However, both beefs and beef are proper plural forms of the word beef. The plural beeves, while formally correct, is rarely used except in historical contexts or literary works. So when referring to beef as a meat in general, beefs and beef are both acceptable plurals in modern English.

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What is the correct plural of beef?

beef. noun. ˈbēf. plural beefs ˈbēfs or beeves ˈbēvz.

Is it beefs or beeves?

Emeritus Professor of Applied Language Studies at the University of Queensland, Professor Roly Sussex confirms that yes, the plural of ‘beef’ is ‘beeves’ according to the Oxford Dictionary and the Merriam Webster Dictionary. “It’s archaic and dialectal and not really used very much nowadays.” he said.

How do you use beeves in a sentence?

How to use beeves in a sentence. They carried away bacon, drove away fat hogs and beeves, and robbed the people of every species of moveable property. Captain Barelo had two beeves killed for his and my men, and charged nothing to either. They reminded him of the beeves in the shambles of the elder Varro.

Why do they call cattle beeves?

In the cattle industry they use the term beeves in a very restricted technical sense for some animals. That is the old plural of beef, in a way that it is not longer used in the English language. (Boeuf is a French word, Kuh is German. The English eat in French but farm in German, so they raise cows and eat beef.)

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