noun, plural for·ties.

a cardinal number, ten times four.
a symbol for this number, as 40 or XL or XXXX.
a set of this many persons or things.
forties, the numbers, years, degrees, or the like, from 40 through 49, as in referring to numbered streets, indicating the years of a lifetime or of a century, or degrees of temperature: His office is in the West Forties. Her parents are in their forties. The temperature will be in the forties.


amounting to 40 in number.

Origin of forty

before 950; Middle English fourti, Old English fēowertig (cognate with Old Frisian fiuwertich, Old High German fiorzug, German vierzig). See four, -ty1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for fortier

quadragenarian, quadragesimal

Examples from the Web for fortier

Contemporary Examples of fortier

Historical Examples of fortier

  • It was an embarrassing introduction, but Fortier showed wit—so he claims.

    Very Woman

    Remy de Gourmont

  • This Fortier has a mania for offering incomprehensible metaphors.

    Very Woman

    Remy de Gourmont

  • Abbé Fortier had the keys taken to his house to be sure the church should not be opened.

    The Royal Life Guard

    Alexander Dumas (pere)

  • Safe enough for the time being, said Doctor Fortier, breaking in in quick, staccato tones.

    The Woman Gives

    Owen Johnson

  • Very probably, said Dangerfield, with a contemptuous smile, it would please Doctor Fortier to have me make the attempt—to-night?

    The Woman Gives

    Owen Johnson

British Dictionary definitions for fortier


noun plural -ties

the cardinal number that is the product of ten and fourSee also number (def. 1)
a numeral, 40, XL, etc, representing this number
something representing, represented by, or consisting of 40 units


  1. amounting to fortyforty thieves
  2. (as pronoun)there were forty in the herd

Word Origin for forty

Old English fēowertig
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

Word Origin and History for fortier



Old English feowertig, from feower "four" (see four) + tig "group of ten" (see -ty (1)). Cf. Old Saxon fiwartig, Old Frisian fiuwertich, Dutch veertig, Old High German fiorzug, German vierzig, Old Norse fjorir tigir, Gothic fidwor tigjus.

[T]he number 40 must have been used very frequently by Mesha's scribe as a round number. It is probably often used in that way in the Bible where it is remarkably frequent, esp. in reference to periods of days or years. ... How it came to be so used is not quite certain, but it may have originated, partly at any rate, in the idea that 40 years constituted a generation or the period at the end of which a man attains maturity, an idea common, it would seem, to the Greeks, the Israelites, and the Arabs. ["The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia," James Orr, ed., Chicago, 1915]

Forty winks "short sleep" is attested from 1821, In early use associated with, and perhaps coined by, eccentric English lifestyle reformer William Kitchiner M.D. (1775-1827).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper