oxford views updated Jun 11 2018
Letter used by the ancient Romans and succeeding civilizations in Europe
to represent numbers before the adoption of Arabic numerals. There were seven individual letters: I (1), V (5), X (10), L (50), C (100), D (500) and M (1000). Combinations were used to represent the numbers. From one to ten they ran: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX and X. The tens ran: X, XX, XXX, XL, L and so on up to XC, which represented 90. The ancients used Roman numerals for commerce and mathematics. Modern applications include numbering the preliminary pages of a book and numbering paragraphs or subparagraphs in a document.
oxford views updated May 18 2018
Ro·man num·er·al •
n. any of the letters representing numbers in the Roman numerical system: I = 1, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50, C = 100, D = 500, M = 1,000. In this system, a letter placed after another of greater value adds (thus XVI or xvi is 16), whereas a letter placed before another of greater value subtracts (thus XC or xc is 90).