Word Choice – Multiple Versus Numerous

Klaus’s question: “Please comment on the use of multiple and numerous. Are they interchangeable? Is it correct to say that multiple people attended the meeting?”

BizWritingTip response: According to the Oxford dictionary, “multiple” means “having many parts, elements, or individual components; many and various.”

Therefore, if I had to make a choice between the two words, I would definitely use numerous. (Frankly, I have never seen “multiple” used in terms of people.) On the other hand, The Chicago Manual of Style says “numerous” is “typically a bloated word for many.” In other words, you can use it, but it is overly fancy.

Examples (better)
Many people attended the meeting.
A large number of people attended the meeting.