American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- adj. Amounting to or consisting of a small number: one of my few bad habits.
- adj. Being more than one but indefinitely small in number: bowled a few strings.
- n. An indefinitely small number of persons or things: A few of the books have torn jackets.
- n. An exclusive or limited number: the discerning few; the fortunate few.
- pro. A small number of persons or things: "For many are called, but few are chosen” ( Matthew 22:14).
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Not many; a small number; only a small number.
- n. Not many; only a small number (of persons or things): in this use properly an adjective, used elliptically as a plural noun, and not preceded by the article.
- n. A small number; a minority: in this sense preceded by the article a (originally in the plural) or the, with or without a noun following, the noun, if used, expressing the whole of which the few are taken, and being in the partitive genitive, with or without the preposition of: as, a few, or a few members, or a few of the members, dissented.
- n. A small quantity or portion; a little: followed by a noun (without of) in a construction similar to def. 2 and to that of little, n.
- n. See II., 3.
- n. Adv. phr. Somewhat; to some slight extent: often used ironically for a good deal.
- 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.
- meteorology, of rainfall with regard to a location (US?) Having a 10 percent chance of measurable precipitation (0.01 inch); used interchangeably with isolated.
- pro. Few people, few things.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. 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.
- adj. a quantifier that can be used with count nouns and is often preceded by `a'; a small but indefinite number
- n. a small elite group
- From Middle English fewe ("few"), from Old English fēawa, fēawe, fēa ("few"), from Proto-Germanic *fawaz (“few”), from Proto-Indo-European *ph₁w- (“few, small”). Cognate with Old Saxon fā ("few"), Old High German fao, fō ("few, little"), Old Norse fár ("few"), Gothic 𐍆𐌰𐍅𐌰𐌹 (fawai, "few"), Latin paucus ("little, few"). More at poor. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English fewe, from Old English fēawe. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“I wish I could place every one before my readers to receive the meed of praise she so richly deserves; only a few, _very few_, names now occur to me.”
“+Adversative+, meaning of (note) _A few, a little_, vs. _few_ and _little_”
“And even when these few were gathered together, and under the extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, many were added to them, and "the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul," they were still comparatively but a _few_.”
“-- A few, a very _few_ weeks, and I am gone from him forever.”
“It is true, there were a few scraps of putrid fish in the boat, and Tom had found a fishing-line under the bottom-boards forward, so that, having a line and the wherewithal to bait it, they might possibly succeed in catching a _few_ fish.”
“The Saxon _few_ may have caught enough from its French cousin _peu_ to claim the benefit of the same doubt as to sound; and our slang phrase _a few_ (as 'I licked him a few') may well appeal to _un peu_ for sense and authority.”
“In one part of Tartary, there is a chain of mountains, and there are a few towns, and trees, but _very few_.”
“Our sage critics are not aware how many and whom they include in the denunciation of 'a few men who _pretend_ to all the knowledge, all the wisdom of the country; 'if by a _few_ they mean all who have spoken in the most favorable terms of Mr. Schoolcraft's book.”
“A few, _very few_ more opportunities for prayer, and reconciliation with God, and your account is sealed up.”
“Estimated time to implement Power Point in your centre •few weeks to come up with all your templates • few months for all staff members to feel comfortable”
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