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ordinal number

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ordinal number


ordinal number ({{{1}}})
  1. (Template loop detected: Template:context 1) A word that expresses the location of an item in an ordered sequence; an ordinal numeral.
    "Third" is an ordinal number, while "three" is a cardinal number.
  2. (arithmetic) A number used to denote position in a sequence.
    In the expression a3, the "3" is an ordinal number.
  3. (mathematics) A generalized kind of number to denote the size of a well-ordered set.


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Usage notes

On ordinal number usage:

  • Ordinal numbers are general construed as adjectives followed by (countable) nouns in singular:
    eleventh day
  • Ordinal numbers are used for fractions as (countable) nouns, and for exponents usually followed by power:
    two fifths, <math>\textstyle\frac{2}{5}</math>
    two to the minus twenty-first power, <math>2^{-21}</math>
    six to the third, <math>6^3</math>
  • Ordinal numbers are generally considered to be ordered from high to low; so that first place is considered highest, and fifth is lower than second. Degree is an exception.
  • Ordinal numbers corresponding to numbers higher that 20 use cardinal numbers for all the places preceding the final ordinal part:
    twenty-first or 21st, occasionally XXI
    one hundred fifteenth or 115th , occasionally CXV
    thirty-three thousandth or 33,000th
  • If an ordinal is followed by a plural noun, the two word phrase refers to a set of items described by the phrase in singular. For example second homes refers to the a set of homes which are considered a "second home."
    Many households have third cars.

See also

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