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.
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 upthe 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

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 However, the number of stops skyrocketed under Bloomberg, and decreased only when a lawsuit to stop them sought and received class certification in the final two years of his tenure. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Bloomberg defends record on crime after uproar over 2015 stop-and-frisk comments," 11 Feb. 2020 The numbers, however shocking, weren’t a surprise after a string of profit warnings over the past year, most recently in late January. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "Why Your Expensive Mercedes-Benz Is Barely Profitable," 11 Feb. 2020 The number of cases confirmed in the United States ticked up to 13 on Monday, with another American diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in California, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson. Erin Schumaker, ABC News, "American Airlines extends flight suspensions to Hong Kong and mainland China amidst coronavirus," 11 Feb. 2020 Some of the critiques are certainly valid -- defensive issues, lower-than-desired assist numbers, dribbling into traffic with his head down, shots getting swatted at the rim. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Collin Sexton’s latest honor proof of continued growth during frustrating 13-win season: Chris Fedor," 11 Feb. 2020 For Democrats, New Hampshire is make-or-break time A number of once-leading candidates — like former Vice President Joe Biden — are teetering on the brink of oblivion. NBC News, "It's showtime in New Hampshire, coronavirus death toll tops 1,000 and who will win 'Best in Show?': The Morning Rundown," 11 Feb. 2020 In early January, amidst escalating tensions with Iran and stagnant poll numbers, The New York Times reported that Mayor Pete would make his military service even more central to his pitch. Jasper Craven, The New Republic, "Pete Buttigieg and the Democrats’ Veteran Problem," 11 Feb. 2020 But a number of US allies are taking a different approach to dealing with the telecom giant, hoping to manage the potential risks rather than banning Huawei equipment altogether. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "The US Fears Huawei Because It Knows How Tempting Backdoors Are," 11 Feb. 2020 There, an endless array of videos about food, tech, comedy, cars, and any number of other topics, occupy my time. Navneet Alang, TheWeek, "Why YouTube is the true successor to TV," 7 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In my view, struggles between the Trump administration and major corporations over environmental deregulation signal an awareness that the fossil fuel economy’s days are numbered. Cara Daggett, The Conversation, "Fight or switch? How the low-carbon transition is disrupting fossil fuel politics," 22 Nov. 2019 The First World War ended with a nascent American hegemony and strong hints that Britain’s imperial days were numbered. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "From Little Englanders to Brexiteers," 11 Nov. 2019 But the announcement that HBO Max will cost exactly the same as HBO means only one thing for the legacy pay-cable channel: Its days are numbered. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "We’re starting to see what AT&T’s ownership of HBO really means," 30 Oct. 2019 Napoleon imposed an orderly street-numbering system on Paris in 1805. The Economist, "The countryside catches up with Napoleon," 26 Sep. 2019 Calves from the Nelchina herd were introduced by the military in the late 1950s to provide food security and recreation for the base, and the herd now numbers between 2,000 and 3,000. Author: Paxson Woelber, Anchorage Daily News, "Trekking into the storm-battered, golden beauty of Adak Island," 17 June 2019 Combined with efforts to protect the birds in their native habitat, the result has been a slow recovery of the species, which now numbers over 400. 19. Brian Clark Howard, National Geographic, "49 environmental victories since the first Earth Day," 22 Apr. 2019 With a lunar entourage that now numbers 82, Saturn has its fair share of weird moons. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Swelling, Freezing Seas May Have Given Enceladus Its Tiger Stripes," 10 Dec. 2019 Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, has hosted an annual Comic Con since 2012 with several companies and creators showcasing characters and stories in front of an audience that now numbers in thousands. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Nollywood is one step closer to its first major animated cinema production," 18 Oct. 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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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

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Number.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/number. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for number

number

noun
How to pronounce number (audio)

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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