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 Ultimately, banning flavors could help reduce the number of kids who start vaping. NBC News, "Vaping 101: What to know about e-cigs, addiction and illnesses," 17 Sep. 2019 There probably will still be time to count the number of seats between you and the nearest exit. Author: Christopher Elliott, Anchorage Daily News, "How to evacuate a plane," 17 Sep. 2019 Two young people who used vaping products have been diagnosed with severe pulmonary lung diseases, bringing the total number of Washington state cases to three in what health officials say is a statewide outbreak of severe illnesses. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "Washington health officials declare statewide outbreak in vaping-related illness," 17 Sep. 2019 Those numbers all look set to increase this season. SI.com, "2018/19 Champions League Final Breaks Social Media Interactions Record," 16 Sep. 2019 But even those numbers probably overstate how central this work is to the economic lives of Americans. Neil Irwin, New York Times, "Maybe We’re Not All Going to Be Gig Economy Workers After All," 15 Sep. 2019 Hyde questioned whether there was a difference among 98, 100 and 104 losses in terms of the feelings those numbers evoke. Nathan Ruiz, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles’ Brandon Hyde focused on individual improvement, not win-loss milestones, in season’s final weeks," 13 Sep. 2019 When those numbers remain elevated for a few consecutive weeks, it's considered flu season. Emily Shiffer, Health.com, "When Exactly is Flu Season? Doctors Explain How to Prepare," 13 Sep. 2019 However, those numbers also show Google owning 43 percent of the market by 2020, while Amazon is expected to slide to 34 percent. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Should I Buy a Google Home or Amazon Echo?," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Precisely because my days were numbered, people drew inspiration from my decision to spend them in resistance. Ady Barkan, Time, "How My Dying Body Could Help Give Yours a Future," 9 Sep. 2019 But as the streaming wars continue to heat up—with what seems like a new service announced every week—a new announcement suggests that our days of widespread password sharing may be numbered. Sangeeta Singh-kurtz, Quartz, "The days of using your ex’s streaming passwords could be numbered," 17 Aug. 2019 As of this writing, attorneys for the former Yeshiva students—now numbering forty-one—planned to refile the lawsuit with new evidence on August 14, the day the law was scheduled to go into effect. Linda Stasi, Harper's magazine, "Secrets and Lies," 16 Sep. 2019 By the time of my visit, their last group had numbered around 25. Aaron Cantú, The New Republic, "Inside Trump’s Border Chaos," 12 Sep. 2019 The cases now number more than 450, with at least five deaths reported as of last Friday (Sept. 6). Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "Is it safe to vape?," 9 Sep. 2019 Ford figured his days were numbered nearly 20 years ago. Jon Tayler, SI.com, "At 43, Lew Ford's Never-Ending Career Keeps Rolling as Player-Coach," 13 Sep. 2019 This is vanishingly small, even in a world where re-entries are numbered in the hundreds per year. The Economist, "No one has yet been killed by re-entering space junk," 10 Aug. 2019 It was covered recently in goals and ideas tossed around in a brainstorming exercise, then numbered as priorities. Mark Pazniokas, courant.com, "Who is Josh Geballe? The former IBM executive is looking to transform Connecticut state government ahead of a wave of retirements," 5 Aug. 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

24 Oct 2019

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
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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