A high-schooler in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders why the word number is abbreviated as no. when there’s no letter O in the word. The answer lies in the Latin word numero, which is the ablative form of the Latin word for number, numerus.
- Hello, you have a way with words.
- Hi! My name is Vivian, I am calling from Indianapolis, Indiana.
- Welcome, Vivian! What can we do for you?
- I had a question why is the abbreviation for the word number (it just spelled n-u-m-b-e-r) No, is the letter O isn't anywhere in the original word.
- Oh, so you think it maybe should be Nu instead of No is the abbreviation ha?
- Right I mean like... probably.
- Ha ha ha ha! It's part of a set of abbreviations we have that are basically older than English, at least modern English. It goes back to the Latin form of the word number... it's... One form of it was numero, very much like in Spanish and Italian today in n-u-m-e-r-o.
And Latins scribes abbreviated a lot of their writing and the way they abbreviate that word was in №, the little marker maybe they raise O with the line above it to indicated that the word had been shortened.
So that's it...so we just capt that Latin abbreviation.
- Wow! That's so cool!
- Yeah, there's a few others like that... pound is the classic example of that, like a weigh lb for pound.
- Yeah, yeah... in the original Latin word is numerus but that particular case...ablative case means in or with.
- Yeah, abl... we don't have cases in English in that way so it's kind of ... lost on us but yeah.
- Well cool, thank you for telling me.
- Yes, that's pretty much it. Thanks for call. Really appreciate it.
- Thanks, bye!
- Take care, bye!
No其实是拉丁语的numero sign数字符号，而numero是拉丁语numerus（number这个词的来源）的离格形式。离格的意思其实就是“和”或者“在”的意思，也就是说No. 1严格意义上讲是 with the number one的意思。