"Nearly Infinite":

An otherwise very good item that I read a while back refers to a certain set of things as "nearly infinite." It then pointed out, as evidence, that there were over 100 elements in that set.

Now that's defining infinity down. Of course, even if there were thirty-seven googol elements, that would still be infinitely far from infinity.

There's no such thing as "nearly infinite." The problem isn't like the asserted (but in my view overstated) problem with "more perfect" (as in "more perfect Union") or "more round." You can get materially more perfect or round than you were before. But so long as something is finite, it's not nearly infinite, no matter how much it grows.

Yes, I know it's a figurative usage. Yes, I know that language isn't mathematics. The mathematician in me just feels entitled to an irrationally hyperliteralistic snit fit now and again.

UPDATE: Reader John Dickinson writes, in an excess of practical good sense, "I think 'nearly infinite' just means that it has nearly the same consequence from the relevant perspective as if the thing were infinite." OK, OK, I suppose that's so. Still: Grrrr.