3

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).

  • 1
    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
3

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.)

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    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
  • Could also use hundredth/thousandth/millionth. What is the reasoning behind the apostrophe in dozenth? (just a typo?) Other than that +1 – Smock Aug 1 at 10:07
  • @Smock, after a tiny bit of research, dozen'th appears indefensible. However, before using dozenth in its place, I'd instead write, "...after he examined the cable connections a dozen times...". – James Waldby - jwpat7 Aug 2 at 4:59
  • I also found it interesting that hundredth seems much more popular: tinyurl.com/y3ndzcd7 although maybe that's just because that magnitude fits best for more situations. – Smock Aug 2 at 8:34
2

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."

2

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.

1

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

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I would use 'myriad' to describe many without referring to a specific number. It used to mean 10,000 but that is an archaic reference and now it is used in the context you described with umpteenth. 'He checked the cables a myriad of times.'

  • 'Myriad' is typically used for concrete nouns (e.g. a myriad of people) - it sounds odd when applied like this. – DaveMongoose Oct 17 '16 at 10:20

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