Vocab Lab: Myriad

“There are a myriad of options!” the travel agent exclaimed, showing a handful of flyers. What’s that word in the middle? “Myriad” isn’t the most common of words, but it is sometimes used in English writing to add spice and variety.

History & Definition

The word “myriad” as used today comes from the ancient greek word “myrias” (μυριάς). In greek, it meant a unit of 10,000 items, but in modern times it usually means just so many items that they’re nearly uncountable.

Usage

“Myriad” can be an adjective or a noun, depending on how it is used in the context of the sentence.

Myriad shimmering stars hung in the sky.
There were a myriad of people clogging the streets as she fought to get through
.

The first sentence above uses the word as an adjective, modifying stars to express how innumerable they are. Notice that the verb matches the number of the noun, stars, in plural form.

The second sentence uses “myriad” as a noun (“of people” describes the myriad). In this case also the verb is in the plural form. Either usage is fine, as long as the other parts of the sentence match.

Also, the word “myriad” can imply a huge number of similar items (like the stars would appear) or a wide variety of types (as people could be). The implication is not clear from the word alone, so you have to rely on the context knowing that either meaning is possible.

Practice Time!

Rewrite the following sentences to include the word “myriad”. Depending on your choice to use it as an adjective or a noun, you may need to adjust surrounding words. For more practice, write it both ways! Check your answers at the end of the page.

  1. There were a million grains of sand on the beach.
  2. There must be 50 ways to get lost in this city.
  3. All roads lead to Rome.
  4. Learning to write natively takes countless tries.
  5. I saw unbelievably many colorful birds on my jungle excursion.

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Answers:

  1. There were myriad grains of sand on the beach.
    There were a myriad of grains of sand on the beach.
  2. There must be myriad ways to get lost in this city.
    There must be a myriad of ways to get lost in this city.
  3. Myriad roads lead to Rome.
    A myriad of roads lead to Rome.
  4. Learning to write natively takes myriad tries.
    Learning to write natively takes a myriad of tries.
  5. I saw myriad colorful birds on my jungle excursion.
    I saw a myriad of colorful birds on my jungle excursion.

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