Chapter 20: Numerals in Greek and Latin

§124. A Table of Greek and Latin Number Words

1, 2, 3
1st, 2nd, 3rd
Other1 Cardinal Ordinal Other
1/2 demi-2 semi- hemi-
1 un(i)- prim- singul- hen- prot(o)- mon(o)-
1-1/2 sesqui-
2 duo secund- bi-, bin- dy- deuter(o)- di-
3 tri- terti- ter-, tern- tri- trit(o)- tri-
4 quadr(i)-
quart- quarter(n)- tetr(a)-
5 quinqu(e)- quint- quin- pent(a)-
6 sex- sext- sen- hex(a)-
7 septem- septim- septen- hept(a)-
8 octo- octav- octon- oct(o)-,
9 novem- non- noven- enne(a)-
10 decem-
decim- den- dec(a)-
100 cent(i)- centesim- centen- hecaton: HECT(O)-3
1000 mill(i)- millesim- millen- chili(o): KILO-3


1 The “other” Latin numeral forms include adverbs (“twice,” ”thrice,” etc.) and distributives (“one each,” “two each,” etc.). Note these additional sequences:

primarius, secundarius, tertiarius, quartilis, . . . decimalis
singularis, binarius, ternarius, quaternarius, quinarius, . . . centenarius, millenarius
simplex, duplex, triplex, quadruplex, quintuplex (“twofold,” “threefold,” etc., < plicare)

The Latin word for “half” was dimidium, which became demi- through French. The regular combining prefix in Latin was semi- (not an independent word). In musical notation, a 64th note is a hemidemisemiquaver—the shorter the note, the longer the word.

3 The forms DECI-, HECT(O)- and KILO- are metric prefixes, adopted from French. In the metric system (SI = Système International), units of measure are divided by Latin prefixes, and multiplied by Greek. See §128.


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Greek and Latin Roots: Part II - Greek Copyright © 2016 by Peter Smith (Estate) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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