Ordinal numbers are traditionally considered to begin at 1: i.e., 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.  Yet, in the past 100 years, the word “zeroth” (0th) has begun to be used.

Negative integers seem even more inappropriate as ordinal numbers, but there still are cases where we would like to form things like "minus sixth floor". How is it with -1, -2 and -3?

  • minus first, minus second, minus third


  • minus oneth, minus twoth, minus threeth

or maybe a mix of those? "Minus oneth" doesn't sound too awkward to me, might even sound better to some.

1 Answer 1


Ordinal terms are never used in the negative. You might get the meaning across if you said "first minus, second minus etc" but this is abnormal.

"Oneth" is not an accepted ordinal term however logical it might seem to be. It is always "first".

  • 3
    How would you then refer to the floor which is 6 floors beneath the ground? Feb 25, 2016 at 10:29
  • 4
    The usage would be sixth sub-basement or sixth basement or even sixth sub-floor. Feb 25, 2016 at 10:30
  • 2
    Yes, @JoanSchneider, that would be a common way of saying it. But if I encountered "The minus third floor" I would not think it the least bit odd.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 16, 2018 at 15:17

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