1. A large and indeterminate number of objects: “There were
`N` bugs in that crock!” Also used in
its original sense of a variable name: “This crock has
`N` bugs, as
`N` goes to infinity.” (The true
number of bugs is always at least `N + 1`;
see *Lubarsky's Law of Cybernetic Entomology**.)
*

* 2. A variable whose value is inherited from the current context.
For example, when a meal is being ordered at a restaurant,
N may be understood to mean however many
people there are at the table. From the remark “We'd like to order
N wonton soups and a family dinner for
N - 1” you can deduce that one
person at the table wants to eat only soup, even though you don't know how
many people there are (see great-wall). *

* 3. Nth: adj. The ordinal counterpart of
N, senses 1 and 2.*

* 4. “Now for the Nth and last
time...” In the specific context
“Nth-year grad student”,
N is generally assumed to be at least 4,
and is usually 5 or more (see
tenured graduate student). See also random numbers,
two-to-the-N.*