As in this quote attributed to Tim O’Reilly in “The Oracle of Silicon Valley”:
“There is a wonderful rigor in free-market economics. When you have to prove the value of your ideas by persuading other people to pay for them, it clears out an awful lot of woolly thinking.”
The phrase is most often hijacked by headline writers for stories about sheep farming, hand-made sweaters and abrasive steel scrubbing products. Take it back from the punsters, won’t you? It deserves the usage as demonstrated by O’Reilly.
Is there any other kind of plethora? No, there must not be — but for two exceptions.
One: If you intend it not in its everyday use (“an overabundance”) but in its medical use (“”an excess of blood in the circulatory system”). Doctors do not have time for superfluous descriptors.
Two: You are in the 1986 movie “¡Three Amigos!,” which featured the mildly famous exchange:
Jefe: I have put many beautiful pinatas in the storeroom, each of them filled with little surprises.
El Guapo: Many pinatas?
Jefe: Oh yes, many!
El Guapo: Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?
Jefe: A what?
El Guapo: A *plethora*.
Jefe: Oh yes, you have a plethora.
El Guapo: Jefe, what is a plethora?
Jefe: Why, El Guapo?
El Guapo: Well, you told me I have a plethora. And I just would like to know if you know what a plethora is. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has *no idea* what it means to have a plethora.
Jefe : Forgive me, El Guapo. I know that I, Jefe, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, and are looking to take it out on me?
A neologism limited to an extremely regional usage … namely my father. If something had been well and truly mucked up, he might mutter “it’s a fershluggin mess,” or he might refer to a large group of things (either tangible items or abstract notions) as “the whole fershluggin mess.” In that usage, it’s an equivalent to “the whole enchilada.”
“Fershlugginer,” as near as I can discover, is a modified Yiddish (or even completely fictional Yiddish) intensifier popularized by MAD magazine, which, in its signature New York Jewish voice, liked to play with foreign words as recurring non-sequiturs. There’s some debate about its origin: “farshlugginer” may be true Yiddish to mean “shaken or mixed-up;” it may be a descendant of the German “verschlagener” (meaning “more devious”); or it may just be legendary MAD editor Harvey Kurtzman having a jape at linguists’ expense. In any case, it’s meaning here is clearly as a mild expletive.
The irony is not lost on me that my straight-laced father would have borrowed a turn of phrase from MAD, a counterculture magazine he once called “ten miles of bad road.” If he knew its source, he would never have admitted it.