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.

What word or sequence of words can I use if I have more than several, but less than many? E.g. if I have 10–15 of something, it may not be many (depending on context), but it's too many to be several. What word or phrase can I use?

  • There are many studies which show... (not true, in my context I don't consider 10–15 is many)
  • There are 10 studies which show... (not correct, it's not exactly 10 and I don't know the exact number, nor is it relevant)
  • There are several studies which show... (not correct, 10 is too many to be several)
  • There is a number of studies which show... (means nothing? 0 is a number, as is 1000?)

What is the correct word or sequence of words here?

share|improve this question
Here's where French wins out. They have any number of words that express approximate quantities that are more than several but fewer than many: une dizaine (around 10), une douzaine (12), une quinzaine (15), une vingtaine (20), etc. I often find myself wanting to say "there are a twenty of those..." in English. –  JAM Jul 31 '12 at 16:48
Neither several nor many is a well-defined term in standard English. This is not a constructive question as currently worded. –  tchrist Jul 31 '12 at 16:54
I'm not looking for something well-defined. I'll think about how to reword the question. Wording a good question is a challenge in itself. Maybe I could put up another question "please help me word this question". Erm... :) –  gerrit Jul 31 '12 at 16:57
A handful might work for you. –  Noah Jul 31 '12 at 17:16
Online thesauri would seem to cover this perfectly adequately, making it a General Reference question. –  tchrist Jul 31 '12 at 17:33

9 Answers 9

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A 'dozen' is exactly 12, but you can use that for approximation, as well: 'there are around a dozen' or 'approximately a dozen'.

Alternatively, you can just say 'around 10', 'around 15', etc.

You can also say 'over 10' or 'at least 10' which implies that the number is close to 10.

share|improve this answer
I settled for "more than a dozen". –  gerrit Aug 2 '12 at 9:27

The phrase quite a few may work. Curiously, it suggests more than a few but less than many. However, it is very vague and context dependent.

share|improve this answer
Not much difference between 'a few' and 'several' but 'quite a few' suggests more than one might expect. Actually, the true meaning of 'several' is 'separate(ly)', it comes from 'sever'. –  Barry Brown Jul 31 '12 at 20:14

All these terms are vague; there is no precise number to them, so there is no accurate comparison.

However measure words sometimes have somewhat predictable comparisons. 'several' is definitely more than 'a few', and 'many' is less than 'most'.

But between 'several' and 'many'? Those are fairly synonymous, with several only working with smaller integers and 'many' applying to pretty much any scale (it is more relative). 'some' is relative and definitely less than 'many' but

I have some marbles

How many do people have? I don't know maybe a hundred at most, so 'some' might mean here 10, 20, maybe 30?

I have several marbles

This means I have more than just a handful maybe even 10, or 20, or even 30.

On a different scale consider

There are some Muslims in India

India has a population of a billion, this would lead you to believe that there might be a subset of that (maybe millions?).

There are several Muslims in India

this makes it sounds like there are under a hundred, quite a different thing than millions.

That should tell you that there is no real, exact answer to your title question.

To the implicit question in the contents, you're saying that both 'several' and 'many' are too much. Then use 'some' or 'a few' or nothing at all. Even 'a number' works (no one would so pedantically think of 0, 1 or 2 as a number when you say that, it is mostly synonymous with 'some'.


So I suggest:

There are a number of studies that...

probably to be held as truthful should be three or more. Ibky two would be disingenuous.

There are studies that...

This doesn't quantify much at all, it is informally used as 'not one, but I want you to think more, but probably only two.

share|improve this answer

You might use a phrase like "a dozen to a score". I presume colloquial phrases like "several handfuls" or "a goodly number" or "in double digits" don't work in a context where one talks about certain studies showing certain things, but any of the phrases "about a dozen", "about a score", "more than a dozen", and "less than a score" might be suitable, depending on what you want to emphasize.

share|improve this answer
Score means 20 so about a score is pretty narrow. –  bib Jul 31 '12 at 17:13

A double tilde?

There are ≈15 studies which show..

approximately? To me, several would mean "seven or thereabouts".. so it could be ten.

share|improve this answer
I think that saying “around 15” is applying a squishy “around” to too particular a figure. Note that your is U+2248 ALMOST EQUAL TO, but I bet you meant U+2245 APPROXIMATELY EQUAL TO, which is is . However, a simple U+223C TILDE OPERATOR is and includes the sense of “similar to”. For what it’s worth, there’s also U+224B TRIPLE TILDE . –  tchrist Jul 31 '12 at 17:31

Perhaps the most colloquial is “a dozen or so”.

share|improve this answer
I’d put like a dozen further along the colloquial spectrum than a dozen or so. –  tchrist Jul 31 '12 at 21:39
Yes, 'colloquial' is polysemic. Which word isn't? I meant the 'characteristic of the spoken language' sub-sense rather than the 'towards the informal end of the register continuum' sub-sense - and 'a dozen or so' sounds far more normal-conversational to my ears than 'like a dozen'. But then I am getting on a bit.... Actually, an Ngram of 'dozen or so' vs 'like a dozen' backs up my gut feeling - but I never trust these new technologies. –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 31 '12 at 22:42
Monosemic isn’t polysemic, because if it were polysemic, then it wouldn’t be monosemic, now would it? :) –  tchrist Jul 31 '12 at 22:45
I once discovered that Chambers 20th Century Dictionary (about 1960) had - as? in place of? a definition of the word 'mirbane' 'an apparently meaningless word'. (It appears in the compound (!) 'oil of mirbane' (nitrobenzene).) This would make 'mirbane' neither polysemic nor monosemic; there's probably not a term to cover this. Oh, and 'monosemic' would just be heterological if it were polysemic. –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 31 '12 at 22:51
mirbane is “nitrobenzol used in perfumery”; its origins are obscure, but so too are many words’. –  tchrist Jul 31 '12 at 22:54

What about the word multitude?

I think that word would or could work well.

share|improve this answer

If you are just looking for synonyms, perhaps you could use Multiple, Various, Plentiful, Manifold, etc.

share|improve this answer
Where did he say that he was looking for synonyms? –  Mohit Apr 18 '13 at 6:07

“There are enough studies to show”.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist yesterday

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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