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[twelv] /twɛlv/
a cardinal number, 10 plus 2.
a symbol for this number, as 12 or XII.
a set of this many persons or things.
the Twelve, the 12 apostles chosen by Christ.
amounting to 12 in number.
Origin of twelve
before 900; Middle English twelve, inflected form of twelf, Old English twelfe literally, (ten and) two leave, i.e., two left over; cognate with Old Frisian twelef, twelf, Old High German zwelif, Old Norse tōlf, Gothic twalif; compare Lithuanian dvýlika; see two, leave1, eleven Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for twelve
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Stater—A gold coin; estimated at about twelve shillings, three pence.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • twelve hours afterward the snow, three feet deep on a level, has melted.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • On the 26th we arrived at Salisbury, twelve miles from Adelaide.

  • They studied the heavens and named the twelve signs of the Zodiak.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • The clock struck twelve, and it seemed as if it struck a thousand.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
British Dictionary definitions for twelve


the cardinal number that is the sum of ten and two See also number (sense 1)
a numeral, 12, XII, etc, representing this number
something represented by, representing, or consisting of 12 units
Also called twelve o'clock. noon or midnight
  1. amounting to twelve: twelve loaves
  2. (as pronoun): twelve have arrived See also dozen related adjective duodecimal related prefix dodeca-
Word Origin
Old English twelf; related to Old Frisian twelif, Old High German zwelif, Old Norse tolf, Gothic twalif
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 twelve

Old English twelf, literally "two left" (over ten), from Proto-Germanic *twa-lif-, a compound of the root of two + *lif-, root of the verb leave (see eleven). Cf. Old Saxon twelif, Old Norse tolf, Old Frisian twelef, Middle Dutch twalef, Dutch twaalf, Old High German zwelif, German zwölf, Gothic twalif. Outside Germanic, an analogous formation is Lithuanian dvylika, with second element -lika "left over."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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