Etymology: Middle English nombre, from Anglo-French, from Latin numerus
Date: 14th century
(1) a sum of units ; total
(2) complement 1b
(3) an indefinite usually large total <a number of members were absent> <the number of elderly is rising> (4) plural a numerous group ; many (5) a numerical preponderance b. (1) the characteristic of an individual by which it is treated as a unit or of a collection by which it is treated in terms of units (2) an ascertainable total <bugs beyond number> c. (1) a unit belonging to an abstract mathematical system and subject to specified laws of succession, addition, and multiplication; especially natural number (2) an element (as π) of any of many mathematical systems obtained by extension of or analogy with the natural number system (3) plural arithmetic 2. a distinction of word form to denote reference to one or more than one; also a form or group of forms so distinguished 3. plural a. (1) metrical structure ; meter (2) metrical lines ; verses b. archaic musical sounds ; notes 4. a. a word, symbol, letter, or combination of symbols representing a number b. a numeral or combination of numerals or other symbols used to identify or designate <dialed the wrong number> c. (1) a member of a sequence or collection designated by especially consecutive numbers (as an issue of a periodical) (2) a position in a numbered sequence d. a group of one kind <not of their number> 5. one singled out from a group ; individual: as a. girl, woman <met an attractive number at the dance> b. (1) a musical, theatrical, or literary selection or production (2) routine, act c. stunt, trick d. an act of transforming or impairing <tripped and did a number on her knee> e. an item of merchandise and especially clothing 6. insight into a person's ability or character <had my number> 7. plural but singular or plural in construction a. a form of lottery in which an individual wagers on the appearance of a certain combination of digits (as in regularly published numbers) — called also numbers game b. policy II,2a 8. plural a. figures representing amounts of money usually in dollars spent, earned, or involved b. (1) statistics 2; especially individual statistics (as of an athlete) (2) rating 3c 9. a person represented by a number or considered without regard to individuality <at the university I was just a number> 10. lifetime 1a — used with up <the old feeling that comes to men in combat…that your number was up — Geoffrey Norman> Usage: see amount II. verb (numbered; numbering) Date: 14th century transitive verb 1. count, enumerate 2. to claim as part of a total ; include 3. to restrict to a definite number <your days are numbered> 4. to assign a number to <number the pages> 5. to amount to in number ; total <the crew numbers 100> intransitive verb 1. to reach a total number 2. to call off numbers in sequence • numberable adjective • numberer noun
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.