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Ask Dr. Grammar!

Here’s a bit of a stumper: is it “myriad” or “myriad of”?

The thing is, it’s not that simple.

For a long time, myriad was just a noun—as in “a myriad of bacon burgers.” Then, some time around the 19th century, poets turned it into an adjective: “myriad dancing girls.”

While both uses are acceptable in formal writing today, we at the last word prefer the adjective form, since it communicates the same meaning with two fewer words. Lest you think our preference for the more recent usage means we’ve become a bunch of feckless descriptivists, however, keep in mind that the original Greek meaning is “10,000.” And since numbers are usually adjectives, well…it helps us sleep at night.



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