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Suppose you want to say a number to someone, but you do not want to read it out entirely because the last part of the number is unimportant (at least to your audience). For instance, you want to mention you waited one hour and something and something could be anything between one and 59 minutes. Of course, if it is one hour and 50 minutes then you may say I waited around two hours. This is not what I am looking for. I want my audience to know that it is more than one hour but less than two and it does not matter how much it is (Perhaps, you intentionally don't want to give extra information).

In some cases, you may want to say a number in a similar manner. For example, consider the following numbers:

1.234 (you don't want to mention 0.234)

2115 (you don't want to mention 115)

1,345,000 (you don't want to mention 345,000)

What is (are) the common word/expression(s) to use in such situations?

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    You can say “over a million” “a million plus” “a million and change” I probably wouldn’t round quite that much though and end up with one point two, twenty one hundred, one point three million etc.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 2:23
  • If you went the other way and said "You could wait up to two hours" people would probably infer that you will wait at least one. But all of these expressions are going to sound contrived, unless there's a natural situation where waiting an hour and one minute is the same as waiting one hour and 59 minutes.
    – Spencer
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 2:43
  • "An hour or two" or "one to two hours." "Almost one and a quarter." "A bit over two thousand." "Well over a million."
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 3:54
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    More than a thousand, more than two thousand, more than a million.
    – Drew
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 4:40
  • Offtopic, in informal Dutch (Flemish) we say "... and a fart" to mean exactly that.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:31

3 Answers 3

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If you're not speaking or writing formally, you can use "odd".

He's sixty-odd years old.
It cost fifty-odd thousand dollars.
He has two-thousand-odd chickens on his farm.
A million-odd people live in San Jose.

I don't find it idiomatic for single-digit numbers like "one" or "two". So I wouldn't recommend saying:

*We waited two-odd hours.

(Although Google does find a few hits for "two-odd hours".)

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  • I agree this is common, but should be considered the vernacular -- spoken, but not often used in formal writing. Also note it may be colloquial -- regional to the US; it might not be used in all English-speaking places.
    – Dan H
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:50
  • @Dan H: I totally agree, and have added this to my answer. If you're in a formal situation, you would say "a little more than fifty thousand dollars." But it's not particularly regional. Google Ngrams shows that it's used in both the U.S. and the U.K. I would expect it also occurs in Australian and New Zealand. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 16:00
  • When I was going through nineteenth-century law books (don't ask) I found it quite common for the English High Court to talk about "seven pounds and odd" when referring to something like £7 4/3. So I don't think it's necessarily informal. And though people usually say "at least two hours" I wouldn't think "two hours odd" to be mistaken. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 16:31
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If the topic of your conversation has to do with natural sciences, you could use the scientific notation to give approximations with arbitrary precision.

In your examples, you would say "one point two", "two point one thousand", "one point three million" etc.

It will be generally understood that "one point three million" refers to a number greater than "one point two million" but lesser than "one point four million".

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I'm unclear of your question.

If you are asking "what phrasing can I use to indicate an approximate range", then consider:

  • "I waited an hour or two."
  • "I waited an hour and a half, give or take a half an hour."

If you are asking "how do I instruct/request someone to be less specific", you can consider:

  • "Let me know the expected wait time, rounded to the nearest half hour."
  • "Please give me an estimate of the shortest and longest likely wait time."
  • "About how long will I have to wait?" -- then do the rounding yourself!

The scientific concept you are getting at is one of precision. It seems in your wait time example, you want a duration with a precision of one hour (or half-hour, I'm not sure). In your numeric examples, you are seeking a precision of 1, one thousand, and one million, respectively. But outside of a technical situation, it would be awkward to request "please estimate the wait time with a precision of 30 minutes."

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