verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)


    by the numbers,
    1. according to standard procedure, rules, customs, etc.; orthodoxly; by the book: We're going to run things here by the numbers.
    2. together or in unison to a called-out count: calisthenics by the numbers.
    do a number on, Slang.
    1. to undermine, defeat, humiliate, or criticize thoroughly: The committee really did a number on the mayor's proposal.
    2. to discuss or discourse about, especially in an entertaining way: She could do a number on anything from dentistry to the Bomb.
    do one's number,
    1. to give a performance; perform: It's time for you to get on stage and do your number.
    2. behave in a predictable or customary manner: Whenever I call, he does his number about being too busy to talk.
    get/have someone's number, Informal. to become informed about someone's real motives, character, intentions, etc.: He was only interested in her fortune, but she got his number fast.
    have one's number on it, Slang. to be thought of as the instrument of fate in the death of a person: That bullet had his number on it.
    one's number is (was, will be) up, Slang.
    1. one is (was, will be) in serious trouble.
    2. one is (was, will be) on the point of death: Convinced that her number was up anyway, she refused to see doctors.
    without number, of unknown or countless number; vast: stars without number.

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)
Related formsnum·ber·a·ble, adjectivenum·ber·er, nounde·num·ber, verb (used with object)mis·num·ber, verbpre·num·ber, verb (used with object), nounre·num·ber, verb (used with object)sub·num·ber, noun
Can be confusedamount number (see usage note at amount)

Synonyms for number

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.

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 subnumber

Historical Examples of subnumber

British Dictionary definitions for subnumber



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 subnumber



c.1300, "to count," from Old French nombrer "to count, reckon," from nombre (n.) "number" (see number (n.)). Meaning "to assign a number to" is late 14c.; that of "to ascertain the number of" is from early 15c. Related: Numbered; numbering.



c.1300, "sum, aggregate of a collection," from Anglo-French noumbre, Old French nombre and directly from Latin numerus "a number, quantity," from PIE root *nem- "to divide, distribute, allot" (related to Greek nemein "to deal out;" see nemesis). Meaning "symbol or figure of arithmatic value" is from late 14c. Meaning "single (numbered) issue of a magazine" is from 1795. The meaning "musical selection" (1885) is from vaudeville theater programs, where acts were marked by a number. Meaning "dialing combination to reach a particular telephone receiver" is from 1879; hence wrong number (1886).

Number one "oneself" is from 1704 (mock-Italian form numero uno attested from 1973); the biblical Book of Numbers (c.1400, Latin Numeri, Greek Arithmoi) so called because it begins with a census of the Israelites. Slang number one and number two for "urination" and "defecation" attested from 1902. Number cruncher is 1966, of machines; 1971, of persons. To get or have (someone's) number "have someone figured out" is attested from 1853. The numbers "illegal lottery" is from 1897, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for subnumber




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 subnumber



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 subnumber


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 subnumber


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.