Is it correct word usage to say that I'm mobbed by a single person? The word mobbing comes from mob, which refers to a large number of people, so only one person mobbing sounds a bit strange.

  • 2
    If someone received an onslaught of attention from a single person, I'd be as inclined to say they were mugged as I would mobbed. Either usage would be very figurative.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 23:03
  • Why would you come up with such a question (since you're right it is strange)? Did you hear/see this somewhere?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 0:22

3 Answers 3


It depends on the usage. Perhaps I woudn't say:

I was mobbed by Bill.

but that doesn't mean I couldn't say:

I felt mobbed by Bill.

if Bill's attention was so overwhelming that it felt like I was fighting off an entire group.


I have heard it as well, however it is slang usage to portray that you are being hit with an onslaught of attention by one person.

Dictionary.com does not include reference to a single person anywhere in its definition.


You are correct.

Saying "mobbed by one person" does not apply in formal language.

Informally though, it is used very often (gladly not where I live).

I would compare it to saying "a couple of hours" or "a couple of minutes" that should mean "two hours" or "two minutes" respectively, but it's often used when referring to "a few hours" or "a few minutes".

Incorrect, but often used.

  • 3
    I disagree that using the words a couple to refer to a few is "incorrect". According to Macmillan, definition 1b, couple is defined as "a small number of things or people". I'll grant you that the British version of Macmillan labels this usage as "mainly American", and Collins indicates that the idiom a couple of is "informal," but neither of those labels is the same as "incorrect".
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 10:10
  • 4
    Adding to what @J.R. says, this is a rather typical example of an etymological fallacy. If you apply your logic consistently, you have just used the words "informally", "compare", "refer" — and in fact pretty much every word in your answer — incorrectly. The thing is, words do not have any meaning in and of themselves; if people use "couple" to mean "orange cat on wheels", then that is what it actually means.
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 10:24
  • Well the word couple means the aggregation of 2 things, correct? As in your example "a couple getting married". But, it is often used to refer to "a few". That's all I meant to say. And Redwight, you're correct, they mean what they're used for, but that does not mean they're correct.
    – user47
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 12:15
  • 1
    Wow. Things just got all philosophical up in here. Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 12:16
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    @guisasso: RE: "The word couple means the aggregation of 2 things, correct?" That's one meaning of the word couple, but not necessarily the only meaning of the word couple. What's "incorrect" here is not the usage of the word to mean something else, but the erroneous assumption that the word has one and only one meaning.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 12:37

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