Plethora

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. 🙂

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, theguardian.com 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.”

Gap filling exercise (Ukraine)- Part 1

This is (sadly) the second gap filling exercise about Ukraine. You can find the first one here, and this exercise is in two parts.

The exercise is based on an article in The Guardian (theguardian.com), with minor adaptations.

Your task is to find suitable words or expressions to fill in the gaps, taking into account syntax as well as register, and bringing to bear your background knowledge.

I have given some suggestions following the exercise.

Exercise

  • There is still the possibility of a diplomatic __________ that would bring an early end to this dreadful war and Russian military withdrawal while __________ the vital interests of Ukraine. Indeed, if the Russians are ever to withdraw, a diplomatic agreement on the terms of withdrawal will be necessary.
  • The West should __________ a peace agreement and Russian withdrawal by offering Russia the lifting of all new sanctions imposed on it. The offer to Ukraine should be a __________ reconstruction package that will also help Ukraine to move towards the West economically and politically rather than militarily – just as Finland and Austria were able to do during the Cold War despite their neutral status.
  • The demands by the Russian side are that Ukraine should sign a treaty of neutrality; engage in “demilitarisation” and “denazification”; and recognise Russian sovereignty over Crimea, which was _______________ by Russia after the Ukrainian Revolution. These demands are a __________ of the acceptable, the unacceptable, and the undefined.
  • The option of neutrality for Ukraine has often been called “Finlandisation”, and perhaps the ________________ Ukrainian response to Russian aggression over the past week has given a new meaning to that term in the case of Ukraine. For like the Finns in the “winter war” of 1939-40, the Ukrainians have also been abandoned militarily by the West, which has declared publicly and repeatedly that it ________________ defend them.
  • On the other hand, it seems that the extraordinary courage and resolution with which the Finns fought convinced Stalin that to rule Finland would be too much of a challenge. Finland became the only part of the former Russian Empire not to be incorporated in the USSR, and during the cold war, though neutral by treaty, was able to develop as a successful social market democracy. Similarly, we must hope that the courage and determination of the Ukrainians has convinced Putin that it will be impossible to run Ukraine as a Russian _________________, and neutrality is the best deal he is going to get.

Suggestions

  • There is still the possibility of a diplomatic settlement that would bring an early end to this dreadful war and Russian military withdrawal while safeguarding the vital interests of Ukraine. Indeed, if the Russians are ever to withdraw, a diplomatic agreement on the terms of withdrawal will be necessary. [Instead of ‘settlement’, you could say agreement or resolution; and you could substitute ‘safeguarding’ with protecting or securing. Looking after would also work, but is more informal.]
  • The West should back a peace agreement and Russian withdrawal by offering Russia the lifting of all new sanctions imposed on it. The offer to Ukraine should be a massive reconstruction package that will also help Ukraine to move towards the West economically and politically rather than militarily – just as Finland and Austria were able to do during the Cold War despite their neutral status. [The obvious alternative to ‘back’ is support; or you could try advocate for or encourage. Instead of a ‘massive’ reconstruction package, you could say generous, substantial or sizeable. There are many other synonyms for ‘massive’, such as huge, immense, gigantic, gargantuan, etc. but they don’t fit so well here.]
  • The demands by the Russian side are that Ukraine should sign a treaty of neutrality; engage in “demilitarisation” and “denazification”; and recognise Russian sovereignty over Crimea, which was seized back by Russia after the Ukrainian Revolution. These demands are a mixed bag of the acceptable, the unacceptable, and the undefined. [For ‘seized back’, you could say retaken or perhaps reappropriated. And a ‘mixed bag’ could simply be rendered as a mixture.]
  • The option of neutrality for Ukraine has often been called “Finlandisation”, and perhaps the determined and unified Ukrainian response to Russian aggression over the past week has given a new meaning to that term in the case of Ukraine. For like the Finns in the “winter war” of 1939-40, the Ukrainians have also been abandoned militarily by the West, which has declared publicly and repeatedly that it has no intention of fighting to defend them. [You could imagine all sorts of alternatives to ‘determined and unified’, depending on your view of the Ukrainian response. Resolute, tenacious, robust, dogged and resolved are possibilities. Or you could go in a different direction with impressive, surprising, astonishing, remarkable, extraordinary or inspiring. As for ‘has no intention of fighting to defend them’, you could say it won’t send troops to defend them, it won’t put troops on the ground to defend them, it won’t defend them, it won’t step up and defend them, etc.]
  • On the other hand, it seems that the extraordinary courage and resolution with which the Finns fought convinced Stalin that to rule Finland would be too much of a challenge. Finland became the only part of the former Russian Empire not to be incorporated in the USSR, and during the cold war, though neutral by treaty, was able to develop as a successful social market democracy. Similarly, we must hope that the courage and determination of the Ukrainians has convinced Putin that it will be impossible to run Ukraine as a Russian client state, and neutrality is the best deal he is going to get. [Not many other options here, except satellite state or dependency.]