1

myriad

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noun myr·i·ad \ˈmir-ē-əd\

Definition of myriad

  1. 1 :  ten thousand

  2. 2 :  a great number a myriad of ideas

myriad was our Word of the Day on 10/27/2016. Hear the podcast!

Is myriad a noun?

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.

Examples of myriad in a Sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. … 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

  6. There are a myriad of possibilities.

  7. the car can be outfitted with a myriad of options

Recent Examples of myriad from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'myriad'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

In English, the "ten thousand" sense of myriad mostly appears in references to Ancient Greece, such as the following from English historian Connop Thirwall's History of Greece: "4000 men from Peloponnesus had fought at Thermopylae with 300 myriads." More often, English speakers use myriad in the broad sense—both as a singular noun ("a myriad of tiny particles") and a plural noun ("myriads of tiny particles"). Myriad can also serve as an adjective meaning "innumerable" ("myriad particles"). While some usage commentators criticize the noun use, it's been firmly established in English since the 16th century, and in fact is about 200 years older than the adjective. Myriad comes from Greek myrias, which in turn comes from myrioi, meaning "countless" or "ten thousand."

Origin and Etymology of myriad

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


First Known Use: 1555

Other Number-Related Terms


2

myriad

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adjective myr·i·ad \ˈmir-ē-əd\

Definition of myriad

  1. 1 :  innumerable those myriad problems; also :  both numerous and diverse myriad topics

  2. 2 :  having innumerable aspects or elements the myriad activity of the new land — Meridel Le Sueur

Examples of myriad in a Sentence

  1. … 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. The old system's problems were myriad.

  5. the myriad problems that today's cities face

Recent Examples of myriad from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'myriad'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of myriad

see 1myriad


First Known Use: 1735


MYRIAD Defined for English Language Learners

myriad

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noun

Definition of myriad for English Language Learners

  • : a very large number of things

myriad

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adjective

Definition of myriad for English Language Learners

  • : very many


MYRIAD Defined for Kids

1

myriad

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noun myr·i·ad \ˈmir-ē-əd\

Definition of myriad for Students

  1. :  a very large number of things a myriad of possibilities myriads of stars


2

myriad

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adjective myr·i·ad

Definition of myriad for Students

  1. :  many in number :  extremely numerous Underneath the heaps were all the myriad little … things … — Lynne Reid Banks, The Indian in the Cupboard



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