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Is it 'myriad' insects or 'a myriad of' insects?

Sep 04, 2015

The use of myriad is often debated. Myriad was actually used as a noun in English long before it was used as an adjective, and today it's considered both a noun and an adjective which means it can be used with an 'a' before it (as a noun) or without an 'a' before it (as an adjective). Some argue that myriad should never be used with ‘of’ as it should only be used as an adjective. This is incorrect but you will probably come across some resistance from those who believe this to be the case.

Myriad insects surrounded the swamp. (adjective)

A myriad of insects surrounded the swamp. (noun)

Both examples are correct.

We are looking at adding a usage note to the online entry to cover the attitude towards the noun use.

 

Want some help with other common confusables? Check out our other comparison blogs

 

(Image courtesy of Flickr: Steve Jurvetson)


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2 Comments

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Ron - Sept. 4, 2015, 1:33 p.m.

Isn't myriad used to mean 100 000 in some dialects?


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Macquarie Dictionary Admin - Sept. 8, 2015, 12:02 p.m.

Myriad comes from Greek mȳrias meaning ‘a number of ten thousand’. Use as 10,000 is chiefly in translations from Greek or Latin or in reference to the Greek numeral system. In English its use has always more general, simply meaning ‘a great number’.


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