Number vs numeral

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Many people use the words number and numeral interchangeably, but these two words do not mean the same thing. We will examine the definitions of the words number and numeral, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A number is an arithmetical value, an idea that quantifies, counts, ranks or calculates an arithmetical value. The word number is derived from the Old French word nombrer, which means to count.

A numeral is a symbol that is used to indicate a number. The most commonly used system of numerals is the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. The word numeral is derived from the Middle French word numéral, which means pertaining to a number. While many use the words number and numeral interchangeably, strictly speaking, the word number means the idea, and the word numeral means the symbol.


Based on Apple’s Tuesday earnings release, the magic number that gets the iPhone maker to $1 trillion right now is $206.49 – but probably not for long. (Reuters)

Most mathematicians struggle to describe the full range of Venkatesh’s diverse mathematical contributions, which build bridges from number theory to distant fields such as algebraic topology and dynamical systems. (Quanta Magazine)

Unveiled on Tuesday by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the bills will have enhanced watermark and concealed denomination – a numeral visible when the bill is tilted at an angle – among other features. (The South China Morning Post)

It’s purely unintentional, but the little numeral dangling, like a broken, mangled finger, from the end of the title of “The Equalizer 2” signals more than the fact that this is a sequel to the 2014 action thriller about a violent vigilante. (The Washington Post)