- 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
Examples from the Web for forties
Clean-shaven and balding, Saleem is in his forties and walks with a limp.The Dangerous Drug-Funded Secret War Between Iran and Pakistan
December 29, 2014
He is in his late forties; intelligent, people say, but stiff and restrained, an eternal bachelor.Adam Hochschild on Keeping Company With His Dying Father
June 14, 2014
“I can date someone who is 25 but also someone who is in her forties,” Yevin points out.High Manxiety: Thirtysomething Men Are The New Neurotic Singles
May 4, 2014
A mother in her forties wrote that she had long-standing problems which she was desperate not to transmit to her daughter.Are Britain’s Private Schools Breeding Grounds For Anorexia?
March 3, 2014
Everywhere you look, women are easily having babies in their late 30s and early forties.Test Tube Generation: The Fertility Lie for Women
January 25, 2014
He was in his late and corpulent forties and was something of a dandy.
The decade of the forties was also the period of Iowa's rapid increase.The Frontier in American History
Frederick Jackson Turner
Most of the Americans were mere youths, though two were evidently in their forties.Terry
Charles Goff Thomson
He had been a student at Yale in the forties a few years before me.Lights and Shadows in Confederate Prisons
Homer B. Sprague
But that does not matter; what I am going to tell you happened in the forties.The Forged Coupon and Other Stories
- 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
- amounting to fortyforty thieves
- (as pronoun)there were forty in the herd
Word Origin and History for forties
1843 as the years of someone's life between 40 and 49; 1840 as a decade of years in a given century. See forty. Also a designation applied in various places and times to certain oligarchies, ruling classes, or governing bodies.
It is well known that society in the island [Guernsey] is, or perhaps we ought to say, for many years was, divided into two sets, called respectively the Sixties and the Forties, the former composed of the old families and those allied to them, the latter of families of newly-acquired wealth and position. ["The Dublin Review," October 1877]
Roaring Forties are rough parts of the ocean between 40 and 50 degrees latitude.
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).