Definition of number in US 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’
    • ‘Is it the numerator of a Bernoullian number, or one occurring in some continued fraction?’
    • ‘According to Bellavitis, the plane does not just provide a means to represent complex numbers.’
    • ‘We need to think more carefully about numbers and the mathematics we use to work with them.’
    • ‘It made possible the standardization of texts as well as symbols, numbers, and figures.’
    • ‘These are combined and shown both in actual numbers and as ratios in the bar graph.’
    • ‘He considered computation with irrational numbers and polynomials to be part of algebra.’
    • ‘Note that the allelic state for a pair of lineages is represented by two numbers in brackets.’
    • ‘A child with a math disability has problems with numbers and math symbols.’
    • ‘We also counted the number of words, abbreviations, symbols, numbers, and values in each record.’
    • ‘The real number system consists of all numbers that can be represented by infinite decimals.’
    • ‘The whole number part starts off your list of numbers for the continued fraction.’
    • ‘Vedic scholars did not use figures for big numbers in their numerical notation.’
    • ‘Finding the ideal ratio of words to numbers may prove a fruitful area for further research.’
    • ‘It is a personal state of being that cannot be reduced to numbers and decimal points.’
    • ‘Hyphenated words, symbols, numbers, and abbreviations were counted as one word.’
    • ‘Book 3 contains a description of how to carry out arithmetic with irrational numbers.’
    • ‘He is perhaps best known for playing a role in the development of the ASCII code for representing English characters as numbers.’
    • ‘She said they enjoy coming up with different combinations of numbers.’
    • ‘For our geometrical problem, g is a positive number so the first value is the one we want.’
    • ‘For most purposes this number system could represent all the numbers which might arise in normal day to day life.’
    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.’
    • ‘Five of the 10 harvested fruits were cut transversely to calculate the average locule number per fruit and average fruit.’
    • ‘Simply, step one involves estimating the expected number of substitutions per site accumulating between sampling times.’
    • ‘Both airports claim they need a new runway to cope with increasing passenger numbers.’
    • ‘Instead, a limited number of substitutions occur at each site.’
    • ‘All but one trial assigned an equal number of participants to the intervention and control groups.’
    • ‘The numbers grow more staggering everyday, making the recovery from Hurricane Charley seem even more daunting.’
    • ‘But, such debates could attract only limited number of people and erudite scholars.’
    • ‘As our numbers grow too high, we bring down the excess population ourselves.’
    • ‘Metrolink had opened in 1992 and doubled its passenger numbers over the next nine years.’
    • ‘To cope with the expected huge numbers of arrests 14 police garages are being converted into lock-up cages.’
    • ‘The battlefields of Normandy are drawing increasing numbers of British visitors as the anniversary of D-Day approaches.’
    • ‘Many departments already have instituted changes to methodology that have drawn growing numbers to literary studies.’
    • ‘Ham House's ghost tours are attracting an increasing number of visitors.’
    • ‘The EP has rejected the Council's common position on only a limited number of occasions.’
    • ‘The museum has exceeded expected visitor numbers and hit its 300,000 annual target within its first six months.’
    • ‘However, the numbers have dwindled to less than a quarter what they once were.’
    • ‘He said: " I'm alarmed by the growing number of occasions when guns are used.’
    • ‘To date, the duo have sold two-and-a-half million albums and about the same number of singles.’
    • ‘What do you do when people aren't flocking to dance music in the numbers they used to?’
    amount, quantity
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1a number of Several.
      ‘we have discussed the matter on a number of occasions’
      • ‘As well as his operatic numbers he includes among his repertoire a number of Irish songs.’
      • ‘It has been reiterated on several occasions since through a number of declarations and statements.’
      • ‘He has also written a number of original concert pieces and is currently composing a new opera.’
      • ‘I quit consuming music products a number of years ago and make do with what I had legally acquired by then.’
      • ‘A performing arts graduate, Janey Lee will perform a number of her own songs at the Billericay concert.’
      • ‘They will be performing a number of songs and also designing the programme for the event.’
      • ‘On a number of occasions I have refused a sale simply because I didn't like someone's face or their hands.’
      • ‘Over the past four weeks his car had been targeted on a number of occasions and has suffered thousands of pounds worth of damage.’
      • ‘A council spokesman said they had tried on a number of occasions to carry out annual servicing of gas appliances.’
      • ‘They have since completed the challenge on a number of occasions for different charities.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As a performer, she has danced with a number of different companies across the world.’
      • ‘I've met Henrik on a number of occasions and found him extremely pleasant.’
      • ‘The company has ruled out on a number of occasions a full listing on the stock market.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All credit to Liverpool who put up a great fight and could have scored through Owen on a number of occasions.’
      • ‘This matter has been highlighted on a number of occasions but no one has been apprehended to date.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘The Scottish popular press doesn't have a lot of time for gays either, even though there are a few among their number.’
      • ‘Christians in Basra are also grieving the loss of one of their number.’
      • ‘He had offered one of our number the free loan of his Cotswolds mansion for the weekend.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, the club are hopeful to have the tricky winger back among their number in the next few days to continue his trial.’
      • ‘Among their number are troops able to bridge a 75 ft gap in as little as five minutes.’
      • ‘One of their number, party strategist Dominic Cummings, explained it to them recently.’
      • ‘They count a chef, a traffic warden, a prison custody officer and a bank clerk among their number.’
      • ‘With men from west Wales among their number, they were among the first of the British troops to arrive in the Gulf.’
      • ‘So why are so many politicians so prickly when one of their number spills the beans on another?’
      • ‘The difference between our numbers in the House and Senate are not that vast.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One of their number apologised and explained that their friend was drunk.’
      • ‘It was amusing to see one of our number downing pints as I don't think I've ever seen her drunk before.’
      • ‘Had there been a woman among their number, things might have been different.’
      • ‘It's a good question, and as it happens, one of their number has come out of the closet today.’
      • ‘One of our number locked the cubicle from the inside and we passed boxes to him over the walls.’
      • ‘Among their number were old friends or acquaintances who wanted to take a last look and perhaps to take home a memento.’
      • ‘One of their number, Tony, seemed to have adopted me and was willing to show me round.’
      • ‘The death of one of their number had frightened them, but for how long?’
      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’
      • ‘But when has weight of numbers been a reason to pre-empt the outcome of a parliamentary inquiry or cut it short?’
      • ‘Exhaustion and weight of numbers also took their toll.’
      • ‘One obvious advantage was sheer weight of numbers: at both Valmy and Jemappes the enemy was heavily outnumbered.’
      • ‘Leinster hit back with the weight of numbers and forced Newcastle to concede a penalty try with just five minutes remaining.’
      • ‘Weight of numbers alone suggests the Russians hold all the aces this year.’
      • ‘He was riding his camels along when he saw numbers of spherical white objects.’
      • ‘Many of the injured headed for local hospitals which quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of casualties.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The numbers of different sizes, shapes and colours available never ceases to amaze me.’
      • ‘Protesters find that their objections fall upon deaf ears; their reasons belittled and their sheer weight of numbers ignored.’
      • ‘Under the sheer weight of numbers, grandparents, aunts and uncles have begun to disown their own.’
      • ‘Pure puzzles put Agatha Christie at the head of the field, and weight of numbers and lack of trendiness have kept her there.’
      • ‘There were a number of hold ups along the route caused by sheer weight of numbers, but spirits remained high.’
      • ‘Homelessness services are creaking under the weight of numbers, cuts in funding and privatisation in health services.’
      • ‘It is very rare for the award to be won by teams outside Lismore, with the bigger clubs dominating simply though weight of numbers.’
      • ‘Clearly, the other parties did not have the weight of numbers needed to force that to happen, so we are where we are today.’
      • ‘Sheer weight of numbers continues to favour players from the States.’
      • ‘The Germans may have had a fine submarine on paper but producing it in numbers was a different matter.’
      • ‘Was she thinking that weight of numbers might help in a fight?’
      • ‘They overcame enormous odds right from the outset but eventually got crushed by weight of numbers.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘The directional effects here are utilized fully when the songs and dance numbers come into play.’
      • ‘In one of the program's dance numbers, he performed Topeng Dalem with refined and deeply touching movements.’
      • ‘This engineering graduate has carved a niche for himself in Malayalam music with his melodious numbers.’
      • ‘Chadha's film joyously embraces the elaborate song and dance numbers that are the mainstay of Bollywood.’
      • ‘The cast were great and some of the upbeat numbers and high-energy dance routines were a joy to watch.’
      • ‘Perhaps not as funny as they're intended to be, the song and dance numbers are highly entertaining just the same.’
      • ‘Intended for comic relief, the song and dance numbers come across as uninspired and robotic.’
      • ‘While you eat, Burmese dancers perform some traditional numbers accompanied by music of their own.’
      • ‘Skits, songs and dance numbers will be among the highlights of the show.’
      • ‘In Glasgow, pantos are a series of song and dance numbers strung together with a bit of patter.’
      • ‘I certainly had lumps in my throat - but only when I wasn't marvelling at the many spectacular dance numbers.’
      • ‘For her audition Natalie had to recite two drama pieces and perform three song and dance numbers.’
      • ‘Charlie Smyth and the Cast of Cinderella will also perform a few numbers from their sell-out pantomime.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Basically what we have here is a nice, sentimental excuse for lots and lots of song and dance numbers.’
      • ‘The sets and costumes are brilliant, as are the dance numbers and musical performances.’
      • ‘One afternoon was filled with poetry readings, theatrical performances and dance numbers.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘Noteworthy numbers were the knitted fur cardigans and the silver foil fur-lined jackets.’
      • ‘Made of silky nylon and soft mesh, these little numbers feel so comfortable you may not want to take them off.’
      • ‘Their new away shirt, launched this week, is a natty white number featuring an orange sash.’
      • ‘The dress was a sleek, black number with tiny, silvery sequins along the low neckline.’
      • ‘Carhartt's roomy over-the-head numbers in soft red or mid-blue have equally roomy front pocket.’
      • ‘Last weekend, the Crown was packed with dinner jackets, black ties and pretty girls in scanty numbers.’
      • ‘Or maybe it's a racy nouvelle vague number, all headscarves and bicycles made for two.’
      • ‘He found the car, a sleek little black number, and slid behind the wheel.’
      • ‘She pulled it off, to find a slinky black number, with thin spaghetti-straps and a jagged edge.’
      • ‘Her friend is one of those people who have no creativity so they just throw on some cat ears with some black slinky 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
    • ‘Human nouns have a distinct class marking mechanism based on number and gender.’
    • ‘Countable nouns make a distinction between singular and plural number.’
    • ‘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.’

verb

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

    ‘the demonstrators numbered more than 5,000’
    • ‘Homes numbering in the tens of thousands have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair.’
    • ‘In preparing the shows he draws on his own record and compact disc collection numbering in excess of 2,000.’
    • ‘The military forces number about fifteen thousand and are among the best trained in Africa.’
    • ‘Current playable songs number only in the hundreds.’
    • ‘The scientific staff will eventually number more than 200.’
    • ‘By 1933 it numbered some two million, double the size of the army, which was hostile to them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Last year's total Jewish immigration into Israel, numbering some 23,000, was a 15-year low.’
    • ‘At the last two events, the crowds numbered in the millions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By 1920 the Catholic population numbered about seventeen million and included some twenty-eight ethnic groups.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At this point, I have boxes full of books, probably numbering somewhere close to 2000.’
    • ‘Sources within the disengagement authority say that's because so far the number of families filing for compensation are numbered in the dozens.’
    • ‘As the officers tried to subdue Gomez, a fourth man began to assault the cops, who by now numbered three women and one man.’
    • ‘A crowd numbering in the thousands later marched on the nearest US base, hurling rocks and chanting anti-American slogans.’
    • ‘I smiled and greeted those people I knew, who numbered in the several dozens.’
    • ‘But in 2000, Native Americans actually numbered closer to 2.5 million.’
    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 engineers providing the foam floor forms individually numbered more than 200 panels to match the architect's drawings.’
    • ‘The paragraphs have been numbered for convenience of reference hereafter.’
    • ‘Codes were kept in sequentially numbered opaque envelopes until just before use.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The forms will be sequentially numbered to record all proprietary plant and services purchases and any overspends or under spends to the budget.’
    • ‘They have printed cardboard disks that are numbered, and that is how service priority is assigned.’
    • ‘Each book and report form should be numbered for identification and kept for three years.’
    • ‘All elements are hand signed and numbered by the artist, and retail for $1,250.’
    • ‘Timbers and stones have been numbered and their location recorded so the bridge will be put back together accurately, he said.’
    • ‘Amino acids are numbered consecutively for each species and indicated at the right margin.’
    • ‘Completion of this order will fill the 500 series with the balance of the order to be numbered 5101-5122.’
    • ‘Intron positions were numbered consecutively beginning at the N-terminus of the alignment.’
    • ‘Allocations were concealed in sequentially numbered opaque envelopes opened once written parental consent was obtained.’
    • ‘Coffins are being numbered and marked with pictures of the dead inside.’
    • ‘The research assistants used consecutively numbered packs to allocate new participants to treatment groups.’
    • ‘Editions are from 50 to 100 copies - signed and numbered by the artist.’
    • ‘The permits shall be numbered consecutively at the time they are printed and shall be furnished by the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources.’
    • ‘We randomised patients individually using sealed, opaque, sequentially numbered envelopes.’
    • ‘The other series, known as the piezometer series, is numbered simply 1 to 104.’
    • ‘Each segment was named, numbered, and indicated on the log sheet reference.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I looked away, certain that every blade was numbered.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘Great Alardyce is indeed of the same generation as Carlyle, Harriet Martineau numbering as a member of both eminent men's circles.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    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’
      • ‘Before play each player may exchange any number of cards from the hand with her face-up cards.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Spite and Malice can easily be adapted for any number of players.’
      • ‘You can play a game any number of times, however, and the course will always be different.’
      • ‘Players can bid any number of tricks - the bids may or may not add up to the total tricks available.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The lead player plays any number of matching cards, such as four Jacks.’
      1. 1.1A large and unlimited quantity or amount of.
        ‘the results can be read any number of ways’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Coetzee presents a tensely connected web of longing that pulses with meaning and can be read at any number of levels.’
        • ‘Instead, it can be used to support any number of contrary interpretations.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘That would do more to help ordinary Africans than any number of musical extravaganzas.’
        • ‘It's Friday night and you have just arrived home after a tough day in any number of insanely boring classes.’
        • ‘You are much more at risk for heart attack and hypertension and diabetes and any number of things.’
        • ‘It's insanely dense too, with each scene capable of being read in any number of ways.’
        • ‘Of course, the killer irony is that smaller cars are better than big ones for any number of reasons.’
        • ‘The Associated Press is also covering the story, which can be read in any number of places.’
  • by numbers

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

      ‘painting by numbers’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is one of those variations of painting by numbers where figures are human years and the colors are usually photographs.’
      • ‘Join the dots, colour by numbers - it's not like that, is it?’
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘REM - when did they start just doing REM 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.’
      • ‘Does it at times feel like Woody Allen by numbers?’
  • by the numbers

    • 1Following standard operating procedure.

      • ‘It's what I'm beginning to call news by the numbers.’
      • ‘Will Smith's Hitch is a racist, homophobic, by the numbers, boring romantic comedy filled with blatant product placements.’
      • ‘Most of the interviews you do to promote something are 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If we're going by the numbers, why not have a party platform asserting that the United States is ‘a white nation’?’
      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.

      • ‘Before it fades away entirely, though, Hitchens does a number on the Kennedy presidency.’
      • ‘It will knock your socks off - and do a number on your libido!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Gwyneth Paltrow says motherhood is doing a number on her memory.’
      • ‘Any setbacks in that area right now would really do a number on my head.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Being torn from the only family you thought you knew really does a number on you, doesn't it?’
      • ‘I think all those hallucinogens you took back in the 70's really did a number on you.’
      • ‘Maybe all those years in the Navy did a number on his psyche.’
      • ‘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.

      • ‘Yep, there are plenty do-gooders are out there and they have your number, baby, trust me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The cunning sniper up on the hill in the first mission certainly had my number.’
      • ‘He had our number, all of us, the whole flawed species.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If the cops have your number, you will be screwed no matter how law-abiding you are.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You certainly had my number when you guessed that the only math I can do is the one that comes after…’
      • ‘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.’
      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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘Peter Fraser had principles; this Prime Minister has only her polls - and her 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.’
      • ‘Of life and possible dangers in Basrah he said: ‘As many of the lads say, when your number is up it's 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I am a pragmatic person and if 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.’
      • ‘The web sites devoted to Hitchcock and his films are almost without number.’
      • ‘These examples could be multiplied almost without number.’
      • ‘For the next year or so, he trotted out that phrase times without number.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘May your joys be without number and your troubles few.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now 72 years old, he has won awards without number, including, in 1984, the Nobel Peace Prize.’
      • ‘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.’
      innumerable, countless, unlimited, endless, limitless, untold, an infinite number of, an incalculable number of, more than one can count, too many to be counted, without number, uncountable, uncounted
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  • 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’
      • ‘Many of these types are still running companies, but the tide is turning and their days are numbered.’
      • ‘To the terrorists I say this, your days are numbered.’
      • ‘Somehow I can't see that happening, but I do think Chisholm 's 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Once the focal point of every community, rural post office owners are now finding that their days are numbered.’
      • ‘They are being hunted down, 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.’
      • ‘No doubt the terrorists and insurgents will hit back, and try to punish people; but their days are numbered now.’
      • ‘Now, once a trial balloon is floated like that, your days are numbered.’
      limit, limit in number, restrict, fix
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Origin

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

Pronunciation

number

/ˈnəmbər//ˈnəmbər/