number

noun
num·​ber | \ ˈnəm-bər How to pronounce number (audio) \

Definition of number

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a sum of units : total the number of people in the hall
(2) : complement sense 1b(1) … the whole number of Senators …U.S. Constitution
(3) : an indefinite usually large total a number of members were absent the number of elderly is rising
(4) numbers plural : a numerous group : many numbers died on the way— Marjory S. Douglas
(5) : a numerical preponderance (see preponderance sense 2) There's safety in numbers.
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 there is a limited number of such laboratories— P. D. Close
(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 a number divisible by 2 especially : natural number
(2) : an element (such as π) of any of many mathematical systems obtained by extension of or analogy with the natural number system
(3) numbers plural : arithmetic Teach children their numbers.
2 : a distinction of word form to denote reference to one or more than one A subject and its verb should agree in number. also : a form or group of forms so distinguished

3 numbers plural

a(1) : metrical structure : meter … most by numbers judge a poet's song.— Alexander Pope
(2) : metrical lines : verses These numbers will I tear, and write in prose.— Shakespeare
b archaic : musical sounds : notes
4a : a word, symbol, letter, or combination of symbols representing a number Spell out the numbers one through ten.
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 (such as an issue of a periodical) just received issue number 8 of the magazine
(2) : a position in a numbered sequence You're number 7 on the waiting list.
d : a group of one kind not of their number
5 : one singled out from a group : individual: such as
a : girl, woman met an attractive number at the dance
b(1) : a musical, theatrical, or literary selection or production The actors broke into a song and dance number.
(2) : routine, act The comedian's number had the audience laughing out loud.
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 put that black velvet number with the sequins on the blonde dummy— Bennett Cerf
6 : insight into a person's ability or character had my number

7 numbers plural in form but singular or plural in construction

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

8 numbers plural

a : figures representing amounts of money usually in dollars spent, earned, or involved We won't be able to stay in business with numbers like these.
b(1) : statistics sense 2 especially : individual statistics (as of an athlete) Her numbers make her the most valuable member of the team.
9 : a person represented by a number or considered without regard to individuality at the university I was just a number
10 : lifetime sense 1a used with up the old feeling that comes to men in combat … that your number was up— Geoffrey Norman
by the numbers
1 : in unison to a specific count or cadence
2 : in a systematic, routine, or mechanical manner a program run not by the numbers but with concern for the participants
number table

number

verb
numbered; numbering\ ˈnəm-​b(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce numbering (audio) \

Definition of number (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

2 : to claim as part of a total : include
3 : to restrict to a definite number your days are numbered
4 : to assign a number to number the pages
5 : to amount to in number : total the crew numbers 100

intransitive verb

1 : to reach a total number
2 : to call off numbers in sequence

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Other Words from number

Verb

numberable \ ˈnəm-​b(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce numberable (audio) \ adjective
numberer \ ˈnəm-​bər-​ər How to pronounce numberer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for number

Synonyms: Noun

digit, figure, integer, numeral, numeric, whole number

Synonyms: Verb

count, enumerate, tell

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Amount vs. Number: Usage Guide

Noun

Number is regularly used with count nouns a large number of mistakes any number of times while amount is mainly used with mass nouns. annual amount of rainfall a substantial amount of money The use of amount with count nouns has been frequently criticized; it usually occurs when the number of things is thought of as a mass or collection glad to furnish any amount of black pebbles New Yorker a substantial amount of film offers — Lily Tomlin or when money is involved. a substantial amount of loans — E. R. Black

Examples of number in a Sentence

Noun

the numbers and letters on a license plate a three-digit number like 429 Think of a number between one and one hundred. 2, 4, 6, and 8 are even numbers; 1, 3, 5, and 7 are odd numbers. Never give out your credit card number to anyone over the phone. What's the account number on your electricity bill? The page numbers are on the top corner of each page. Today's winning lottery numbers are 17, 8, and 46. I'm waiting for the number 3 bus.

Verb

She numbers and arranges the photographs according to when they were taken. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist. The team's coach bought all the players numbered jerseys. In that year, European settlers in the area numbered nearly 15,000. The animal, which once numbered in the millions, is now extinct. He numbers her with the other great poets of the time.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On average, six people a day die from alcohol poisoning in the United States, per the most recent available numbers from the CDC. Natasha Lavender, SELF, "What to Do if Your Friend Is Passed Out Drunk," 26 Feb. 2019 This style can be tall or short, and tightly or loosely constructed, depending on the size and number of loops. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Best Carpet Types for a Perfectly Grounded Space," 13 Feb. 2019 As of Tuesday morning, eastern Iowans woke up to more than six inches of snow, and will see that number climb to around 10 inches as the day goes on. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Brace Yourselves: The Entire Country Will be Hit by a Brutal Winter Storm This Week," 12 Feb. 2019 While the number of murders fell significantly in the past two years, the city still has more murders annually than New York and Los Angeles combined. Aaron M. Renn, WSJ, "A Mad Dash for City Hall in the Windy City," 22 Feb. 2019 However, a number of leading brands of silver, such as Puiforcat, Vienna Silver, Christofle and [Georg Jensen], clearly state that their sterling flatware can be washed in the dishwasher. Elle Decor Editors, ELLE Decor, "Everything You Need to Know About Caring for Tabletop Accessories," 11 Feb. 2019 According to the latest government statistics, the number of births in 2018 fell to 921,000, the lowest since Japan began recording such statistics in 1899. Mari Yamaguchi, The Seattle Times, "Japan finance minister Aso sorry for criticizing childless," 5 Feb. 2019 Much of this is because Women's March, the organization behind the event, has been marred with controversy after its chairs were accused of a number of issues, ranging from mismanagement to anti-Semitism. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "A Timeline of the Women's March Controversy," 18 Jan. 2019 That number quickly blew out to 7,000 because the government was handing out free money to installers. Tim Blair, WSJ, "Green New Deal: A Cautionary Tale," 11 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

It was taken apart and the stones were numbered and put back together. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Stone farmhouse in Cedarburg has grown but kept its rustic vibe," 12 July 2018 However, its days as the primary or sole predictive tool regarding the potential success or value of a candidate may be numbered as new assessment techniques get adopted into the recruitment process. Eric Titner, USA TODAY, "The top 4 emerging trends that will shape recruiting in 2018," 7 Apr. 2018 Staff once numbered 24 and security was outsourced. Helena Pozniak, Popular Mechanics, "The Technology That Will Finally Stop Poachers," 26 Nov. 2018 The community, once numbering nearly 5,000 Jews, has now dwindled to about 900. Leslie Camhi, ELLE Decor, "Inside the World's Most Beautiful Synagogues," 5 Nov. 2018 By February 1918 the diggers (now numbering 13) were beyond the stone wall. Daniel Ford, WSJ, "‘The Escape Artists’ Review: Keep Calm and Keep Shoveling," 27 Sep. 2018 His collection now numbers close to 150 pieces, mostly by African-American artists, and is kept in storage. Daniel Grant, WSJ, "Art Collectors Remember Their First Purchase," 21 Oct. 2018 The new Prime Video homepage showcases the most popular shows and movies in a numbered, scrollable carousel. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Echo Show 2018 review: Seeing is believing, and there’s a lot more to see," 8 Oct. 2018 Six days later, the College Football Playoff was approved, and the BCS’s days were officially numbered, leaving the computer pollsters to reflect on their run. Joan Niesen, SI.com, "The Computer Poll Uprising: Creators of the BCS's Most Controversial Component Look Back," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'number.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of number

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for number

Noun and Verb

Middle English nombre, from Anglo-French, from Latin numerus

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Statistics for number

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for number

The first known use of number was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for number

number

noun

English Language Learners Definition of number

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

number

verb

English Language Learners Definition of number (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give a number to (someone or something in a series) : to label or identify (people or things in a series) with a number
somewhat formal : to include (someone or something) as part of a larger group

number

noun
num·​ber | \ ˈnəm-bər How to pronounce number (audio) \

Kids Definition of number

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the total of persons, things, or units taken together : amount What is the number of people in the room?
2 : a total that is not specified … the mermaids come up in extraordinary numbers to play with their bubbles.— J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan
3 : a unit belonging to a mathematical system and subject to its rules Tell me a number divisible by 2.
4 : a word, symbol, or letter used to represent a mathematical number : numeral the number 5
5 : a certain numeral for telling one person or thing from another or from others a house number
6 : a quality of a word form that shows whether the word is singular or plural A verb agrees in number with its subject.
7 : one of a series You're number seven on the waiting list.
8 : a song or dance usually that is part of a larger performance The band played a catchy number.

number

verb
numbered; numbering

Kids Definition of number (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : count entry 1 sense 1 The grains of sand cannot be numbered.
2 : include I was numbered among the guests.
3 : to limit to a certain number Vacation days are numbered now.
4 : to give a number to Number the pages of your journal.
5 : to add up to or have a total of Our group numbered ten in all.

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More from Merriam-Webster on number

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with number

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for number

Spanish Central: Translation of number

Nglish: Translation of number for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of number for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about number

Comments on number

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