ump·​teen | \ ˈəm(p)-ˌtēn How to pronounce umpteen (audio) , ˌəm(p)-ˈtēn \

Definition of umpteen

: very many : indefinitely numerous Stephen King is beloved by fans of the horror genre for his umpteen bestselling books …— Sam Swantek Their well-crafted prose simply repeats what umpteen other basic books on wine already say.— Harvey Steiman Innumerable GIs were taught how to ask for a hamburger in umpteen different languages.— Roy Harris Our umpteen-year mission to explore new worlds and new civilizations.— Salman Rushdie

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Did You Know?

"I'll go to bed and I'll not get up for umpty-eleven months." You know the feeling. The speaker here is war-weary Bill, a character in Patrick MacGill's early 20th-century novel The Great Push. His "umpty" originated as military slang around 1905 and stood for an indefinite number, generally largish. (It was probably created by analogy to actual numbers such as "twenty.") Soon, there followed "umpteen," blending "umpty" and "-teen." "Umpteen" usually describes an indefinite and large number or amount, while the related "umpteenth" is used for the latest or last in an indefinitely numerous series. We only occasionally use "umpty" these days (and even more rarely "umptieth"), but you're bound to hear or read "umpteen" and "umpteenth" any number of times.

Examples of umpteen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Then there are our kids, our resilient girls raised in a post-9/11 world, whose familiarity with sheltering in place comes from umpteen active shooter drills. S. Mitra Kalita, CNN, "I'm the quarantine buffer among three generations of my family. All in one house," 11 Apr. 2020 Donald Trump today stands unleashed and uncontrolled, with 8,400 hours—a half-million minutes and umpteen tweets—left in his first presidential term. Garrett M. Graff, Wired, "Trump Now Has the Senate GOP's Blessing to Undermine Democracy," 6 Feb. 2020 But for now, break out your favorite contour palette, line up your umpteen-step Korean skin-care regimen, and take a trip down Recent Memory Lane. Marci Robin, Allure, "The Biggest Beauty Trends of the Last Decade," 13 Dec. 2019 There have been umpteen stories about how San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children among the 50 biggest cities in the U.S. Caille Millner,, "Why would anyone bring a baby into the world that is SF?," 31 Jan. 2020 Vermonters now have 150 miles of new rail across the state, with umpteen rail tiles, switches, and crosses upgraded or replaced. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "A decade ago, the US was promised high-speed rail—so where is it?," 27 Dec. 2019 Such conservatives have long dominated such bodies as the Law Society or the Institute of Engineers, which in turn help fill umpteen disciplinary panels and advisory committees that make Hong Kong tick. The Economist, "China is using Kublai Khan’s methods to quell protests in Hong Kong," 29 Aug. 2019 Even perfect graphs can be tremendously complex, demanding detailed consideration of each of their umpteen internal structures and seldom submitting to elegant, concise proofs. Quanta Magazine, "Theorists Draw Closer to Perfect Coloring," 20 Oct. 2015 The umpteen changes that go into the bird skull may all owe to paedomorphosis, to one set of molecular changes in the early embryo. Quanta Magazine, "How Dinosaurs Shrank and Became Birds," 2 June 2015

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

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First Known Use of umpteen

1898, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for umpteen

blend of umpty (such and such) and -teen (as in thirteen)

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Time Traveler for umpteen

Time Traveler

The first known use of umpteen was in 1898

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Last Updated

3 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Umpteen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for umpteen


How to pronounce umpteen (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of umpteen

informal : very many

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