# N

/N/ quant. 1. A large and indeterminate number of objects "There were N bugs in that crock!" Also used in its original sense of a variable name "This crock has N bugs, as N goes to infinity." (The true number of bugs is always at least N + 1.) 2. A variable whose value is inherited from the current context. For example, when a meal is being ordered at a restaurant, N may be understood to mean however many people there are at the table. From the remark "We'd like to order N wonton soups and a family dinner for N - 1" you can deduce that one person at the table wants to eat only soup, even though you don't know how many people there are (see great-wall). 3. `Nth' adj. The ordinal counterpart of N, senses 1 and 2. "Now for the Nth and last time..." In the specific context "Nth-year grad student", N is generally assumed to be at least 4, and is usually 5 or more (see {tenured graduate student}). See also {random numbers}, two-to-the-N.