This excerpt is from an article in the New York Times:

Grown men ride hot-pink numbers, ringing tinny bells to clear their paths, to jobs in the sprawling souk or doing grunt work for aid groups

Could anyone tell me how can a number be ridden? I suppose that a number here is some synonym for a bicycle, but I cannot find any reference of this in a dictionary.

Thank you in advance.

  • 2
    "Number" is slang for a thing (woman's dress, car, bicycle, etc) which is in some way exceptional.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 22, 2015 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


Check out definition #3 #11 and #12 in this Dictionary entry:

  1. informal An item of clothing of a particular type, regarded with approval or admiration: "Yvonne was wearing a little black number"

These definitions show the usage of number as a specific instance of the class of objects under discussion, and specifically one whose style is being discussed. In your example, the stylishness of the bicycles.

  • Have I understood this correctly, that this case is similar to the meaning of one in similar situations. The author could write Grown men ride hot-pink ones ? But numbers was used because the style of bicycles is in question. Sep 22, 2015 at 11:43
  • 1
    Yes, that is how I understand it. Sep 22, 2015 at 11:43

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