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

The beetles are spread all over the world and have adapted to a great number of ecological niches. Joshua Rapp Learn, Smithsonian, "Fossil Beetle Mix-Up Could Rewrite the History of the Largest Family of Animals on Earth," 10 Sep. 2019 Based on the number of federal background checks conducted this year, Texas has heeded Abbott’s tweet and surpassed California in total gun purchases. Los Angeles Times, "After mass shootings, gun advocates in Texas worry about a political shift," 9 Sep. 2019 Mexico–Canada Agreement, known as USMCA, could come up for a vote in the fall but House Democrats are still working with the administration on a number of concerns, including enforcement mechanisms and labor standards. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "It's been a month. Here's what Congress is set to do when they come back to D.C.," 9 Sep. 2019 San Francisco’s progressives appear committed to cutting back on the number of people incarcerated in the city’s justice system. Willie Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Time to help SF’s homeless — and time to get tough if they won’t take it," 7 Sep. 2019 Over/under: Back the UNDER (51.5, -105) on a number tied for the highest in the CFL this week. Esten Mclaren, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Toronto Argonauts at Ottawa Redblacks odds, predictions, picks and best bets," 6 Sep. 2019 The numbers are hideous: more than 57,500 fires have been set in the Brazilian portion of the Amazon in 2019; nearly 7,200 sq. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "The Amazon Fires, From an Extraterrestrial Perspective," 6 Sep. 2019 For Tucker Barnhart before the Cincinnati Reds' Friday game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the number was 68. Mark Schmetzer, Cincinnati.com, "Just 1 win behind last season's total, Cincinnati Reds want to show progress in last month," 6 Sep. 2019 The numbers were much different for players listed as doubtful. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, "Brad Biggs’ 10 thoughts on Bears’ 10-3 loss to the Packers in Week 1," 6 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Cal Fire/Riverside said 44 engine crews and other crews, numbering some 500 personnel, were sent to the location and encountered flames in heavy vegetation, spreading to the north. Eric Licas, The Mercury News, "Southern California wildfire: Almost 1,000 acres burned, hundreds evacuated," 5 Sep. 2019 At Fort Lauderdale International Airport, cancellations numbered more than 160. Fox News, "Hurricane Dorian triggers hundreds of flight cancellations on Labor Day weekend," 2 Sep. 2019 With fans' criticism of a poor attitude exacerbated by his love of golf, Bale's days in Spain appeared numbered. Daniel Gallan, CNN, "Could Gareth Bale be Real Madrid's unlikely hero this season?," 2 Sep. 2019 Fireplaces number four — the living room, library, owner’s suite and rec room. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, "Beloved Detroit Golf Club home of the late David DiChiera is for sale," 30 Aug. 2019 On Friday, the calls specifically referring to Maria numbered eight. New York Times, "Hurricane Dorian Spares Puerto Rico as Florida Prepares for Landfall," 28 Aug. 2019 Each seat is numbered, so servers know where to go with the food ordered in-theater. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "At the new-look Cinepolis West Hartford, you’ll find luxury seating, in-theater waitstaff and soon, a full bar," 12 Aug. 2019 With the new additions, the total number of Wonderfront acts now numbers 98. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Wonderfront festival adds Migos, 14 other acts and daily lineups," 27 Aug. 2019 The mighty Paradise pep band now numbers just 19 musicians, about half of its previous size. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Paradise football brings smiles and tears in first game since Camp fire," 25 Aug. 2019

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

17 Sep 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

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