With regard to Webster 1913's definition 2, there is a very unfortunate assumption caused by the use of this word as a noun. The assumption is that "the greater number" or "more than half" is a static set so that its wishes and behavior are treated as belonging to some group of people. In fact, any number of the people making up the majority can leave the majority and be replaced by others previously not a part of it. This creates a problem when using the majority to make decisions. For example, a majority may prefer fish to chicken, while another majority prefers chicken to beef, and a third majority prefers beef to fish.

It would be an improvement to use the word as an adjective only, to tag a binary decision or assertion as conforming to more than half of the people, as in a "majority decision." This would at least make it a simple matter to say "decisions involving more than two options cannot be majority decisions." If we all learned that at a young age (like we learn that a word has to have some special qualities to have an "opposite"), we'd be much better off.

Ma*jor"i*ty (?), n.; pl. Majorities (#). [F. majorit'e. See Major.]

1.

The quality or condition of being major or greater; superiority.

Specifically: (a)

The military rank of a major

. (b)

The condition of being of full age, or authorized by law to manage one's own affairs.

2.

The greater number; more than half; as, a majority of mankind; a majority of the votes cast.

3. [Cf. L. majores.]

Ancestors; ancestry.

[Obs.]

4.

The amount or number by which one aggregate exceeds all other aggregates with which it is contrasted; especially, the number by which the votes for a successful candidate exceed those for all other candidates; as, he is elected by a majority of five hundred votes. See Plurality.

To go over to, ∨ To join, the majority, to die.

 

© Webster 1913.

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