The Grammar Fuzz: A Myriad of Reasons to Hate “Myriad” Sep26

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The Grammar Fuzz: A Myriad of Reasons to Hate “Myriad”


A Proof of Nerd ID by Kasey Bomber

Today’s citation for gross grammar mindfuck.  The word “myriad.”

Essentially, in AP English as a senior in high school, my flagrantly pretentious poetry-loving teacher loved to pieces the word myriad.  On any given rainy day, when she was feeling like sowing her poetic grammar oats, she’d wax philosophically to our ennui-encased dead lustre-less eyes about this, her favorite word.  She drilled into us, each time as though it were the first, that the word was an adjective, a synonym to “many,” to be used as such: Mrs. Boringpants offered myriad discussions of poorly reasoned grammar.  And that under no circumstances was it a (gasp!) wretched, everyday, dime-a-dozen, bourgeois noun to be used as such:  I have devised a myriad of ways to fucking kill myself if anyone uses that word in my presence.

So, not only does this word for some reason sound less like “a vast array” and more like “the description of an eye booger”, but also it guarantees that anyone who uses it sounds like an utter dickhead.  Why use this word at all I ask?  If you use it as an adjective correctly, it is like saying, “ha ha, peasants, I know how to correctly use this word as a substitute for much better words!”  And if you use it incorrectly, it is like saying, “Hey I’m a fucknut.  I think I’m pretty fucking smart but I is really stoopid.”

I read the word in a book and I cringe.  Lord forbid some earnest heartfelt dope puts it in a song!

But it gets worse!  Because people are bound and determined to be pretentious, the legacy of the word “myriad” is ever-evolving.  Turns out that once upon a time it WAS a noun (take that Mrs. Boringpants!), but some hoity toity overly clever poet type decided they preferred the rarified air breathed by adjectives.  One such poet (please read that word as though you are spitting on your screen as it is intended to be pronounced) even wrote a poem called “Myriad Myriads of Lives.”  WHAT!?!?  Fuuuuuuck you, Coleridge.  Why are we listening to a man who spells “rhyme” like “rime” anyway?  I’ll bet he was one of those guys you always have in class who always has an answer to everything, really believes every word he says is gold rather than a stinking turd, and likes to tell you about all the Very Important Cinema he’s been brushing up on (but probably never actually watched).

But, anyway, turns out our old friend “myriad” is back with a vengeance.  What, you can’t use the word correctly and insist on using it as both a noun and an adjective?  Well, our good friends over at the Oxford English Dictionary are not above letting a bully steal their lunch money, so it’s totally cool, they’ll just change it to satisfy the lowest common denominator.  Hell, why not?   Maybe if people keep using heart incorrectly as a verb, they’ll just go ahead and change that, too.  After all, I’m pretty sure there’s some etymologist over there who just lives to screw with me.  Like did you know that the word Crapulous has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with feces?  Or that Cupidity isn’t actually a justified combination representing the inextractibility of the concept of love with the concept of stupidity?  Ha!  Unreal.  Point me to this guy, because do I ever have a hilarious joke for him in my right fist!

Anyway, see below for evidence that cockroaches, Scientologists and the word Myriad will be the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust.

Usage Note: Throughout most of its history in English myriad was used as a noun, as in a myriad of men. In the 19th century it began to be used in poetry as an adjective, as in myriad men. Both usages in English are acceptable, as in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Myriad myriads of lives.” This poetic, adjectival use became so well entrenched generally that many people came to consider it as the only correct use. In fact, both uses in English are parallel with those of the original ancient Greek. The Greek word m?rias, from which myriad derives, could be used as either a noun or an adjective, but the noun m?rias was used in general prose and in mathematics while the adjective m?rias was used only in poetry.