Ilike to call myself a word person, as opposed to a numbers person because I’m not good at math.

It helps me to not be required to keep score while playing bridge.

But a recent offering of my friendly email from Merriam-Webster, the word list people, tells me that there are many words associated with numbers.

So here’s the latest on number words, fresh from the computer.

There’s Hang 10, which we recognize as a surfing maneuver. All 10 toes have to drape over the board.

Then comes Dressed to the Nines, to be attired in a showy manner.

But first we think of Cloud Nine, which is where the highest order of angels, the Seraphim, hang out. If you are in Cloud Nine, you are closest to God.

Are you behind the Eight Ball? That designates the disadvantage that comes when you are playing pool and hit the eight ball instead of the one behind it, which was the one you were supposed to hit in proper order. If you are behind the eight ball, you are in trouble.

Seven is another word with meaning, this one considered lucky. All kinds of sevens, many in the Bible, which begins with the seven days of creation and also includes the Seven Deadly Sins.

Six is included in being at sixes and sevens, springing from the roll of difficulty in a game of dice. To be at sixes and sevens is to be confused and disorderly.

There are a couple of definitions for a six-pack, one related to the other. If you have a six-pack physique, you have a tummy that resembles a six-pack of beer. You knew that, especially if you are a Joe Six-Pack.

Remember the “five and dime” store. That’s become the Dollar Store, of course. But the “five” designation lingers.

If you “take five” you are getting a break from work. That originated in the jargon of U.S. mining, it says.

While taking five, or more than five, you could watch a four-bagger, which is a home run. As this is being written, here’s hoping for more of those for the Astros.

Then there’s the Four Freedoms, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s state of the union. Freedom of speech, religion, from want and from fear.

Don’t forget Four Letter Words, usually used to describe something obscene. There are few still exempted from polite conversation these days.

We have several “threes.” If you are “three sheets to the wind” you are drunk. The sheets are ropes attached to the lower corner of a ship’s sails.

And don’t forget Three Ring Circus, which is literally a circus or used to denote something entertaining.

You can give me your “two cents” worth, which is an opinion, or do something in “two shakes,” which means pretty.

Lastly, we have One Armed Bandits, which I understand no longer exist as slot machines. The arms have been replaced by buttons.

Then there is “one fell swoop” in which everybody or everything is wiped out instantly.

And that puts us “one up” on everything to do with number words.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at

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(2) comments

Carlos Ponce

I'm surprised you did not mention thirteen, a number often associated with bad luck. Some call a group of thirteen a "baker's dozen". The 13th floor is often skipped while naming floors of a building. And then there's that unusual family that lives at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. But the head of the household is a very nice fellow. I believe his name is Herman.

Jarvis Buckley

Always enjoy your thoughts Ms. Cathy.

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