Roo (ish_eshkolot) wrote in linguaphiles,

just curious

A friend and I have been discussing "several" for a little while now and seem to be rather stuck. So I thought perhaps some of you might have some input.

It started because I used the word meaning a group of roughly four or five people, which prompted him to argue that he thought it refered to a group of two or perhaps three. A simple check of the dictionary solved that one, but then we started discussing the etymology of the word.

It seems the word comes from a Latin word meaning something separate/to separate. (He thinks it also at one point refered to a specific place off by itself... so one could "go to the several" if they were so inclined.) You can find current definitions of "several" as "single" or "separate". He, and to a lesser degree myself, are still curious how it morphed into "a group of things more than two but less than many". Other than "it refers to a separate group of things" can anyone think of the connection from root to current usage?

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