Monday, July 7, 2008

Word Tidbits: Myriad

Out of curiosity, I looked up the word myriad today. You can see the definitions for yourself. To my surprise, myriad not only means a large number or variety but also indicates ten thousand of something.

Should I wish to say, for example, that a myriad of insect species inhabits the Amazonian rain forest, you could take that to mean that there are ten thousand different kinds of insects living there. You're far more likely to read that as indicating that a great variety of insect life can be found around the Amazon river, however.

While it's nice to know a word to indicate ten thousand, that use of this word occurs infrequently (or is unclear) enough for your readers to misunderstand your meaning. Unless you follow the sentence with specific numbers, people will assume that you simply mean many and various things, rather than ten thousand of a specific type.