Today: For “a few.”
As a noun, “couple” has traditionally denoted a pair. (As a verb, it always denotes the joining of two things.) But in some uses, the precise number is vague. Essentially, it’s equivalent to “a few” or “several.” In informal contexts this usage is quite common and unexceptionable — e.g.:
o “Those most anxious should practice at least once in front of a couple of people to be comfortable with an audience.” Molly Williamson, “Unlocking the Power of Public Speaking,” Milwaukee J. Sentinel, 15 Sept. 2002, at L12.
o “This slick, cozy shop, which underwent a makeover a couple of years back, is a hybrid of takeout and restaurant.” A.C. Stevens, “Why Cook Tonight?” Boston Herald, 15 Sept. 2002, Food §, at 65.
Next: With or Without “of”?
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Quotation of the Day: “Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” Gustave Flaubert (as quoted in Gorham Munson, The Written Word 238 (rev. ed. 1949)).