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

The English language can be very difficult. Once you think you know the rules, you find an exception, particularly when it comes to plural nouns. Then, once you are expecting the unexpected, a word surprises you and is plain and simple. English borrows from a lot of different languages, which is why it is so easy to get the ending of a word wrong. This word, however, is pretty cut and dry. Let’s take a look at the correct plural of the word donkey (pronounced ˈdɑŋki).

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What Is the Singular of Donkey?

When learning about a word, the best place to start is with the dictionary definition. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a donkey is defined as “a domesticated member of the horse family.” The donkey has been used as a working animal for over 5000 years, and they are well known for their long ears and loud brays. There are more than 40 million donkeys in the world, and the scientific name is Equus asinus. Donkeys are variable in size, depending on their breed and management. 

The singular of donkey is simply donkey. There is no other way to singularize this word, as it is already in the singular form. However, for the plural form of donkey, simply add an “s” to the end. Since the English language is often confusing, people might think you pluralize the word donkey with a spelling such as “donki” or “donkees.” These are not the correct plural spelling of donkey. 

How Do you Spell Donkeys?

The correct way to spell the plural of donkey is donkeys. That is the only way to spell the word, although it is a commonly misspelled word. According to the standard rules for forming plurals, when a noun ends in a vowel, the correct plural ending is with an “s.” A similar example to donkey could be the word chimney. The plural of this word is chimneys. 

However, since a “y” can be a vowel or a consonant, there are different rules for nouns ending in “y.” When “y” is used as a consonant, the ending changes to add an “i” and “es.” An example of this would be the word story, which becomes stories. 

The History and Origin of the Word

Another great way to better understand a word and its meaning is to explore the history of the word and where it originated from. This is better known as the etymology of a word. The word donkey was originally slang or dialectal, and the specific origin is unknown. It is thought to come from “dun,” meaning a dull gray-brown color. The rest of the word is thought to be influenced by the word monkey. It may also come from the proper name Duncan applied to an animal.

In many fables and parables in ancient Greece, a donkey was often typified by clumsiness and stupidity. This is exemplified in “a Midsummer Night’s Dream” from 1590. 

The plural form of this word, while technically following the rules of English, is still somewhat confusing. This mainly stems from the letter “y” being used as both a vowel and a consonant. 

Those who are learning English as a second language may find this hard to comprehend because it is the same letter being treated differently. 

People often think that donkeys are stupid and associate them with being stubborn. However, this is a myth. Donkeys are not flight animals, so they do not get scared into certain behaviors. Donkeys evolved in mountainous desert areas. This meant they did not have the freedom to run away because they needed to find resources such as food and shelter. This is much different from horses who are known as flight animals because they evolved on plains with lots of space to run.

Donkeys take the time to assess a situation to decide if they should flee. They are cautious, which is a form of self-preservation. According to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, “If a donkey is unsure of where they’re being led, it will stop and consider the situation before proceeding. Some call this characteristic stubbornness or stupidity. We call this naturally analytical behavior “common sense.”

Examples of the Word in Context

Another good way to further understand a word is to see it used in context. Hearing a word or reading it will help integrate the word into your vocabulary. Here are some example sentences of the word donkey, and it’s plural.

  •  The donkey was so overloaded; it could hardly climb the hill.
  • She found a narrow, rocky road and hopped from rock to road, surprised to see an older man leading a donkey pulling a cart ahead of her.
  • Peasant farmers ferried bags of corn on the backs of donkeys.
  • We pinned the tail on the donkey and played musical chairs.

Synonyms for Donkey

Since a donkey is a specific type of animal, it does not have many official synonyms in the thesaurus. There are a few slang words for donkey and a few animals that are similar in breed and size.

Some of these slangs come from different languages like Spanish and Scottish such as burro, moke, neddy, and cuddy.  

According to the American Museum of Natural History, “all surviving branches of the horse family tree are also members of this same genus Equus, which now consists of only seven living species. Other equids include donkeys, asses, and zebras.”

In Summary

Learning new words can be a challenge. A word you thought you knew may surprise you after doing some research on it. It is important to remember that while the English language does have generalized rules, there are many rulebreakers too. This is mainly because the English language borrows from so many other languages that words get mixed around and change their suffixes. Hopefully, this article helped you understand more about the word donkey and when to use the plural form.