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Plethora Doesn’t Mean “A Lot”

Categories: Grammar, Questions & Quandaries Blog Tags: Brian Klems, grammar.

Q: Can you use “plethora” to mean “a lot,” as in, I own a plethora of baseball hats?

A: The misuse of “plethora” is a pet peeve of mine. The word “plethora” doesn’t mean “a lot,” it means “too many or an overabundance.” In the example, Many voters feel that there are a plethora of laws that are useless, it shows that some voters believe there are too many useless laws. And, if you say you own a plethora of baseball hats, you’re not saying you have a lot—you’re saying you believe you have too many for your own good and it’s time to get rid of a few.

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2 Responses to Plethora Doesn’t Mean “A Lot”

  1. J Michael K says:

    According to the dictionary included on my MacBook Pro, the word “plethora” means a “large OR excessive amount” (my caps). It does mention that the original usage was as you say, but goes on to state that the “looser” use has become part of standard English.

  2. Gregg says:

    Perhaps you could do write up on my pet peave. The ladies had the exact same hat. Usage like this by a lot of people who should know better, especially broadcasters, drives me nuts!

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