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 number (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 number (audio) \ adjective
numberer \ ˈnəm-​bər-​ər How to pronounce number (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for number

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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 McCarthy said mitigation in the area has to be done with a helicopter and is complicated by the area’s topography and the large number of people often in the area. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, "Multiple avalanches and continuing danger will keep Hatcher Pass Road closed through weekend," 8 Apr. 2021 Portland recorded 55 in 2020, the highest number in 26 years. oregonlive, "Portland mayor, commissioners reach deal on police and gun violence prevention, plan to vote with limited public input," 7 Apr. 2021 After rising a day earlier, the number of people hospitalized in the state with covid-19 fell by two, to 150. Andy Davis, Arkansas Online, "State records 244 new covid cases," 7 Apr. 2021 With the number of uninsured Americans rising during the pandemic, Biden reopened the law’s heath insurance markets as a backstop. BostonGlobe.com, "More than a half million Americans gain coverage under Biden," 7 Apr. 2021 According to Godley, an ocular migraine is a migraine attack, usually in one eye, where any number of visual distortions can occur for up to an hour. Ashley Abramson, Allure, "Every Type of Migraine and How to Tell Them Apart," 7 Apr. 2021 While the number of victims is disputed, Vietnamese groups claim there are more than 3 million. NBC News, "'Ecocide' movement pushes for a new international crime: Environmental destruction," 7 Apr. 2021 The Pfizer and Moderna allotment include an equal number of second doses. Richard Tribou, orlandosentinel.com, "Johnson & Johnson vaccine shortage cuts Florida supply next week, down nearly 270k doses," 7 Apr. 2021 Due to the number of mail-in ballots that may not have yet been counted, results for the April 6 election may change before the official canvass on April 27. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, "OPRF School Board: Arkin, Mohanraj, Henry, Cofsky leading race, according to unofficial results posted Tuesday," 7 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Tommy Murchison, Arkansas Big Buck Classic promoter, said that managing the flow of a crowd that could number as many as 12,000 is not feasible in a way that would be fair to show-goers and vendors. Bryan Hendricks, Arkansas Online, "Arkansas Big Buck Classic canceled," 4 Feb. 2021 These workers, who number about 4 million, now make up roughly 2 in 5 of America’s jobless. NBC News, "U.S. economy gains 379,000 jobs in February, in first full monthly employment report under Biden," 5 Mar. 2021 Active members now number less than 2 million, down from a peak of more than 4 million in in the 1970s. oregonlive, "Boy Scouts offer abuse victims $6,000 under bankruptcy plan," 2 Mar. 2021 However, the death rate among Blacks, who number about 473,000 in Arkansas, has been almost the same as that for the 2.4 million whites. Lara Farrar, Arkansas Online, "Vaccine equity at issue," 21 Feb. 2021 So don’t number your entries; don’t group several entries under a single header. Washington Post, "Style Conversational Week 1424: It’s hive time for another Spelling Bee contest," 18 Feb. 2021 Some states, including Florida, Alaska, Michigan and Texas, have already begun vaccinating people 65 and older — who number more than 50 million nationwide — leading to long lines and confusion over how to receive a shot. New York Times, "States Told to Vaccinate Everyone 65 and Over as Deaths Surge," 12 Jan. 2021 Annual line-of-duty deaths for corrections officers typically number about a dozen. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why protecting prisons from COVID-19 is everyone’s problem," 13 Jan. 2021 Under dark skies, the Perseids usually number 50 to 75 per hour. oregonlive, "Stargazing calendar 2021: Eclipses, meteor showers and other astronomical events this year," 30 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for number

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for number

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Number.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/number. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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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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Comments on number

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