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[fawr-tee] /ˈfɔr ti/

noun, plural forties.
a cardinal number, ten times four.
a symbol for this number, as 40 or XL or XXXX.
a set of this many persons or things.
forties, the numbers, years, degrees, or the like, from 40 through 49, as in referring to numbered streets, indicating the years of a lifetime or of a century, or degrees of temperature:
His office is in the West Forties. Her parents are in their forties. The temperature will be in the forties.
amounting to 40 in number.
noun (pl) -ties
the cardinal number that is the product of ten and four See also number (sense 1)
a numeral, 40, XL, etc, representing this number
something representing, represented by, or consisting of 40 units


Old English feowertig, from feower “four” (see four) + tig “group of ten” (see -ty (1)). Cf. Old Saxon fiwartig, Old Frisian fiuwertich, Dutch veertig, Old High German fiorzug, German vierzig, Old Norse fjorir tigir, Gothic fidwor tigjus.

[T]he number 40 must have been used very frequently by Mesha’s scribe as a round number. It is probably often used in that way in the Bible where it is remarkably frequent, esp. in reference to periods of days or years. … How it came to be so used is not quite certain, but it may have originated, partly at any rate, in the idea that 40 years constituted a generation or the period at the end of which a man attains maturity, an idea common, it would seem, to the Greeks, the Israelites, and the Arabs. [“The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” James Orr, ed., Chicago, 1915]

Forty winks “short sleep” is attested from 1821, In early use associated with, and perhaps coined by, eccentric English lifestyle reformer William Kitchiner M.D. (1775-1827).


Read Also:

  • Forty-deuce

    noun Forty-second Street in New York City: Forty-deuce is what its seamy inhabitants call 42d Street (1970s+)

  • Forty-eight

    [fawr-tee-eyt] /ˈfɔr tiˈeɪt/ noun 1. a cardinal number, 40 plus 8. 2. a symbol for this number, as 48 or XLVIII. 3. a set of this many persons or things. 4. the forty-eight, the 48 contiguous states of the U.S. adjective 5. amounting to 48 in number. noun A weekend pass (WWII Navy)

  • Forty-eightmo

    [fawr-tee-eyt-moh] /ˈfɔr tiˈeɪt moʊ/ noun, plural forty-eightmos for 2. 1. a book size of about 2½ × 4 inches (6 × 10 cm), determined by printing on sheets folded to form 48 leaves or 96 pages. Abbreviation: 48mo, 48°. 2. a book of this size. adjective 3. in forty-eightmo.

  • Forty-eighth

    [fawr-tee-eytth, -eyth] /ˈfɔr tiˈeɪtθ, -ˈeɪθ/ adjective 1. next after the forty-seventh; being the ordinal number for 48. 2. being one of 48 equal parts. noun 3. a forty-eighth part, especially of one (1/48). 4. the forty-eighth member of a series.

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