Definition of four in English:


cardinal number

  • 1Equivalent to the product of two and two; one more than three, or six less than ten; 4.

    ‘Francesca's got four brothers’
    ‘it took four of them to lift it’
    ‘a four-bedroom house’
    • ‘The four brothers and their wives are all well known for their deep love and care for the father.’
    • ‘All her four brothers have left for the United States and are unlikely to return.’
    • ‘He said she had drunk the equivalent of four pints at the time of her death.’
    • ‘That's equivalent to four pence on income tax - wait till you see the peace dividend from ending this war.’
    • ‘Frankly it's the only product out of the four we floated last week that you think has much merit.’
    • ‘Here are four products that we plan to use to put money aside for our children in the years to come.’
    • ‘The interviewer then had to fill in a box giving the names of products one to four as given by the interviewee.’
    • ‘The sum of money is the equivalent of four or five month's wages for a fisherman in the area.’
    • ‘He was the registrar of Dhaka University and I had two brothers and four sisters.’
    • ‘In an interview, Zhao said it took him a fortnight to produce the four portraits.’
    • ‘In a sense, the four pieces are equivalent; the rotations simply interchange them.’
    • ‘To supplement this income, Strakan is looking to buy three or four marketable products this year.’
    • ‘A little bit of history was made last Sunday when no fewer than four Lydon brothers were on the team.’
    • ‘We are four brothers in my family, but my father had an argument with my oldest brother and threw him out.’
    • ‘On one road I met four brothers who were returning from carrying a woman to her relatives in a nearby village.’
    • ‘My twin brothers are four years younger than I and have known for several years that I am a Christian.’
    • ‘The eldest of a family of eight, Karim has three brothers and four sisters, none of whom she had seen in that time.’
    • ‘Born in Springfield, Ohio he grew up in a close-knit family with four brothers and sisters.’
    • ‘He is survived by his brother Paddy and four sisters in England, to whom we offer our sympathies.’
    • ‘He was the youngest of four sisters and a brother, all of whom had left home by the time he was nine.’
    1. 1.1 A group or unit of four people or things.
      ‘the girls walked in pairs or fours’
      • ‘Counting by fours is like counting by two except that every other count is skipped.’
      • ‘It was the insurance score his team needed and the final whistle confirmed their place in the last four.’
      • ‘At the start of this one, with Sutton banned, he started the first four.’
      • ‘Sign-up in Shenanigans in Pairs please, and try to join with another pair to make a four.’
      • ‘And now they know their opponents in the last four after City finished top of the other northern group.’
      • ‘The league finishes off next week with a home game against New Ross and a win will see Clane finish in the top four.’
      • ‘Eighteen teams started the tournament and Hacketstown were good enough to be in the last four.’
      • ‘They now have twelve points from their seven games, the same as Curry who also go through to the last four.’
      • ‘Portlaoise face a very difficult task if they are to advance to the final four in this year's Town Cup.’
      quartet, foursome, tetralogy, quadruplets
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Four years old.
      ‘I began to read at four’
      • ‘At the age of four, he went to a one-room nursery class attached to a private girls' school across the road from home.’
      • ‘All children from the surrounding areas are welcome, from ages one to four years.’
      • ‘Getting him to sit down at story time proved impossible but by the age of four he was reading newspapers.’
      • ‘Children in the age group of four to 13 years could try their hands at drawing and painting.’
      • ‘The spirit of Andrew was epitomised in a story about him at the age of four.’
      • ‘When he is told that he was adopted at the age of four, he realises that his spirit will not be at ease until he knows more about his parents.’
      • ‘A total of fifteen salmon were caught by anglers ranging in age from four years to sixteen years.’
      • ‘He arrived in Britain from Nigeria in 1965 at the age of four when his parents came to study and build a new life here.’
      • ‘Chris Newman began to play the guitar at the age of four and at fourteen gave his first paid concert in a folk club.’
      • ‘Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline does not recommend giving the drug to children under the age of four.’
      • ‘Sally Beamish was born in London and could read and write music by the age of four.’
      • ‘At the age of four and five, he would often race against good horses getting a stone or more of an advantage and more often that not he beat them.’
      • ‘She was introduced to the sport at the age of four by her parents Peter and Mary, who were members at Bothwell Castle.’
      • ‘Something like that happened when I read that no persons under four years of age are allowed to take part.’
      • ‘Padraig is as fast as they come and from the age of four has been consistently winning all over Ireland.’
      • ‘At the age of four he was diagnosed as suffering from ‘severe and profound autism’.’
      • ‘The money, if given, would fund the building of a new classroom, catering for children aged from three to four.’
      • ‘She added he had been fascinated by mathematics from the age of four.’
      • ‘Born in Wurzburg, Germany, Stefan has studied the piano from the early age of four.’
      • ‘Symone said she was quite gifted at the age of four, but she had a cornea transplant and wore glasses.’
    3. 1.3 Four o'clock.
      ‘it's half past four’
      • ‘At half past four she was relieved by a twelve year old Alty Grammar lad.’
      • ‘If the match had kicked off at ten to four rather than three o'clock, we might have had a game on our hands at Ram Stadium.’
      • ‘Can you tell that despite it being ten past four I haven't quite got round to eating breakfast yet?’
    4. 1.4Cricket A hit that reaches the boundary after first striking the ground, scoring four runs.
      ‘he hit a six and seven fours’
      • ‘He had a swing and a miss to the first ball, fashioned a four to the cover boundary off the next, and then drove a single to deep point.’
      • ‘He bludgeoned seven fours and a six in 40 balls of pure mayhem in which both the MCC coaching manual and the bowling were ripped apart.’
      • ‘He ended up nine short of his century, and his knock included seven fours and five sixes - worth a cool £29,000.’
      • ‘Laxman opened out after that and, on reaching 50, slammed a four and a six off Chris Simpson.’
      • ‘Opening the innings with Jonathan Beukes, Bosman rained balls into the crowd as he hit nine sixes and seven fours in his 45 ball stay at the crease.’
    5. 1.5 A size of garment or other merchandise denoted by four.
      • ‘I would have done the same were I in her size fours.’
      • ‘Sean went back over to the rack where he saw the red gown and picked up a size four.’
    6. 1.6 A playing card or domino with four pips.
      • ‘If a four had turned up and you had a four in your hand, you would not be able to meld fours, because stealing the 4 would not leave a valid sequence.’
      • ‘So if three jacks are played, followed by two fours, followed by an ace cover card, then the play changes direction, three players are skipped, then that player must take eight cards.’
      • ‘Example: if the player before you makes the pile value 100, the only cards you can play are black aces, fours, red fives, tens, jacks, the Q and the kings.’
      • ‘Whichever player receives the four will be the winner of the match, and this comes down only to the luck of the deal.’
      • ‘Eights are transparent, change the direction of play and can be played on any card including a four.’
      • ‘Twos count 2, threes count 3, fours count 4, etc, and all the court cards count 10.’
    7. 1.7 A four-oared rowing boat or its crew.
      ‘the British women's coxed four’
      • ‘The Women's senior class one coxed fours were also won by a York crew.’
      • ‘After his race, Pinsent said he was delighted with the performance of the coxless four team.’
      • ‘For the past six weeks, the new four have been trying to blend together at two training camps.’
      • ‘Four members of the crew then went on to win S1 coxed fours in 12 mins 33 secs.’
      • ‘It was only six weeks ago that Ed Coode became the latest loss from the eight when he moved to join the four.’
      • ‘The result also keeps Scotland in contention for the coveted Leonard Trophy, awarded to the nation with the best overall-points total from the singles, pairs, triples and fours.’
      • ‘He explained that he felt the four was the best option for the team and that James and I were going to be in it.’
      • ‘Cracknell and Pinsent were supposed to be rowing as a pair, then they got moved into the four.’


  • the four freedoms

    • The four essential human freedoms as proclaimed in a speech to Congress by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

      • ‘But for some of us, he was magnificent in articulating and carrying out his lofty moral values, like the four freedoms.’
      • ‘It will realize Abraham Lincoln's three principles ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’ and the four freedoms of The Atlantic Charter - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from need and freedom from fear.’
      • ‘The answer is that of course we should help - we should try and give people the four freedoms Roosevelt identified as necessary for human flourishing, as well as the freedom to determine the structure of their own society.’
      • ‘There was a time when the President of the United States tried to rally people against living in fear, and created the four freedoms, one of which was the freedom from fear, and it was about creating social democracy.’
      • ‘Indeed, in 1941 President Roosevelt had nominated freedom from want as one of the four freedoms that should characterize the future world order.’
      • ‘Famously, Norman Rockwell did a series of paintings illustrating the four freedoms.’
      • ‘You are invited to share your thoughts, ideas and relevant information on any of the four freedoms.’
  • the four main centres

    • Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.

      ‘the four main centres are earmarked as venues’
      • ‘Film fans in the four main centres are in for a treat local cinemas are presenting a one-off double feature screening of two of the best creature features ever made.’
      • ‘Napier is the only place, outside of the four main centres where this programme will be screening.’
      • ‘Churches in the four main centres had been selected to ensure a fair cross section of seismic scenarios in New Zealand.’
      • ‘The railway line is the main artery of Tawa, offering immediate access to the four main centres.’
      • ‘We won the 1977 Chatham Cup, which was unheard of for a team outside the four main centres to achieve.’
      • ‘This is the only seat that we took off the Government in any of the four main centres, and that is an achievement that people here can take great pride in.’


Old English fēower, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German vier, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin quattuor and Greek tessares.