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Alternative formsEdit

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English number, nombre, numbre, noumbre, from Anglo-Norman noumbre, Old French nombre, from Latin numerus (number), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *nem- (to divide). Compare Saterland Frisian Nummer, Nuumer, West Frisian nûmer, Dutch nummer (number), German Nummer (number), Danish nummer (number), Swedish nummer (number), Icelandic númer (number). Replaced Middle English ȝetæl and rime, more at tell, tale and rhyme.



number (plural numbers)

  1. (countable) An abstract entity used to describe quantity.
    Zero, one, -1, 2.5, and pi are all numbers.
  2. (countable) A numeral: a symbol for a non-negative integer.
    The number 8 is usually made with a single stroke.
  3. (countable, mathematics) A member of one of several classes: natural numbers, integers, rational numbers, real numbers, complex numbers, quaternions.
    The equation   includes the most important numbers: 1, 0,  ,  , and  .
  4. (Followed by a numeral; used attributively) Indicating the position of something in a list or sequence. Abbreviations: No or No., no or no. (in each case, sometimes written with a superscript "o", like Nº or №). The symbol "#" is also used in this manner.
    Horse number 5 won the race.
  5. Quantity.
    • 2013 June 8, “The new masters and commanders”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 52:
      From the ground, Colombo’s port does not look like much. []   But viewed from high up in one of the growing number of skyscrapers in Sri Lanka’s capital, it is clear that something extraordinary is happening: China is creating a shipping hub just 200 miles from India’s southern tip.
    • Francis Bacon
      Number itself importeth not much in armies where the people are of weak courage.
    Any number of people can be reading from a given repository at a time.
  6. A sequence of digits and letters used to register people, automobiles, and various other items.
    Her passport number is C01X864TN.
  7. (countable, informal) A telephone number.
    • 2001, E. Forrest Hein, The Ruach Project, Xulon Press, page 86:
      “[...] I wonder if you could get hold of him and have him call me here at Interior. I’m in my office, do you have my number?”
    • 2007, Lindsey Nicole Isham, No Sex in the City: One Virgin's Confessions on Love, Lust, Dating, and Waiting, Kregel Publications, page 111:
      When I agreed to go surfing with him he said, “Great, can I have your number?” Well, I don’t give my number to guys I don’t know.
    • 2016, VOA Learning English (public domain)
      Marsha's work number is 555-8986.
  8. (grammar) Of a word or phrase, the state of being singular, dual or plural, shown by inflection.
    Adjectives and nouns should agree in gender, number, and case.
  9. (now rare, in the plural) Poetic metres; verses, rhymes.
    • 1635, John Donne, The Triple Foole:
      Griefe brought to numbers cannot be so fierce, / For, he tames it, that fetters it in verse.
  10. (countable) A performance; especially, a single song or song and dance routine within a larger show.
    For his second number, he sang "The Moon Shines Bright".
  11. (countable, informal) A person.
    • 1968, Janet Burroway, The dancer from the dance: a novel, Little, Brown, page 40:
      I laughed. "Don't doubt that. She's a saucy little number."
    • 1988, Erica Jong, Serenissima, Dell, page 214:
      "Signorina Jessica," says the maid, a saucy little number, "your father has gone to his prayers and demands that you come to the synagogue at once [...]"
    • 2005, Denise A. Agnew, Kate Hill & Arianna Hart, By Honor Bound, Ellora's Cave Publishing, page 207:
      He had to focus on the mission, staying alive and getting out, not on the sexy number rubbing up against him.
  12. (countable, informal) An item of clothing, particularly a stylish one.
    • 2007, Cesca Martin, Agony Angel: So You Think You've Got Problems..., Troubador Publishing Ltd, page 134:
      The trouble was I was wearing my backless glittering number from the night before underneath, so unless I could persuade the office it was National Fancy Dress Day I was doomed to sweat profusely in bottle blue.
    • 2007, Lorelei James, Running with the Devil, Samhain Publishing, Ltd, page 46:
      "I doubt the sexy number you wore earlier tonight fell from the sky."
  13. (slang, chiefly US) A marijuana cigarette, or joint; also, a quantity of marijuana bought form a dealer.
    • 2009, Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice, Vintage 2010, page 12:
      Back at his place again, Doc rolled a number, put on a late movie, found an old T-shirt, and sat tearing it up into short strips []
  14. (dated) An issue of a periodical publication.
    the latest number of a magazine
Derived termsEdit
Related termsEdit
See alsoEdit


number (third-person singular simple present numbers, present participle numbering, simple past and past participle numbered)

  1. (transitive) To label (items) with numbers; to assign numbers to (items).
    Number the baskets so that we can find them easily.
  2. (intransitive) To total or count; to amount to.
    I don’t know how many books are in the library, but they must number in the thousands.
Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From numb + -er.




  1. comparative form of numb: more numb




From German Nummer. The added -b- is analoguous to kamber and klamber.


number (genitive numbri, partitive numbrit)

  1. number


Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of nombre