# 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.