1

number

noun num·ber \ ˈnəm-bər \
Updated on: 17 Nov 2017

Definition of number

1 a (1) :a sum of units :total
  • the number of people in the hall
(2) :complement 1b
  • … 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 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
4 a :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
b :2policy 2a
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 2; especially :individual statistics (as of an athlete)
  • Her numbers make her the most valuable member of the team.
(2) :rating 3c
9 :a person represented by a number or considered without regard to individuality
  • at the university I was just a number
10 :lifetime 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

amount vs. number

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

  1. the numbers and letters on a license plate

  2. a three-digit number like 429

  3. Think of a number between one and one hundred.

  4. The number 7{frac3 is greater than the number 7.25.

  5. 2, 4, 6, and 8 are even numbers; 1, 3, 5, and 7 are odd numbers.

  6. Never give out your credit card number to anyone over the phone.

  7. What's the account number on your electricity bill?

  8. The page numbers are on the top corner of each page.

  9. Today's winning lottery numbers are 17, 8, and 46.

  10. I'm waiting for the number 3 bus.

Recent Examples of number from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of number

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

Other Mathematics and Statistics Terms


2

number

verb

Definition of number

numbered; numbering play \ˈnəm-b(ə-)riŋ\
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

numberable

play \ˈnəm-b(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective

numberer

play \ˈnəm-bər-ər\ noun

Examples of number in a Sentence

  1. She numbers and arranges the photographs according to when they were taken.

  2. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist.

  3. The team's coach bought all the players numbered jerseys.

  4. In that year, European settlers in the area numbered nearly 15,000.

  5. The animal, which once numbered in the millions, is now extinct.

  6. He numbers her with the other great poets of the time.

Recent Examples of number from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of number

number Synonyms

Synonyms
enumerate, count, tell
Antonyms
exclude, leave (out), miss out [British], omit
Related Words
add (up), tally, total; calculate, compute, reckon, table, tabulate; check, mark, tick (off); recount
Near Antonyms
ban, bar, debar, preclude, prevent, prohibit; deny, refuse, reject; eliminate, except, rule out; lose, mislay, misplace

NUMBER Defined for English Language Learners

number

noun

Definition of number for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of number for English Language Learners

  • : 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


NUMBER Defined for Kids

1

number

noun num·ber \ ˈnəm-bər \

Definition of number for Students

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.

2

number

verb

Definition of number for Students

numbered; numbering
1 :1count 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.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up number? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to praise usually to excess

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!