This is a Wednesday’s Wonderful Words post, in which I chose a word, well-know or otherwise, and discuss why I think it’s so wonderful.
/mʌl tɪˌtud/,ˌ/mʌl tɪtyud/
1. A great number; host: a multitude of friends.
2. A great number of people gathered together; crowd; throng.
3. The state or character of being many; numerousness.
4. The multitude, the common people; the masses.
1275–1325; Middle English from Latin multitūdō: “a great number, crowd”, from multus: “many, much” + suffix -tudo.
The beauty of this week’s winning wonderful word lies not in its meaning, nor in its etymology.
Of course, its origins are interesting: another remnant of the overly self conscious “age of reason” and its multitude of loanwords. An example of how language changes and develops over time and space.
Its definition is also interesting: a more intelligent-sounding way of saying a simple thing like many.
However, the beauty of multitude lies in the way it dances across its speaker’s mouth. From the lips to the alveolar ridge (the bump just behind your teeth) where it does a little tap dance while your tongue and cheeks and lips form the vowel sounds.
Only one consonant cluster, in which both sounds require the same manipulation of the mouth (/l/ and /t/) make it an easy, uncomplicated word to say. This, perhaps, explains why it lasted longer than a great many of the other loanwords or inkhorn terms which entered the language around the same time.
All in all; a fantastic word (if not for a multitude of reasons).