A few roses.
- The definition of few is a small number of something.
An example of few is three long stemmed roses.
- Few is defined as not many.
An example of few is when only a couple of people went to the party, few went to the party.
Origin of fewMiddle English fewe ; from Old English feawe, feawa, plural , akin to Old Frisian f?, Gothic fawai, plural ; from Indo-European base an unverified form p?u-, small, little from source Classical Latin paucus, Classical Greek pauros, little
few and far between
- Amounting to or consisting of a small number: one of my few bad habits. See Usage Note at less.
- Being more than one but indefinitely small in number: bowled a few strings.
noun(used with a pl. verb)
- An indefinitely small number of persons or things: A few of the books have torn jackets.
- An exclusive or limited number: the discerning few; the fortunate few.
pron.(used with a pl. verb)
Origin of fewMiddle English fewe, from Old English f&emacron;awe; see pau-1 in Indo-European roots.
(comparative fewer, superlative fewest)
- (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.]
- (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.
- (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.
- (meteorology, of rainfall with regard to a location) (US?) Having a 10 percent chance of measurable precipitation (0.01 inch); used interchangeably with isolated.
- Few is used with plural nouns only; its synonymous counterpart little is used with uncountable nouns.
- Although indefinite in nature, a few is usually more than two (two often being referred to as "a couple of"), and less than "several". If the sample population is say between 5 and 20, a few would mean three or four, but no more than this. However, if the population sample size were in the millions, "a few" could refer to several hundred items. In other words, few in this context means a very very small percentage but way over the 3 or 4 usually ascribed to it its use with much much smaller numbers.
- 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.
- He didn't lift a finger to help us.
- *He lifted a finger to help us. (ungrammatical)
- Few people lifted a finger to help us.
- *A few people lifted a finger to help us. (ungrammatical)
- *Fewer people lifted a finger to help us. (ungrammatical)
- a few
- quite a few
- Few people, few things.
- Many are called, but few are chosen.
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 (fawai, “few”), Latin paucus (“little, few”). More at poor.
- (UK) The pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain
From a speech by Winston Churchill that included the phrase "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."