What is bigger than alot or a shitload?
November 30, 2007 5:14 PM Subscribe
My son asked me how many trees there are in the world. I know there are a finite number, yet I also know that it is not practical to count them. Same with grains of sand. When the set cannot be measured because it goes on forever we say the set is infinite. Is there a single word to express the concept of a countable, finite number too large to actually count?
posted by JohnnyGunn to Writing & Language (42 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I was able to convey the thought that the number of trees is a definite number unlike the concept of infinity (which I understand in theory there is no infinite number because you could always add 1). I think he understands the concept as I dumped out a cup of sugar on the counter and asked him to count them. He saw right away that there were clearly a definite number, but for this purpose too many to count. (Smart boy that he is, he licked his finger, put it in the sugar and ate it pronouncing, "there are now less grains of sugar Dad!"
Knowing that there is a term like google to express a certain large number, he asked "what do we call it when there is a number that stops really large, but it is too big to count."
I googled "too large to count" and got a few good definitions of infinity and the concept of large finite sets, but no one word to describe it. Does the word exist? (Not looking for a phrase such as "uncountable finite number") If no one word exists, any suggestions for a word my family can use? Shitload came to mind, but I think it could be argued that shitload is a countable number.