It’s not a word that lands comfortably into any normal conversation, though it appears in a plethora of thought leadership pieces (sorry, not sorry).
For some reason, it always stands out when I read it. It sounds try-hard and awkward. It’s jarring, quite simply because it’s not a word you hear in everyday conversation. You don’t chat to your friends about the plethora of Netflix shows you’ve been watching, or the plethora of lipsticks you have in your bag.
However, while plethora doesn’t sound natural, the alternatives don’t seem to hold up either. ‘A lot’ feels a bit weak; ‘many’ a bit boring; and ‘abundance’ just a tad too much.
So, plethora it is. And to say it out loud is fairly enjoyable. It takes a lot of mouth and tongue action for those three syllables to string together ‘pleth-o-ra’.
The best example of the word being used is, surely, in the Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short comedy ‘The Three Amigos’ (1986).
Jefe : I have put many beautiful piñatas in the storeroom, each of them filled with little surprises.
El Guapo : Many piñatas?
Jefe : Oh yes, many!
El Guapo : Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?
Jefe : A what?
El Guapo : A *plethora*.
Jefe : Oh yes, you have a plethora.
El Guapo : Jefe, what is a plethora?
Jefe : Why, El Guapo?
El Guapo : Well, you told me I have a plethora. And I just would like to know if you know what a plethora is. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has *no idea* what it means to have a plethora.
Jefe : Forgive me, El Guapo. I know that I, Jefe, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, and are looking to take it out on me?
Learn from this film: make sure you do know what plethora really means, don’t use it to showcase superior intellect unnecessarily and, please, use it sparingly.