precious few


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precious few

adjective Not much; scant. (Used solely with plural countable nouns; "precious little" is used with uncountable nouns.) He's had precious few job offers since he got out of college. We've had precious few details about the deal, so rumors are flying around the office at the moment.
See also: few, precious

precious few

 and precious little
very few; very little. (Few for people or things that can be counted, and little for amounts.) We get precious few tourists here in the winter. There's precious little food in the house and there is no money.
See also: few, precious

precious few

Also, precious little. Very few, very little, as in There are precious few leaves left on the trees, or We have precious little fuel left. In these idioms precious serves as an intensive, a colloquial usage dating from the first half of the 1800s.
See also: few, precious

precious ˈfew/ˈlittle

(informal) very few/little: There are precious few places round here where you can get good Indian food.
See also: few, little, precious

precious few

Hardly any. The use of precious for “very” or “extremely” dates from the first half of the nineteenth century, and so does its pairing with “few.” For some reason it is never paired with any other adjective; one never hears of “precious many.” A. Gray used it in a letter of 1839, “While on the Continent I have received precious few letters,” and Neville Chamberlain used it in a speech to the House of Commons (August 26, 1886): “Precious few of them have declared in favour of the bill.”
See also: few, precious
References in periodicals archive ?
I WILL BEGIN BY ADMITTING that I fell asleep five times during a morning press screening of Errol Morris's The Fog of War--which received its US premiere at the New York Film Festival last September and is currently playing in theaters around the country--and I left the auditorium with precious few impressions besides that of the spectacularly bad dental work that Robert S.
And they have probably read another recent survey confirming that 94 percent of Japanese eat breakfast, but precious few opt for oatmeal.
While few individuals or businesses will deny the reality of a cyberattack, many have taken precious few steps to proactively defend their information.
While it is patently obvious that precious few of health care CEOs are physicians, there is absolutely no reason that those that have not matriculated and graduated from a medical school are somehow better qualified for the top dog position.
Olga Samaroff, master teacher of William Kapell among others, made a precious few Victor discs before she focused her Career on teaching.
Precious few of the newly seroconverted would claim "bug chaser" status for the very good reason that rather than seeking infection, they were simply "taking their chances." Getting to these "chance takers" is what really needs to be done.
And no one looks to the professors of literature for wisdom; with precious few exceptions the critics have become faddish poseurs or--at their best--social scientists manques.
The answer they came up with: Precious few, at present.
For generations folks have flocked to the Anna Maria City Pier to catch a fish, a sunset, or just a precious few moments of gazing out over Tampa Bay to the horizon beyond through the two telescopes mounted there (50 cents, please).
If you wander through Cyril Beaumont's treasury of ballet stories, you find precious few (with the glorious exception of Balanchine's Prodigal Son) that are based upon biblical lore.
Also, there are precious few minted people who have been elevated to sainthood.
"In 1942, there were precious few who had the courage to speak out against the action which led to the internment of Japanese Americans," he told a crowd of about 50.
A precious few books document how black women have left their mark on architecture, corporate and residential interiors, multimedia and print graphics, fashion, consumer products and packaging, and more ...
It is a great send-off for student teachers and allows them to spend their precious few dollars for real teaching materials."
However, with precious few days remaining in the legislative calendar for the 106th Congress, the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers has noted that "the nonprofit community has no time to spare." The Postal Rate Commission needs to know if the bill has become law by the time it issues a final recommendation on the current rate case, expected in October.