The Plural of Doe: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

Welcome to using the English language, a language so complicated and convoluted that it even breaks its own rules more often than it follows them.  This is partially due to the fact that English is a mashup of several different languages and borrows its etymology, definitions, spellings, and grammar concepts from all of the various languages that have donated components that make up what we call modern English today.  

One such word that is completely borrowed from the etymological additions that other languages make to English is the word “doe” (pronounced doh).  This word has a very complicated background and history, and as such, its grammatical forms and pluralization do not follow any typical rules that most words follow.  In this article, let’s explore the proper use of our word of the day, doe, its plural form, look for its synonyms, and learn its context.

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How Do you Spell Doe?

To first understand a word, its history, and how to use it properly, it is important to first define what it actually means.  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a doe can be defined as “the adult female of various mammals (such as a deer, rabbit, or kangaroo) of which the male is called a buck.”  Essentially, a doe is just a female deer.  There are various types of deer, including the whitetail and the red deer. A doe is also a female rabbit or female hare. The plural of deer seems to cause a lot of problems sometimes because there are technically two accepted forms, deer and deers.  

According to the English dictionary, doe is spelled just so, and the plural of doe is “does.”  However, it is not pronounced like the word does in most contexts, which is the present tense “to be” action verb in English (e.g., it does its job).  It is pronounced like “dough” or “doughs,” with a long “-o” sound at the end.

Doe can also be used as an acronym, DOE, which will be visited later on in this article.    

Sometimes, the word doe is used in place of someone’s surname, if their real last name is unknown. For example, if an unidentified body was found, they might be referred to as a John Doe or a Jane Doe until someone finds out who it is. 

What is Another Word for Doe?

Another word for a doe is just using the word deer, or if you need to specifically refer to the animal’s gender, you can use the phrase “female deer.”  However, in most contexts, the word doe is used to describe a female of the deer species, especially one that has given birth.  

What Does DOE Mean?

The acronym DOE can have a couple of different meanings but is most commonly used in the United States as the acronym for the Department of Energy.  The Department of Energy is a federal entity that exists at the cabinet-level and is concerned with handling the federal government’s policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material.  It was founded in the late twentieth century by President Jimmy Carter and has operated ever since as an agency that makes and governs policy regarding energy departments both at state and federal levels.      

The History and Origin of the Word

One of the best ways to understand a word is to learn where it came from.  A word’s etymology can reveal a lot about the changes a word has gone through to get to where it is today in modern English.  According to, the etymology of the word doe is a bit complicated and involves the word deer as well, so let’s explore both.  

  • Doe: while the word for “female deer” is just doe, it comes to modern English by way of Old English.  The word “da” also meant female deer and was probably a word borrowed by English from the Celtic words “da” (fallow deer) and “dam” (ox).  Both of these words, in turn, originated from the Latin word “damma,” which was translated “a deer.”  Much of Modern English gets its roots from ancient languages such as Latin and Greek by way of more modern European languages such as Spanish, Italian, or French.  
  • Deer:  this word also came to modern English by way of Old English.  The word “deor” meant “any wild quadruped” and was used to describe a vast array of mammals.  However, instead of coming to English through Latin, it seems to get its origin through Old Dutch and German.  The words “diar, dyer, and dier” all come through the older Germanic word “tier,” which meant animal.  As there was a limited number of animals native to western Europe in the early fourteenth century or so, it makes sense that the word deer could be used to describe several animals.  

Examples of the Word in Context

Another good way to learn a word and apply it to your own vocabulary is to hear it used properly.  Reading it or hearing a word used in its correct context is a great way to learn how to use it yourself.  Here are some common examples of the word doe (and its plural, does) in context:

  • “That family of deer seems to consist of a few fawns, several does, and a single buck.  They live in the area, and we regularly see them in the mornings over across the street.”
  • “That doe is absolutely beautiful.  She is protecting her fawns while they look for food.”
  • Are there more bucks or does in the wild?”

Synonyms for Doe

Finally, the best way to really cement a word into your memory is to learn its synonyms; words with similar meanings make it easy to remember how to properly use a word.  Here are some basic synonyms for a doe:

  • Deer, the common word for a non-gender specific deer
  • Buck, a male deer
  • Female deer, a more generic way to refer to female deer
  • Antelope, while not the same animal, they are similar animals

In Summary

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that knowing your audience is an essential way to learn how to communicate well.  Once you can really relate to them, the correct words will come easily.  Good luck!