adjective, few·er, few·est.

  1. not many but more than one: Few artists live luxuriously.


  1. (used with a plural verb) a small number or amount: Send me a few.
  2. the few, a special, limited number; the minority: That music appeals to the few.


  1. (used with a plural verb) a small number of persons or things: A dozen people volunteered, but few have shown up.
  1. few and far between, at widely separated intervals; infrequent: In Nevada the towns are few and far between.
  2. quite a few, a fairly large number; many: There were quite a few interesting things to do.


    1. a small number of; hardly anyfew men are so cruel
    2. (as pronoun; functioning as plural)many are called but few are chosen
  1. (preceded by a)
    1. a small number ofa few drinks
    2. (as pronoun; functioning as plural)a few of you
  2. a good few informal several
  3. few and far between
    1. at great intervals; widely spaced
    2. not abundant; scarce
  4. have a few or have a few too many to consume several (or too many) alcoholic drinks
  5. not a few or quite a few informal several


  1. 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

also see:

  • a few
  • bricks shy of a load, (a few)
  • of few words
  • precious few
  • quite a bit (few)

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