Is there a word for words like "dozen", "score", "gross" that refer to specific cardinal numbers?

I'd like to know whether the words that describe numerical quantities have a name to describe them as a group.

This would be similar to how onomatopoeia is a word to describe a group of words that all share the characteristic of actually sounding like the sound they are describing.

EDIT, note that my question is not asking the same question as at this link, because I'm asking for the word describing the group or category

English words for specific positive integers (e.g. dozen, score, gross, myriad)

Along with numerals, and special-purpose words like some, any, much, more, every, and all, they're Quantifiers. Quantifiers are a kind of determiner and occur in many constructions with other determiners, like articles: e.g, two dozen or more than a score. If you want a special term for the words that describe numbers like these, you could call them lexical quantifiers, but then you'd have to explain what you meant because it isn't standard. — John Lawler

Quantifier has a nice entry in Lexico.

1.1 Grammar A determiner or pronoun indicative of quantity (e.g. all, both).

• Some treatments give a sharp delineation between numerals and quantifiers, the latter term being reserved for words describing number involved but not totally precisely (eg shedload, tons of, many, few ... but not 28.5, a dozen). Jul 8, 2019 at 18:19

Those words are counting units or units of amount, as contrasted to "units of measurement".

Example usage:

A dozen is a common counting unit. A counting unit is a convenient number that makes it easier to count objects. We often count doughnuts and eggs by dozens. Similarly, we count shoes and gloves in pairs. Table 1 gives examples of common counting units. Chemists, however, do not work with macroscopic (visible) objects like shoes and doughnuts. Instead, chemists are interested in microscopic entities: atoms and molecules. Since these entities are so small, chemists established their own practical counting unit called the mole.

• Your answer may well be right, but the only reference you cite is a Wikipedia entry that itself has no references and consists of one line "This category identifies counting units, both of general items (the dozen, the gross), and specific items (a bale of paper, which is 5000 sheets)". We are looking for more substancial and authoratative answers here. Jul 8, 2019 at 14:48
• The only example I can find for "units of amount" is the mole — "the base unit of amount of substance" on the SI system. However, like other units (length, mass etc) these are used in combination with numerals, e.g. 12 moles, 20 grams. Although scientists don't do that, one could substitute dozen for 12 (a dozen moles) etc. So it is clear that dozen etc. are alternative names for particular numerals. They are not units of anything. Jul 8, 2019 at 15:31
• No; this is a Wikipedia umbrella term, not a standard usage. Jul 8, 2019 at 18:15
• @David, a mole is just a number, is has no associated units in physics or chemistry. The references like Brittanica and Wikipedia are somewhat misleading on this point. A dozen moles is not an amount of mass. Mass requires a unit of mass (e.g. kg). The reference texts refer to "units" or "molecules or particles", but these are not units in a physics sense (e.g of time, distance, mass, force). These are just the counted items, like eggs would be when using dozen. I see mole as no different from dozen, except that its grammatical usage is slightly different. Jul 11, 2019 at 11:29
• @David, yes, but that mainly differentiates "mole" from Avagadro's number in linguistic ways, a grammatical difference which is interesting and possibly a semantic difference which is subtle but scientifically trivial. If someone tells us we have a mole of a substance then we know that we have Avogadro's number of components of that substance. Importantly, it gives us no more info than that. Exactly like a dozen in that respect. It doesn't tell us about their mass, or any other SI unit, without additional information. I can correct "a mole is just a number" to"represents a number of something" Jul 11, 2019 at 13:53

In a comment, John Lawler wrote:

Along with numerals, and special-purpose words like some, any, much, more, every, and all, they're Quantifiers. Quantifiers are a kind of determiner and occur in many constructions with other determiners, like articles: e.g, two dozen or more than a score. If you want a special term for the words that describe numbers like these, you could call them lexical quantifiers, but then you'd have to explain what you meant because it isn't standard.

• – tchrist
Dec 13, 2023 at 13:05

There doesn't appear to be a special term for these types of words, see @samgak's answer. None come to mind, but here are some others that represent numbers.

2    a couple
2    a pair
2    a brace
6    half a dozen
12   a dozen
13   a baker's dozen
20   a score
144   a gross (12 dozen)
1728  a great gross (12 gross)

In metric measurement, the most important number is ten. But in Imperial Measures, many other numbers were important. Every British school child used to know that there were twelve inches in a foot. Before 1971, even the British money was different, and there were twelve old pennies in a shilling, and twenty shillings in a pound. So you can see that twelve (or a dozen) and twenty (or a score) were important numbers.
Jo Edkins, 2006

Source: Words for numbers in English. Author: Jo Edkins

• If you need another example, from middle school chemistry, there is always 6.0221409e+23, a mole. Jul 8, 2019 at 14:26
• Interesting this may be, but how does it answer the poster's question? Jul 8, 2019 at 14:50
• @David it doesn't, instead it says there is no specific term. And the site offers other examples, which I believe is interesting and also useful to know and remember. Jul 8, 2019 at 15:03
• It does answer the question. The answer is "no." Feb 10, 2023 at 17:44

I believe a fairly standard label for this category that is more precise than "lexical quantifiers" would be "nonnumerical quantifiers"; for words that express exact or approximate numbers but are not themselves words for numbers or related to words for numbers.

Not surprisingly "nonnumerical" means that the terms in this category are not derived from any other words that convey a number or numerical quantity at all. I gleaned this definition from this article.

By this definition, "score" is a nonnumerical quantifier, as is "gross", but I would have to take issue with "dozen".

By the same definition, "dozen" probably IS a "numerical quantifier" and not "nonnumerical" in that "dozen" is derived from the same roots as the Latin-origin equivalent of our word for "twelve" (which is Germanic). In Latin-origin languages the similarity is plain, e.g. "douze" (French) "doce" (Spanish) and "dodoci" (Italian). So I would put "dozen" sort of in between numerical (e.g. "trio" related to "three") and nonnumerical (e.g. "brace" for "two") quantifiers, depending on whether the quality of being numerical is to compare it to words for numbers in only the same language as the term in question.

• No. 'Standard' in this sense must mean 'used or accepted as normal', and this is not an accepted, normal term. A search for "nonnumerical quantifiers" on Google returns 139 hits, and one begins 'nonnumerical quantifiers (all, most, etc.), and numerical quantifiers ...'. "Lexical quantifiers" returns 1430 hits, and John Lawler says of this string: ' ... you could call them lexical quantifiers, but then you'd have to explain what you meant because it isn't standard.' // ELU deals with standard usage; suggested candidate terms are off-topic (because they're usually counterproductive). May 15, 2020 at 11:22