Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “umpteen politicians.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "The politicians were umpteen.”
That second way is rare for this word.)
"Umpteen" is an informal way to say "a whole lot." (Notice how it looks like "thirteen" through "nineteen.")
How to use it:
When you say "umpteen" instead of "a bunch," "a whole lot," "many," "hundreds," or "like a zillion," you're being informal, and you're usually expressing frustration.
Talk about having to do something umpteen times: "I told you umpteen times already, you can't put this in the dishwasher!"
You can place "umpteen" before any noun to emphasize that there are a lot of that noun: "Umpteen studies have already debunked that idea, and still people insist on believing it." "There are umpteen people lined up and ready to take over your job for you, you know."
"Umpteenth" is also a useful adjective: "That's the umpteenth excuse I've heard today." (Just in case the usage isn't clear to you, "umpteen" is to "umpteenth" as "twenty" is to "twentieth:" for example, you have umpteen chores to do, or twenty chores, and this is the umpteenth chore, or the twentieth chore.)
If you run a business with a web presence, as my sister and I each do, then you've probably dealt with umpteen scammers posing as potential clients.
When I have an unpleasant task on my to-do list, suddenly umpteen other things seem more important to get done.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "umpteen” means when you can explain it without saying “heaps” or “a whole slew of."
Think of something that has annoyed you or frustrated you over and over, and fill in the blank: "Why are there umpteen _____?!"
Example: "Why are there umpteen songs on the radio about dancing in the club? Isn't there a limitless supply of other life experiences worth writing songs about?"
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for May is: “What Do These Words Have in Common?”
The three words given will have something specific in common. (More than one right answer might be possible, but I've only got one particular answer in mind for each set of words.) I've arranged the questions from easiest to hardest, so today’s should be pretty easy. By the end of the month, expect some whoppers.
What do these words have in common?: flock, murder, mischief.
Answer: All are words for groups of animals: a flock of birds, goats, or sheep; a murder of crows; a mischief of mice.
Try this one today: twin, twelve, between.
A Point Well Made:
Mary Oliver: “The end of life has its own nature, also worth our attention. I don't say this without reckoning in the sorrow, the worry, the many diminishments. But surely it is then that a person's character shines or glooms.”
1. The opposite of UMPTEEN is
2. He has umpteen publications on his curriculum vitae, _____.
A. which is why we seriously doubt his ability to meet a writing deadline
B. just further evidence of his authority in his particular field
C. making us wonder why he even bothered with such disreputable journals
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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