Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
May 21st, 2015
Episode 202 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 21, 2015 is: umpteen \UMP-teen\ adjective : very many : indefinitely numerous Examples: By midmorning, Ellie had already phoned her sister umpteen times. "It's the home chore that everybody hates most. I see that on the TV how-to shows, read it on umpteen do-it-yourself sites. Nobody likes removing wallpaper." Allen Norwood, Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, January 22, 2015 Did you know? "I'll go to bed and I'll not get up for umpty-eleven months." You know the feeling. The speaker here is war-weary Bill, a character in Patrick MacGill's early 20th-century novel The Great Push. His umpty originated as military slang around 1905 and stood for an indefinite number, generally largish. (It was probably created by analogy to actual numbers such as twenty.) Soon, there followed umpteen, blending umpty and -teen. Umpteen usually describes an indefinite and large number or amount, while the related umpteenth is used for the latest or last in an indefinitely numerous series. We only occasionally use umpty these days (and even more rarely umptieth), but you're bound to hear or read umpteen and umpteenth any number of times.