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WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
few /fyu/USA pronunciation
adj., -er, -est,n., pron.
adj. [before a plural noun]
not many but more than one;
hardly any:Few artists live luxuriously.
[a + ~] some; several:A few artists did manage to live luxuriously.
used with a plural verb]
[a + ~] a small number or amount:Did everyone go home? No, a few were still waiting.
the few, a special, limited number; the minority:a concert that appeals to the few.
a small number of persons or things:Many are called, but few are chosen.
When few is used with a noun, the noun is plural:few speakers; a few speakers;
- Idiomsfew and far between, placed at widely separated intervals; not frequent or plentiful:Chances like this are few and far between.
- Idiomsquite a few, [before a plural noun] a fairly large number of;
many:He had quite a few girlfriends.
quite a few speakers.Note also the slight difference in meaning between few and a few. When few is used without a the meaning is "a small amount of;
not as many as expected'':Few learners can hope to speak Chinese perfectly.When a few is used, the meaning is more positive: "some, but not many'':A few learners can hope to speak Chinese perfectly.See little. In many grammar books, fewer and less are opposed. fewer should be used with plural count nouns:fewer books,while less is only to be used with noncount nouns:less money.In informal style, many speakers use less before plural nouns:less books,but never use fewer before noncount nouns; no one would say:fewer money.
Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
few /fjuː/ determiner
- a small number of; hardly any: few men are so cruel
- (as pronoun; functioning as plural): many are called but few are chosen
- (preceded by a) a small number of: a few drinks
- (as pronoun; functioning as plural): a few of you
- a good few ⇒ informal several
- few and far between ⇒ at great intervals; widely spaced
- not abundant; scarce
- not a few, quite a few ⇒ informal several
Etymology: Old English fēawa; related to Old High German fao little, Old Norse fār little, silentˈfewness n USAGE
- the few ⇒ a small number of people considered as a class: the few who fell at Thermopylae
'fewer less' also found in these entries: