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I'm looking for a word that would mean " about", "around", or "approximately" while wouldn't mean "minus or plus" and just mean "or plus".

I want to say the following sentences using that word:

  • I will arrive there at about 8 o'clock or a little later( i.e. at 8:05 or 8:15...)

  • I have read about 10 books on Chinese history or a few more (i.e. maybe 11 or 12, I'm not sure).

  • She looks 40 years old or a little older (i.e. maybe 42-43).

I have found "or so" and "-odd" both mean "approximately" and are used with quantities or numbers to express the exact number is not known.

My questions are:

1- Does "or so" mean "minus or plus" the given quantity, or only mean "or plus"?

2- Can I use them in all my examples? ( and how should I use them in my examples?

3- Is there any other word that would convey the meaning I mentioned and could be used in ordinary conversations?


a- I will arrive there at 10 o'clock or so./ I will arrive at 10 or so o'clock (?).

b- I have read 10 or so books on Chinese history.

c- She looks 40 or so.

d- ---( I don't know how to use "odd" in this sentence.)

e- I have read 10-odd books on Chinese history.

f- She looks 40-odd (years old).

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    You can use "slightly" in your examples ("I will arrive slightly after 10", "She looks slightly over 40"). – MorganFR Apr 22 '16 at 12:15
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    "or so" means approximately, but can be higher or lower. Another way to say it is "more or less", which means the same as "or so". As for "odd" learnersdictionary.com/definition/odd suggests that it indeed also means approximately but higher , "The book's only 100-odd pages long." [=only slightly more than 100 pages long], but is informal. – MorganFR Apr 22 '16 at 12:23
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    The phrase "at least" also applies to some of your examples. "she is at least 40 years old", and "I have read at least 10 books on Chinese history" both work. I would use the phrase "at or just after" for the sentence "I will arrive there at or just after 8 o'clock". – Mark Ripley Apr 22 '16 at 15:12
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    Some is another possibility, but it doesn't mean "approximately more than" in some of your example sentences. E.g., three hours and some minutes is clearly longer than three hours, but I haven't heard eight o'clock and some minutes (though it would be perfectly understandable, I believe). Sometime after eight (o'clock) is more likely. Some ten books doesn't really have to be more than ten books. (It's more like "around/about/approximately" ten books.) On the other hand, She looks forty-something is perfectly idiomatic. – Damkerng T. Apr 22 '16 at 16:24
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    On second thought, I think you can say that (The number of the stolen books was ten-something; or ten-something books as a noun phrase on its own), though I wouldn't use it personally. (It works, but it sounds ... too informal, I think.) For me, N-something works best when it's someone's age, and N is at least twenty. You may want to get second (and third and fourth :P) opinions. Using -something like this could make another interesting question! – Damkerng T. Apr 22 '16 at 16:43
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  • I will arrive there at about 8 o'clock or a little later (i.e. at 8:05 or 8:15...)
  • I have read about 10 books on Chinese history or a few more (i.e. maybe 11 or 12, I'm not sure).
  • She looks 40 years old or a little older (i.e. maybe 42-43).

Both 'or so' and '-odd' can mean either a little more or a little less. If you want the number X to be understood to be the smallest approximate number, you might use "at least X" or "X or more" or "more than X".

  • I won't make it there before 8 o'clock. I will probably be 10 or so minutes late.

If you are certain you won't arrive before 8 o'clock, you should say so directly. Otherwise, we would just say "around 8 o'clock, but I might be a little late." with the understanding that if we are lucky and don't have to stop at too many traffic lights, we might show up at 7:55.

  • I have read more than 10 books on Chinese history.

If the number were much higher than 10, we would expect you to say "I have read more than 40 books." or "I have read about 100 books on Chinese history."

  • She looks at least 40 years old.

Similar to the second example, if you thought she could be a lot older than 40, you might say "She looks around 50 years old." meaning maybe 48 or maybe 52.

I personally find the -odd suffix difficult to use. It always seems better to me to say "about 5 things" instead of "5-odd things". Usually I don't use it with a specific number. I might say for example,

"That sandwich has been in the fridge for a week and some-odd days - throw it away!"

That would mean it has been at least a week and a few days more. If I hear other folks use it in conversation, it doesn't strange to me at all, so don't think I'm telling you not to use the -odd suffix. I would just take someone else's advice on how to use it naturally in your examples.

  • If you told me you were arriving at "10 or so" I would not expect you before 10. – Aaron McMillin Apr 20 '17 at 2:11
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1- Does "or so" mean "minus or plus" the given quantity, or only mean "or plus"? - It has a closest meaning to the word: approximately. But to say "at least" would be greater than or equal to the quantity.

2- Can I use them in all my examples? ( and how should I use them in my examples? -You can apply them to every sentence but they must be altered to make sense.

3- Is there any other word that would convey the meaning I mentioned and could be used in ordinary conversations? - you have: "At least", "at most", "or so", "about" but the only ones that have, as you mentioned, "plus or minus" in the ones I gave would be "or so" & "about" meaning slightly above or slightly below the quantity.

a- I will arrive there at 10 o'clock or so./ I will arrive at 10 or so o'clock (?). - To say 10 o'clock or so IS correct but it's a bit excessive. You can try 10 or so because the "o'clock" is implied.

b- I have read 10 or so books on Chinese history. - yes it is correct and you can use all those examples of you wish. Example: I have read 10 or so books on Chinese history; I have read at least 10 or so books on Chinese history", etcetera.

c- She looks about 40 years old.

e- I have read 10-odd books on Chinese history. - I have read 10 odd books onChinese history.

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"I'll be there at 8 or a bit after."

I've read at least 10 books. She looks at least 40. You must have 100 or more reputation points (or 100 or greater reputation).

-odd I'd use only with a multiple of ten which grammatically could prefix a following number. "It was forty-odd years ago" means forty or forty-one or so forth. 20-odd books means 20 or 21 or up to 29. We don't say ten-five so I wouldn't say ten-odd.

The -odd idiom is a way of marking great ambiguity, and some speakers may use it in cases where the answer would round to the number from either direction. If someone said 40-odd and it turned out to be 38, I don't think you'd have grounds to call them wrong.

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