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 Cost of Living Refund simplifies and improves the EITC in a number of ways. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Parenting can be a full-time job. Activists want the tax code to treat it that way.," 15 July 2019 Rachel Fobar at National Geographic reports that the slump in giraffe numbers is directly related to human activity. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "One of the Largest Subspecies of Giraffes Is Declared Endangered," 15 July 2019 However, China’s growing debt levels, and concerns about overcapacity in a number of sectors, mean the country is unlikely to splash money as generously on projects as before. Jane Li, Quartz, "Why China can’t rev up its economy now the way it did during the global recession," 15 July 2019 Between 2005 and 2009, there was a 34 percent decrease in the number of fatal accidents involving large trucks and buses, and between 2009 and 2017, there was a 40 percent increase. Kellie Hwang, Indianapolis Star, "This is how often crashes in Indiana involve large trucks and other commercial vehicles," 15 July 2019 The first day of President Trump’s long-threatened didn’t result in the large numbers of arrests some had expected. Cindy Carcamo, latimes.com, "Hiding from ICE raids: ‘People are terrified to go out on the streets’," 15 July 2019 And there has been little change in the number of people who want to see Congress drop the impeachment inquiry and let the president complete his term. Dante Chinni, NBC News, "Support for impeachment falls as 2020 heats up," 14 July 2019 Reasons for the rise are unclear, though some cite longer and tougher wildfire seasons and an increase in the number of wildland firefighters who previously served in the military and were already dealing with post-traumatic stress. Washington Post, "Agencies boost efforts to stop wildland firefighter suicides," 14 July 2019 Beyoncé opted for a yellow gown for the premiere and the dress was truly unique in a number of ways, from it's asymmetrical neckline with one cap sleeve and one off-the-shoulder sleeve to the triangle cut-out in the bodice. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Beyoncé Wears a Gorgeous Yellow Dress with a Jaw-Dropping Leg Slit to 'The Lion King' Premiere in London," 14 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The sentiments from the group provide a window into the lives of workers at Amazon’s more than 140 fulfillment centers around the U.S. who make up the bulk of the company’s workforce, which numbers more than half a million people. NBC News, "In a private Facebook group, Amazon workers brace for Prime Day," 15 July 2019 In 2008, King & Spalding also opened an Austin office, which now numbers around 40 attorneys and is led by Mike Stenglein , a litigation and arbitration specialist who joined from Dewey Ballantine in 2008. Claire Poole Of The Texas Lawbook, Houston Chronicle, "Atlanta law firm inflitrated Houston market one deal at a time," 21 June 2019 The Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd now numbers 76 animals, including a dozen calves born just this year. USA TODAY, "Chicago cows, bras for turtles, gold rush: News from around our 50 states," 1 July 2019 The large influxes of new members in recent years have dwarfed the classes of years past, which were limited by quotas and generally numbered around 100. Josh Rottenberg, latimes.com, "Film academy invites more women than men to key director, writer and producer branches," 1 July 2019 In the central part of the county, the number of first-degree domestic assaults – in which someone caused or attempted to cause serious physical injury – numbered 37 so far this year, up from 14 in the first five months of 2018. Libby Solomon, baltimoresun.com, "Reports of domestic violence rise in central Baltimore County," 1 July 2019 In 1995, global arrivals numbered only 525 million. Leonid Bershidsky, chicagotribune.com, "Europe braces for another summer of overtourism," 1 July 2019 Each year at their, event members of the BMX/Skate Park Committee adopt out numbered rubber ducks for a small fee. Annie Gentile, courant.com, "Annual Duck Race Raises Funds For Park," 27 June 2019 This year, the average daily population regularly has numbered more than 1,100 and sometimes has exceeded 1,200. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Despite fewer arrests, Arapahoe County jail remains overcrowded. The sheriff has a $462M solution that could mean a tax hike.," 26 June 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

18 Jul 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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