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Meaning of Roman numerals

Ro'man nu'merals

Pronunciation: [key]
  1. the numerals in the ancient Roman system of notation, still used for certain limited purposes, as in some pagination, dates on buildings, etc. The common basic symbols are(=1),(=5),(=10),(=50),(=100),(=500), and(=1000). The Roman numerals for one to nine are: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX. A bar over a letter multiplies it by 1000; thus, &Xmacr; equals 10,000. Integers are written according to these two rules: If a letter is immediately followed by one of equal or lesser value, the two values are added; thus, XX equals 20, XV equals 15, VI equals 6. If a letter is immediately followed by one of greater value, the first is subtracted from the second; thus, IV equals 4, XL equals 40, CM equals 900. Examples: XLVII(=47), CXVI(=116), MCXX(=1120), MCMXIV(=1914). Roman numerals may be written in lowercase letters, though they appear more commonly in capitals.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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