9

Can the word crowd refer to just 10 people?

I am seriously wondering what "a large number of person" mean exactly? Is 10 large enough, is 100 large enough? How many people do you need to have a crowd?

The definition states:

A large number of persons gathered together; a throng.

But large number is a bit too vague for me so I was wondering if there's a sort of number I can refer to.

41

A crowd is really defined as "a lot of people for the circumstance", not any particular number.

The OED says the noun comes from the verb, which has a sense of press, push, or hurry. So to be a crowd there has to be enough people they feel pushed together, either literally or figuratively.

Ten people in a small room is a crowd. Ten people in a large car park is not a crowd.

There's an expression "Two's company, three's a crowd", which means if two people want to be alone, three people feels very crowded.

Indeed, if just one other person stands too close, it would be usual to say "Don't crowd me!"

There are many derived meanings, including

  • the audience of a sporting, musical, political etc event ("the crowd was hardly worth the name, only 10 people")
  • the shoppers of a busy commercial street ("Fight the crowds on Oxford Street")
  • "the people" or "society": ("He didn't have his own opinion, he just went with the crowd")
  • group of associated people, OED: "noun. orig. U.S. A company; ‘set’, ‘lot’. colloquial." ("She went to see the chess playing crowd", which doesn't even necessitate that all those people are ever together.
  • 5
    I agree with almost all of this answer, but ten people in a football stadium would probably be called "the crowd." In the context of sports, crowd usually means (at least in my dialect of American English) the people assembled to watch the match. – Juhasz May 16 at 21:10
  • 2
    @Juhasz I think we'd say the stands were empty! But yes certainly, "the crowd" also has the sense of "the audience" for football, political meeting etc. So I've edited it to "in a car park". – jonathanjo May 16 at 21:13
  • 1
    Ten people in a football stadium is only a "crowd" in the sense that that's what the audience is called there. But it would be an exceedingly sparse crowd. Not even a trickle. – Robusto May 16 at 21:29
  • 1
    ... added a few other meanings just for completeness, including "audience" and "group". – jonathanjo May 16 at 21:37
  • 2
    @Juhasz That is confusing the two different senses of the word. It would be a crowd in the sense of an audience, but not a crowd in the sense of a description. If you really want to use both senses in the same sentence, you could say that it was not a crowded crowd. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 16 at 22:13
2

There is no strict cut-off point. In most cases, ten people is not really a crowd. But 100 people usually is.

The conceptual difference is when you stop noticing the individuals and only see the group. But this is not a rule of English. If you consider other languages that you know, you will notice that words like "crowd" are not (usually) defined exactly as a particular number

  • 5
    100 people is not a crowd in a sports arena. Everything is relative. – Robusto May 16 at 21:25
  • 4
    I think you are being too absolute. 100 people in a stadium may not be "crowded" but is may be a crowd, especially if they are all standing together. – James K May 16 at 22:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.