5

What can transform this:

"to group items into several (but few) categories, ..."

into:

"to group items into {word} categories, ..."

while still conveying the same meaning? I'd like to condense this information into one shorter word.

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    Even though it's two words, a few takes only 5 characters, so it's probably going to be shorter than any single-word term anyone comes up with here. I'm upvoting the question because I really don't think there is a single-word term for OP's context (where actually I think a handful of would be more appropriate in terms of nuance), so I'll be interested to see what we get. – FumbleFingers Feb 22 '18 at 18:05
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    @FumbleFingers I believe a handful is very close to maintaining the original meaning and nuance intended by several (but few) since it (correctly) implies there must be more than one, but no more than two or three (or what several conveys on its own). – Sean Pianka Feb 22 '18 at 18:08
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    It's not exactly common, but there are a handful of written contexts where things get divided into minimal categories. That usage has a slightly "technical, domain-specific" flavour to me, so whether it's intended or not, I understand it as implying into the smallest number of categories adequate for the current purpose (i.e. - minimal = minimized = made as small as possible). – FumbleFingers Feb 22 '18 at 18:20
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    Of course some  is only four letters, but I suppose it doesn’t capture the sense of boundedness that the OP wants. – Scott Feb 23 '18 at 20:14
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    @SeanPianka Several is commonly between two and just enough to not be many, by the way. I typically think of it as three to maybe at most ten. It depends on what there are several of. Maybe you should just say how many categories you want, explicitly? "to group items into 2-5 categories, ..." or whatever. – Dispenser Mar 1 '18 at 20:36
1

Limited goes for 7, with some thin characters for proportionally spaced fonts. From dictionary.com:

confined within limits; restricted or circumscribed

Using the phrase "to group items into limited categories", you can quite naturally specify any strict upper amount as the limit.

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