a mathematical unit used to count or express an amount, quantity, etc.:[countable]Six is an even number; one, three, and five are odd numbers.
Mathematics[countable] a numeral or group of numerals; a written number.
Pronounsthe total of a group or of a collection of units: [countable]What is the number of people with reserved seats?[uncountable]Rivers are few in number in that state.
an indefinite quantity; several:[countable; usually singular;often: ~ + of]I've been there a number of times.
Mathematics[countable] the particular numeral that is given or assigned to an object so as to distinguish it or show its place in a series:a house number;a license number;a telephone number.[before a numeral]We took the number 113 bus to the station.
a considerable amount or quantity; many:arrived in large numbers.
Poetrynumerical strength; a greater amount:There is strength in numbers.
Games[the + ~] a lottery in which bets are placed on numbers chosen at random and published or broadcast.
Informal Termsthe figures representing the actual cost, expense, profit, etc.:The numbers didn't really add up, so the accountant went back over them.
arithmetic:Are you any good at numbers?
Music and Dance a tune or arrangement for singing or dancing; a piece of music:[countable]The next number they played was "Sunshine of Your Love.''
Music and Dance a certain performance within a show, as a song or dance:[countable]Don't miss the number that opens the second act.
Grammar a category of change in the form of a word which indicates whether the word refers to one or to more than one thing, in the distinction between singular and plural:[uncountable]In English, number is represented by the ending -s for many nouns in the plural, such as boys, books, clothes, and dolls.
Informal Termsperson; individual:[countable; usually singular]The girls think he's a pretty hot number. One of our number is no longer with us; Bob died suddenly last week.
to mark with or distinguish by numbers, usually in a series:[~ + object]He numbered the examples one through ten on the board.
to amount to or reach in number; total: [~ + object]Our air force numbers one thousand bombers.[no object]Our army numbers in the thousands.
to consider or include in a number:[~ + object]I number myself among his friends. He was numbered among their enemies.
to be close to the end of something:[~ + object; usually: be + ~ed]He knew his hours were numbered after he took three bullets in the chest.
to figure out the amount or quantity of; count:[~ + object]We numbered the days until we could go home again.
by the numbers:
Idiomsaccording to standard procedures.
Idiomsdo a number on,[~ + object][Slang.]to defeat or humiliate:Their team did a number on us, beating us 55-0.
Idiomsget or have someone's number,[Informal.]to figure out or understand someone's character, intentions, or any hidden motives or plans they may have:She thinks she's fooling them, but in fact they have her number. She's got my number all right; she knew just what I would do.
Idiomswithout number, of unknown or countless number; vast:Stars and galaxies without number fill the universe.
Pronounsthe 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.
Mathematicsthe 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.
a considerable amount or quantity; many:Numbers flocked to the city to see the parade.
Poetrymetrical feet; verse.
Music and Dancemusical periods, measures, or groups of notes.
GamesSee numbers pool (def. 1).
Informal Termsthe figures representing the actual cost, expense, profit, etc.:We won't make a decision until we see the numbers.
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.
Music and Dancea tune or arrangement for singing or dancing.
Music and Dancea single or distinct performance within a show, as a song or dance:The comic routine followed the dance number.
Music and Dancea 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.
Poetry, Music and Danceconformity in music or verse to regular beat or measure; rhythm.
Printing, Literaturea single part of a book published in a series of parts.
Printing, Journalisma single issue of a periodical:several numbers of a popular magazine.
Telecommunicationsa code of numerals, letters, or a combination of these assigned to a particular telephone:Did you call the right number?
Grammara 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 Termsperson; individual:the attractive number standing at the bar.
Informal Termsan article of merchandise, esp. of wearing apparel, offered for sale:Put those leather numbers in the display window.
Mathematicsmathematics regarded as a science, a basic concept, and a mode of thought:Number is the basis of science.
by the numbers:
Idiomsaccording to standard procedure, rules, customs, etc.; orthodoxly; by the book:We're going to run things here by the numbers.
Idiomstogether or in unison to a called-out count:calisthenics by the numbers.
Slang Termsdo a number on:
Idiomsto undermine, defeat, humiliate, or criticize thoroughly:The committee really did a number on the mayor's proposal.
Idiomsto discuss or discourse about, esp. in an entertaining way:She could do a number on anything from dentistry to the Bomb.
do one's number:
to give a performance; perform:It's time for you to get on stage and do your number.
[Slang.]to behave in a predictable or customary manner:Whenever I call, he does his number about being too busy to talk.
Informal Terms, Idiomsget or have someone's number, to become informed about someone's real motives, character, intentions, etc.:He was only interested in her fortune, but she got his number fast.
Slang Terms, Idiomshave one's number on it, to be thought of as the instrument of fate in the death of a person:That bullet had his number on it.
Slang Termsone's number is (was, will be) up:
Idiomsone is (was, will be) in serious trouble.
Idiomsone is (was, will be) on the point of death:Convinced that her number was up anyway, she refused to see doctors.
Idiomswithout number, of unknown or countless number; vast:stars without number.
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.
to make a total; reach an amount:Casualties numbered in the thousands.
to be numbered or included (usually fol. by among or with):Several eminent scientists number among his friends.
Latin numerāre (derivative of numerus)
Old French nombrer
Latin numerus; (verb, verbal) Middle English nombren
1250–1300; 1940–45 for def. 23; (noun, nominal) Middle English, variant of nombre
1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged digit, figure.
2.See corresponding entry in UnabridgedNumber,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.See corresponding entry in Unabridged copy, edition.
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.
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 number See alsocardinal 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 order: a telephone number
the person or thing so identified or designated: she was number seven in the race
the sum or quantity of equal or similar units or things: a large number of people
one of a series, as of a magazine or periodical; issue
a self-contained piece of pop or jazz music
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 group: he was not one of our number
slanga person, esp a woman: who's that nice little number?
informalan admired article, esp an item of clothing for a woman: that little number is by Dior
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 ⇒ (of a drill procedure, etc) performed step by step, each move being made on the call of a number
get someone's number, have someone's number ⇒ informalto discover someone's true character or intentions
one's number is up ⇒ Britinformalone is finished; one is ruined or about to die
without number, beyond number ⇒ of too great a quantity to be counted; innumerable
vb (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, etc: they were numbered among the worst hit
to limit the number of: his days were numbered
Etymology: 13th Century: from Old French nombre, from Latin numerus