[fawr, fohr]
See more synonyms for four on
  1. a cardinal number, three plus one.
  2. a symbol of this number, 4 or IV or IIII.
  3. a set of this many persons or things.
  4. a playing card, die face, or half of a domino face with four pips.
  5. fours, Jazz. alternate four-bar passages, as played in sequence by different soloists: with guitar and piano trading fours.
  6. Automotive.
    1. an automobile powered by a four-cylinder engine.
    2. the engine itself.
  1. amounting to four in number.
  1. on all fours. all fours(def 3).

Origin of four

before 1000; Middle English four, fower, Old English fēower; cognate with Old High German fior (German vier), Gothic fidwor; akin to Latin quattuor, Greek tésseres (Attic téttares)
Can be confusedfor fore four Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for four

Contemporary Examples of four

Historical Examples of four

  • Mina, (plural Minæ)—Four pounds, three shillings, four pence.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Besides, he had four quarts left, for which he expected to find a ready sale.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Of course you'll do it, and you could do it better if you had three or four times the stake you got.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • A boat was got ready, and the captain got in, with four sailors to row.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Steered east for four miles, when we struck Mr. Gosse's cart-track.

British Dictionary definitions for four


  1. the cardinal number that is the sum of three and one
  2. a numeral, 4, IV, etc, representing this number
  3. something representing, represented by, or consisting of four units, such as a playing card with four symbols on it
  4. Also called: four o'clock four hours after noon or midnight
  5. cricket
    1. a shot that crosses the boundary after hitting the ground
    2. the four runs scored for such a shot
  6. rowing
    1. a racing shell propelled by four oarsmen pulling one oar each, with or without a cox
    2. the crew of such a shell
    1. amounting to fourfour thousand eggs; four times
    2. (as pronoun)four are ready
Related formsRelated prefixes: quadri-, tetra-

Word Origin for four

Old English fēower; related to Old Frisian fiūwer, Old Norse fjōrir, Old High German fior, Latin quattuor, Greek tessares, Sanskrit catur
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 four

Old English feower, from Proto-Germanic *petwor- (cf. Old Saxon fiwar, Old Frisian fiuwer, Frankish *fitter-, Dutch and German vier, Old Norse fjorir, Danish fire, Swedish fyra, Gothic fidwor "four"), from PIE *kwetwer- "four" (cf. Sanskrit catvarah, Avestan čathwaro, Persian čatvar, Greek tessares, Latin quattuor, Oscan petora, Old Church Slavonic četyre, Lithuanian keturi, Old Irish cethir, Welsh pedwar). The phonetic evolution of the Germanic forms has not been fully explained.

Slang four-eyes "person who wears glasses" first recorded 1874. Four-letter word first attested 1934; four-letter man, however, is recorded from 1923 (as a euphemism for a shit). A four-in-hand (1793) was a carriage with four horses driven by one person; in the sense of "loosely tied necktie" it is attested from 1892. To study The History of the Four Kings (1760, cf. French Livres des Quatre Rois) contains euphemistic slang phrase for "a pack of cards" from the time when card-playing was considered a wicked pastime for students. Slang 4-1-1 "essential information" (by 1993) is from the telephone number called to get customer information.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with four


In addition to the idioms beginning with four

  • four corners of the earth, the

also see:

  • between you and me and (the four walls)
  • on all fours
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.