Definition of number noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈnʌmbə(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈnʌmbər//
    Communication devices, Making calls, Grammar
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  1. 1  [countable] a word or symbol that represents an amount or a quantity synonym figure Think of a number and multiply it by two. a high/low number even numbers (= 2, 4, 6, etc.) odd numbers (= 1, 3, 5, etc.) You owe me 27 dollars? Make it 30, that's a good round number. see also cardinal (2), ordinal, prime number, whole number
  2. position in series
  3. 2  [countable] (abbreviation No.) (symbol #) used before a figure to show the position of something in a series They live at number 26. The song reached number 5 in the charts.
  4. telephone, etc.
  5. 3  [countable] (often in compounds) a number used to identify something or communicate by telephone, etc. My phone number is 266998. I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong number (= wrong telephone number). He dialled the number, then changed his mind and hung up. What is your account number, please? see also box number, E-number, PIN, registration number, serial number See related entries: Communication devices, Making calls
  6. quantity
  7. 4  [countable] number (of somebody/something) a quantity of people or things A large number of people have applied for the job. The number of homeless people has increased dramatically. Huge numbers of (= very many) animals have died. A number of (= some) problems have arisen. I could give you any number of (= a lot of) reasons for not going. We were eight in number(= there were eight of us). Nurses are leaving the profession in increasing numbers. Sheer weight of numbers (= the large number of soldiers) secured them the victory. The course will have to be repeated owing to pressure of numbers (= too many students). staff/student numbers A plural verb is needed after a/an (large, small, etc.) number of…
  8. group of people
  9. 5[singular] (formal) a group or quantity of people one of our number (= one of us) The prime minister is elected by MPs from among their number.
  10. magazine
  11. 6[countable] (British English) the version of a magazine, etc. published on a particular day, in a particular month, etc. synonym issue the October number of ‘Vogue’ see also back number
  12. song/dance
  13. 7[countable] a song or dance, especially one of several in a performance They sang a slow romantic number.
  14. thing admired
  15. 8[singular] (informal) (following one or more adjectives) a thing, such as a dress or a car, that is admired She was wearing a black velvet number.
  16. grammar
  17. 9 [uncountable] the form of a word, showing whether one or more than one person or thing is being talked about The word ‘men’ is plural in number. The subject of a sentence and its verb must agree in number. See related entries: Grammar
  18. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French nombre (noun), nombrer (verb), from Latin numerus.Extra examples Add all the numbers together, divide by ten, and take away the number you first thought of. Add all the numbers together, divide by ten, and then take away twelve. Anna counted the number of men standing around outside. Conference organizers put the number of attendees at around 500. Factories had increased in number between the wars. Houses on this side of the road have even numbers. I keep getting the wrong number. Many people have died in the epidemic—the precise number is not known. Many people think 13 is an unlucky number. Shark numbers have dwindled as a result of hunting. The Pentagon increased the number of troops in Iraq to about 145 000. The candidates received an equal number of votes. The decline in numbers of young people means that fewer teachers will be needed. The paintings, twelve in number, are over 200 years old. There are an infinite number of solutions to the problem. There were about 150 there, in round numbers. There’s more to accountancy than just number crunching. There’s more to an accountant’s job than just number crunching. They exchanged numbers and agreed to go out for a drink one evening. We live at number 21. We’ve had a fair number of complaints about the new phone system. Wild dogs are now few in number. a record number of enquiries back numbers of the magazine high numbers of unemployed teachers the number of children who wear glasses the winning numbers in tonight’s lottery ‘So you owe me 28 dollars?’ ‘Make it 30, that’s a good round number.’ A number of people were late for the meeting. A number of problems have arisen. He dialled the number, then changed his mind and hung up. Huge numbers of animals have died. I could give you any number of reasons for not going. I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong number. Pick out all the odd numbers. Sheer weight of numbers secured them the victory. Student numbers are growing annually. That’s quite a high number— think of a lower one. The back numbers of ‘The Times’ were kept in a basement. The classes will have to be repeated owing to pressure of numbers. Think of a number and multiply it by two We were eight in number. What is your social security number, please?Idioms following a set of simple instructions identified by numbers painting by numbers (North American English) following closely the accepted rules for doing something (British English) an easy job; a pleasant situation that other people would like It’s all right for him—he’s got a very cushy number.
    have (got) somebody’s number
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    (informal) to know what somebody is really like and what they plan to do He thinks he can fool me but I've got his number.
    (informal) the time has come when you will die or lose everything a way of considering an activity, etc. that is concerned only with the number of people doing something, things achieved, etc., not with who or what they are MPs were playing the numbers game as the crucial vote drew closer. (informal) a person who does the same job as you in another organization The Foreign Secretary is currently having talks with his opposite number in the White House.
    there’s safety in numbers
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    (saying) being in a group makes you safer and makes you feel more confident
    the combined power, strength or influence of a group They won the argument by sheer weight of numbers.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: number