Assume I have to use a Roman numeral to denote an ordinal number. Is it more correct to affix “-th” to it or not? That is, should I write “XIX century” or “XIXth century” to mean “nineteenth century”?

  • Yes, @Josh, I know Arabic numerals are far more common here, but in this particular case Roman numerals have to be used (a kind of wordplay with the letter X–long story, not my choice).
    – DaG
    Jul 4, 2017 at 8:38
  • In Spanish, “el siglo diecinueve” [the nineteenth century, literally the century nineteen] is written as “el siglo XIX” with small capitals. However, “XIX” only represents a cardinal used in place of an ordinal, because ordinals past ten or twelve take forms that most everyday speakers find challenging or unnecessarily complicated. I thought you might find this relevant somehow. Jul 4, 2017 at 10:41
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    @user56478 It's quite common in some languages to use Roman numerals for centuries, but rare in English.
    – TRiG
    Jul 4, 2017 at 12:59
  • 'Should I write “XIX century” or “XIXth century” to mean “nineteenth century”?' -- No. Which is more correct? -- It's a moot point. I'd use "19th" or "Nineteenth". Jul 4, 2017 at 19:39
  • Thanks, @TheodoreNorvell. I know that but, as I tried to explain in one comment, the usual form “19th” (or “nineteenth”) is not an option for me. So, if you prefer, my question is about the lesser evil among those forms.
    – DaG
    Jul 4, 2017 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


I have never seen someone write "IIIrd" or "Vth". In addition to being (subjectively) ugly, it is basically unheard of.

We write "the XXIII Olympiad" and pronounce it as "the 23rd Olympiad".

We write "Napoleon III" and pronounce it as "Napoleon the third".

So in my opinion you should write "the XIX century". (If you can't write "the 19th century")


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