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Figures

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A corruption of fingers, that is, “digits” (Latin, digiti, fingers). So called from the primitive method of marking the monades by the fingers. Thus the first four were simply i, ii, iii, iiii; five was the outline of the hand simplified into a v; the next four figures were the two combined, thus, vi, vii, viii, viiii; and ten was a double v, thus, x. At a later period iiii and viiii were expressed by one less than five (i-v) and one less than ten (i-x). Nineteen was ten-plus-nine (x + ix), etc.—a most clumsy and unphilosophical device.

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ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Fighting-cocks
Fighting Fifth (The)
Fighting Kings [Chen-kuo]
Fighting Prelate
Fighting the Tiger
Fighting with Gloves on
Figure
Figure
Figure-head
Figure of Fun (A)
Figures
Filch
File
Filia Dolorosa
Filibuster
Filioque Controversy (The)
Fill-dyke
Fillet
Filomena
Filter
Fin