I was interested in determining words to describe ordinal Latinate series numbering above orders of 10 (i.e., "denary").

I found "duodenary", which makes sense based on the latin root duodecim, meaning 'twelve.' (see also etymology of the duodenum of the small intestine -- duodeni, meaning 'in twelves.').

However, I found no evidence of other ordinal numbering adjectives other than that for 20.

I have two questions:

  1. Here, here and here suggest that "vigenary" is the Latinate ordinal term for "twentieth" (or "of the twentieth order"). However, none of these sources come across as legitimate. Can anyone confirm for me (through a more trustworthy and proper source) that "vigenary" is in fact the proper word to use here?

  2. Do other Latinate ordinal adjectives (for orders > 10) exist?

  • There is sexagesimal - base 60 – Mick Oct 6 '16 at 20:17
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    Well, OED does have vigenary as a headword. But it hasn't been updated since 1917, and it was marked as "rare" then. – Andrew Leach Oct 6 '16 at 20:20
  • @Mick: "Undenary" for 11, huh? This contradicts all other sources I've seen saying that 11 doesn't have a Latinate series term. Can you find any other sources for that word? – theforestecologist Oct 6 '16 at 20:52
  • @theforestecologist I'm not supporting it. I just pointed it out. The author gives his source. – Mick Oct 6 '16 at 20:54
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    @Mick I am afraid you are confusing the numbers used for order of levels (primary, secondary, tertiary…) with those used for bases of numeral systems (unary, binary, ternary…). – michael.hor257k Oct 6 '16 at 21:34

Probably not. Vigesimal is a word, but the series primary, secondary, tertiary… seems to cover only numbers from 1 to 10 and 12:


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    Support for the first ten + 12, but it didn't actually say they're aren't more for higher numbers... – theforestecologist Oct 7 '16 at 1:01
  • I believe that is implied by omission. – michael.hor257k Oct 7 '16 at 1:09

Vigenary is marked by the OED as rare, but the alternative vicenary is not so marked.

Vicenary ... adj. ‘Belonging to twenty’ (Bailey, 1727); based on the number twenty. Cf. vigenary adj.

  • a1831 G. Peacock Arithm. in Encycl. Metrop. (1845) I. 371/1 Such a practice would naturally lead to the formation of a vicenary scale of numeration.
  • 1834 Penny Cycl. II. 337/2 In France the scale from 60 to 100 is strictly vicenary (by twenties).

The root of both 'vigenary' and 'vicenary' is from Latin vīcēnārius, in turn from vīcēnī, the distributive form of vīgintī ('twenty').

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