follow Dictionary.com

Submit your word to be a Word of the Day!

few

[fyoo] /fyu/
adjective, fewer, fewest.
1.
not many but more than one:
Few artists live luxuriously.
noun
2.
(used with a plural verb) a small number or amount:
Send me a few.
3.
the few, a special, limited number; the minority:
That music appeals to the few.
pronoun
4.
(used with a plural verb) a small number of persons or things:
A dozen people volunteered, but few have shown up.
Idioms
5.
few and far between, at widely separated intervals; infrequent:
In Nevada the towns are few and far between.
6.
quite a few, a fairly large number; many:
There were quite a few interesting things to do.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English fewe, Old English fēawe; cognate with Gothic fawai; akin to Latin paucus few, paulus little, pauper poor, Greek paûros little, few
Related forms
overfew, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for few
  • In-flight brought some pleasant surprises and also a few more kinks.
  • But the process of building the new garden turned into an adventure with a few unforeseen twists.
  • If rain doesn't do the job for you, moisten the bed thoroughly a few days before you intend to plant.
  • As the last few years demonstrate, financial innovations can be used as tools of economic destruction.
  • But in the past few years the web has hastened the decline.
  • Profit would come from selling a lot of them cheaply, not servicing a few at a great price.
  • We are currently updating the site and should be back within a few hours.
  • The past few weeks, however, have been one of those rare phases.
  • few people register because the legal period for doing so is short and comes many months before elections.
  • The few existing dirt roads between settlements are littered with potholes, some so big that cars disappear into them.
British Dictionary definitions for few

few

/fjuː/
determiner
1.
  1. a small number of; hardly any: few men are so cruel
  2. (as pronoun; functioning as plural): many are called but few are chosen
2.
(preceded by a)
  1. a small number of: a few drinks
  2. (as pronoun; functioning as plural): a few of you
3.
(informal) a good few, several
4.
few and far between
  1. at great intervals; widely spaced
  2. not abundant; scarce
5.
have a few, have a few too many, to consume several (or too many) alcoholic drinks
6.
(informal) not a few, quite a few, several
noun
7.
the few, a small number of people considered as a class: the few who fell at Thermopylae Compare many (sense 4)
Derived Forms
fewness, noun
Word Origin
Old English fēawa; related to Old High German fao little, Old Norse fār little, silent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for few
adj.

Old English feawe (plural; contracted to fea) "few, seldom, even a little," from Proto-Germanic *faw-, from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little" (cf. Latin paucus "few, little," paullus "little," parvus "little, small," pauper "poor;" Greek pauros "few, little," pais (genitive paidos) "child;" Latin puer "child, boy," pullus "young animal;" Oscan puklu "child;" Sanskrit potah "a young animal," putrah "son;" Old English fola "young horse;" Old Norse fylja "young female horse;" Old Church Slavonic puta "bird;" Lithuanian putytis "young animal, young bird"). Always plural in Old English.

Phrase few and far between attested from 1660s. Unusual ironic use in quite a few "many" (1883), earlier a good few (1828). The noun is late 12c., fewe, from the adjective.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. [Winston Churchill, 1940]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with few
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for few

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for few

9
9
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with few

Nearby words for few