Posted by: episystechpubs | November 25, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Myriad or “a myriad of”?

I’m not sure why this question pops up around the holidays so often, but it seems to be the topic of podcasts, articles, emails to Editor’s Corner, and now a letter to the Chicago Manual of Style. Because I’m feeling fatigued without my morning coffee, I will leave the Q&A to the big boys and girls at CMOS.

Q. Dear Chicago, What is your stance on myriad versus a myriad of? Myriad thanks.

A. CMOS is silent on the issue, but Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary (our go-to resource) has this to say, s.v. myriad: “Recent criticism of the use of myriad as a noun, both in the plural form myriads and in the phrase a myriad of, seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. As the entries here show, however, the noun is in fact the older form, dating to the 16th century. The noun myriad has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton (plural myriads) and Thoreau (a myriad of), and it continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it.”

Note: In the paragraph above, s.v. stands for “sub verbo” which means “under the word” or “under the heading.” It is an abbreviation used after an encyclopedia (or in this case, a dictionary) is mentioned, to guide the reader to the section of the reference that is being quoted.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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