- ( UK ) IPA: /fjuː/, X-SAMPA: /fju:/
- ( US ) IPA: /fju/, X-SAMPA: /fju/
- Rhymes: -uː
- ( preceded by another determiner ) An indefinite, but usually small, number of .
- ( used alone ) Not many; a small ( in comparison with another number stated or implied ) but somewhat indefinite number of .
- ( meteorology, of clouds ) ( US? ) Obscuring one eighth to two eighths of the sky .
- Tonight.. A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness overnight .
- NOAA definition of the term "few clouds": An official sky cover classification for aviation weather observations, descriptive of a sky cover of 1/8 to 2/8. This is applied only when obscuring phenomenon aloft are present--that is, not when obscuring phenomenon are surface-based, such as fog .
- ( meteorology, of rainfall with regard to a location ) ( US? ) Having a 10 percent chance of measurable precipitation ( 0.01 inch ); used interchangeably with isolated .
- Few is used with plural nouns only; its synonymous counterpart little is used with uncountable nouns .
- Although indefinite in nature, a few is usually more than two ( two often being referred to as "a couple of" ), and less than "several". If the sample population is say between 5 and 20, a few would mean three or four, but no more than this. However, if the population sample size were in the millions, "a few" could refer to several hundred items. In other words, few in this context means a very very small percentage but way over the 3 or 4 usually ascribed to it its use with much much smaller numbers .
- Few is grammatically affirmative but semantically negative, and it can license negative polarity items. For example, lift a finger usually cannot be used in affirmative sentences, but can be used in sentences with few .
From Middle English fewe ( “few” ), from Old English fēawa, fēawe, fēa ( “few” ), from Proto-Germanic *fawaz ( “few” ), from Proto-Indo-European *paw- ( “few, small” ). Cognate with Old Saxon fā ( “few” ), Old High German fao, fō ( “few, little” ), Old Norse fár ( “few” ), Gothic ( fawai, “few” ), Latin paucus ( “little, few” ). More at poor .
few ( comparative fewer, superlative fewest )
Explanation of few by Wordnet Dictionary
- Few ( fū ), a. [Compar. Fewer ( fūẽr ); superl. Fewest.] [OE. fewe, feawe, AS. feá, pl. feáwe; akin to OS. fāh, OHG. fō fao, Icel. fār, Sw. få, pl., Dan. faa, pl., Goth. faus, L. paucus, cf. Gr. παῦρος. Cf. Paucity.] Not many; small, limited, or confined in number; -- indicating a small portion of units or individuals constituting a whole; often, by ellipsis of a noun, a few people. “Are not my days few?” Job x. 20.
Few know and fewer care. Proverb.
☞ Few is often used partitively; as, few of them.
A few, a small number. -- In few, in a few words; briefly. Shak.
-- No few, not few; more than a few; many. Cowper.
-- The few, the minority; -- opposed to the many or the majority.
Definition of few by GCIDE Dictionary