myriad

1 of 2

noun

myr·​i·​ad ˈmir-ē-əd How to pronounce myriad (audio)
1
: ten thousand
2
: a great number
a myriad of ideas
Is myriad a noun?: Usage Guide

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. As the entries here show, 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.

myriad

2 of 2

adjective

1
: innumerable
those myriad problems
also : both numerous and diverse
myriad topics
2
: having innumerable aspects or elements
the myriad activity of the new landMeridel Le Sueur

Did you know?

You don’t need ten thousand justifications to use myriad as a noun, only one: with more than 400 years of usage history behind it, the noun myriad, as in the phrase “a myriad of,” is a well-established and respectable member of the English language. Still, we understand that “myriad of” raises the hackles of myriad folks who were taught at one point or another that myriad is only to be used as an adjective, and that phrases like “a myriad of emailers vexed about myriad” should be shunned in favor of “myriad emailers vexed about myriad.” Now, to each their own lexical peeves and pleasures, but let it be known that myriad entered the English language in the mid-1500s as a noun, and since its introduction has been used in the senses of “ten thousand,” “a set of ten thousand,” “an immense or indefinitely large number,” and “a great multitude”; furthermore, it has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton, Thoreau, Twain, and DuBois—no slouches when it comes to wielding words. Myriad the adjective is about 200 years younger, but both continue to enjoy wide use today.

Examples of myriad in a Sentence

Noun Mr. McCullough hails Adams for being uncannily prescient … foreseeing a myriad of developments, from the difficulty of defeating the British … to the divisive consequences of slavery. Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, 22 May 2001
Sectarian Protestantism reinforced both American individualism and the tendency of the society to be self-organizing in a myriad of voluntary associations and communities. Francis Fukuyama, Atlantic, May 1999
Out in the barrios, under the nipa palms, he listened to the myriads of humming cicadas and the call of the geckos. Nina FitzPatrick, Fables of the Irish Intelligentsia, 1991
To read Marie Corelli, you had to be able to follow several hundred printed words at a time, and there were myriads in England who were up to it. Hugh Kenner, A Sinking Island, 1987
… laced his fingers behind his head and stared at the myriads of tiny colored dots that make up darkness. John Steinbeck, East of Eden, 1952
There are a myriad of possibilities. the car can be outfitted with a myriad of options Adjective … the more quotations that could be found, the more easily the subtle differences between the (possibly) myriad usages and meanings of any single word could be identified. This is how historical dictionaries are made … Simon Winchester, The Meaning of Everything, 2003
The age of white guilt, with its myriad corruptions and its almost racist blindness to minority individuality, may someday go down like the age of racism went down … Shelby Steele, Harper's, November 2002
World War II accelerated the progress of science and technology into the microcosm. Scientists and technologists played tag with one another in their search for microscopic control. With mathematics and myriad theories, they defined a new microcosm. Joseph A. Amato, Dust, 2000
The old system's problems were myriad. the myriad problems that today's cities face
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The song spans a myriad of references and influences, but the imprint of Tina Turner is unmistakable. Rolling Stone, 2 Apr. 2024 During the summer months, The Pink Foundation extends its reach through a myriad of enriching activities and programs. Hilary Tetenbaum, USA TODAY, 1 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for myriad 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'myriad.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Adjective

Greek myriad-, myrias, from myrioi countless, ten thousand

First Known Use

Noun

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1735, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of myriad was in 1555

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Dictionary Entries Near myriad

Cite this Entry

“Myriad.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myriad. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

myriad

1 of 2 noun
myr·​i·​ad ˈmir-ē-əd How to pronounce myriad (audio)
1
: ten thousand
2
: a large but not specified or counted number
myriads of stars

myriad

2 of 2 adjective
: extremely numerous
the myriad grains of sand on a beach

More from Merriam-Webster on myriad

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