Definition of vigesimal in US English:



  • Relating to or based on the number twenty.

    • ‘The decimal system is more commonly used now, although certain words from the older vigesimal system are still in common usage, especially when telling the time.’
    • ‘The Maya did, however, have an advanced numbering system with a base of 20 (a vigesimal system, as opposed to a decimal system).’
    • ‘The digits used to represent numbers using vigesimal notation are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and J.’
    • ‘When written horizontally, the bars are placed vertically and the dots go to their left and higher vigesimal positions grow to the left of the first entry.’
    • ‘In a perfect vigesimal system of numeration, the third term should be 400 but the Maya took 18 X 20 because 360 was a closer approximation to the length of the solar calendar.’
    • ‘Their standard or general vigesimal count is called kal, count by twenties: hun kal, 20; ca kal, 40, etc.’
    • ‘It is likely that there are other uses of the Mayan vigesimal system that haven't even been discovered yet.’
    • ‘Although it was a base 20 system, called a vigesimal system, one can see how five plays a major role, again clearly relating to five fingers and toes.’
    • ‘Everywhere else it is combined either with the decimal or the vigesimal system.’
    • ‘When Maya numbers are written vertically (in any vigesimal position) dots always go on top of bars.’
    • ‘That shows that you don't need to be an acrobat to use the vigesimal counting system (numeration)…’
    • ‘The Ainu of Japan and the Eskimos of Greenland are two of the peoples who make use of vigesimal systems to the present day.’
    • ‘In a pure vigesimal system each place in a number is occupied by a number from 0 to 19, and that number is understood as being multiplied by a power of 20.’
    • ‘The traditional system is called vigesimal where you use 20 as the base.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin vigesimus (from viginti ‘twenty’) + -al.