- ''º redirects here. It is not to be confused with the degree symbol °.
In written languages, an ordinal indicator
is a sign adjacent to a numeral denoting that it is an ordinal number
, rather than a cardinal number
. The exact sign used varies in different languages.
The suffixes -st
(e.g. 21st), -nd
(e.g. 22nd or 22d), -rd
(e.g. 23rd or 23d), and -th
(e.g. 24th) are used. Formerly, these indicators were superscripts
) but by the late 20th century, formatting them on the line was favoured. The superscript style has, since the 1990s, been revived somewhat as some word processors
format ordinal indicators as superscripts automatically.
The suffixes -er
(e.g. 1er — premier
(e.g. 1re — première
), and -e
). These indicators use superscript formatting whenever it is available.
Unlike other Germanic languages, Dutch is similar to English in this respect: the French layout with -e
used to be popular, but the recent spelling changes
now prescribe the suffix -e
. Optionally -ste
may be used.
A period or full stop
is written after the numeral. The same usage, apparently borrowed from German, is now a standard in Polish
, where it replaced the superscript of the last phoneme (following complex declension and gender patterns, e.g., 1-szy, 7-ma, 24-te, 100-ny; use of such contractions is considered an error).
The suffixes -o
are appended to the numeral depending on whether the number's grammatical gender
is masculine or feminine respectively. As with French, these signs are preferably superscripted, but in contrast, they are often underlined
as well. Some character sets
provide characters specifically for use as ordinal indicators in these languages: º and ª (in Unicode
U+00BA and U00AA). The masculine ordinal indicator U+00BA (º) is often confused with the degree sign
U+00B0 (°), which looks very similar in many fonts. The degree sign is a uniform circle and is never underlined, while the letter o
may be oval
and have a varying stroke width. The letter o
may also be underlined.
In Spanish, primer
(an adjective form of primero
) before singular masculine nouns, is not abbreviated as 1º
but as 1er
. The same happens with tercer
(an adjective form of tercero
) before singular masculine nouns, which is not abbreviated as 3º
but as 3er
The suffix -ú is appended to all numerals, 1ú, 2ú, 3ú 4ú etc., even though the written form does not simply attach the suffix -ú to all numbers, i.e.
- a haon - chéad - 1ú
- a dó - dara - 2ú
- a trí - tríú - 3ú
- a ceathair - ceathrú - 4ú
- a cúig - cúigiú - 5ú
It is planned to remove this inaccurate suffix, i.e. 1ú Samhain (1st November) will become simply 1 Samhain.
One or two letters of the spelled-out numeral are appended to it (either after a hyphen or, rarely, in superscript). The rule is to take the minimal number of letters that include at least one consonant phoneme. Examples: 2-му второму
, 2-я вторая
, 2-й второй
(note that in the second example the vowel letter я
represents two phonemes, one of which ([j]) is consonant
Some languages use superior letters
as a typographic convention for abbreviations that aren't related to ordinal numbers — the letters o
may be among those used, but they don't indicate ordinals:
- Spanish uses the indicator letters in some abbreviations, such as Vº Bº for visto bueno ("approved"); and Mª for Maria, a Spanish name frequently used in compounds like José Mª.
- In Portuguese, the underlined "º" and "ª" are used with many abbreviations, and should be preceded by a period. In fact, there is no limit for which words may be abbreviated this way. Sometimes, other letters are also written before the "º" or "ª". For example: Ex.mo for Excelentíssimo (a very formal prefix to the name), L.da for Limitada (Ltd.), Sr.a for Senhora (Ms.), etc.
- English has borrowed the "No." abbreviation from the Romance languages word numero (according to the OED , the term is from the Latin numero, which is the ablative form of the word numerus ("number"). Similar forms exist as the word for "number" is derived in other Romance languages: numero in Italian, numéro in French, and número in Spanish and Portuguese), applying it as an abbreviation for the English word "number". This is sometimes written as "Nº", with the superscript o optionally underlined; see numero sign.
Use of the ordinal-indicating Unicode characters for these kinds of abbreviations is a matter of preference, but can be misleading; the "º" in "Nº", for example, is not intended to indicate ordinality at all.