Learn English – Is “vast majority” something to avoid


I've seen a few folks in various situations complain about the phrase "vast majority". The only online reference I can find for such dissent is (unfortunately?) the urban dictionary.

I grant that the phrase is not particularly eloquent. But it is idiomatic and I use it myself quite frequently in technical documents to represent a figure over 90% but where I don't want to break the flow of text to present the actual value.

So my question(s):

  • Is the idiom "vast majority" something to avoid? Does it leave a bad impression?
  • What are (better) alternatives?

Best Answer

I think "vast majority" is perfectly acceptable. Go for it.

I suppose I am being quite idiosyncratic, but when I use an adjective in front of "majority", I use these rankings, especially when thinking about elections:

  • Vast majority - means almost all or something like 90% or more, but less than unanimous.
  • Overwhelming majority - means well beyond any hope of finding enough who are swayable to take the opposite case or something like 75% or more
  • Large majority - means an unquestionable number such that there's no point in demanding a recount or something like 60%
  • Small majority - means a comfortable margin, but not enough to take for granted or something like 53%
  • Bare majority - means you just barely cracked 50.1% and if this were an election and your opponent demanded a recount, you are probably toast, or 50.1% or more