Number or Numeral?

While we are on the discussion of upper and lower case letters and upper and lower case . . . wait! Is it numbers or numerals?

I confess that I use the word “number” for everything, but after researching, I learned that I should choose the word “numeral” for most of my uses. Last week’s post about upper and lower case Roman numerals is an example.

The word numeral indicates the symbol that represents a number. Huh?

Let’s start with the word number. Use this word when describing the abstract concept of an amount. As soon as you try to describe this concept, though, I’ll bet we end up using a numeral.

So . . . numerals are the characters, figures, or signs that indicate the concept of an amount. Examples of numerals are 2, or II, or ii. Apparently, even the word “two” is a numeral because it represents the idea of two things.

I know I’ll continue to mess up and say number when I should say numeral. But at least I now know the difference. Sigh . . . the “number” of things I do not know is mind boggling . . . 🙂

2 thoughts on “Number or Numeral?”

  1. Apparently, the number of times we have all been using the word “number” instead of the word “numeral” is immeasurable. Did I do that correctly?

    I have learned so many new things from reading your column, but this one is going to take quite a while to get used to. Fortunately, I do not think a lot of people actually know about the distinction between these two words since I have not been called out on it before.

    • Immeasurable – Love it!
      And I, too, am keeping my fingers crossed that no one will notice if (no . . . when) I continue to use number when I should say numeral.
      p.s. Thank you for your kind words about the blogs!


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