A myriad of...

< Previous | Next >
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi SilverPixie. I'm not sure why you might think that "myriad" only applies to human beings but that's not the case. You cannot, however, say "a myriad" of books. You would say "a myriad number of books".
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Also, a myriad of:

    choices
    problems/challenges
    colors
    successes
    stars

    With all respect, I disagree with Dimcl on this one. You can say "a myriad" of books. A myriad is, according to Wikipedia, a hundred hundred, or 10,000, originally, and now has been broadened to mean "a large (or uncountable) number." To say "a myriad number of books" would be to say "a large number number of books."

    From the Wikipedia article:

    Merriam-Webster notes, "Recent criticism of the use of myriad as a noun, both in the plural form myriads and in the phrase a myriad of, seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective.... however, the noun is in fact the older form, dating to the 16th century. The noun myriad has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton (plural myriads) and Thoreau (a myriad of), and it continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it."
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    Dimcl,

    Are you sure one can say, "a myriad number of books"? Since I understand "myriad" to mean "an immense number" (or "a large, indefinite number"), you'd be saying "an immense number of number of books"!

    In any case, one could avoid the whole problem by using "a plethora of books" (a bit of hyperbole, of course, but not uncommon!).
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You might have a myriad of ... anything that you had a countless number of. Myriad is typically used in exactly that way. I would have to say that a myriad of books sounds to me like more than one person could own - perhaps the British Library or the Library of Congress.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    With all respect, I disagree with Dimcl on this one. You can say "a myriad" of books. A myriad is, according to Wikipedia, a hundred hundred, or 10,000, originally, and now has been broadened to mean "a large (or uncountable) number." To say "a myriad number of books" would be to say "a large number number of books."
    "
    Rats!:eek: SilverPixie, having more fully investigated the subject after James' disagreement with me, I am forced to concede that he is correct (as usual!). My apologies for leading you astray! Thanks, James.:)
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    The noun myriad has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton (plural myriads) and Thoreau (a myriad of), and it continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it."
    Except a desire NOT to sound like either Milton or Thoreau. :D
     

    Spectre scolaire

    Senior Member
    Maltese and Russian
    The question coming from a Chinese is a very interesting one!

    In Chinese the word for “myriad”, ,wàn, is always used when counting people (beyong the number of wàn, obviously...) – but also in many other contexts.

    There is a plethora of idiomatic expressions containing wàn, f.ex. in “master key”, “mass grave”, “marigold”(!), “foolproof”, “death serves you well” [lit. die ten thousand deaths!], “universal”, “panacea”, “very lucky”, “king of kings”, “absolutely [not]” [by writing the word twice – which incidentally also means 100 million!], “wealthy” [i.e. a household earning annually more than 10.000 yuen, lit. a wàn yuán “door”, not used any more today!], “wish of happiness” [a female courtesy formula, lit. ten thousand , “good fortune”], etc. - but curiously not a “centipede”...

    Back to the original meaning: The number of inhabitants in Hong Kong is (or was at one point) 1,097 wàn – which means 10,97 million. Westerners are not used to multiplying by ten thousand, only by thousand(s)!

    The origin of myriad is Classical Greek μυριάς, “ten thousand”, plural μυριάδες.The Modern Greek singular form is μυριάδα.

    The original Greek word for 10.000 is a singular cardinal number – like Eng. thousand. But its plural acceptations are common when referring to more indefinit numbers, f.ex. in expressioins like μυριάδες ανθρώπων, “a great number of people”. Too many insects around would also trigger its use.

    Already in Classical Greek the word had the meaning of “an unlimited number”. One cannot use this word in today’s Greece in order to count a precise number of people.- like with Chinese . In fact, I doubt whether it was ever possible to do so in Greek, μυριάς being ultimately used in the meaning of “an extremely large number”.:)
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Except a desire NOT to sound like either Milton or Thoreau. :D
    Hey, don't knock Milton.

    "Who first seduc'd them to that foul revolt?
    Th' infernal Serpent; hee it was, whose guile
    Stirr'd up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv'd
    The Mother of Mankind ..."

    Now come on, admit it. That's not so bad, is it? And that's just one of a myriad of examples.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top