15

President can overcome the heating-oil shortage that has already killed scores of Russians.

I googled this words, seaches related "Customizable soccer livescore: Russian Premier league" are popping for me. what exactly scores of Russians means ?

  • 2
    Other words with indirect numeric meanings would be dozen (12) and half-dozen (6) or gross (144). Tun/tonne for 100 would be an antipodian word in the same vein. So one could say "dozens of Russians" with similar meaning. – Criggie Jun 4 '17 at 21:21
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    In the UK it would be Ton for 100 (@Criggie, and I'm surprised by Tun). – Chris H Jun 5 '17 at 8:02
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    @ChrisH Perhaps its an accent thing - I've not seen it written down. "Doing a tun down the road" would mean reaching 100 miles or kilometres per hour, and "a tun" would be synonymous with "a hundy" meaning $100 – Criggie Jun 5 '17 at 11:05
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    Related at EL&U: “Scores” = high amount? – choster Jun 5 '17 at 15:05
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    @criggie "Tun" is an archaic unit of measurement for liquid (often beer), roughly 240 gallons, and can also refer to a large container. In the context of speed "ton" is slang for 100 mph. – Nathan Griffiths Jun 6 '17 at 3:35
46

A score means 20 of something.

The phrase “scores of something” can be used in the same way we might say “dozens of something” or “hundreds of something.”

For example, I might say, “There were scores of cars in the parking lot.”

The phrase isn’t used all that often, I don’t think. It’s generally used to give the reader or listener a rough idea of a number. I’d expect scores of to mean at least 60, but probably not more than 200 – but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

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    It may be more common in the north of the UK than the south. The south (and the USA as a whole) seems to prefer words with a Latin origin, to the alternatives with German/Norse origin. "Score" comes from Norse - the original meaning was a scratch or mark made to record every twentieth item when counting a group of things. "Three score years and ten" is the traditional (and Biblical) expression for the life expectancy of humans - i.e. 70 years. – alephzero Jun 4 '17 at 14:31
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    @alephzero: Make that the south of the UK. Americans know what score means because they learn it from the opening of Lincoln's Gettysburg address: "Four score and seven years ago" = 87 years ago. I first encountered this meaning of the word "score" in American literature (Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling) and since then have seen it mostly in American fiction. – slebetman Jun 4 '17 at 19:48
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    @alephzero I'm from/mostly in southern England and score for 20 is fairly common though more understood than used. It's particularly useful in newspaper headlines, sounding more impressive than tens or dozens but not as many as hundreds for an indiefinite number – Chris H Jun 5 '17 at 8:05
  • Ngram link. "Dozens" overtook "scores" in the 80's, but they maintain similar popularity. – Carl Kevinson Jun 5 '17 at 15:50
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    @CarlK - That's a very misleading Ngram, and an excellent example of how we need to be careful when interpreting what an Ngram reveals. If you look at the actual hits, you'll see that most of them are NOT using the word scores in this sense at all. Instead, those results are dominated by technical reports that mention test scores (e.g., "raw scores of a sample group of students [are] converted into a standardized score," "overall mean scores of around 50% are desirable," etc.) – J.R. Jun 5 '17 at 17:03
7

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1863) starts with “Four score and seven years ago.” A score is equal to 20, so he was referencing 87 years ago — 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. I would say multiples of 20s of people.

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    A score of years is 20 years. Parse "four score and seven" as a whole phrase, meaning 87, rather than parsing this as the conjunction of "four score" with "seven years". – Hurkyl Jun 4 '17 at 16:58
  • Not “multiples" in the strict mathematical sense. That would imply you could use score for 60 casualties or 80 casualties, but not 77 casualties. That’s not really the case. – J.R. Jun 4 '17 at 20:02
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    @J.R. plural forms are often used for estimates which relax the requirements for mathematical precision, so 77 casualties would fit with "scores of casualties" in the same way that 345 casualties would fit with "hundreds of casualties", while 3 score would be 60 in the same way 3 hundred is 300. – Morgen Jun 4 '17 at 20:32
  • +1 for supplying the most relevant common knowledge relating to this phrase, at least in the US: the Gettysburg Address. Could you add a link to more information, maybe here? – Ben Kovitz Jun 4 '17 at 20:55
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    @Morgen - Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. (The O.P. said in this answer, "I would say multiples of 20s of people.” I was trying to clarify what “multiples” might mean.) – J.R. Jun 4 '17 at 21:02

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