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what is the correct synonym for "the majority of them"?

Is the greatest number of them? It sounds very strangely.

More details please see:

Is 'the majority of' singular or plural?

"Majority" means "greatest number" so "the majority of water" does not make sense.

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    There's nothing wrong with the majority of them. And there's no such thing as "the correct synonym for" anything. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 16:47
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    Commonly, folks say most of them. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 16:59

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The reason it sounds strange is that it should be “the greater number of them.” Traditionally, superlatives like greatest are used when comparing three or more things, and comparatives like greater are used when comparing two things. Here, you are presumably comparing the ones who are with the ones who aren't, so greater is the proper word to use.

This “rule” is obeyed less today than it was during the 19th century, but some people still follow it. And maybe you should think of “the greater number of them” as a frozen form, where greater is more idiomatic than greatest.

See Google Ngrams.

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    how about "most of them"?
    – MMMEEE
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 17:03
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    It doesn't have to be a binary comparison. If you have an election with four candidates in which A gets 51% of the vote, B gets 30%, C gets 18% and D gets 1% then the greatest number of them voted for A.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 21:47
  • @BoldBen: [nitpicking] but then it's not a synonym for majority. A could have the greatest number with just 30% of the vote. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 23:04
  • So you would say that "the majority" is always contrasted with "the minority" who are all those who do not meet the criteria for inclusion in "the majority"? For example "the majority of humans have brown eyes" groups all those with blue, grey, green, hazel and pink eyes into the minority. That's certainly a valid point of view.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 7:55
  • @BoldBen: The majority means more than 50%. The greater number also (I believe) means more than 50%. So they're synonyms in that sense. Most of the means substantially more than 50%. Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 11:12
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The majority is one half of the population plus one. That might be referred to as the Bare majority, as in just barely a majority. If everyone of them except a few then it would be an Overwhelming majority.

"Greatest number of them? It sounds very strangely" does indeed sound very strangely since it should be the Largest number of them. It may or may not sound Strange. Strangely is an adverb, modifying a verb.

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