What is the plural of the surname ‘Tooth’?

This one has always puzzled me, ever since I knew a family by the name of Tooth. One at a time was no problem – Mr Tooth, Mrs Tooth, daughter Tooth … But when they all turned up together, I could never determine whether I should call them ‘the Tooths’ or ‘the Teeth’. The former seemed grammatically incorrect; the latter may have given the impression that I was not showing due respect.  I guess I should have asked.

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One thought on “What is the plural of the surname ‘Tooth’?

  1. When I was twelve years old, I had a very similar problem with my Sunday School teacher Dick Seaman and his mother. While Dick Seaman was a challenging enough name for a class of twelve-year-old boys, there were serious questions when we were talking about the family. Seamans just sounded wrong, but Seamen was also hard to swallow.

    Naturally I investigated the matter, and it turns out that the Guardians of Grammar have almost universally decreed that we use Seamans – because a Seaman is not a seaman; they are distinct lexical terms. Seamen is a lot more fun, though, so we used that.

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