My question concerns proper use of the word numerous and of the word innumerable.

I am in a problem which is rare: which one to choose even if I consult thesaurus. This is what I have learned so far:

  • As regards parts of speech of the words, numerous is adjective and innumerable is also adjective.

Here is the situation: Too many and numberless checks of a bank contain a schedule, which shows total number of checks.

If I had 10000 checks, would that be many or too many checks? (In the context, the total number of checks vary; sometimes the check numbers range from AS MANY AS 6 or 7 to 22000 thousands.

This has been quite a number of years, I can't remember exactly the total number of checks.

In this context, I think I cannot make distinction between "many" and ""too many" in any other way (is this hyperbole?). The day's work must be completed on the same day, this is the office rule. I can not evade responsibility even if the number of checks is double next day. Whatever be the number of checks, I must obediently obey the order, because if the check numbers are double or triple than the previous day and the order comes very higher authority from H/o or z/o.

This is reply of the office of grievance, if any, about questions regarding many and too many.

In other informal cases The dictionary meanings are:

numerous (adj) many; consisting of many members; existing in large numbers

innumerable (adj) too many to be counted; very many; numberless

Is the distinction between formal and informal?

Here in this official case of mine, innumerable (meaning very many, numberless) checks to be counted. Obviously, in this particular case hyperbole exists.

Is "to be counted" an idiom or phrase which has a special meaning in the context of dictionary meaning?


1 Answer 1


In brief, use "numerous" for "many", and "innumerable" for "too many".

Numerous means there are many:

I own numerous pairs of socks

Innumerable means "so many that they can't be counted". "Innumerable" is used for larger numbers than "numerous"

There are so many beetles in the world that they are innumerable.

This second word is often used for hyperbole, so I might say

I own innumerable pairs of socks.

and it is a kind of joke. It means I own lots of socks, or I own too many socks.

For many situations, you can replace innumerable with numerous and the sentence is still correct, and the meaning is similar.

For the question of the checks. I don't really understand the situation. But you should decide if 10000 checks is "many checks" or "too many checks". But probably both "numerous" and "innumerable" are acceptable, if you allow for some hyperbole in the use of "innumerable".

  • You are correct. But a Bank will not listen too many checks that can't be counted.Once we were going to reserve bank ,the check boxed overturned and all the checks scattered in the car,w e had to arrange all the checks in order and deposit the checks to reserve bank in o.k condition. there were about 10000 checks in the boxes we were going to reserve bank from a clearing branch office.we had to do our own work at Reserve bank of India. We were not carrying machines.where the checks must be counted and tallied. Here I think I can use numerous or innumerable.
    – user81162
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 5:58
  • If that is additional context, please add it to the question. Was 10000 "many" cheques, or "too many" cheques?
    – James K
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 6:15
  • 1
    10,000 cheques sounds like an innumerable number to count by hand, unless you have a decent sized team.
    – Smock
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 8:43
  • @smock-WE two were going to state bank of India,service branch Kolkata TO deposit clearing checks. We were TWO in numbers (me, a special assistant, plus one subordinate staff). However, we completed the job.
    – user81162
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 12:56
  • 1
    The point here is that none of this discussion about checks is relevent. The number of people in the car, the name of the sub-manager or the dampness of the sponge doesn't change anything about the answer. Numerous means many. Inummerable means too many.
    – James K
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 18:56

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