Pluralia tantum

In Italian, there are a group of nouns called “pluralia tantum,” a Latin term that means “nomi solamenti plurali” or “nouns that are only plural” — the list below contains some popular nouns that are only used in the plural (note any exceptions). There are also nouns that are “singularia tantum” or “nomi solamenti singolari” (“nouns that are only singular”). We’ll cover those in the next post!

Here is a list of nouns used mainly in the plural (with some exceptions noted, of course):

gli annali: annals
i baffi: moustache (the singular is used in some idiomatic expressions)
i bocconcini: a kind of mozzarella cheese or stew meat (the singular can be used to mean “a bite,” but it has a second meaning — stew meat — and this is used in the plural)
le calende: kalends
i calzoni: slacks, pants, trousers (in the singular, though, it can mean the stuffed pizza you get at the pizzeria)
le cesoie: shears
le dimissioni: resignation (in the singular, it means discharge, such as from the hospital)
i dintorni: environs, surroundings
le esequie: funerals
i fegatini: chicken livers (almost always used in the plural: un piatto di fegatini; in brodo coi fegatini)
le ferie: vacation, holidays
le forbici: scissors
i gemelli: twins, cuff links (also the star sign, Gemini); note: gemello is also an adjective!
le gramaglie: mourning clothes
le idi: Ides (like the Ides of March)
le masserizie: housewares
le molle (del camino): (fireplace) tongs
le mutande: underwear
le narici: nostrils (can be used in the singular when referring to a specific nostril, such as the left or the right)
le nozze: wedding or nuptials
gli occhiali: glasses (that one wears to see/keep out the sun)
i paraggi: neighborhood, surroundings
le redini: reins
le rigaglie: giblets
le spezie: spices (the singular form, la spezia, is used informally/every day Italian)
gli sponsali: wedding, nuptials
le stoviglie: dishes, crockery, kitchenware
le tenaglie: pliers, tongs
le tenebre: darkness
le vettovaglie: provisions
i viveri: supplies, provisions