Exactly as the title, what does "nine-and-twenty" mean?

Here's an example of sentence:

Afraid of him! No, indeed! But I wish you will consider that a man of nine-and-twenty won’t relish having his affairs meddled with. Besides, he will very likely wonder what the deuce it has to do with me, and I’m sure I can’t tell him! I wish I had not come.

The Corinthian, Georgette Heyer, 1940

  • Well, just what do you think it means? Come on, give it a try. What can it possibly mean? – RegDwigнt Sep 16 '16 at 11:38

It's an archaic form of saying "Twenty Nine". Most probably this is a paraphrasing of the nursery rhyme "Sing a song of sixpence":

Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie

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It is just an way to write twenty-nine that has fallen out of use.

Have a look at this ngram, you can clearly see that in the first half of the eighteenth century the modern number word order took off.

Since it is a book another suspicion falls flat. A botched translation from one of the many languages that have exactly that kind of word order, like German, and Dutch for example.

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  • 1
    It is not a botched translation; it is an author deliberately using archaic language a book set in the early 19th century. – Peter Shor Sep 16 '16 at 11:35
  • @PeterShor It's what I said, that suspicion falls flat. – Helmar Sep 16 '16 at 11:37

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