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\ ˈnəm-​bərz How to pronounce number (audio) \ 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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The number of people with implantable electronic devices globally is likely tens of millions. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, 22 Sep. 2022 The number of nurses retiring is one reason for a national shortage of nurses who staff our hospitals, doctors’ offices and home healthcare agencies. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 22 Sep. 2022 The total number of prisoners held by each side is unknown. Isabel Coles, WSJ, 22 Sep. 2022 Although physical product claims just 10% of total revenue, the continuing rise of vinyl carries much stronger impact: While the number of CDs and vinyl units shipped is comparable, vinyl brings in much more revenue (and costs more to manufacture). Jem Aswad, Variety, 21 Sep. 2022 Some communities’ rates go over 100% because the state’s reported number of vaccines is above the population estimates from Mass. Dept. of Public Health. Martin Finucane, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Sep. 2022 The total number of reservists to be called up is 300,000, officials said. Time, 21 Sep. 2022 Scientists said their count only covered surface level ants, not underground or tree-dwelling ants, meaning the number of ants on the planet is likely much higher. Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY, 21 Sep. 2022 The total number of reservists to be called up could be as high as 300,000, officials said. Karl Ritter, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The group now represents more than 200 digital creators who collectively number more than 2 billion fans across social platforms. Pat Saperstein, Variety, 23 Aug. 2022 After Conservative lawmakers narrow the field to two this week in voting beginning Monday, the party members, who number around 200,000, will cast the deciding votes by mail. Jaweed Kaleem, Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2022 The danger is also rising for his officers, who number more than 100 in the two settlements. New York Times, 24 May 2022 Since childhood, Ghunaim has witnessed a rapid influx of Israeli settlers, who now number about half a million in the West Bank — land that Palestinians envision as part of their future state. Shira Rubin, Washington Post, 13 July 2022 Their statement comes days after Florida became the only state not to preorder the vaccine for children under 5, who number around 18 million across the United States. Shira Moolten, Sun Sentinel, 23 June 2022 Monkeypox lesions can number from a few to, in severe cases, thousands. Ngofeen Mputubwele, The New Yorker, 23 July 2022 According to Ward, the rebooted downtown location’s staff will number around 10 for now. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, 15 July 2022 With the pandemic over, crowds should again number in the hundreds of thousands for the week. Dom Amore, Hartford Courant, 17 June 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About number

Time Traveler for number

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near number

numbat

number

number agreement

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Statistics for number

Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Number.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/number. Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for number

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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