Definition of twelve in English:


cardinal number

  • 1Equivalent to the product of three and four; two more than ten; 12.

    ‘he walked twelve miles’
    ‘there are just twelve of us in all’
    ‘a twelve-string guitar’
    • ‘At age 34, and after six apartments in the past twelve years, I made a vow: No more renting.’
    • ‘Thirty-six million years ago, volcanic mudflows blocked a stream flowing through this valley, producing a lake about twelve miles long.’
    • ‘After letting it ring twelve times she threw the phone on the bed.’
    • ‘These were generally a few inches to twelve feet thick and were concentrated along a linear distance of about two miles.’
    • ‘We have twelve olive trees, four fig trees, one pomegranate and a couple of as-yet-unidentified trees.’
    • ‘He said that he had raised this issue in the Parliament twelve or thirteen years ago.’
    • ‘The new board will comprise twelve members, including four worker directors.’
    • ‘She stopped to rest twice but covered the entire twelve miles on foot.’
    • ‘I've walked twelve miles today, and most of it on roads - busy and congested - and my feet hurt from the heavy pack and the asphalt.’
    • ‘On the ground floor the books must go twelve feet up the wall, and you can't even read the titles of the ones on the top shelf without a ladder.’
    • ‘In order to tailor each course to your company's requirements, we plan to confine group sizes to between four and twelve participants.’
    • ‘At exactly twelve minutes past two by my wristwatch the unbearable feeling of tension collapsed, and I knew it was over.’
    • ‘She has four children and twelve grandchildren.’
    • ‘Watch for the number of stores to increase dramatically in the next twelve months.’
    • ‘The creatures were roughly six feet tall standing on all four legs, and could have been at least twelve feet long.’
    • ‘The space is largely filled with wide metal shelves, about twelve feet high and four feet deep.’
    • ‘Over the past twelve years, the NCH has worked with homeless shelters around the country.’
    • ‘There are two cabins, one sleeping four, the other a small trappers cabin, measuring twelve feet by sixteen feet sleeping two people.’
    • ‘Place twelve good-quality sausages into a casserole dish.’
    • ‘These twelve essays examine an enormous number of aspects involved in keeping the peace and resolving conflict in troubled parts of the world.’
    dozen, zodiac
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A group or unit of twelve people or things.
      • ‘In the hierarchy of local raja he was the most junior of the twelve in the Kei Islands, but he was able to approach the others and start a movement of customary reconciliation.’
      • ‘Mincepies were originally made in twelves and should be offered by a friend-they go with anything, sherry, mulled wine, tea or coffee and can be eaten at any time of day.’
      • ‘Of the twelve, four are particularly noteworthy.’
      • ‘The twelve of us must wait until tomorrow before we can retire to the jury room, discuss all that we have heard and finally reach a verdict.’
      • ‘Well done to all three who made it to the final twelve in the nationwide event.’
      • ‘Having won only one of the four rounds to date, he is now placed second from the bottom in the competition with a score of six points out of a possible twelve.’
      • ‘The top twelve qualified for the county finals.’
      • ‘We were on Saltspring Island about a week ago and I met a man who was one of the first twelve who came in the Vietnam era.’
      • ‘On the third occasion He sent the twelve on ahead by twos and followed after them.’
      • ‘After all these weeks of paring it down to the final twelve, these are the twelve?’
      • ‘They have 10 points out of a possible twelve and are in second position.’
      • ‘When the field was reduced to the final twelve, lesser talents got knocked off one by one.’
      • ‘The other twelve were Iraqis but were not identified as such, a telling omission.’
      • ‘All twelve are worthy winners and any one of them could easily be chosen as the overall winner.’
      • ‘Only twelve came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived.’
      • ‘Since ancient mathematics divided things into twelves and sixes, 13 and seven have always held special significance.’
      • ‘She is likely a shoo-in for the top twelve.’
      • ‘Charles really nailed it when he sang ‘Ribbon In the Sky’, a Stevie Wonder ballad, which propelled him to the final twelve.’
      • ‘The number of Ollie-inspired pieces could range from a likely none to a possible twelve - stay tuned.’
      • ‘And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, ‘If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’’
    2. 1.2Twelve years old.
      ‘a small blonde girl of about twelve’
      • ‘Come this May, a judge's signature will be enough to allow girls as young as twelve to marry; boys have to wait until they're fourteen.’
      • ‘These sessions will continue on Wednesday and Friday each week at 11 a.m. for players under the age of twelve.’
      • ‘She is a very young girl as young as twelve, who is not old enough to look after herself yet never mind a child of her own.’
      • ‘I knew a girl when I was twelve and for some reason she was in love with him during the ‘Love, Sydney’ years.’
      • ‘I was only twelve then, but I did get my wish that day.’
      • ‘Soon El Marichal ordered that the minimum conscription age be lowered to twelve.’
      • ‘Ngima's father died young and at the age of twelve Ngima started work as a trekking porter to help support the family.’
      • ‘Youth theatre for boys and girls aged eight to twelve years is held in Rathdowney Church of Ireland Hall on Saturdays from 2 to 4pm.’
      • ‘Around 8 a.m., the oldest of his three offspring, all girls aged ten through twelve, would load up and head for Castries.’
      • ‘Padma draped her first sari at the age of twelve, the age at which girls traditionally began to wear saris when they, as she politely puts it, matured.’
      • ‘She was the oldest, true, but she was also only twelve then.’
      • ‘The week's sport and fun is open to all boys and girls from the ages of eight to twelve years.’
      • ‘Girls and boys play in mixed teams until the age of twelve.’
      • ‘At the age of twelve his parents divorced and he moved to London with his father.’
      • ‘I first came to realise my mother hated me when I was only twelve.’
      • ‘She calls to one, a girl, probably about twelve.’
      • ‘About 35 kids between the ages of nine and twelve gather every Saturday to play rugby.’
      • ‘They start at 7pm and any little girl between the ages of six and twelve is welcome to join.’
      • ‘When I was ten and my sister twelve, we spent the summer in the lush Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, at Camp Chimney Rock.’
      • ‘A window opened and a girl around the age of eleven or twelve poked her head out the window.’
    3. 1.3Twelve o'clock.
      ‘it's half past twelve’
      • ‘Unfortunately, those three came back at five past twelve.’
      • ‘So it wasn't a very big surprise when Dustin and Justin showed up at half past twelve.’
      • ‘The clock struck twelve, and several guards shooed the reporters out of the castle.’
      • ‘Suddenly the clock struck twelve and the two were broken from their trance.’
      • ‘The seminar ran every Wednesday from half past twelve to two o'clock in Mathematical Institute.’
      • ‘Byrne's World of Wonder, on the Cork Road, Waterford will be open at midnight on Friday and will commence selling the book at one second past twelve!’
      • ‘Back to the present, quarter past twelve today, I got back to Reading to find the thing was still there.’
      • ‘At half past twelve, Margot and Daddy read, and others clean.’
      • ‘All this occurred between twelve and one o'clock this morning.’
      • ‘At ten past twelve I looked at my watch and realised - oh!’
    4. 1.4A size of garment or other merchandise denoted by twelve.
      • ‘It was Alexz that would never fit in mom's clothes, being the size twelve that she is.’
      • ‘Walking was a bore and I really hated exercise so it was a surprise that I was a size twelve, if you saw the amount I could eat.’
      • ‘Well, I know she's a size twelve but, you know, erm, how exactly does that relate to, well, bikini tops?’
      • ‘"Size twelve and a half, " the voice that belonged to Feet said.’
      • ‘It looked like a size twelve boot had crashed through the screen.’
      • ‘Who wants to tell someone she's really a size twelve, anyway.’
      • ‘After I had my first daughter, I could wear my size ten and twelve clothes a week after she was born.’
    5. 1.5The twelve Apostles.
    6. 1.6British (of a film) classified as suitable for people of 12 years and over.


Old English twelf(e), from the base of two + a second element (probably expressing the sense left over); of Germanic origin and related to Dutch twaalf and German zwölf. Compare with eleven.