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Myriad Of

Find out whether it's OK to write "a myriad of" or it's better to stick with just "myriad."

By
Mignon Fogarty
October 19, 2011

Myriad Of

I like myriad 10,000 Maniacs songs—"These Are Days," "Candy Everybody Wants," "Few and Far Between," and probably more that I can't think of right now. But do a few make a myriad?

The word myriad is derived from the Greek word for ten thousand and has long since come to mean “a whole bunch” or “an uncountable multitude,” so it's hard to argue that myriad is a good way to describe three or four songs. Various, a few, or many would probably be better choices.

"A Myriad of" or Just "Myriad"?

Another hot debate is whether it is correct to say, "The forest contains myriad species" or "The forest contains a myriad of species." You commonly hear "a myriad of" and just as commonly hear people railing that it should be simply "myriad" because the word is an adjective and essentially equivalent to a number. You wouldn't say "There are a ten thousand of species," so you shouldn't say "There are a myriad of species," so the argument goes.

Believe it or not, most language experts say that either way is fine. 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).

Nevertheless, if you choose to say or write "a myriad of," I must warn you that you'll encounter occasional but vehement resistance. You may want to print this page, laminate it, and carry it in your wallet as a defense.

 

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