Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of few
Meaning of few by Wiktionary Dictionary



    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 .


    • ( UK ) IPA: /fjuː/, X-SAMPA: /fju:/
    • ( US ) IPA: /fju/, X-SAMPA: /fju/
    • Rhymes: -uː


    few ( comparative fewer, superlative fewest )

    1. ( preceded by another determiner ) An indefinite, but usually small, number of .
      I was expecting lots of people at the party, but very few ( =almost none ) turned up .
      Quite a few of them ( =many of them ) were pleasantly surprised .
      I don't know how many drinks I've had, but I've had a few. [This usage is likely ironic.]
    2. ( used alone ) Not many; a small ( in comparison with another number stated or implied ) but somewhat indefinite number of .
      There are few people who understand quantum theory .
      Many are called, but few are chosen .
    3. ( 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 .
    4. ( meteorology, of rainfall with regard to a location ) ( US? ) Having a 10 percent chance of measurable precipitation ( 0.01 inch ); used interchangeably with isolated .

    Usage notes

    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 .

    See also

    • Meteorology ( both senses )
      NOAA Glossary: f


    Related terms



    1. Few people, few things .
      Many are called, but few are chosen .



Explanation of few by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. a quantifier that can be used with count nouns and is often preceded by `a'

    2. a few weeks ago
      a few more wagons than usual
      an invalid's pleasures are few and far between
      few roses were still blooming
      few women have led troops in battle
    1. a small elite group

    2. it was designed for the discriminating few

    Definition of few by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. 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.