1

This line from an online article strikes me as strange for its use of the phrase much of.

Owens was known for being a malcontent during his NFL career, which is much of the stated reason why Hall of Fame voters made him wait for his induction into Canton.

I thought much of is only used in negative sentences. The ODO's definition says:

[as pronoun, with negative] Used to refer disparagingly to someone or something as being a poor specimen.

Merriam Webster has a page on not much of a, and so do other dictionaries. I am quite familiar with the usage listed in the dictionaries. But the online article sentence reads jarring. Is it a correct usage?

2

It's closer to the first definition, "a large amount".

Owens was known for being a malcontent during his NFL career, which is a large amount of the stated reason why Hall of Fame voters made him wait for his induction into Canton.

You can also think of it like this. There exists at least one other part of the reasoning, X. X is some of the reason, but Y is much of the reason. In other words, X was part of the reason why Hall of Fame voters made Owens wait, but Y (= known for being a malcontent during his NFL career) was a large part of it.

  • Thank you. Two follow-ups: 1. Am I correct in thinking that with the of removed, much the stated reason would indicate a larger amount than much of the stated reason, similar to pretty much the stated reason? 2. The meaning actually wasn't difficult to grasp. I was wondering if this is a common and idiomatic usage. Could you list some other examples of this usage? – Eddie Kal Aug 19 '18 at 0:35
  • @L.Moneta Much the stated reason is ungrammatical. You need the preposition in that phrase. Also, removing of wouldn't change "the amount." Another example of much is Shakespeare's famous play Much Ado About Nothing. It essentially means "a whole lot over nothing." Much in these uses means a lot or most. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 19 '18 at 0:46
  • @L.Moneta 1. I am hesitant to say that it does indicate a larger amount. They seem comparable in "largeness" to me. I prefer much of here. Much (no of) sounds unidiomatic to me, possibly literary in style. 2. Sorry, I lost sight of that part when I was answering. Yes, it's common and idiomatic. I respectfully decline to provide more examples. Try checking a few dictionaries. Actually, I looked at the entry in the ODO and it has several examples. – Em. Aug 19 '18 at 0:58

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