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cardinal number

Also called cardinal numeral. any of the numbers that express amount, as one, two, three, etc. (distinguished from ordinal number).
Also called potency, power. Mathematics. a number or symbol analogous to the number of elements in a finite set, being identical for two sets that can be placed into one-to-one correspondence:
The cardinal number of the set a1, a2, … an is n.
Origin of cardinal number
First recorded in 1585-95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for cardinal numbers

cardinal number

a number denoting quantity but not order in a set Sometimes shortened to cardinal
(maths, logic)
  1. a measure of the size of a set that does not take account of the order of its members Compare natural number
  2. a particular number having this function
Compare ordinal number
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cardinal numbers

cardinal number


1590s, "one, two, three," etc. as opposed to ordinal numbers "first, second, third," etc.; so called because they are the principal numbers and the ordinals depend on them (see cardinal (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cardinal numbers in Science
cardinal number
A number, such as 3, 11, or 412, used in counting to indicate quantity but not order. Compare ordinal number.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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cardinal numbers in Culture

cardinal numbers definition

Numbers that indicate the quantity of things in a group or set, but not the order or arrangement of those things. One, two, and one thousand are cardinal numbers. (Compare ordinal numbers.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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