If these were nouns, I would assume "single" fits in between:

1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4 . . .

quarter, third, half, single or one, double, triple, quadruple . . .

Note that each word has a cardinal as part of its etymology: quarter evolved from the Latin quattuor ("four"), double from Latin duplus (“twofold”), and so on.

However, in the case of verbs, is there a word to indicate multiplying (or dividing) by one that fits into this pattern? The closest I can think of is unify, "cause to become one", but it wouldn't make sense in context:

She doubled the number, i.e. multiplied by two.
She unified the number, i.e. multiplied by one.

The word wouldn't necessarily have to have the mono- or uni- prefix, but the etymological root ought to contain the cardinal for one (i.e. "she maintained the number" wouldn't work) in keeping with the pattern.

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    If they were nouns, I'd say 'whole' is the proper word for 1. In the context of profits she 'matched' her profits.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 6:00
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    @J.R. Sorry, I wasn't clear. I'm not actually trying to express anything with regard to profits. This is purely a question about a pattern of etymological roots, which is why I added the [word-games] tag. I will try to update my question accordingly.
    – Zairja
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 12:04
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    Interesting question! It's difficult for me to think of a situation where I would multiply anything by one in real life, which is why I think there isn't a nice verb for this. I would use 'stabilize' to indicate I wanted to bring something back to baseline or original state, but I don't think that is your intent.
    – Mike
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 12:15
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    It would seem that because multiplying by 1 yeilds no change, then logically nothing has been done, so our grammar has not evolved to include this verb because we see it as a non-action. The closest I can think of is what @Zairja said, but I'd cringe to hear it used as a verb. "Once"
    – TecBrat
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 12:48
  • 1
    – tchrist
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 2:35

5 Answers 5


I'm not aware of a satisfactory verb for the question's purpose. There are several nouns corresponding to the unit multiplier, such as unit, in sense 2, “The number one”. Note that the more-specialized sense 10, “(algebra) An element of a ring having a multiplicative inverse. (Formerly just the identity element 1R of a ring.)”, would in some rings include just the units 1 and -1, but in others may include numerous other values with magnitudes other than 1. Term unity, in sense 1 is “Oneness; the state or fact of being one undivided entity”, and in sense 4 is “(mathematics) Any element of a set or field that behaves under a given operation as the number 1 behaves under multiplication.” Term identity in senses 5 and 6 is “(algebra, computing) Any function which maps all elements of its domain to themselves” and “(algebra) An element of an algebraic structure which, when applied to another element under an operation in that structure, yields this, second element.”

For verbs, there is the rather clumsy identity mapping; one could say “she identity-mapped (or unity-mapped) her investment in (or to) profits”, which ought to mean 100% ROI, but whether it would be understood as such, or as gibberish, one hesitates to say.

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    I think that term identity is the best one, but does not lend itself well to a verb. The OP has been citing division and multiplication functions. The site en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_function says: "an identity function, also called an identity relation or identity map or identity transformation, is a function that always returns the same value that was used as its argument." But agreed, it's clumsy to say "She identity-mapped the number, e.g., started and ended with 50."
    – rajah9
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 19:21


identify a: to cause to be or become identical

could actually work here.

  • +1 to both you and jwpat7. This verb does the job of showing multiplication by one, but its etymology stems from Latin idem (“the same”) rather than a root meaning "one", "unit" or "single".
    – Zairja
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 12:35

I scoured the Internet until the wee hours of the morn and have found once:

adv. - (mathematics) multiplied by one: indicating that a number is multiplied by one

Etymology: . . .from Old English ānes (“of one”), genitive of ān (“one”)

This definition was not in every source I looked at, but it was used in this sense in math books of the nineteenth century, if not earlier. The form is usually: "once five is five". Unfortunately, a verb form doesn't appear to exist (e.g. "she onced seven"), and something like "she took once seven" would have to suffice. Someone may still be able to fill in the blank, though.

  • The great thing about English is that you can verb almost any word by zero-derivation. “She onced seven” works just as well to me as “once seven is seven” does (that is, not very well at all, but if you are made aware of the background, it kind of works). A Man of Kent’s answer, single(d), is much more intuitive to me and is also from a root meaning ‘one’, though you have to go back a bit further. Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 14:54

I would assume singled, as in singled out.

What about to divide by 3? Halved, quartered, thirded?

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    Welcome to EL&U.I hope you'll take the tour to learn more about this site. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 20:25

How about "Reflected"?

She reflected the number 5 to make 5. She doubled the number 5 to make 10.

I don't think it's standard usage, but it ought to be!

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