"a great number regarded collectively; a crowd or throng; the characteristic of being many, numerousness," early 14c., from Old French multitude (12c.) and directly from Latin multitudinem (nominative multitudo) "a great number, a crowd; the crowd, the common people," from multus "many, much" (see multi-) + suffix -tudo (see -tude). Related: Multitudes.
A multitude, however great, may be in a space so large as to give each one ample room; a throng or a crowd is generally smaller than a multitude, but is gathered into a close body, a throng being a company that presses together or forward, and a crowd carrying the closeness to uncomfortable physical contact. [Century Dictionary]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "strong, great." It forms all or part of: ameliorate; amelioration; meliorate; melioration; meliorism; multi-; multiform; multiple; multiply; multitude. It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek mala "very, very much;" Latin multus "much, many," melior "better."
c. 1600, "of vast extent;" 1620s, "consisting of a great number," from Latin multitudin-, stem of multitudo (see multitude) + -ous. First in Shakespeare or Dekker, depending on the dating of their publications, though it is certainly "Macbeth" that has fixed it in the language. Related: Multitudinously; multitudinousness.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnardine,
Making the green one, red.
"an indefinitely large number; a crowd, many persons," Old English menigu, from a prehistoric Germanic word from the source of many (adj.). Compare Old Saxon menigi, Gothic managei "multitude, crowd," Old High German managi "large number, plurality," German Menge "multitude." The many "the multitude, the mass of people, the common herd" is attested from 1520s.
1570s, "the common people," from French vulgarité and directly from Late Latin vulgaritas "the multitude," from vulgaris (see vulgar). Meaning "coarseness, crudeness" is recorded from 1774.
"state of being numerous," 1610s, from Latin numerositatem (nominative numerositas) "a great number, a multitude," from numerosus "numerous," from numerus "a number" (see number (n.)).
Abraham-man was an old term for mendicant lunatics, or, more commonly, frauds who wandered England shamming madness so as to collect alms (1560s). According to the old explanation of the name (from at least 1640s), they originally were from Bethlehem Hospital, where in early times there was an Abraham ward or room for such persons, but the ward might have been named for the beggars.