forty


forty
forty O.E. feowertig, from feower "four" (see FOUR (Cf. four)) + tig "group of ten" (see -TY (Cf. -ty) (1)). Cf. O.S. fiwartig, O.Fris. fiuwertich, Du. veertig, O.H.G. fiorzug, Ger. vierzig, O.N. fjorir tigir, Goth. 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).

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  • forty — ► CARDINAL NUMBER (pl. forties) 1) ten less than fifty; 40. (Roman numeral: xl or XL.) 2) (the Forties) the central North Sea between Scotland and southern Norway, so called from its prevailing depth of forty fathoms or more. ● forty winks Cf. ↑ …   English terms dictionary

  • forty — [fôrt′ē] adj. [ME fourti < OE feowertig, akin to Ger vierzig, Goth fidwor tigjus: see FOUR & TY2] four times ten n. pl. forties the cardinal number between thirty nine and forty one; 40; XL the forties the numbers or years, as of a century,… …   English World dictionary

  • Forty — For ty, n.; pl. {Forties} ( t[i^]z). 1. The sum of four tens; forty units or objects. [1913 Webster] 2. A symbol expressing forty units; as, 40, or xl. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Forty — For ty (f[^o]r t[y^]), a. [OE. forti, fourti, fowerti, AS. fe[ o]wertig; fe[ o]wer four + suff. tig ten; akin to OS. fiwartig, fiartig, D. veertig, G. vierzig, Icel. fj[ o]rut[=i]u, Sw. fyratio, Dan. fyrretyve, Goth. fidw[=o]r tigjus. See {Four} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • forty — n. & adj. n. (pl. ies) 1 the product of four and ten. 2 a symbol for this (40, xl, XL). 3 (in pl.) the numbers from 40 to 49, esp. the years of a century or of a person s life. 4 (the Forties) Brit. the sea area between the NE coast of Scotland… …   Useful english dictionary

  • forty — I. /ˈfɔti / (say fawtee) noun (plural forties) 1. a cardinal number, ten times four. 2. a symbol for this number, as 40 or XL or XXXX. 3. (plural) the numbers from 40 to 49 of a series, usually with reference to the years of a person s age, or… …   Australian English dictionary

  • forty — see a fool at forty is a fool indeed life begins at forty Saint Swithun’s day, if thou be fair, for forty days it will remain; Saint Swithun’s day, if thou bring rain, for forty days it will remain …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • Forty — This very old name is in fact locational and derives from the Anglo Saxon forp eg meaning an island in a fen or occasionally a paddock by a farm forp teag . The name is found in the village names: Forty Green in Essex, the Forty in Wiltshire and… …   Surnames reference

  • forty — noun (plural forties) Etymology: Middle English fourty, adjective, from Old English fēowertig, from fēowertig group of 40, from fēower four + tig group of 10; akin to Old English tīen ten Date: before 12th century 1. see number table 2. plural… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • forty — cardinal number (plural forties) 1》 the number equivalent to the product of four and ten; ten less than fifty; 40. (Roman numeral: xl or XL.) 2》 (the Forties) the central North Sea between Scotland and southern Norway, so called from its… …   English new terms dictionary