Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The term "umpteenth" is sometimes used to describe a long, but unknown or ambiguous amount of time, or number of times.

...after he reexamined the cable connections for the umpteenth time...

Now, umpteenth isn't exactly a universally recognized word, it's listed in some dictionaries, but certainly not all. I was wondering if there are any alternatives to such a word, one that might be more prominently defined and accepted in the English language (or just a word that I can say in place of "umpteenth" and sound smart).

share|improve this question
    
Does it have to be a single word? If not, I would suggest "...he reexamined the cable connections yet another time..." –  Paul Richter Jan 28 '12 at 3:37
    
That actually seems like a good idea. I'll go with that. Thanks! –  Bob Jan 28 '12 at 3:58
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

In a context like your example, dozen and score will serve as large-but-indefinite values:

...after he examined the cable connections the dozen'th time...
...after he examined the cable connections a score of times...

Both words are "defined and accepted in the English language"; whether "prominently defined and accepted" I cannot say.

Besides previously-suggested yet another time, rephrasings like "...after he'd lost count of how many times he'd checked the connections..." or "...after checking the connections innumerable times..." and "...after checking the connections countless times..." are possible. (Note, the latter two phrasings are possible, but their circumstances are not; the number of attempts will be denumerable and countable, even if outlandishly described as not being such.)

share|improve this answer
    
I suppose it might be true that in certain contexts, dozen and score might work. However, both are actually precisely defined amounts (12 and 20, respectively) so using them to suggest an ambiguous amount is a clear misuse. –  yamad Feb 4 '12 at 21:43
add comment

Interestingly, yet has an adjective form:

yet, adj. : existing or lasting up to the present or a specified time : still continuing

So you can say: ". . .he reexamined the cable connections yet again."

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'd say “billionth”. Most people would realize that that is not intended to be taken literally.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Mathematically, one could write this as

for the nth time

Lower case n is widely used as the default character for a positive integer variable, as seen in the well-established phrase the nth degree.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.