adjective, few·er, few·est.
- not many but more than one: Few artists live luxuriously.
- (used with a plural verb) a small number or amount: Send me a few.
- the few, a special, limited number; the minority: That music appeals to the few.
- (used with a plural verb) a small number of persons or things: A dozen people volunteered, but few have shown up.
- few and far between, at widely separated intervals; infrequent: In Nevada the towns are few and far between.
- quite a few, a fairly large number; many: There were quite a few interesting things to do.
- a small number of; hardly anyfew men are so cruel
- (as pronoun; functioning as plural)many are called but few are chosen
- (preceded by a)
- a small number ofa few drinks
- (as pronoun; functioning as plural)a few of you
- a good few informal several
- few and far between
- at great intervals; widely spaced
- not abundant; scarce
- have a few or have a few too many to consume several (or too many) alcoholic drinks
- not a few or quite a few informal several
- the few a small number of people considered as a classthe few who fell at Thermopylae Compare many (def. 4)
Old English feawe (plural; contracted to fea) “few, seldom, even a little,” from Proto-Germanic *faw-, from PIE root *pau- (1) “few, little” (cf. Latin paucus “few, little,” paullus “little,” parvus “little, small,” pauper “poor;” Greek pauros “few, little,” pais (genitive paidos) “child;” Latin puer “child, boy,” pullus “young animal;” Oscan puklu “child;” Sanskrit potah “a young animal,” putrah “son;” Old English fola “young horse;” Old Norse fylja “young female horse;” Old Church Slavonic puta “bird;” Lithuanian putytis “young animal, young bird”). Always plural in Old English.
Phrase few and far between attested from 1660s. Unusual ironic use in quite a few “many” (1883), earlier a good few (1828). The noun is late 12c., fewe, from the adjective.
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. [Winston Churchill, 1940]
In addition to the idioms beginning with few
- few and far between
- few bricks shy of a load
- few words
- a few
- bricks shy of a load, (a few)
- of few words
- precious few
- quite a bit (few)