This evening I need to rant for a few minutes. I have noticed lately that I am hearing the word “countless a lot. Each time I hear this word, a little voice in my head asks, “is this really countless?”
I have heard news stories stating that if this or that had been done during the COVID pandemic that “countless” lives would have been saved. The thought occurred to me that we do count the lives lost, so would not the lives that could have been saved be equal to or less than those who have died?
A few weeks ago, there was a story of a bar that was preparing for New Year’s Eve that had “countless” drink options. I have a feeling that the number of drink options could be counted. Even faster than counting would be to calculate the number of combinations give the number of ingredients – high school math flashback warning – shown below:
My point is, given the tools that we have at our disposal today, just about anything can be counted. As is often the case, we are just too lazy to keep track or do the math. There are probably some exceptions, the number of grains of sand on the beach (although you could extrapolate a number based on a small sample) and the number of stars in the sky.
So, with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her Sonnet 43 (See-she kept track of her sonnets!), let us stop with the overuse of “countless” and start counting. By the way, when she wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” there were less than 30 ways set forth. I know this because I read the poem and counted them.