I just read a sentence in an English lesson:

Male winnings were almost triple those of female earnings.
(Talking about male vs female earnings in a golf competition).

However, the graph shows that female earnings were about 500k and male earnings were about 1700-1900k. So, they were more than triple female earnings. Is the word "almost" used correctly here?

  • @HotLicks I don't understand why. Can you please elaborate?
    – wisnuops
    Jan 2 at 1:06
  • @HotLicks ouch that's a typo. Okay I will correct that.
    – wisnuops
    Jan 2 at 1:09
  • 1
    @HotLicks male and female were switched. I have corrected that. Thanks.
    – wisnuops
    Jan 2 at 1:10
  • 3
    No, because almost means not quite or a little short of. See ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=almost
    – Xanne
    Jan 2 at 1:26
  • @HotLicks I am not sure with the grammar. Is it correct now?
    – wisnuops
    Jan 2 at 1:29

I believe your question arises from the concept that you are considering a scale of earnings that has a direction, starting from zero and proceeding upwards. From that viewpoint, earnings of almost three times are less than three times. In the same way, on a journey, as we approach our destination, we may say that we are almost there. This interpretation is consistent with dictionary definitions such as the two below.

However, the meaning of almost does not always have such a direction. Consider “The cable car is almost at the half-way station”. This tells us the cable car is near, but whether it is moving towards, away or has stopped is not defined.

Another example might be that scientists have almost reached absolute zero in their quest for lower temperatures: almost applies here to descent of the temperature scale rather than to its ascent.

Similarly, earnings almost three times are near three times, and by implication are distinguishable from two times or four times.

Almost = : very nearly but not exactly or entirely

Merriam Webster

= You use almost to indicate that something is not completely the case but is nearly the case.

Collins dictionary

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