Expressions with Number Variation

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Sep 14 01:38:19 UTC 2012

Another one is those flowers of freedom that occasionally try blooming in China. I understand that the original dictum was "Let a hundred flowers bloom", but I've usually heard it as "…a thousand…"


On Sep 13, 2012, at 8:50 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Expressions with Number Variation
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> In connection with the discovery that the original formulation of "the whole nine yards" may well have been "the whole six yards," Dave Wilton has pointed out that "there are many examples of phrases with numbers that went through multiple versions with different numerical values before settling on the one that became canonical (e.g., 'cloud nine')."  Can Dave or anyone else give me other examples of this kind of number variation?
>> Fred Shapiro
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> Parent-talk:
> "If I've told you once, I've told you a dozen / a hundred / a thousand
> times: …!"
> Parenting gets more difficult over time, I reckon.
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
> to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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