noun num·ber \ˈnəm-bər\

: a word or symbol (such as “five” or “16”) that represents a specific amount or quantity

: a number or a set of numbers and other symbols that is used to identify a person or thing

: a person who is identified by a number and not treated in a personal or friendly way

Full Definition of NUMBER

a (1) :  a sum of units :  total (2) :  complement 1b (3) :  an indefinite usually large total <a number of members were absent> <the number of elderly is rising> (4) plural :  a numerous group :  many (5) :  a numerical preponderance
b (1) :  the characteristic of an individual by which it is treated as a unit or of a collection by which it is treated in terms of units
(2) :  an ascertainable total <bugs beyond number>
c (1) :  a unit belonging to an abstract mathematical system and subject to specified laws of succession, addition, and multiplication; especially :  natural number
(2) :  an element (as π) of any of many mathematical systems obtained by extension of or analogy with the natural number system (3) plural :  arithmetic
:  a distinction of word form to denote reference to one or more than one; also :  a form or group of forms so distinguished
a (1) :  metrical structure :  meter
(2) :  metrical lines :  verses
b archaic :  musical sounds :  notes
a :  a word, symbol, letter, or combination of symbols representing a number
b :  a numeral or combination of numerals or other symbols used to identify or designate <dialed the wrong number>
c (1) :  a member of a sequence or collection designated by especially consecutive numbers (as an issue of a periodical)
(2) :  a position in a numbered sequence
d :  a group of one kind <not of their number>
:  one singled out from a group :  individual: as
a :  girl, woman <met an attractive number at the dance>
b (1) :  a musical, theatrical, or literary selection or production
(2) :  routine, act
c :  stunt, trick
d :  an act of transforming or impairing <tripped and did a number on her knee>
e :  an item of merchandise and especially clothing
:  insight into a person's ability or character <had my number>
plural but sing or plural in constr
a :  a form of lottery in which an individual wagers on the appearance of a certain combination of digits (as in regularly published numbers) —called also numbers game
b :  2policy 2a
a :  figures representing amounts of money usually in dollars spent, earned, or involved
b (1) :  statistics 2; especially :  individual statistics (as of an athlete)
(2) :  rating 3c
:  a person represented by a number or considered without regard to individuality <at the university I was just a number>
:  lifetime 1a —used with up <the old feeling that comes to men in combat … that your number was up — Geoffrey Norman>
See Usage Discussion at amount
number table

Origin of NUMBER

Middle English nombre, from Anglo-French, from Latin numerus
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Mathematics and Statistics Terms

abscissa, denominator, divisor, equilateral, exponent, hypotenuse, logarithm, oblique, radii, rhomb

Rhymes with NUMBER



: to give a number to (someone or something in a series) : to label or identify (people or things in a series) with a number

: to include (someone or something) as part of a larger group

num·berednum·ber·ing \-b(ə-)riŋ\

Full Definition of NUMBER

transitive verb
:  to claim as part of a total :  include
:  to restrict to a definite number <your days are numbered>
:  to assign a number to <number the pages>
:  to amount to in number :  total <the crew numbers 100>
intransitive verb
:  to reach a total number
:  to call off numbers in sequence
num·ber·able \-b(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective
num·ber·er \-bər-ər\ noun

First Known Use of NUMBER

14th century


Next Word in the Dictionary: number agreementPrevious Word in the Dictionary: numbatAll Words Near: number
March 26, 2015
verdigris Hear it
A green deposit formed on some metals
Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears