Ordinal Numerals

There are four central aspects to the Latin numeral:

  • The cardinal: ūnus, duo, trēs, quattuor
  • The ordinal: prīmus, secundus, tertius, quārtus
  • The distributive: singulī, bīnī, ternī, quaternī
  • The adverb: semel, bis, ter, quater

Ordinals are derived from cardinals, and operate as declining adjectives, in the manner of bonus, -a, -um

  • The suffixes attached to cardinals are often very similar to superlative suffixes (e.g. ūndēvīcēnsimus, 19th)

The Ordinals 1st-10th

  • 1st: prīmus, -a, -um
  • 2nd: secundus, -a, -um or alter, altera, alterum (remember alterīus is the genitive for all genders)
  • 3rd: tertius, -a, -um
  • 4th: quārtus, -a, -um
  • 5th: quīntus, -a, -um
  • 6th: sextus, -a, -um
  • 7th: septimus, -a, -um
  • 8th: octāvus, -a, -um
  • 9th: nōnus, -a, -um
  • 10th: decimus, -a, -um

A few fun notes on these:

  • The cardinal prīmus is an archaic superlative from prō
  • The cardinal secundus is exactly what it appears to be—the future passive participle of sequor (to follow)
  • The cardinal alter is a comparative form (like with the Greek -τερος)
  • The cardinal nōnus is a contraction of novenus

Cardinals 11th-19th

  • 11th: ūndecimus, -a, -um
  • 12th: duodecimus, -a, -um
  • 13th: tertius, -a, -um decimus, -a, -um or decimus et tertius or decimus tertius
  • (thus, both words decline and have three double-declining variations with 14th-19th)
  • 14th: quārtus decimus
  • 15th: quīntus decimus
  • 16th: sextus decimus
  • 17th: septimus decimus
  • 18th: duodēvicēnsimus, -a, -um or octāvus decimus, etc.
  • 19th: ūndēvicēnsimus, -a, -um or nōnus decimus, etc.

Cardinals 20th-100th

  • 20th: vīcēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 21st: vīcēnsimus, -a, um prīmus, -a, -um or ūnus et vīcēnsimus 
  • (thus, we have two distinct options from 11th – 19th, with (a) cardinal tens -> cardinal ones reversed or (b) ordinal ones -> cardinal tens; both terms will decline, where possible, for all cardinals 22nd-99th)
  • 28th: duodētrīcēnsimus, -a, -um or the other two options
  • 29th: ūndētrīcēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 30th: trīcēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 40th: quadrāgēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 50th: quīnquāgēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 60th: sexāgēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 70th: septuāgensimus, -a, -um
  • 80th: octōgēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 90th: nōnāgēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 100th: cēntēnsimus, -a, -um

A few fun notes on these:

  • Again, note the distinct sets of options for the 11th-19th crowd and the 21st+ crowd: with 21st+, you get a mix of ordinals and cardinals, which can only lead to a really bad hangover…
  • Whitaker’s Words suggests ūnetvīcēnsimus, -a, -um is an alternative form of 21st, though that may be Medieval only
  • A few only sources suggest that the (n) in the 40th/50th/etc. is optional: quadrāgē(n)simus, -a, -um, though I should note that A&G don’t mention this

Ordinals 101st -1000th

  • 101st: centēnsimus, -a, -um prīmus, -a, -um or ūnus et centēnsimus
  • 113th: centēnsimus et tertius decimus or centēnsimus et decimus tertius
  • (basically, we have a pattern very similar to 21st-99th, though recall that once we have three words in play, that et will only appears between the two highest denominations, so you will never see centēnsimus et decimus et tertius)
  • (also, to be explicit, everything continues to decline, where possible)
  • 200th: ducentēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 300th: trecentēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 400th: quadrigentēnsimus-, -a, -um
  • 500th: quīngentēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 600th: sescentēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 700th: septigentēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 800th: octigentēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 900th: nōngentēnsimus, -a, -um
  • 1000th: mīllēnsimus, -a, -um

I’ll get to the 1000+ crowd eventually, though it involves multiplicative forms, so brace yourself.

The Essential AG: 133

Cardinal Numerals, 11-100,000’s

There are four central aspects to the Latin numeral:

  • The cardinal: ūnus, duo, trēs, quattuor
  • The ordinal: prīmus, secundus, tertius, quārtus
  • The distributive: singulī, bīnī, ternī, quaternī
  • The adverb: semel, bis, ter, quater

The numerals 11-19 are indeclinable:

  • note that 18 and 19 start counting back from twenty, while the others count up from ten
  • French and Spanish (and other Romance languages?) also seem to freak out and shift form somewhere after 15; I’m not sure why no one thought a standardized 11-19 was a good idea

The numerals 20-100 are expressed as follows; bases of ten do not decline:

To achieve a number like 85, the Romans have two preferred methods:

  • tens+ ones= (octōgintā quīnque mīlitēs)
  • ones + et + tens =(quīnque et octōgintā mīlitēs)
  • note that octōgintā et quīnque (a third option) is less common, but may appear
  • also, note that numbers like 28 and 29 nine subtract as 18 and 19 above: duodētrīgintā, ūndētrīgintā, ūndēoctōgintā (79), etc.

The hundreds above 100 decline as adjectives like bonus, bona, bonum

Mille is an odd bird: it’s indeclinable as a singular (mīlle mīlitēs) but declines as a neuter plural (tria mīlia mīlitum)

  • Note that there’s no typo here (though I am prone to typos): the singular mīlle has two l‘s; the plural mīlia/mīlium/mīlibus/mīlia/mīlibus has only one.
  • He came with a thousand soldiers: cum mīlle mīlitibus vēnit.
  • To express this sentence with three thousand, we decline tria mīlia and make mīles a partitive gentive
  • He cam with three thousand soldiers: cum tribus mīlibus mīlitum vēnit.

To express numbers with three digits or more:

If et appears anywhere, it appears only between the two highest demoninations:

  • 1776: mīlle (et) septigentī septuāgintā sex
  • 2012: duo mīlia (et) duodecim

Cardinal Numerals, 1-10

There are four central aspects to the Latin numeral:

  • The cardinal: ūnus, duo, trēs, quattuor
  • The ordinal: prīmus, secundus, tertius, quārtus
  • The distributive: singulī, bīnī, ternī, quaternī
  • The adverb: semel, bis, ter, quater

From 1-10, only cardinals 1, 2, and 3 decline.

A few things to consider:

  • ūnus will often mean ‘only’ (cf. sōlus) and occasionally ‘the same’ (cf. idem)
  • where ūnus means ‘only,’ it may initiate a subjunctive clause of characteristic (the only man who may: ūnus cuī liceat.)
  • the compound ūnus quisque = every single one
  • the compound ūnus + superlative = the one most (the one most learned man, ūnus doctissiumus)
  • duo may also have the plural genitive duum
  • the word ambō (both, which retains the long ō of the lost Latin dual) declines like duo
  • the compound ūnus + superlative = the one most (ūnus doctissiumus, the one most learned man)

Here’s a chart I found showing the descendents of the Latin cardinals:

(courtesy N.S. Gill; http://tiny.cc/eoiqmw)(For those of you who are curious, there are between 30 and 40 standing Romance languages, but we’ll get to numbers above 10 next post…)

The Essential AG: 133-4