The Quote Garden ™
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Est. 1998
Quotations about Numbers
SEE ALSO:
MATH,
STATISTICS,
LETTERS,
SUPERSTITION,
FRIDAY THE 13^{TH},
AGE,
COUNTING BLESSINGS,
PERCENTAGES OF SUCCESS,
NATURE,
30 DAYS HATH SEPT,
TIME,
LUCK,
MONEY,
SOUNDCOLOR SYNESTHESIA,
INFINITE MONKEYS,
SCIENCE
Numbers are beautiful… I like twos the best… they're sort of gentle… threes and fives are mean, but a four is always pleasant… I like sevens and eights, too, but nines always scare me… tens are great… ~“Peppermint Patty” (Charles M. Schulz), Peanuts, 1968
Man develops complex superstitions about perfect numbers and imperfect numbers, about threes and sevens and the like... How large a part numerical and geometrical magic, numerical and geometrical philosophy has played in the history of the mind. ~H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia, 1905 [a little altered —tg]
...odd numbers are the fundamental notes of nature... ~E. Cobham Brewer, "Odd Numbers," Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1870
...the number seven means completeness... ~Nina K. Darlington, 1899
I have always had a great suspicion of the number Seven... ~John Ruskin, 1871
Yet, if one thing seemed more certain than another, it was that, though there was no round, comfortable number in which this business ended, it began very definitely with One. ~May Sinclair, Arnold Waterlow: A Life, 1924
There's something nice about an odd number. ~The Great, "The Beaver's Nose," 2020, Hulu, written by Tony McNamara, Vanessa Alexander, and Gretel Vella, based on the 2008 play by Tony McNamara [S1, E10, Georgina]
...Roman numerals weren't built
in a day...
~Jeffrey McDaniel, "Opposites Attack," Alibi School, 1995
Roman numerals are the Myspace of numerals. ~Jimmy Kimmel Live, 2018
...even numbers are certainly more suggestive of mechanics than of life, while odd numbers seem to go more with the freedom and irregularity of growing things. ~John Burroughs
God rejoices in odd numbers. ~Virgil
I hope good luck lies in odd numbers.... They say there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death. ~William Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, c.1600 [V, 1, Falstaff]
Round numbers are always false. ~Johnsoniana: Life, Opinions, and TableTalk of Samuel Johnson, arranged and collected by R. W. Montagu, 1884
He was about four years old when he discovered the doors in the palissade. Secret doors that opened and shut without doorknobs, hardly distinguishable from the palissade. Whichever end he started at he had to count every door up to seven, for the horror of their mystery increased, and culminated with the seventh door. Once he had passed the seventh door he was safe. But there was always the fear that he might have missed one, because the number six was apt to escape him. Six was the sort of shapeless, pulpy number that had no attraction for him, so he always had difficulty in holding on to it, and when it had once given him the slip he was done for and had to start all over again. ~May Sinclair, Arnold Waterlow: A Life, 1924
Numbers have a legendary and mystic signification. It is not only the mathematician that has been fascinated by then. The poet, the philosopher, the priest, have pondered over their changeless relations to each other, have seen in mathematical truth the one thing absolutely fixed and sure, and have come to look upon numbers and their symbols as in some sort of a revelation from on high, things to be dealt with reverently and awesomely. And so almost every number has been given an esoteric meaning.
The number ONE, as being indivisible, and as entering into all other numbers, was always a sacred number. The Egyptians made it the symbol of life, of mind, of the creative spirit...
It will be seen that the most sacred and beneficent numbers are the odd ones... Among the ancient heathens even numbers were shunned, because each can be divided into TWO, a number that Pythagoras and others denounced as the symbol of death and dissolution and evil augury generally...
THREE, in the Pythagorean system, was the perfect number, expressive of beginning, middle, and end. From time immemorial greater prominence has been given to it than to any other number, save perhaps seven...
FOUR, as the first square, was highly revered by the Pythagoreans. They swore by it... it stood for equilibrium and for the earth.
FIVE was considered the number of dominion by knowledge...
SIX is a perfect number; its symbol is two triangles base to base; it represents equilibrium and peace.
SEVEN... has always been regarded as sacred and mystic; indeed, it rivals in popularity the number three... The antique worship of mystic numbers still shows its aftereffects in various popular superstitions. For instance, the seventh son of a seventh son (called in France a marcou) is reputed to possess singular powers of healing...
The Pythagorean philosophers called EIGHT the number of justice, because it divided evenly, they said, into four and four, and four divides evenly into two and two, which again divides into one and one. Also, as the first cube, it represented the cornerstone and capacity, hence plenty.
NINE, representing three triangles, means the equilibrium of the three worlds, and therefore of good omen; besides, as three is a good number, three multiplied by three is also favorable... Nine is a most romantic number, and a most persistent, selfwilled, and obstinate one. You cannot multiply it away or get rid of it anyhow. Whatever you do, it is sure to turn up again...
TEN was considered a perfect number even before the invention of the decimal system...
St. Augustine held the number ELEVEN to be an evil number, a transgression of ten, which is the number of the law. That THIRTEEN is unlucky is no modern superstition.
SIXTEEN, the square of the just square, is lucky; EIGHTEEN is unlucky, but is used in incantations over drugs; NINETEEN is considered — why is hard to guess — the number of the sun, hence of gold; TWENTYEIGHT implies the favor of the moon, which is an uncertain favor; FIFTY is a lucky number to the Kabbalists, so is SIXTY. ~William S. Walsh, "Curiosities of Numbers," HandyBook of Literary Curiosities, 1892 [modified —tg]
For five the special number is,
Whence hallow'd Union claims her bliss.
As being all the Sum, that grows
From the united Strengths, of those
Which Male and Female Numbers we
Do style, and are first Two and Three.
Which, joined thus, you cannot sever
In equal Parts, but one will ever
Remain as common; so we see
The binding force of Unity:
For which alone, the peaceful Gods
In number, always, love the odds;
And even Parts as much despise,
Since out of them all Discords rise.
~Ben Jonson (1572–1637), "Hymenæi: Or, the Solemnities of Masque and Barriers at a Marriage," Masques at Court
A divinity must have stirred within them before the crystals did thus shoot and set. Wheels of the stormchariots. The same law that shapes the earthstar shapes the snowstar. As surely as the petals of a flower are fixed, each of these countless snowstars comes whirling to earth, pronouncing thus, with emphasis, the number six...
What a world we live in! where myriads of these little disks, so beautiful to the most prying eye, are whirled down on every traveller's coat, the observant and the unobservant, and on the restless squirrel's fur, and on the farstretching fields and forests, the wooded dells, and the mountaintops. Far, far away from the haunts of man, they roll down some little slope, fall over and come to their bearings, and melt or lose their beauty in the mass, ready anon to swell some little rill with their contribution, and so, at last, the universal ocean from which they came. There they lie, like the wreck of chariotwheels after a battle in the skies. Meanwhile the meadow mouse shoves them aside in his gallery, the schoolboy casts them in his snowball, or the woodman's sled glides smoothly over them, these glorious spangles, the sweeping of heaven's floor. And they all sing, melting as they sing of the mysteries of the number six — six, six, six. ~Henry David Thoreau, journal, 1856
[T]he fascination of the letters was nothing to the fascination of the numbers. He lay awake at night watching their endless, intricate procession.
Units… tens… hundreds… thousands…
He saw it as a pattern of ten colours unrolling itself for ever and ever, repeating itself for ever and ever, doubling, multiplying itself, winding in and out of itself and growing richer and richer for ever and ever; only the bands of the tens kept firm the structure of the pattern. (The pulpy, shapeless six no longer slipped through his fingers. He could take hold of it now, wedged firmly between five and seven.)
Or he piled the units one on the top of the other like the bricks of a tower, higher and higher, up through the roof of his head till they toppled and fell and he had to begin all over again.
These things only happened when he was alone with them.... when he lay awake in his cot. In the daytime, when he did sums with a pencil on a slate... all the horror of the numbers went. So did all the interest and the excitement. ~May Sinclair, Arnold Waterlow: A Life, 1924
"We moved in, the whole six and a half of us—"
"Now, see here," interrupted Barclay, his ire again rising; "what do you mean by 'six and a half of us?'"
"I thought we settled on it that thirteen brothers were at least twice too many?" said Hop O'.
"Well, we did, but six and a half is such an odd number," rejoined Barclay, irritably.
"Not at all," said Hop O'. "If it were seven or five it would be an odd—"
"Oh, I don't mean that way," retorted Barclay, tapping the oilcloth with his toe. "You couldn't have six and a half brothers; the idea is absurd."
"I don't see why," replied Hop O', with an injured look. "A man can have a halfbrother, I believe, can't he?"
Barclay was silent. ~John Kendrick Bangs and Frank Dempster Sherman, New Waggings of Old Tales, by Two Wags, 1888
The odd number is held to be immortal, because it cannot well be divided. ~Virgil
I like odd numbers — and the odder, the better. ~Terri Guillemets, 1990
I object to an odd number. ~William Cory, 1876
The "Precise Man," sumtimes parts hiz hare in the middle, and when he duz, he kounts the hairs on each side ov hiz hed, and splits sum, if it iz necessary, tew make the thing ded even... He alwus sets a hen on 12 eggs, and haz a grate horror for all odd numbers. He gits up at jist sitch a time in the morning, and goes tew bed at jist sitch a time at night... He iz a bundle of fakts and figgers... He luvs hiz children, if he haz any, and would rather hav them perfekt in the multiplikashun table than in the Illiad ov Homer. ~Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw, 1818–1885)
"Well, what number is this one?"
"Seventyseven... I'm feeling that this is the final number... I'm no astrologer," Jawn explained, "but I have eyes in my head. Now, anyone can see how mystical and sonorous is the number seventyseven. If you multiply the first digit by the second digit you get fortynine; and if you divide immediately by the second digit you get the golden number seven. If you add the first digit to the second digit you get fourteen, which divided by the number of digits, two, you get back your golden number seven. And there you have four golden number sevens dancing before you like a bunch of fourleaf clover."
"And if you subtract the first digit from the second digit," Richard suggested, "you get nothing."
"Precisely!" cried Jawn. "And in the occult language of figurology any novice would read, 'Here endeth the list of heartbroken maidens; behold! there will be no more!'" ~Hughes Mearns, Richard Richard, 1916
In this Light the Explanation of the Number Seven will be attempted.
Now it is impossible for us to assign any particular Reason a priori (which has been vainly affected by one or more,) why divine Wisdom should have selected this Number, rather than any other; but as such a Choice has been made, and is continued to the End of the sacred Writings, it is our Duty to follow the Light set before us... ~Richard Clarke, "An Essay on the Number Seven," 1759
On the whole, as a neutral in such matters, I prefer the forwardlooker to the rightthinker, if only because he shows more courage and originality. It takes nothing save lack of humor to believe what Butler, or Ochs, or Bishop Manning believes, but it takes long practice and a considerable natural gift to get down the beliefs of Sinclair... On the one hand he stoutly defends surgery — that is, provided the patient is allowed to make his own diagnosis! — on the other hand he is hot for fasting, teetotalism, and the avoidance of drugs, coffee and tobacco, and he begins to flirt with osteopathy and chiropractic. More, he has discovered a new revelation in San Francisco — a system of diagnosis and therapeutics, still hooted at by the Medical Trust, whereby... it can be established that odd numbers, written on a sheet of paper, are full of negative electricity, and even numbers are full of positive electricity. ~H. L. Mencken, "The ForwardLooker," Prejudices: Third Series, 1922
This game consists in repeating all the numbers of the multiplication table except seven, for which the word "Buzz" is used instead. Suppose you begin at the right hand, the first person says "One;" the next, "Two;" the next, "Three;" and so on, and at seven should say "Buzz." This is continued through all the multiplication of seven — such as 14, 21, 28, 35, and so on; also whenever the number seven should be used — 17, 27, 37, 47, and so on. When the number gets beyond 70, "Buzzone," "Buzztwo," etc. are said; and 77 is "Buzzbuzz." If any one gives a wrong name, speaks out of his or her turn, or delays speaking after five is counted moderately fast, he or she has to pay a forfeit and begin the game anew, when the numbers will go round again, beginning on the left hand. This is a very amusing game, and is, besides, a capital mental exercise. ~Riddles and Rhymes, Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1893
The Happy Way Bus leaves at 4:42
On the banks of the beautiful River WahHoo
Where they never have troubles. At least, very few...
~Dr. Seuss, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, 1965 [It appears that Geisel knew the magical number before D. Adams did. And did you know that ASCII code 42 is for an asterisk, which is a wildcard for everything? –tg]
If there is really "luck in odd numbers," we can account for the curious fact of so many ladies stopping half of their lives at the age of thirtynine. ~"If, !!!And???," The Comic Almanack, by William Makepeace Thackeray, Albert Smith, Gilbert à Beckett, Henry Mayhew, Augustus Mayhew, and Horace Mayhew, 1848
NinetyNine is a famous number
for at the market the seller knows
he is so very much more popular
than his bigger brother The Dollar!
~Terri Guillemets, "99¢," 2001
Twenty dollars! Somehow it seemed a mere trifle. Nine hundred and eighty dollars! I did not know there was so much money in the world. Twenty — no, eight — one thousand dollars! There were big, black figures floating all over the floor. Incessant cataracts of them poured down the walls, stopped, and shied off as I looked at them, and began to go it again when I lowered my eyes. Occasionally the figures 20 would take shape somewhere about the floor, and then the figures 980 would slide up and overlay them. Then, like the lean kine of Pharoah's dream, they would all march away and devour the fat naughts of the number 1,000. And dancing like gnats in the air were myriads of little caduceuslike, phantoms, thus — $$$$$. ~Ambrose Bierce
Angular Party. A gathering of an odd number of people; three, seven, thirteen, etc. ~John S. Farmer and W. E. Henley, A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English, abridged from the sevenvolume work, entitled Slang and its Analogues, 1912
Climacteric Years. The name given to certain years, in a man's life, that were long believed to be of peculiar significance to him, as turningpoints in his health and fortune. These are the mystic number 7 and its multiples with odd numbers (e.g., 21, 35, 49, 63). The most important of all was the 63rd year, which was considered fatal to most men. It consists of three times three multiplied by seven — all sacred numbers, — and is known as the "Grand Climacteric." ~William Henry P. Phyfe, 5000 Facts and Fancies, 1913
Imparidigitate. Having an odd number of digits on a limb (zool.). ~I. F. Henderson and W. D. Henderson, A Dictionary of Scientific Terms, 1920
Latter. The number of eggs a hen lays before she begins to sit. We do not talk of setting her upon her latter, but upon a Clutch of eggs, generally thirteen or fifteen, but always an odd number for luck's sake. ~Walter Rye, A Glossy of Words Used in East Anglia, Founded on that of Forby, 1895
Masculine numbers. Odd numbers. ~The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, 1906
Oddly odd number. A number which contains an odd number an odd number of times: thus, 15 is a number oddly odd, because the odd number 3 measures it by the odd number 5. ~The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, 1906
Onomancie (onomantia). Divination by names... The Pythagoreans judged the even number of vowels in names to signifie imperfections in the left sides of men, and the odd number, in the right. ~Thomas Blount, Glossographia: or a Dictionary interpreting all such Hard Words of Whatsoever Language, now used in our refined English Tongue, 1656
Perissad. In chemistry, having a valency represented by an odd number; noting an element which combines with odd numbers of atoms only; an atom whose valence is designated by an odd number, so called in contradistinction to artiads, whose valence is represented by an even number. ~The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, 1906
Quaternion (quaternio). Four, or any thing divided by the number four. A Quire with four sheets, or a sheet folded into four parts. ~Thomas Blount, Glossographia: or a Dictionary interpreting all such Hard Words of Whatsoever Language, now used in our refined English Tongue, 1656
Quaternity (quaternitas). The number four. ~Thomas Blount, Glossographia: or a Dictionary interpreting all such Hard Words of Whatsoever Language, now used in our refined English Tongue, 1656
Ternarious. Of or belonging to three. ~Thomas Blount, Glossographia: or a Dictionary interpreting all such Hard Words of Whatsoever Language, now used in our refined English Tongue, 1656
Unity is that by which every Thing in Nature is called one. Number is a Multitude of Units. A Part is a Number of a Number, a lesser of a greater, when the lesser measures the greater. And Parts, when the lesser does not measure the greater. A Multiple is a greater of a less, when the less measures the greater. An even Number is that which can be halved, or divided into half. An odd Number is that which cannot be halved, or divided into half; or it is that which differs from an even Number by Unity. An evenly odd Number is that which an even Number measures by an odd Number. An oddly odd Number is that which an odd Number measures by an odd Number. A prime Number, is that which Unity only measures. A perfect Number is that which is equal to all its Parts taken together. ~Euclid, quoted from Euclid's Elements, with The Data, being the Remaining Parts of that Work which were not published by the late Dr. Keil, now first Translated from Dr. Gregory's Edition, by Edmund Stone, second edition, 1745
published 2003 Feb 12
revised Mar 2017, Oct 2024
www.quotegarden.com/numbers.html
