/fju:/ quanountifier, noun (plural)
1 a few/the few (no comparative) a small number (of): I've got a few books on gardening. | I'll pop into the supermarket and get a few bits and pieces. | only a few hundred yards past the crossroads | It's one of the few companies trying to tackle the problem. | a few of: I've read a few of her books. | a few more: There are a few more things I'd like to discuss. | a few minutes/the last few days/the next few years etc: George arrived a few minutes later. | Ignore this letter if you have paid in the last few days. | a few people: There were a few people sitting at the back of the hall. | only a very few (=not many)
2 quite a few/a good few/not a few a fairly large number: She must have cooked a good few dinners over the years.
3 not many; not enough: low-paid jobs that few people want | There may be few options open to you. | The meals are awful, but few complain. | Which one has the fewest mistakes? | few of: Very few of the staff come from the local area.
4 no fewer than used to emphasize how surprisingly large a number is; at least: I tried to contact him no fewer than ten times.
5 as few as used to emphasize how surprisingly small a number is: She can remember all the words accurately after reading it as few as three times
6 to name but a few used when you are mentioning only a small number of people or things as examples of a large group: I've visited many fascinating countries; Japan, India, Turkey, and Russia to name but a few.
7 the chosen few the small number of people to be invited or selected: Such information is made available only to the chosen few.
8 precious few (of) a very small number: Only a small percentage of the seeds germinated and precious few of those survived.
9 few and far between rare; not happening or available often: Jobs are few and far between at the moment.
10 have a few (too many) informal to have too much alcohol to drink: He looks as if he's had a few!
—opposite many USAGE NOTE : FEW WORD CHOICE: a few, few, a little, little When talking about amounts, you use (a) few with plural countable nouns, and (a) little with uncountable nouns. A few is positive and means a small number but not a lot: Yes, I do know a few words of French. | There are a few beers left in the fridge. Few is negative and means not many: I'm afraid I know few words of French. Few used alone is fairly formal, and you would most often use it with very: Very few people come here now. With words for time, a few is almost always used: after a few minutes | a few years before A little is positive and means some, but not a lot: Fortunately he still had a little money left. In more informal British English, a bit means the same thing: Don't worry, you've got a bit more time to get the work done. Little is negative and means `not much': Unfortunately he now had little money left. Again, this is fairly formal, and speakers often avoid using little on its own. You would normally say very little.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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  • few — W1S1 [fju:] determiner, pron, adj comparative fewer superlative fewest [: Old English; Origin: feawa] 1.) [no comparative] a small number of things or people a few ▪ I have to buy a few things at the supermarket. ▪ Pam called to say she s going… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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