a cardinal number, ten plus six.
a symbol for this number, as 16 or XVI.
a set of this many persons or things.


amounting to 16 in number.

Origin of sixteen

before 900; Middle English, Old English sixtēne; cognate with Dutch zestien, German sechzehn, Old Norse sextān. See six, -teen Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sixteen

Contemporary Examples of sixteen

Historical Examples of sixteen

British Dictionary definitions for sixteen



the cardinal number that is the sum of ten and sixSee also number (def. 1)
a numeral, 16, XVI, etc, representing this number
music the numeral 16 used as the lower figure of a time signature to indicate that the beat is measured in semiquavers
something represented by, representing, or consisting of 16 units


  1. amounting to sixteensixteen tons
  2. (as pronoun)sixteen are known to the police

Word Origin for sixteen

Old English sextyne
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 sixteen

Old English sixtyne, from siex (see six) + -teen. Cf. Old Frisian sextine, Middle Dutch sestien, Dutch zestien, German sechszehn, Old Norse sextan.

The age of the gods is always sixteen. Sixteen represents the number of perfection, of plenitude. In man it is after the sixteenth year that the first elements of decay begin to appear, and when the moon reaches the sixteenth digit it begins to decrease. [Alain Daniélou, "The Myths and Gods of India"]

From Latin contracted form sexdecim, sedecim come Italian sedici, French seize.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper