You all know I love Greek words, and plethora (with the syllable stress at the beginning: PLETHora) is one of my favourites.

I thought it might be useful to go through some options for saying ‘many‘ – but in more exciting ways. šŸ™‚

I’ll take you through some possibilities, and try to discuss the terms they collocate with, as well as the register where relevant.

First things first, let’s talk about the meaning of plethora. When I hear it used in meetings, it’s used as a synonym for ‘many, a large amount’, and that’s how I use it too. But it can actually mean an overabundance (i.e. too much of something) as well.

Options for ‘many, a large number’

Apart from plethora, you could use:

  • a host of (for example, a host of reasons)
  • a raft of (usually something like a raft of measures, proposals, ideas, although I have seen it in the singular as well, which sounds odd to me).
  • a range of (used for a set, or things of a similar nature, for example a range of facial expressions, a range of mortgages, a range of proposals, a range of resources, a range of options, a range of opinions). The word range is often used with ‘large’ or ‘wide’.
  • an array of (referring to things that are positioned in a certain way, or that generally elicit admiration: an array of food on the table, an array of cameras displayed in the shop). The word array is often used with ‘large’ or ‘wide’.
  • a wealth of. This could be positive or negative; you might have a wealth of complaints, a wealth of comments on social media. It’s also often used with singular nouns such as a wealth of experience, a wealth of knowledge, a wealth of potential.
  • a myriad of (originally, this meant 10,000, but the meaning has changed over the centuries, and now it just mean ‘a very large amount’).
  • in a relatively high register, you could use abundance, profusion, or multitude. These tend to mean a very large number of people or things (e.g. a multitude of questions, a multitude of problems, a profusion of books on this subject, a profusion of articles in the press).

In a completely different register, you could use ‘a ton’ to mean ‘a lot’. This is too informal for many meeting situations.

Options for ‘too many’

If you’re explicitly trying to say there is too much of something, try the following words:

  • an excess of
  • a surfeit of
  • a flood of
  • a deluge of

You could have a flood or deluge of something positive (e.g. a flood of compliments), but in the vast majority of cases, the implication is that it’s too many to deal with comfortably.

For example, ran an article titled “How a deluge of money nearly broke the Premier League: It’s the world’s most lucrative football league. But a civil war over all that money came close to toppling it.”

Legacy, heritage, inheritance

Let’s talk a little bit about money, assets, or other things that are passed on to individuals or through the generations.

First things first: an important principle to remember is that heritage is what comes to you, whereas a legacy is something that you pass on. This doe/hesn’t mean that you can never use legacy to refer to the recipient (see below for examples), but if the sentence doesn’t specify, you follow the principle I’ve just outlined.

It’s his legacy. [This means ‘what he is leaving behind.]

It’s his heritage. [This means what is being passed down to him.]


Legacy has three main meanings:

A bequest or gift

A legacy is money or property that someone leaves you when they die:

Her uncle left her a small legacy.

He used his grandfather’s legacy to buy his first house.

You get or receive a legacy FROM someone; for obvious reasons, relatives often appear in sentences with the word legacy (aunts, uncles, parents, godparents, etc.).

From the point of view of person passing on their assets, we say that they leave a legacy to someone, or (more formally) they bequeath it.

Something that is left behind from the past

In this sense, legacy is used to refer to more abstract things that are left behind by events or people’s actions, in which case the meaning is usually negative; or to refer to a person’s contribution to the world, in which case the meaning is usually positive.

The civil war has left a bitter legacy of hatred.

The legacy is the low interest, consumerist era is a mountain of consumer debt.

This extraordinary novel is his legacy.

The legacy of these Olympic Games is a greater culture of diversity.

From the Press:

Costa winner Hannah Lowe on theĀ legacyĀ of lockdown: my students write about feeling isolated and missing out.

Germany agonises over Merkel’sĀ legacy: did she hand too much power to Putin?

London’s Olympic legacy three years on: is the city really getting what it needed?

Upon my death, delete: how to plan your digitalĀ legacy

An outdated version of a product

This third meaning is particularly common in IT, where older versions of software, for example, are called ‘legacy products’. They’re no longer to buy, or no longer available to new customers, but are still used by some people who prefer them to the newer version.

For example, the graphics software I use to create logos gives me the option to stick to the legacy version when I create a new design, or to use the new version.

Legacy is also used to described relatives of alumni of certain universities in the US:

“Many US colleges admit ā€œlegaciesā€, or students with a family connection to the university, at dramatically higher rates than other applicants.”


As I mentioned above, the focus of the word heritage is on what comes to you from the past. It often refers to features that are part of the culture of a society, such as language, buildings, traditions, or skills with historical importance.

Based on this definition, the adjectives that go well with heritage refer either to the type of features that are passed on, or to the culture from which they’re inherited:

  • genetic heritage
  • scientific heritage
  • ethnic heritage
  • intellectual heritage
  • natural heritage
  • cultural heritage
  • a region’s heritage
  • a town’s heritage
  • a country’s heritage (there’s actually an organisation in the UK called English Heritage, which looks after historic buildings)
  • national heritage
  • the world’s heritage (think of UNESCO World Heritage Sites)

A useful verb to go with heritage is to preserve.

Examples from the Press:

We trash our modernistĀ heritageĀ on a whim: why is Britain so in thrall to the wrecking ball?

Guernsey language leader vows to promote “proud heritage“.

Restoring England’s Heritage: a look at England’s endangered historic buildings.


Now it gets a little tricky!

Inheritance overlaps with both legacy and heritage.

  1. Inheritance can mean the particular characteristics that you receive from your parents, i.e. ‘heritage’: genetic inheritance.
  2. It can also mean money or objects that you receive from someone when they die, i.e. ‘legacy’:

He spent his inheritance on fast cars.

A large inheritance from her aunt meant she was able to buy her first house at the age of 25.

I’ve tried to tease out the difference between inheritance and legacy, and it seems to me that we use the word legacy for gifts of money etc. when somebody wouldn’t normally be expected to inherit (under UK law). For example, if my aunt or my godmother left me some money in her Will, that would be called a legacy. If my parents left me all their money, on the other hand, I would probably call that my inheritance.