nu·​mer·​a·​tor ˈnü-mə-ˌrā-tər How to pronounce numerator (audio)
: the part of a fraction that is above the line and signifies the number to be divided by the denominator
: one that numbers

Examples of numerator in a Sentence

The numerator in the fraction 3/5 is 3.
Recent Examples on the Web These are slight variations of the rule of 72, just using different numerators for the calculation. Anna-Louise Jackson,, 11 Nov. 2023 That comes out to a debt-to-GDP ratio where the numerator is growing faster and the denominator is growing slower. The Editors, National Review, 24 Oct. 2023 Simply put, revenue per FTE is the ratio of the revenues of a business (the numerator) divided by the number of people the business employs (the denominator) to produce that revenue. Kotter, Forbes, 5 May 2023 And at each stage, there are only finitely many fractions where the numerator and denominator are at least in magnitude at most n. Steven Strogatz, Quanta Magazine, 19 Apr. 2023 Taxes are the numerator. Richard Rubin, WSJ, 10 Oct. 2021 And the system only provides a numerator. John Fauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 30 Nov. 2020 The one in the magnetic field equation is in the numerator, and there was already one in the denominator. Rhett Allain, WIRED, 14 Mar. 2023 Still, that would be a pretty high number, even if the numerator were average rather than Brobdingnagian profits. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 26 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'numerator.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French numerateur, borrowed from Late Latin numerātor "counter, enumerator," from Latin numerāre "to count, number entry 2" + -tor, agent suffix

Note: The Middle French word numerateur (modern numérateur) as a name for the part of a fraction above the line was probably introduced into European mathematical terminology by the mathematician Estienne de La Roche (ca. 1470-ca. 1530), who used it in Larismethique nouellement composee (Lyon, 1520). It is now known that La Roche adopted numerateur as well as denominateur denominator from an earlier mathematician of Lyon, Nicolas Chuquet (ca. 1445-55-1488 or later). Chuquet introduced the words in his Triparty en la science des nombres ("The Science of Numbers in Three Parts"), the manuscript of which dates to 1485, though it was not published until 1880.

First Known Use

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of numerator was in 1539

Dictionary Entries Near numerator

Cite this Entry

“Numerator.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


nu·​mer·​a·​tor ˈn(y)ü-mə-ˌrāt-ər How to pronounce numerator (audio)
: the part of a fraction that is above the line and signifies the number to be divided by the denominator
3 is the numerator of the fraction ⅗
: one that counts something

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