Note: Sense 1a(2) was previously a many quasi-n, 1b(1) was a many adj phr, and 1b(2) was a many a adj phr
many adj, n
Std sense, var constrs.
1 with indef art, but without modifying adj.
a followed by a pl n or pron; spec: see below. [These two constrs arose in the 16th century through merging of many with meinie household, retinue, crowd; obs in modern std usage (19th cent and later) except when many is modified by a preceding adj (usu great or good) (and, in the case of the construction with of, a following noun is preceded by the definite article or other marker of definiteness). See OED3 many adj., pron., and n., and adv. B.6.a, b]
(1) a many of (or pronc-sp a many a) followed by pl n or pron.
1624 Smith Genl. Hist. VA 51, These . . comming a-shore, landed amongst a many of creekes. 1702 Mather Magnalia 3.148/2 MA, But if my Reader would see a many of those Excellencies meeting together in one Man, there are not many, in whom I could more hopefully promise him such a Sight. 1782 Freeman’s Jrl. N. Amer. Intelligencer (Philadelphia PA) 16 Jan 1/1, Ther’s a many of ’em, . . but in this contry we dont mind ’em. . . Yes, Mr. Pilgrum, I says we, for thof I am an English man born, I has taken the oath to the states. 1854 Hammond Hills 112 neNY, I . . have seen a many of eagles, but I never saw two together more’n two or three times. 1879 Harper’s New Mth. Mag. 59.762 neLA [Black], I knowed ’em all, an’ loved a many of ’em. 1909 Daily Picayune (New Orleans LA) 2 Feb 15/6, [Letter:] I have seen a many of times drummers would pay as much as 25 cents for a New Orleans morning paper, but it could not be gotten.1965 DARE Tape MS 61 , I have been the blacksmith for about forty years, and I have shoed a many, a many of horses and mules. c1965 in 1972 Jackson Wake Up 14 TX [Black], “I hate for all these niggers to see me die. Well, I don’t give a damn: I seen a many a them die.” . . That was in ’48. 1984 in 2006 Lanman–Wendling Preparing Oral Historians 35 cnAL [Black], And that was my job, washing those muckers [laughs], sure did. And they wore out a-many of them. 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance 10 infs, esp AL, MS, A many of them, 1 inf, ceTN, A many of times, 7 infs, esp GA, A many a (followed by pl n). 2016 in 2017 DARE File—Internet AR, Ballistic tips vs Soft Points? I’ve shot a many of them now and after all these years . . I find myself going back to the good ol’fasioned [sic] Soft Points.
(2) a many followed by pl n.
c1761 in 1901 Atlantic Mth. 88.98 NJ, I a mani times think whot signifies my being concarned about fashings? 1780 Ibid, A cler plasent day, a dry time, the gras is drid up in a many plases. 1860 Harper’s New Mth. Mag. 20.251 NH,The fire has got a many tongues, I know, but I rather guess they ain’t all on um tongues of prophecy. 1863 in 2009 Montgomery–Ellis Corpus Amer. Civil War Letters neTN, I saw a many flying bouls go whizing though the air. 1865 Atlantic Mth. 15.399 nwPA, ’Spect there ’s a many won’erful sights ’twixt here an’ Eri’, be n’t there? 1884 Murfree TN Mts. 251, Thar hev been sech a many folks killed on the T’other Mounting. 1889 Atlantic Mth. 63.359 swAL [Black], Mars Tom, he had been away from home a many days, but he come back when Miss Patty come. 1937 NE Univ. Univ. Studies 37.103 [Terms from play-party songs], A many. Many. “They spent their days in a many foolish ways.”—“Jolly Sailor Girls.” 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance 1 inf, swAL, A many whippings.
b followed by a sg n; spec: see below. [Presumably analogical blends of preceding constrs (where the type of 1a(2) is already presumably a blend of 1a(1) with the std many + pl n) with the std (now chiefly literary) type many a + sg n, and perh also with the obsolete type many + sg n, which survived in Scots dial into the 19th century (OED3 many adj., pron., and n., and adv. A.1.a).]
(1) a many followed by sg n without indefinite article.
1854 S. Lit. Messenger 20.102 NYC, I’ve been hungry a many time, and so have my children. 1860 Ibid 31.45 NC, A many pagan you’ve seed a-doing of it! 1861 in 2009 Montgomery–Ellis Corpus Amer. Civil War Letters cwNC, When that big batle is over it will stop ameny po fellow from coming home at Christmas. 1868 Galaxy 6.151 NEng, Ye know I been a many year now a runnin’ packet ’tween Hilb’ry an’ town. 1874 Galaxy 18.69 West, “Ef that is so Colonel, thar’s a many one uv ’em,” was the sober response of California Joe. 1895 Scribner’s Mag. 17.94 Allegheny Mts, A many night we’ve laid out behine that log. 1965–70 DARE FW Addit OK40, I’ve gone to a many dance with him; OK52, There’s a many man had a rock pulled on him in the mines, a many one; ceNJ, I’ve had a many one come in. 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance 15 infs, scattered Gulf Region, A many (followed by sg n).
(2) a many a(n) followed by sg n. formerly widespread, now chiefly Sth, S Midl
1827 Atl. Souvenir 121 NH, Our captain wished a many a time that his commission were to hell and he were to hum. 1859 Taliaferro Fisher’s R. 93 nwNC (as of 1820s), Thar lay the biggest, oncommonest black snake the Lord uver make, sartin—which he has made a many a one—full fifteen foot long. 1862 in 2009 Montgomery–Ellis Corpus Amer. Civil War Letters nwSC, I have heard A Many A Soldier Say that he had March three Days on eating parch Corn. 1863 IbidcAL, There was a meny a pore man cilled on the feld of Battel. 1864 Ibid neTN, I have had a many a good ride on the old iron horses since I left home. 1893 in 1901 Independent 53.2765/2 NEng, I have went hungry a many a time almost starved. 1899 ( 1912 ) Green VA Folk-Speech , A-many. . . Many people; a multitude; “a-many a one;” a great many. 1905 DN 3.68 nwAR, ‘A many a poor tired woman has set up and doctored and worried over a sick baby.’ Common. 1913 Johnson Highways St. Lawrence to VA 239 DE, I’ve rode one of the horses threshing wheat a many a time. 1915 DN 4.180 swVA, A. Used . . superfluously, as ‘a many a time.’ 1940 Stuart Trees of Heaven 38 neKY, I’ve kilt a-many a squirrel in that tree, son. 1946 PADS 6.4 NC, “I’ve seen him a many a time.” Pamlico. Common. 1950 PADS 15.51 Grant Co IN, A many a. . . First “a,” an expletive. “I’ve been there a many a time.” 1966 DARE (QR, near Qu. K50) Inf NM3, I’ve tied down a many a [horse]. 1966–70 DARE Tape NC10, I’ve parched a many a pound of coffee. . . You take the green coffee and parch it and grind it in a mill; VA52B, I really shedded a many a tear; VA55, He killed a many a one. 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance 103 infs, Gulf Region, esp AL, GA, MS, A-many a (followed by sg n).
(3) a many of a followed by sg n. sAppalachians Cf 2b below
1959 Roberts Up Cutshin 33 eKY, I’ve seen fifty eat at our house a many of a time, and up in fifty. 1968 DARE Tape VA17, I’ve churned a many of a gallon of milk. 1969 in 2004 Montgomery–Hall Dict. Smoky Mt. Engl. 13 wNC, eTN,They had a many of an old harp singing right there in that old log schoolhouse. 1972 in 2004 Montgomery–Hall Dict. Smoky Mt. Engl. 13 wNC, eTN, Oh, a many of a Sunday afternoon we’d go find big red birch. 1978 in 1988 TitonPowerhouse 305 cnVA, Why, Lord, there’s been a-many of a time I’ve been in the pulpit preaching and the Lord just showed me things in the Scriptures that I’d never seen before in my life. 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance 1 inf, cnGA,A many of a time.
2 without indefinite article, spec:
a many a followed by pl n.
1861 Hallowell Gaz. (ME) 6 Apr 1/7, I wonder whether he does not sometimes think of another Nora, above whose blue eyes the violets have so many a times blossomed and faded. 1907 State (Columbia SC) 15 Dec 4/2, We have all heard the “grouchy” ones many a times before declare that expenses must be curtailed “this Christmas.” 1918 Kalamazoo Gaz. (MI) 18 June 2/6, [Advt:] It will pay to come many a miles to participate in these bargains. 1981 in 1986 IL Genl. Assembly Oral Hist. Program Gale Williams Memoir 1.22 IL, Oh, I can remember many a times dragging the road. Ibid 73, I went to him many a times on legislation pertaining to real estate people. 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance3 infs, cwGA, ceMS, cTX, Many a times; 1 inf, cwFl, Many a miles; 1 inf, cLA, Many a mornings.
b many of a followed by sg n. Cf 1b(3) above
1970 in 2004 Montgomery–Hall Dict. Smoky Mt. Engl. 377 wNC, eTN, I plowed there many of a time. . . And I’ve seen my mother spin many of a time. 1983 Ibid wNC, eTN, I’ve covered my head up many of a night to keep that little fine snow from coming in under them boards. 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance 1 inf, neTN, Many of a time.