I've heard this phrase a couple times, one of them being

A number is a number is a number.

Despite some searching, I'm still unsure what this phrase means.

  • 1
    Probably the best known example of this is "a rose is a rose is..." from a Gertrude Stein poem. You'll find plenty of analysis if you google that instead of "a number is..."
    – Jim Mack
    Apr 22 at 23:28

2 Answers 2


The construction may be understood as an emphasis, a defining emphasis, an emphasis that stops further discussion of "blank".

"A number is a number" is a truism that could be interpreted to mean that a number is a number (agreed as an obvious superfluous statement, but there may be possible nuances and differences that depend on circumstance or interpretation).

For example "A number is a number" is unquestionably true, but most mathematicians immediately think "Yes, but what sort of number? real, integer, rational, irrational, imaginary ... and so forth).

To say "a number is a number is a number" is to say that there is no need or purpose in considering any of these questions. A number is a number, and that is the end of the matter; think no further; any more speculation or qualification, as to what sort of number or any other issues, is not required or wanted.

  • I hazard a guess that the downvoter is not a mathematician.
    – Anton
    Apr 23 at 7:39

"An X is an X is an X" -> (i) All [the] Xs are the same; (ii) in this example: "There is nothing special about the number that you are referring to, or any other number."

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