Meaning of NUMBER in English

I. num·ber ˈnəmbə(r) noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English noumbre, nombre, from Old French nombre, from Latin numerus — more at nimble


a. : an arithmetical total : sum of the units involved : aggregate

number of desks in the room

number of people in the hall

owing to the number of prior applications, he shortly withdrew — J.C.Archer

b. : an ascertainable total : the possibility of numbering

the sands of the seashore are beyond number

times without number

c. : an allotted total : complement

the whole number of Senators — U.S. Constitution

d. : a total of units of a particular kind

an enormous number of languages — J.B.Carroll

there is a limited number of such laboratories — P.D.Close

the city is … continuing to draw increasing numbers of visitors — H.W.H.King

archery clubs have been established … and their number is growing rapidly — American Guide Series: Minnesota

e. : an unspecified total : several

a number of solutions have been proposed — S.H.Hofstadter

the … concern occupies a number of brick buildings — American Guide Series: New Hampshire

collection which he has exhibited a number of times — Mary Zimmer

especially : quite a few

a number of instances


a. : a select company

I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in — When the Saints Go Marching In

b. obsolete

(1) : a designated class : category

a mineral … of the number of bitumens — A.Cooper

(2) : a specified group of people

this happy number that have endured shrewd days and nights with us — Shakespeare

(3) : a numerous group : multitude ; specifically : proletariat

the number may be hanged, but not be crowned — Alexander Pope

3. : the enumerative aspect of things existing in countable units

a weak sense of time and number — G.T.Trewartha & Wilbur Zelinsky


a. : an abstract unit in a numerical series

seven is his lucky number

a number divisible by two

b. numbers plural : the art of computation : arithmetic

teach children their numbers

from simple numbers to the calculus — British Book News


a. : distinction of word form to denote reference to one or to more than one or in some languages also to two usually expressed by an inflectional change ; also : the distinctive form itself (as of noun, adjective, or verb) or one of the groups of forms so distinguished — compare plural , singular


(1) obsolete : tuneful cadence : rhythm

in full harmonic number joined — John Milton

(2) numbers plural , archaic : musical sounds : notes

holy numbers which thou warblest — W.M.Praed

c. numbers plural

(1) : symmetry of cadence : period

melodic numbers of the classic orators

(2) : metrical structure : meter

most by numbers judge a poet's song — Alexander Pope

(3) : metrical lines : verses

these numbers will I tear, and write in prose — Shakespeare


a. : a written word, symbol, or group of symbols representing a number

spell out numbers under three digits — Kate L. Turabian

specifically : numeral

the code employs letters as well as numbers

b. : a numerical label or designation: as

(1) : a digit or group of digits used as a means of identification

house number

catalog number

stamped a number on each ball — Millen Brand

specifically : license plate

the victim remembered the number of the getaway car

— symbol #

apartment #32

(2) : an allotted position in a numerical sequence

take number two position in column — Wirt Williams

specifically : relative position on a promotion roster

for the grounding of his ship … he was reduced ten numbers — Allan Westcott

(3) : an individual identified by position in a sequence or by a numerical label

opened fire on number three — Oxford Book of English Talk

tackled on the line of scrimmage by number 22

to the keeper I was just a new number , another dirty blanket to issue — Gilbert Millstein

— compare opposite number

(4) : the specified position of an article in a series with respect to established criteria (as of size or quality)

number nine shoe

number one manila

a number two can of tomatoes

— compare : count II 8a

(5) : a telephone number

dialed a number on the interoffice telephone — Hamilton Basso

(6) : a numerical value obtained as the result of a chemical test and used in characterizing the substance tested

the iodine number of a fatty oil

7. : a large supply : quantity , swarm

squaretails in number — Stewart Holbrook

— usually used in plural

numbers of this shark sometimes attack shoals of sardines — J.L.B.Smith

individuals of great wealth will certainly not exist in any numbers in another decade or so — Persuasion

numbers of beauties major and minor — F.R.Leavis

8. numbers plural

a. : a numerous group : many

numbers died on the way — Marjory S. Douglas

b. : a numerical preponderance

there is safety in numbers

c. : units of population

their numbers outstrip their resources — Barbara Ward

the graduate school doubled its numbers — C.F.Smith


a. : a single issue of a periodical

a year's subscription brings you 12 numbers

his article will appear in the February number

b. : one that is singled out from a group: as

(1) : one of a company of people : person

two … stokers as ammunition numbers — The Crowsnest

especially : girl

a cute number in a yellow dress — R.L.Strout

a blondined number … draped in silver fox — Margaret Long

(2) : a musical, theatrical, or literary selection or production

a catchy little number in waltz time — A.E.Stevenson †1965

contains perhaps half a dozen numbers that are among the best things he ever wrote — Robert Collet

novel … was going to turn out to be one of those amnesia numbers — E.J.Fitzgerald

supported this cheery little number for just fifteen performances — Deems Taylor

the tango number late in Act I — Theatre Arts

(3) : an item of merchandise offered for sale

put that black velvet number with the sequins on the blonde dummy — Bennett Cerf

the new nylon number which he calls an armored vest — New Yorker

costs a lot of money to bring out any new toy number — Marketing Toys

a more modestly priced blanket is an all-wool number — Hamilton Basso

10. : information about or insight into a person's ability or character

the other side had his number and was riding him — Mary Deasy

she was incapable of subterfuge and it didn't take him long to get her number

11. numbers plural but singular or plural in construction

a. : a form of lottery played in the United States in which one may select any three digits from 001 to 999 and bet on them to appear in a specified order or in any combination and in which the winning numbers and order are determined by figures regularly published in newspapers (as clearinghouse or stock market receipts, pari-mutuel payoffs, or the cards in an article on contract bridge) — called also number pool, numbers game

b. : policy 2a


number , numeral , figure , digit , and integer can mean in common a character by which an arithmetical value is designated. number may refer to a character or to a word

the number forty-five

the number 45

or to a character with an affix

the ordinal numbers 2d, 3d, and 4th

numeral applies to the characters as numbers as distinguished from the words standing for the same numbers

a license plate with both letters and the numerals 13249

the Roman numerals V, VI, and XLII

figure stresses the characters as characters, usually arabic

write the numbers in figures wherever possible to save space

his salary went into five figures

digit refers expressly to one of the characters in Arabic notation

if you include 0, Arabic numerals consist of 10 digits, though some authorities exclude 0 as a digit

integer , in this connection, is an arithmetical term for a whole number, one that is not or does not contain a fraction

11 1/2 is not an integer

Synonym: see in addition sum .

- any number

- by the number

- have one's number on it


II. number verb

( numbered ; numbered ; numbering -b(ə)riŋ ; numbers )

Etymology: Middle English noumbren, nombren, from Old French nombrer, from Latin numerare, from numerus number

transitive verb


a. : to ascertain the number of : count

numbers his friends by the hundreds

b. archaic : to determine by mathematical processes : compute

was desirous of accurately numbering the interval of time from one … festival to another — Thomas Taylor

c. obsolete : to gauge the amount of : estimate

poets cannot think, speak, cast, write, sing, number … his love — Shakespeare

2. : to claim as part of a total : include

it is only by accident that I am numbered among American philosophers — George Santayana

writers resident in Texas numbered none of note whose literary work was not incidental — American Guide Series: Texas

prudence … is numbered with the cardinal virtues — H.O.Taylor

3. : to restrict to a limited or definite number

doctors told him his days were numbered — H.E.Starr

4. : to assign a number to especially as a means of identification

number the pages of a book

stay on numbered highways

we use letters to number the rows of seats in an assembly room — D.E.Smith

five thousand dollars of the stolen money was in numbered bills — E.S.Gardner

5. archaic

a. : to report the number of : enumerate

the quantities of … furnitures following so royal an army, what pen can number — Robert Johnson

— often used with up

you numbered up the acts of trust — R.H.Hutton

b. : to check over one by one : tell

let my brother number his beads devoutly — Philip Massinger

c. : apportion , divide

days of this life's pilgrimage … to number wisely — J.W.Warter

my … fellows I numbered into two companies — William Morris

6. archaic : to experience the passage of (an interval of time)

I since then have numbered o'er some thrice three years — Alfred Tennyson

especially : to reach or have (a specified age) in years

of as able body as when he numbered thirty — Shakespeare

7. : to comprise in number : total

they were a miscellaneous lot … numbering in all some 20 or 30 — R.W.Southern

his extensive collection … numbering many thousand specimens — Witmer Stone

intransitive verb

1. : to reach a total : count

controls … literally number in the thousands — Harold Koontz & Cyril O'Donnell

2. : to call off numbers in sequence

neng, song, sam, she numbered in Siamese — Kathryn Grondahl

especially : to call off one's number as a member of a squad or group

men fall in in single rank and number from the right in fours — Fire Service Drill Book

— often used with off

lined up and numbered off

Synonyms: see count

III. numb·er ˈnəmə(r)

comparative of numb

IV. number noun


a. : routine : act

b. : stunt : trick

c. : an act of transforming or impairing

tripped and did a number on her knee

2. plural

a. : figures representing amounts of money usually in dollars spent, earned, or involved


(1) : statistics 2 ; especially : individual statistics (as of an athlete)

(2) : rating 3

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.