noun (used with a singular verb)

the fourth book of the Old Testament, containing the census of the Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt. Abbreviation: Num.

Nearby words

  1. numantia,
  2. numantian,
  3. numazu,
  4. numb,
  5. numbat,
  6. number cruncher,
  7. number crunching,
  8. number eight wire,
  9. number is up, one's,
  10. number line




a numeral or group of numerals.
the sum, total, count, or aggregate of a collection of units, or the like: A number of people were hurt in the accident. The number of homeless children in the city has risen alarmingly.
a word or symbol, or a combination of words or symbols, used in counting or in noting a total.
the particular numeral assigned to an object so as to designate its place in a series: house number; license number.
one of a series of things distinguished by or marked with numerals.
a certain collection, company, or quantity not precisely reckoned, but usually considerable or large: I've gone there a number of times.
the full count of a collection or company.
a collection or company.
a quantity of individuals: Their number was more than 20,000.
  1. a considerable amount or quantity; many: Numbers flocked to the city to see the parade.
  2. metrical feet; verse.
  3. musical periods, measures, or groups of notes.
  4. numbers pool(def 1).
  5. Informal.the figures representing the actual cost, expense, profit, etc.: We won't make a decision until we see the numbers.
  6. Obsolete.arithmetic.
quantity as composed of units: to increase the number of eligible voters.
numerical strength or superiority; complement: The garrison is not up to its full number.
a tune or arrangement for singing or dancing.
a single or distinct performance within a show, as a song or dance: The comic routine followed the dance number.
a single part of a program made up of a group of similar parts: For her third number she played a nocturne.
any of a collection of poems or songs.
a distinct part of an extended musical work or one in a sequence of compositions.
conformity in music or verse to regular beat or measure; rhythm.
a single part of a book published in a series of parts.
a single issue of a periodical: several numbers of a popular magazine.
a code of numerals, letters, or a combination of these assigned to a particular telephone: Did you call the right number?
Grammar. a category of noun, verb, or adjective inflection found in many languages, as English, Latin, and Arabic, used to indicate whether a word has one or more than one referent. There may be a two-way distinction in number, as between singular and plural, three-way, as between singular, dual, and plural, or more.
Informal. person; individual: the attractive number standing at the bar.
Informal. an article of merchandise, especially of wearing apparel, offered for sale: Put those leather numbers in the display window.
mathematics regarded as a science, a basic concept, and a mode of thought: Number is the basis of science.

verb (used with object)

to mark with or distinguish by numbers: Number each of the definitions.
to amount to or comprise in number; total: The manuscript already numbers 425 pages.
to consider or include in a number: I number myself among his friends.
to count over one by one; tell: to number one's blessings.
to mention individually or one by one; enumerate: They numbered the highlights of their trip at length.
to set or fix the number of; limit in number; make few in number: The sick old man's days are numbered.
to live or have lived (a number of years).
to ascertain the number of; count.
to apportion or divide: The players were numbered into two teams.

verb (used without object)

to make a total; reach an amount: Casualties numbered in the thousands.
to be numbered or included (usually followed by among or with): Several eminent scientists number among his friends.
to count.

Origin of number

1250–1300; 1940–45 for def 23; (noun) Middle English, variant of nombre < Old French < Latin numerus; (v.) Middle English nombren < Old French nombrer < Latin numerāre (derivative of numerus)

1. digit, figure. 2. Number, sum both imply the total of two or more units. Number applies to the result of a count or estimate in which the units are considered as individuals; it is used of groups of persons or things: to have a number of items on the agenda. Sum applies to the result of addition, in which only the total is considered: a large sum of money. 20. copy, edition.

Related forms
Can be confusedamount number (see usage note at amount)

Usage note

2. As a collective noun, number, when preceded by a, is most often treated as a plural: A number of legislators have voiced their dissent. When preceded by the, it is usually used as a singular: The number of legislators present was small. See also amount, collective noun. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for numbers

British Dictionary definitions for numbers


pl n

informal financial statisticslet's look at last year's numbers



(functioning as singular) the fourth book of the Old Testament, recording the numbers of the Israelites who followed Moses out of Egypt



a concept of quantity that is or can be derived from a single unit, the sum of a collection of units, or zero. Every number occupies a unique position in a sequence, enabling it to be used in counting. It can be assigned to one or more sets that can be arranged in a hierarchical classification: every number is a complex number; a complex number is either an imaginary number or a real number, and the latter can be a rational number or an irrational number; a rational number is either an integer or a fraction, while an irrational number can be a transcendental number or an algebraic numberSee complex number, imaginary number, real number, rational number, irrational number, integer, fraction, transcendental number, algebraic number See also cardinal number, ordinal number
the symbol used to represent a number; numeral
a numeral or string of numerals used to identify a person or thing, esp in numerical ordera telephone number
the person or thing so identified or designatedshe was number seven in the race
the sum or quantity of equal or similar units or thingsa large number of people
one of a series, as of a magazine or periodical; issue
  1. a self-contained piece of pop or jazz music
  2. a self-contained part of an opera or other musical score, esp one for the stage
a group or band of people, esp an exclusive grouphe was not one of our number
slang a person, esp a womanwho's that nice little number?
informal an admired article, esp an item of clothing for a womanthat little number is by Dior
slang a cannabis cigaretteroll another number
a grammatical category for the variation in form of nouns, pronouns, and any words agreeing with them, depending on how many persons or things are referred to, esp as singular or plural in number and in some languages dual or trial
any number of several or many
by numbers military (of a drill procedure, etc) performed step by step, each move being made on the call of a number
do a number on someone US slang to manipulate or trick someone
get someone's number or have someone's number informal to discover someone's true character or intentions
in numbers in large numbers; numerously
one's number is up British informal one is finished; one is ruined or about to die
without number or beyond number of too great a quantity to be counted; innumerable

verb (mainly tr)

to assign a number to
to add up to; total
(also intr) to list (items) one by one; enumerate
(also intr) to put or be put into a group, category, etcthey were numbered among the worst hit
to limit the number ofhis days were numbered

Word Origin for number

C13: from Old French nombre, from Latin numerus

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 numbers
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for numbers




A symbol expressive of a certain value or of a specific quantity determined by count.
The place of any unit in a series.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for numbers



A member of the set of positive integers. Each number is one of a series of unique symbols, each of which has exactly one predecessor except the first symbol in the series (1), and none of which are the predecessor of more than one number.
A member of any of the further sets of mathematical objects defined in terms of such numbers, such as negative integers, real numbers, and complex numbers.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for numbers


The grammatical category that classifies a noun, pronoun, or verb as singular or plural. Woman, it, and is are singular; women, they, and are are plural.

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

Idioms and Phrases with numbers


In addition to the idiom beginning with number

  • number is up, one's

also see:

  • a number of
  • any number of
  • back number
  • by the numbers
  • crunch numbers
  • days are numbered
  • do a job (number) on
  • get (have) someone's number
  • hot number
  • in round numbers
  • look out for (number one)
  • opposite number
  • safety in numbers
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.