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See more synonyms for twelve on Thesaurus.com
  1. a cardinal number, 10 plus 2.
  2. a symbol for this number, as 12 or XII.
  3. a set of this many persons or things.
  4. the Twelve, the 12 apostles chosen by Christ.
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  1. amounting to 12 in number.
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Origin of twelve

before 900; Middle English twelve, inflected form of twelf, Old English twelfe literally, (ten and) two leave, i.e., two left over; cognate with Old Frisian twelef, twelf, Old High German zwelif, Old Norse tōlf, Gothic twalif; compare Lithuanian dvýlika; see two, leave1, eleven
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

duodecimal, twelfth, duodenary

Examples from the Web for twelve

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Stater—A gold coin; estimated at about twelve shillings, three pence.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Twelve hours afterward the snow, three feet deep on a level, has melted.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • They studied the heavens and named the twelve signs of the Zodiak.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • On the 26th we arrived at Salisbury, twelve miles from Adelaide.

  • The clock struck twelve, and it seemed as if it struck a thousand.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

British Dictionary definitions for twelve


  1. the cardinal number that is the sum of ten and twoSee also number (def. 1)
  2. a numeral, 12, XII, etc, representing this number
  3. something represented by, representing, or consisting of 12 units
  4. Also called: twelve o'clock noon or midnight
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    1. amounting to twelvetwelve loaves
    2. (as pronoun)twelve have arrived See also dozen Related adjective: duodecimal Related prefix: dodeca-
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Word Origin

Old English twelf; related to Old Frisian twelif, Old High German zwelif, Old Norse tolf, Gothic twalif
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 twelve

Old English twelf, literally "two left" (over ten), from Proto-Germanic *twa-lif-, a compound of the root of two + *lif-, root of the verb leave (see eleven). Cf. Old Saxon twelif, Old Norse tolf, Old Frisian twelef, Middle Dutch twalef, Dutch twaalf, Old High German zwelif, German zwölf, Gothic twalif. Outside Germanic, an analogous formation is Lithuanian dvylika, with second element -lika "left over."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper