What is umpteenth?

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What Does umpteenth Mean

The nth adjective refers to a quantity that cannot be determined . The concept is often used to refer to that which occupies an indefinite or imprecise place , although elevated, in a succession or series.

For example: "After the umpteenth outburst of the interviewee, the journalist decided to terminate the note" , "It is the umpteenth blow you give me with that ball: try to be more careful" , "The neighbors demand the installation of a traffic light in the intersection of Avenida del Centro and Pradera Street after the umpteenth accident that occurred at the intersection ” .
The nth idea appears when you lose track of events or events that are repeated over and over again . If we analyze the first of the examples mentioned above, we can intuit that the "umpteenth outburst" that the protagonist of the interview uttered was neither the second nor the third, but rather that the enumeration is so large that it is impossible to count all the expletives.

Moving on to the second example, let's imagine a child kicking a ball at home. The little boy beats his mother one, two, three and more times: after the "umpteenth blow" , the woman gets annoyed and asks the little one to be careful with his game.
In a similar sense, if there were so many road incidents at the intersection of two streets that the neighbors can no longer keep a record, it is logical that after the "umpteenth accident" they would demand that the authorities install a traffic light to order the circulation of the traffic lights. vehicles.
Regarding the etymology of this word, we can notice at a glance that it is composed of the following two parts: ene- and -th . The first comes from the realm of mathematics , where the symbol n is used to refer to an undefined number; the second, on the other hand, is the ending assigned in our language to ordinal numbers (those used to indicate the order of the elements found in a sequence, such as "tenth" or "hundredth").
It is very common to use the term nth accompanied by times , to modify this noun giving the idea that the count of the number of times has already been lost , which is why it is not possible to use the pertinent ordinal number. In other words, if the sender were to pursue accuracy, he should express something similar to "fourteenth time" or "fifth time" but, for different reasons, he chooses this word of fuzzy meaning.
One of the reasons why we tend to use these types of imprecise expressions is to emphasize the anger or annoyance that the repetition of the action we are pointing to causes us. This can be perfectly appreciated in the examples presented at the beginning of this article, since in none of them the issuer or the people who receive the shares are comfortable with them, quite the opposite.

Although mathematics and language have many things in common, the former is averse to uncertainty and the latter can exploit it for a myriad of expressive purposes. The exact sciences recognize the lack of precision when they cannot find a way to overcome it, but always with a view to overcoming this blockage at some point; when it comes to speaking and writing, on the other hand, we don't always need to paint a realistic picture.
For example, when there is an undefined variable in mathematics, it is normal for scientists to try to assign a value to it , since it is useless to leave it in this state forever. In everyday speech, when we say that "this is the umpteenth time the telephone rings," normally our interlocutor will not want to know the exact number of times.

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