I have noticed that the usage 'couple of' to denote two of something seems to be dying, and is being replaced with 'couple' without the 'of'.
For example, instead of 'a couple of hundred items' I am seeing 'a couple hundred items' instead and more often.
All the dictionaries I have referenced show the usage as 'couple of'.
Is this something that has been around for a while and I am just coming to the party? Is it a regional thing, mainly US? Or is it generally aberrant usage that should be stamped out by the zealots?