Definition of number in English:

number

noun

  • 1An arithmetical value, expressed by a word, symbol, or figure, representing a particular quantity and used in counting and making calculations and for showing order in a series or for identification.

    ‘she dialed the number carefully’
    ‘an even number’
    • ‘Finding the ideal ratio of words to numbers may prove a fruitful area for further research.’
    • ‘She said they enjoy coming up with different combinations of numbers.’
    • ‘According to Bellavitis, the plane does not just provide a means to represent complex numbers.’
    • ‘A child with a math disability has problems with numbers and math symbols.’
    • ‘These are combined and shown both in actual numbers and as ratios in the bar graph.’
    • ‘We need to think more carefully about numbers and the mathematics we use to work with them.’
    • ‘He is perhaps best known for playing a role in the development of the ASCII code for representing English characters as numbers.’
    • ‘For most purposes this number system could represent all the numbers which might arise in normal day to day life.’
    • ‘The real number system consists of all numbers that can be represented by infinite decimals.’
    • ‘For our geometrical problem, g is a positive number so the first value is the one we want.’
    • ‘Hyphenated words, symbols, numbers, and abbreviations were counted as one word.’
    • ‘The whole number part starts off your list of numbers for the continued fraction.’
    • ‘Book 3 contains a description of how to carry out arithmetic with irrational numbers.’
    • ‘It is a personal state of being that cannot be reduced to numbers and decimal points.’
    • ‘We also counted the number of words, abbreviations, symbols, numbers, and values in each record.’
    • ‘It made possible the standardization of texts as well as symbols, numbers, and figures.’
    • ‘He considered computation with irrational numbers and polynomials to be part of algebra.’
    • ‘Vedic scholars did not use figures for big numbers in their numerical notation.’
    • ‘Note that the allelic state for a pair of lineages is represented by two numbers in brackets.’
    • ‘Is it the numerator of a Bernoullian number, or one occurring in some continued fraction?’
    numeral, integer, figure, digit
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1numbersdated Arithmetic.
      ‘the boy was adept at numbers’
  • 2A quantity or amount.

    ‘the company is seeking to increase the number of women on its staff’
    ‘the exhibition attracted vast numbers of visitors’
    • ‘The airport will need to be able to facilitate quick flight turnarounds as well as deal with growing passenger numbers.’
    • ‘He said: " I'm alarmed by the growing number of occasions when guns are used.’
    • ‘But, such debates could attract only limited number of people and erudite scholars.’
    • ‘Ham House's ghost tours are attracting an increasing number of visitors.’
    • ‘What do you do when people aren't flocking to dance music in the numbers they used to?’
    • ‘Instead, a limited number of substitutions occur at each site.’
    • ‘As our numbers grow too high, we bring down the excess population ourselves.’
    • ‘Both airports claim they need a new runway to cope with increasing passenger numbers.’
    • ‘Five of the 10 harvested fruits were cut transversely to calculate the average locule number per fruit and average fruit.’
    • ‘Metrolink had opened in 1992 and doubled its passenger numbers over the next nine years.’
    • ‘All but one trial assigned an equal number of participants to the intervention and control groups.’
    • ‘Many departments already have instituted changes to methodology that have drawn growing numbers to literary studies.’
    • ‘Simply, step one involves estimating the expected number of substitutions per site accumulating between sampling times.’
    • ‘The battlefields of Normandy are drawing increasing numbers of British visitors as the anniversary of D-Day approaches.’
    • ‘The numbers grow more staggering everyday, making the recovery from Hurricane Charley seem even more daunting.’
    • ‘The museum has exceeded expected visitor numbers and hit its 300,000 annual target within its first six months.’
    • ‘The EP has rejected the Council's common position on only a limited number of occasions.’
    • ‘To date, the duo have sold two-and-a-half million albums and about the same number of singles.’
    • ‘To cope with the expected huge numbers of arrests 14 police garages are being converted into lock-up cages.’
    • ‘However, the numbers have dwindled to less than a quarter what they once were.’
    amount, quantity
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1a number of Several.
      ‘we have discussed the matter on a number of occasions’
      • ‘This matter has been highlighted on a number of occasions but no one has been apprehended to date.’
      • ‘Over the past four weeks his car had been targeted on a number of occasions and has suffered thousands of pounds worth of damage.’
      • ‘I've met Henrik on a number of occasions and found him extremely pleasant.’
      • ‘As well as being a gifted man, he is rib-achingly funny, and has made me cry from laughing so hard on a number of occasions.’
      • ‘The company has ruled out on a number of occasions a full listing on the stock market.’
      • ‘I quit consuming music products a number of years ago and make do with what I had legally acquired by then.’
      • ‘A council spokesman said they had tried on a number of occasions to carry out annual servicing of gas appliances.’
      • ‘All credit to Liverpool who put up a great fight and could have scored through Owen on a number of occasions.’
      • ‘As well as his operatic numbers he includes among his repertoire a number of Irish songs.’
      • ‘He has also written a number of original concert pieces and is currently composing a new opera.’
      • ‘On a number of occasions I have refused a sale simply because I didn't like someone's face or their hands.’
      • ‘They will be performing a number of songs and also designing the programme for the event.’
      • ‘They have since completed the challenge on a number of occasions for different charities.’
      • ‘A performing arts graduate, Janey Lee will perform a number of her own songs at the Billericay concert.’
      • ‘As a performer, she has danced with a number of different companies across the world.’
      • ‘Stewart has come close to winning on a number of occasions and this is one major prize at home which has eluded him.’
      • ‘An Englishman living in the area was held by police on a number of occasions, but was always released without charge.’
      • ‘It has been reiterated on several occasions since through a number of declarations and statements.’
      • ‘She said she felt she had to resign from Croft House after reports led to officials visiting the home on a number of occasions.’
      • ‘The film allows screen time for a number of different dance pieces to be played out in their entirety, much like a musical.’
      several, various, quite a few, sundry, diverse
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 A group or company of people.
      ‘there were some distinguished names among our number’
      • ‘With men from west Wales among their number, they were among the first of the British troops to arrive in the Gulf.’
      • ‘It was amusing to see one of our number downing pints as I don't think I've ever seen her drunk before.’
      • ‘The difference between our numbers in the House and Senate are not that vast.’
      • ‘Christians in Basra are also grieving the loss of one of their number.’
      • ‘One of their number apologised and explained that their friend was drunk.’
      • ‘Among their number were old friends or acquaintances who wanted to take a last look and perhaps to take home a memento.’
      • ‘He had offered one of our number the free loan of his Cotswolds mansion for the weekend.’
      • ‘The death of one of their number had frightened them, but for how long?’
      • ‘It's a good question, and as it happens, one of their number has come out of the closet today.’
      • ‘The Scottish popular press doesn't have a lot of time for gays either, even though there are a few among their number.’
      • ‘Had there been a woman among their number, things might have been different.’
      • ‘They count a chef, a traffic warden, a prison custody officer and a bank clerk among their number.’
      • ‘However, the club are hopeful to have the tricky winger back among their number in the next few days to continue his trial.’
      • ‘Among our number, there must be some who can bring home to the viewers the value and fascination of history as an art and science.’
      • ‘So why are so many politicians so prickly when one of their number spills the beans on another?’
      • ‘One of their number, Tony, seemed to have adopted me and was willing to show me round.’
      • ‘Among their number are troops able to bridge a 75 ft gap in as little as five minutes.’
      • ‘One of our number locked the cubicle from the inside and we passed boxes to him over the walls.’
      • ‘One of their number, party strategist Dominic Cummings, explained it to them recently.’
      • ‘When one was obtained it had to be smuggled past the camp guards, then passed to one of our number who was able to translate the news.’
      group, company, crowd, circle, party, body, band, crew, set
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3numbers A large quantity or amount, often in contrast to a smaller one; numerical preponderance.
      ‘the weight of numbers turned the battle against them’
      • ‘Leinster hit back with the weight of numbers and forced Newcastle to concede a penalty try with just five minutes remaining.’
      • ‘Clearly, the other parties did not have the weight of numbers needed to force that to happen, so we are where we are today.’
      • ‘Homelessness services are creaking under the weight of numbers, cuts in funding and privatisation in health services.’
      • ‘There are a terrifically large number of planets in the galaxy and many people say that the sheer weight of numbers means that life must exist.’
      • ‘Protesters find that their objections fall upon deaf ears; their reasons belittled and their sheer weight of numbers ignored.’
      • ‘The Germans may have had a fine submarine on paper but producing it in numbers was a different matter.’
      • ‘The numbers of different sizes, shapes and colours available never ceases to amaze me.’
      • ‘There were a number of hold ups along the route caused by sheer weight of numbers, but spirits remained high.’
      • ‘One obvious advantage was sheer weight of numbers: at both Valmy and Jemappes the enemy was heavily outnumbered.’
      • ‘Was she thinking that weight of numbers might help in a fight?’
      • ‘But when has weight of numbers been a reason to pre-empt the outcome of a parliamentary inquiry or cut it short?’
      • ‘Pure puzzles put Agatha Christie at the head of the field, and weight of numbers and lack of trendiness have kept her there.’
      • ‘Many of the injured headed for local hospitals which quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of casualties.’
      • ‘It is very rare for the award to be won by teams outside Lismore, with the bigger clubs dominating simply though weight of numbers.’
      • ‘They overcame enormous odds right from the outset but eventually got crushed by weight of numbers.’
      • ‘Exhaustion and weight of numbers also took their toll.’
      • ‘Weight of numbers alone suggests the Russians hold all the aces this year.’
      • ‘Sheer weight of numbers continues to favour players from the States.’
      • ‘He was riding his camels along when he saw numbers of spherical white objects.’
      • ‘Under the sheer weight of numbers, grandparents, aunts and uncles have begun to disown their own.’
  • 3British A single issue of a magazine.

    ‘the October number of “Travel.”’
    edition, issue, copy
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 A song, dance, piece of music, etc., especially one of several in a performance.
      ‘they go from one melodious number to another’
      • ‘In summary: the major disappointment of Revenge of the Lisp is that there are no big song and dance numbers.’
      • ‘For her audition Natalie had to recite two drama pieces and perform three song and dance numbers.’
      • ‘Basically what we have here is a nice, sentimental excuse for lots and lots of song and dance numbers.’
      • ‘Skits, songs and dance numbers will be among the highlights of the show.’
      • ‘Charlie Smyth and the Cast of Cinderella will also perform a few numbers from their sell-out pantomime.’
      • ‘Perhaps not as funny as they're intended to be, the song and dance numbers are highly entertaining just the same.’
      • ‘This engineering graduate has carved a niche for himself in Malayalam music with his melodious numbers.’
      • ‘I certainly had lumps in my throat - but only when I wasn't marvelling at the many spectacular dance numbers.’
      • ‘In Glasgow, pantos are a series of song and dance numbers strung together with a bit of patter.’
      • ‘The directional effects here are utilized fully when the songs and dance numbers come into play.’
      • ‘The cast were great and some of the upbeat numbers and high-energy dance routines were a joy to watch.’
      • ‘Dance and music numbers were the major highlights of the programme.’
      • ‘Chow throws in big dance numbers, songs, humour and chase scenes that play like Wiley E Coyote trying to catch Roadrunner.’
      • ‘While you eat, Burmese dancers perform some traditional numbers accompanied by music of their own.’
      • ‘In one of the program's dance numbers, he performed Topeng Dalem with refined and deeply touching movements.’
      • ‘Intended for comic relief, the song and dance numbers come across as uninspired and robotic.’
      • ‘One afternoon was filled with poetry readings, theatrical performances and dance numbers.’
      • ‘The sets and costumes are brilliant, as are the dance numbers and musical performances.’
      • ‘Chadha's film joyously embraces the elaborate song and dance numbers that are the mainstay of Bollywood.’
      • ‘The performers will also tackle solo songs and duets, group numbers, character dances, duologues and slapstick.’
      song, piece of music, musical item, piece, tune, track
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2informal usually with adjective or noun modifier A thing, typically an item of clothing, of a particular type, regarded with approval or admiration.
      ‘Yvonne was wearing a little black number’
      • ‘Her friend is one of those people who have no creativity so they just throw on some cat ears with some black slinky numbers.’
      • ‘He found the car, a sleek little black number, and slid behind the wheel.’
      • ‘Noteworthy numbers were the knitted fur cardigans and the silver foil fur-lined jackets.’
      • ‘The dress was a sleek, black number with tiny, silvery sequins along the low neckline.’
      • ‘Or maybe it's a racy nouvelle vague number, all headscarves and bicycles made for two.’
      • ‘Made of silky nylon and soft mesh, these little numbers feel so comfortable you may not want to take them off.’
      • ‘She pulled it off, to find a slinky black number, with thin spaghetti-straps and a jagged edge.’
      • ‘Carhartt's roomy over-the-head numbers in soft red or mid-blue have equally roomy front pocket.’
      • ‘Their new away shirt, launched this week, is a natty white number featuring an orange sash.’
      • ‘Last weekend, the Crown was packed with dinner jackets, black ties and pretty girls in scanty numbers.’
  • 4A distinction of word form denoting reference to one person or thing or to more than one.

    See also singular (sense 1 of the adjective), plural, count noun, and mass noun
    • ‘There was a time a few years ago when the United States was spoken of in the plural number.’
    • ‘It has a dual number, so nouns and verbs must be learned in singular, dual, and plural.’
    • ‘Nouns are marked for gender, number, and case as well as for definite and indefinite forms.’
    • ‘Human nouns have a distinct class marking mechanism based on number and gender.’
    • ‘Countable nouns make a distinction between singular and plural number.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Amount to (a specified figure or quantity); comprise.

    ‘the demonstrators numbered more than 5,000’
    • ‘In preparing the shows he draws on his own record and compact disc collection numbering in excess of 2,000.’
    • ‘Last year's total Jewish immigration into Israel, numbering some 23,000, was a 15-year low.’
    • ‘As the officers tried to subdue Gomez, a fourth man began to assault the cops, who by now numbered three women and one man.’
    • ‘Current playable songs number only in the hundreds.’
    • ‘I smiled and greeted those people I knew, who numbered in the several dozens.’
    • ‘By 1933 it numbered some two million, double the size of the army, which was hostile to them.’
    • ‘But in 2000, Native Americans actually numbered closer to 2.5 million.’
    • ‘Homes numbering in the tens of thousands have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair.’
    • ‘Metazoans inherited a genome of some still undetermined size, but certainly numbering many thousands of genes, from their protistan ancestor.’
    • ‘And huge sea turtles numbering in the tens of millions flourished in the Caribbean.’
    • ‘I used to have a contacts list that numbered no more than four people.’
    • ‘In preparing the shows he draws on his own record and compact disk collection numbering in excess of 2,000.’
    • ‘Sources within the disengagement authority say that's because so far the number of families filing for compensation are numbered in the dozens.’
    • ‘The Beja represent the dominant ethnic group of eastern Sudan, numbering an estimated three million inhabiting a vast arid region that encompasses three countries: Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea.’
    • ‘The scientific staff will eventually number more than 200.’
    • ‘The military forces number about fifteen thousand and are among the best trained in Africa.’
    • ‘By 1920 the Catholic population numbered about seventeen million and included some twenty-eight ethnic groups.’
    • ‘A crowd numbering in the thousands later marched on the nearest US base, hurling rocks and chanting anti-American slogans.’
    • ‘At this point, I have boxes full of books, probably numbering somewhere close to 2000.’
    • ‘At the last two events, the crowds numbered in the millions.’
    add up to, amount to, total, come to
    View synonyms
  • 2Mark with a number or assign a number to, typically to indicate position in a series.

    ‘each document was numbered consecutively’
    • ‘The paragraphs have been numbered for convenience of reference hereafter.’
    • ‘All elements are hand signed and numbered by the artist, and retail for $1,250.’
    • ‘The other series, known as the piezometer series, is numbered simply 1 to 104.’
    • ‘We randomised patients individually using sealed, opaque, sequentially numbered envelopes.’
    • ‘Each segment was named, numbered, and indicated on the log sheet reference.’
    • ‘The research assistants used consecutively numbered packs to allocate new participants to treatment groups.’
    • ‘The permits shall be numbered consecutively at the time they are printed and shall be furnished by the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources.’
    • ‘Each book and report form should be numbered for identification and kept for three years.’
    • ‘Allocations were concealed in sequentially numbered opaque envelopes opened once written parental consent was obtained.’
    • ‘Intron positions were numbered consecutively beginning at the N-terminus of the alignment.’
    • ‘Completion of this order will fill the 500 series with the balance of the order to be numbered 5101-5122.’
    • ‘Marked by colourful posts which are not numbered and which are situated at 1km intervals, walkers simply follow the Km signs, setting their own pace as they go.’
    • ‘Codes were kept in sequentially numbered opaque envelopes until just before use.’
    • ‘The forms will be sequentially numbered to record all proprietary plant and services purchases and any overspends or under spends to the budget.’
    • ‘Editions are from 50 to 100 copies - signed and numbered by the artist.’
    • ‘They have printed cardboard disks that are numbered, and that is how service priority is assigned.’
    • ‘Coffins are being numbered and marked with pictures of the dead inside.’
    • ‘Amino acids are numbered consecutively for each species and indicated at the right margin.’
    • ‘The engineers providing the foam floor forms individually numbered more than 200 panels to match the architect's drawings.’
    • ‘Timbers and stones have been numbered and their location recorded so the bridge will be put back together accurately, he said.’
    assign a number to, categorize by number, specify by number, mark with a number
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Count.
      ‘strategies like ours can be numbered on the fingers of one hand’
      • ‘And thy servant is in the midst of thy people, which thou has chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude.’
      • ‘I looked away, certain that every blade was numbered.’
      • ‘A study appearing today in the journal Science reports that the hunter-gatherers seem to be the only group of humans known to have no concept of numbering and counting.’
      • ‘The few which manage to maintain the consistency and flow necessary to repeated listening can be numbered on the fingers of one hand.’
      • ‘You know, I really liked when he talked about this being a time for introspection and sort of looking at what we do and why we do it and numbering our days and making sure that the time that we have here is used wisely.’
      • ‘The number of subjects that I could discuss with my parents and claim genuine common experience could be numbered on the fingers of one hand.’
      count, add up, total, calculate, compute, enumerate, reckon, tell, tally
      View synonyms
  • 3Include or classify as a member of a group.

    ‘the orchestra numbers Brahms among its past conductors’
    • ‘Weigand got really mad when he found out that Dell numbered Handgun Control as a member of its sales affiliate program, by which companies gain fees for referrals.’
    • ‘The Accademia d' Italia, set up in 1929 in imitation of France, never had any real prestige or significance although it numbered among its members a few men of real merit.’
    • ‘Both Jefferson and Madison numbered the act among their greatest accomplishments.’
    • ‘The Wheelers were the best cycling club in the city, numbering among their members Ian Steel, who made an abortive appearance in the 1955 Tour, and Billy Bilsland, who had followed Steel and Ken Laidlaw to race in France.’
    • ‘Great Alardyce is indeed of the same generation as Carlyle, Harriet Martineau numbering as a member of both eminent men's circles.’
    include, count
    View synonyms

Usage

The construction the number of + plural noun is used with a singular verb (as in the number of people affected remains small). Thus it is the noun number rather than the noun people that is taken to agree with the verb (and is therefore functioning as the head noun). By contrast, the apparently similar construction a number of + plural noun is used with a plural verb (as in a number of people remain to be contacted). In this case, it is the noun people that acts as the head noun and with which the verb agrees. In the latter case, a number of works as if it were a single word, such as some or several. See also collective noun and lot

Phrases

  • any number of

    • 1Any particular whole quantity of.

      ‘the game can involve any number of players’
      • ‘Players can bid any number of tricks - the bids may or may not add up to the total tricks available.’
      • ‘You can play a game any number of times, however, and the course will always be different.’
      • ‘The lead player plays any number of matching cards, such as four Jacks.’
      • ‘The player to the dealer's left may now discard any number of unwanted cards and replace them by drawing cards from the top of the talon.’
      • ‘Before play each player may exchange any number of cards from the hand with her face-up cards.’
      • ‘To do this, pick any number of the ten and then after counting to three both players will put their bids at the Play Area at the same time.’
      • ‘It can involve any number of players and anything can be traded.’
      • ‘Spite and Malice can easily be adapted for any number of players.’
      1. 1.1A large and unlimited quantity or amount of.
        ‘the results can be read any number of ways’
        • ‘You are much more at risk for heart attack and hypertension and diabetes and any number of things.’
        • ‘This is just one of the many times I and friends have been on a frightening, white knuckle ride with any number of taxi firms in this country.’
        • ‘Of course, the killer irony is that smaller cars are better than big ones for any number of reasons.’
        • ‘It's insanely dense too, with each scene capable of being read in any number of ways.’
        • ‘We've been past the hotel any number of times on our way through Ballater, and have always thought that we ought to try a stay there some time.’
        • ‘Instead, it can be used to support any number of contrary interpretations.’
        • ‘That would do more to help ordinary Africans than any number of musical extravaganzas.’
        • ‘Coetzee presents a tensely connected web of longing that pulses with meaning and can be read at any number of levels.’
        • ‘The Associated Press is also covering the story, which can be read in any number of places.’
        • ‘It's Friday night and you have just arrived home after a tough day in any number of insanely boring classes.’
  • by numbers

    • Following simple instructions identified or as if identified by numbers.

      ‘painting by numbers’
      • ‘It is one of those variations of painting by numbers where figures are human years and the colors are usually photographs.’
      • ‘‘It's politics by numbers,’ says one strategist, for Conservatives to try to drive up the salience of an issue where they're out front.’
      • ‘REM - when did they start just doing REM by numbers?’
      • ‘You can see this big drama up in the first five seconds, then this, then that, then that, so it's writing by numbers, making films by numbers and I think a lot of books are posited on the same kit.’
      • ‘With subtlety off the menu and with little variation in tempo, all the better for head-banging, it was Maiden by numbers, but great for singing along to.’
      • ‘Join the dots, colour by numbers - it's not like that, is it?’
      • ‘It is 15 years since his critically-acclaimed debut, Let Love Rule, and Kravitz has headed straight for the comfort zone with another of his CDs by numbers.’
      • ‘Does it at times feel like Woody Allen by numbers?’
      • ‘There may have been a certain critical backlash to this by those who assumed it was Hollywood trying to do Bollywood by numbers, but The Guru didn't have aspirations nearly as high as that.’
      • ‘It is like making artists paint by numbers or a songwriter use the same four chords in the same order for every song (like Coldplay or Stereophonics).’
  • by the numbers

    • 1Following standard operating procedure.

      • ‘Will Smith's Hitch is a racist, homophobic, by the numbers, boring romantic comedy filled with blatant product placements.’
      • ‘It's what I'm beginning to call news by the numbers.’
      • ‘Most of the interviews you do to promote something are by the numbers.’
      • ‘If we're going by the numbers, why not have a party platform asserting that the United States is ‘a white nation’?’
      • ‘Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Love Actually: it was a skilful piece of work, a series of invariably thin stories skating along on the bankable watchability of a talented ensemble cast doing it by the numbers.’
      • ‘It's rather sad that Steve McQueen's career had to end with this turkey of a film - an effort that's poorly written, directed with no flair whatsoever, and acted by the numbers.’
      • ‘And a key fact here is nobody has said that the Army hasn't played this thing exactly by the rules, exactly by the numbers.’
      • ‘‘The way companies are managed is more by the numbers now,’ says Chuck Lucier, senior vice president emeritus at Booz Allen Hamilton.’
      • ‘Thankfully, this new film avoids playing by the numbers and follows its own dead-on instincts.’
      • ‘So given the high stakes involved in maintaining his relative ‘sainthood’ set against a background of alleged infidelity, ordinarily you could expect Beckham to be playing by the numbers.’
      1. 1.1All together with a shouted-out count.
        • ‘You count off seven to ten seconds by the numbers, give a wing wag, and break left and down in a 90-degree bank.’
  • do a number on

    • informal Treat someone badly, typically by deceiving, humiliating, or criticizing them in a calculated and thorough way.

      • ‘Her unemployment benefits ran out, her stopgap restaurant job couldn't pay her rent and did a number on her self-esteem, and she returned to her crack-cocaine habit, which she'd had under control for ten years.’
      • ‘I think all those hallucinogens you took back in the 70's really did a number on you.’
      • ‘Any setbacks in that area right now would really do a number on my head.’
      • ‘Being torn from the only family you thought you knew really does a number on you, doesn't it?’
      • ‘Though he's been doing a number on me with all of this chopping and changing, I think I've been screwing with his head, too, by keeping my emotional distance.’
      • ‘Before it fades away entirely, though, Hitchens does a number on the Kennedy presidency.’
      • ‘Maybe all those years in the Navy did a number on his psyche.’
      • ‘Gwyneth Paltrow says motherhood is doing a number on her memory.’
      • ‘It will knock your socks off - and do a number on your libido!’
      • ‘This pregnancy is really doing a number on her hormones, that's the only explanation’
  • have someone's number

    • informal Understand a person's real motives or character and thereby gain some advantage.

      • ‘He had our number, all of us, the whole flawed species.’
      • ‘If the cops have your number, you will be screwed no matter how law-abiding you are.’
      • ‘As George W. Bush and John Kerry race through their final prep sessions before Friday night's St. Louis slugfest, each of them undoubtedly believes that, in effect, he has your number.’
      • ‘Whatever your dessert personality, Café Crepe has your number.’
      • ‘He has our number: people so mesmerised by the material that they only care about the spiritual if they can add ice and lemon to it after they've whisked it through duty free.’
      • ‘You certainly had my number when you guessed that the only math I can do is the one that comes after…’
      • ‘They can't easily strike in the Middle East precisely because Syria, Egypt, Algeria, etc. have their number and have undertaken massive actions against them.’
      • ‘Yep, there are plenty do-gooders are out there and they have your number, baby, trust me.’
      • ‘From two sets up Tim tried to head for the finish, but Canas reeled him in with thundering forehands and a deep-seated belief that he had the Briton 's number.’
      • ‘The cunning sniper up on the hill in the first mission certainly had my number.’
      as a bonus, as an extra, into the bargain, to boot, in addition, besides, as well
      View synonyms
  • have someone's number on it

    • informal (of a bomb, bullet, or other missile) destined to find a specified person as its target.

      • ‘As a batsman or an umpire a ball always has your number on it and if I made a mistake, so be it.’
      • ‘You just didn't know whether the next bullet or shell had your number on it.’
  • someone's number is up

    • informal The time has come when someone is doomed to die or suffer some other disaster or setback.

      • ‘I was happy enough to play on just as a senior pro but then I was told I would struggle to keep my first-team place, and when you hear that, you know your number is up.’
      • ‘The characters in this film have to figure out when their number is up and avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is what we do as human beings every day.’
      • ‘Some of those members opposite who are sitting in marginal rural seats or marginal provincial seats should really start to worry, because their number is up.’
      • ‘They are sending a very clear signal to this Government that its number is up, and that Government members should start brushing off their CVs and looking for a new job.’
      • ‘Peter Fraser had principles; this Prime Minister has only her polls - and her number is up.’
      • ‘I am a pragmatic person and if your number is up it's up.’
      • ‘He has even arranged for his body to be returned to Tibet for a traditional sky burial when his number is up.’
      • ‘It doesn't seem to displace much air hence they have little warning, and once they come in contact with the ‘strings’, their number is up!’
      • ‘Although it must be tempting to tell someone that you love that you love them when you know your number is up, if you also know the true perpetrator of a crime that someone else is suspected of, surely you are duty bound to blurt that out first.’
      • ‘Of life and possible dangers in Basrah he said: ‘As many of the lads say, when your number is up it's up.’’
  • without number

    • Too many to count.

      ‘they forgot the message times without number’
      • ‘A theology of blessing begins with God, the fountain of all blessings, whose benevolence toward his creation produces mercies without number.’
      • ‘For the next year or so, he trotted out that phrase times without number.’
      • ‘May your joys be without number and your troubles few.’
      • ‘This is in sharp contrast to the stand of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad which has made no such commitment and reiterated times without number that it shall accept only a favourable judicial verdict!’
      • ‘Now 72 years old, he has won awards without number, including, in 1984, the Nobel Peace Prize.’
      • ‘These examples could be multiplied almost without number.’
      • ‘Echenoz seems to have met his publisher face to face times without number over the years, without any suggestion that a hired intermediary would be a good idea.’
      • ‘In today's Highlands, the march of the modern means that the hills support unsaleable sheep and the shores inedible shellfish; salmon are caged and deer without number pollute the bens.’
      • ‘The web sites devoted to Hitchcock and his films are almost without number.’
      • ‘But Leander, a born fighter who had proved times without number that he would never take defeat lying down, recovered in a fashion that can well be described as a miracle.’
  • someone's/something's days are numbered

    • Someone or something will not survive or remain in a position of power or advantage for much longer.

      ‘my days as director were numbered’
      • ‘They are being hunted down, their days are numbered.’
      • ‘To the terrorists I say this, your days are numbered.’
      • ‘Any manager will tell you that if you lose the dressing room you can still survive, but lose the supporters and your days are numbered.’
      • ‘But racing, in particular, has often suffered from people who deliberately conspire to fix results, and those cheats now know that their days are numbered.’
      • ‘No doubt the terrorists and insurgents will hit back, and try to punish people; but their days are numbered now.’
      • ‘Many of these types are still running companies, but the tide is turning and their days are numbered.’
      • ‘The only ones left in the nearly deserted complex are the disabled and those over 65, and their days are numbered.’
      • ‘Somehow I can't see that happening, but I do think Chisholm 's days are numbered.’
      • ‘Now, once a trial balloon is floated like that, your days are numbered.’
      • ‘Once the focal point of every community, rural post office owners are now finding that their days are numbered.’
      limit, limit in number, restrict, fix
      View synonyms

Origin

Middle English: from Old French nombre (noun), nombrer (verb), from Latin numerus.

Pronunciation

number

/ˈnəmbər//ˈnəmbər/