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What the Romans called their numbers

Updated: May 20, 2020

If you are feeling adventurous in your study of the Romans then perhaps you might like to try your hand (or tongue I suppose) at reading numbers in Latin (the language of the Romans).

If you need some help with Latin pronunciation (some of the letters are pronounced slightly differently than today) then you can check out our handy guide here.

Something that is quite striking about the Roman counting system is that 1 - 10 seem to make sense (they all have their own numbers) however when you get to 18 & 19, or 28 & 29, you start counting down to the next decimal number. So duodeviginti (18) can be broken down to duo (2) de (less or taken away from) viginti (20), "2 less than 20", or 18!

Now if you are learning Latin numbers for a bit of fun to use in the classroom to impress your friends and you find it easier to say octodecim, octo (8) decim (10), rather than duodeviginti then go wild. Everyone will be super impressed at your ability and willingness to having a go. If however you are an adult using this with a bunch of Latin scholars then guess what... the same rule applies. People will be impressed and think that you are really cool!

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