Often when writing we would like numbers to be written out fully e.g. thirty rather than in digits e.g. 30. Is there a name for this kind of representation?

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    "Numeral" is close, defining anything that represents a specific number. – samuelesque Apr 12 '13 at 13:59
  • You just used "written out". I'd say you are already using the term you are looking for. – RegDwigнt Apr 12 '13 at 14:30
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    I just can't see why would anyone downvote this. At the same time, silly questions with no use to anyone get upvoted to the sky. And this has been taken on on meta. I'm just making a statement. – Tiberiu-Ionuț Stan Apr 12 '13 at 22:03
  • Ordinal form as @JohnDoe answered (not selected best answer) – jgreen Dec 8 '17 at 0:16

The phrase spelled out is sometimes used; eg,

In your paragraph, spell out the digits under 10.

This usage is from the sense “To write or say the letters that form a word or part of a word” or the sense “Of letters: to compose (a word)” of the verb spell.

  • There are Cardinal (one, two, three), Ordinal (first, second, third), and Latinate numbers (primary, secondary, tertiary). – Dave Jarvis Oct 7 '16 at 1:40
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    @DaveJarvis, I'm wondering if your comment was intended for some other spot in ESE – James Waldby - jwpat7 Oct 7 '16 at 1:44

Longhand is the word I have heard used for this, though the definition does not specify the writing out of numbers.


The simplest way to express this idea would be "verbal representation" (as opposed to numerical representation). It's difficult to find a single word to express the concept adequately.


The traditional terminology, in the days when proofreaders had to communicate with typesetters was set full out, which was the same term that was used when abbreviations were to be set out in full. This was needed so often that the abbreviation s.f.o. was recognized.

However, I cannot find any sources that show this is still in use so I think it must have gone out when typesetting using hot metal ceased to be part of the process.

The modern term for this is spelled out, abbreviated to sp. This is shown in various proofreading guides without an explanation of exactly what is meant but Vappingo proofreading symbols gives an example where a numeral is marked as sp where it is to be written as words.

So that means that spelled out (abbreviated to sp) appears to be the term generally accepted by proofreaders.


I believe what you're looking for is whether numbers are written in cardinal form (one, two, three, etc.) or ordinal form (first, second, third, etc.)...?

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    I don't think so. Both cardinals and ordinals can be written with either symbols or words: 3 - three; 3rd - third. – David Robinson Sep 26 '18 at 23:42

You may also say the "word name for ____."

The word name for 351 is three hundred fifty-one.

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    A new and relevant answer to an old question is always delightful to see. To show that yours is the right answer, it's best to include explanation, context, and supporting facts. For example, you could offer evidence, such as the definition from a good online dictionary, or examples of it in the wild. You could contrast your answer with other answers. This is what makes answers most useful – to the asker, and to future visitors. – MetaEd Sep 26 '18 at 22:45
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    Never heard it before; wouldn't understand it. – AndyT Sep 27 '18 at 14:55
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    This isn't British English. Is this correct anywhere else? – Rory Alsop Sep 27 '18 at 18:42
  • @RoryAlsop Yes. A quick Google search of the phrase "word name for" reveals it is undeniably used to mean what the asker wanted. In particular it seems to be used in classrooms. – MetaEd Oct 15 '18 at 17:37
  • I was trying to figure out where - google wasn't helpful in that respect, although it implied India... – Rory Alsop Oct 15 '18 at 17:42

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