'Head or tail?' vs 'Heads or tails?'


I just heard someone saying while he was flipping a coin,

‘Heads or tails?’

Is it correct? If yes, why? Why not ‘Head or tail?’ ?


Hi Tom

When you flip a coin, the plural forms (heads/tails) are used. I don’t know why. It would sound very strange to me to hear the singular forms used in this context.

But there is also the idiom “can’t make head (n)or tail of something” which means not able to understand something at all.



It’s just the name of the game, what logic are you expecting, Tom? :slight_smile:


In different languages the game has different names, depending on coin’s images :).
For example, in Russian it’s called ‘Ory?l ili r?shka’ (eagle or another symbol).

By the way, I’ve found interresting that English is the only language in which the plural form (heads, tails) is used to name sides.

Another expression you can use before you spin the coin is ‘we’ll toss for it’.

The plural forms (heads/tails) are used. The reason may be purely grammatical.

When we ask someone “Do you like apples?” or “Do you want fruits or vegetables?” , we use the plural form. SO when they flip the coin, they are actually saying " Do you want heads or tails?". ( shortened to “Heads or tails?”).

This reasoning makes sense, doesn’t it?

Good luck! ( and some say that before flipping the coin).

As said above it represents the different headS on different coins.

I like the theory:
Derived from the fact that when you play the game you are only playing one round of a game that started thousands of years ago and will continue for thousands of years to come, your flip is only ONE ROUND in a worldwide timeless game of fate, you join either the “heads” or the “tails” team and all that have come before you.