Roman numeral | Chart & Facts (2024)

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Top Questions

What are Roman numerals?

Roman numerals are the symbols used in a system of numerical notation based on the ancient Roman system. The symbols are I, V, X, L, C, D, and M, standing respectively for 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000.

What are Roman numerals used for today?

Examples of the use of Roman numerals today include the denotation of book chapters, the title of each year’s National Football League Super Bowl as well as the titles of Summer and Winter Olympics, and the marking of hours on clock faces.

How do Roman numerals work?

In the Roman numeral system, the symbols I, V, X, L, C, D, and M stand respectively for 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 in the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. A symbol placed after another of equal or greater value adds its value. A symbol placed before one of greater value subtracts its value. A bar placed over a number multiplies its value by 1,000.

Where do Roman numerals come from?

As in all such matters, the origin of the Roman numeral system of numerical notation is obscure, although the changes in their forms since the 3rd century BCE are well known. Roman numerals were likely developed as a result of a need for a common method of counting in order to better conduct trade.

Is it still important to learn Roman numerals?

Despite the impracticality of using Roman numerals for mathematical calculations, which led to the widespread use of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system we know today, some people do still argue for the importance of teaching Roman numerals in schools. Proponents believe that Roman numerals have enduring cultural relevance, as seen in their continued use in sporting event titles and book chapters. Learn more.

Roman numeral, any of the symbols used in a system of numerical notation based on the ancient Roman system. The symbols are I, V, X, L, C, D, and M, standing respectively for 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 in the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. A symbol placed after another of equal or greater value adds its value—e.g., II = 1 + 1 = 2 and LVIII = 50 + 5 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 58. Usually only three identical symbols can be used consecutively; to express numbers beginning with a 4 or a 9, a symbol is placed before one of greater value to subtract its value—e.g., IV = −1 + 5 = 4, XC = −10 + 100 = 90, and MCMLXXXIX = 1,000 −100 + 1,000 + 50 + 10 + 10 + 10 −1 +10 = 1,989. The exceptions are 4,000, which is sometimes written as MMMM, and clocks, which usually display 4 as IIII. A bar called a vinculum placed over a number multiplies its value by 1,000.

Below is a table of Arabic numerals and their Roman numeral equivalents.

More From BritannicaIs It Still Important to Learn Roman Numerals?
Arabic and Roman numerals
Arabic Roman
1 I
2 II
3 III
4 IV
5 V
6 VI
7 VII
8 VIII
9 IX
10 X
11 XI
12 XII
13 XIII
14 XIV
15 XV
16 XVI
17 XVII
18 XVIII
19 XIX
20 XX
21 XXI
22 XXII
23 XXIII
24 XXIV
30 XXX
40 XL
50 L
60 LX
70 LXX
80 LXXX
90 XC
100 C
101 CI
102 CII
200 CC
300 CCC
400 CD
500 D
600 DC
700 DCC
800 DCCC
900 CM
1,000 M
1,001 MI
1,002 MII
1,900 MCM
2,000 MM
2,001 MMI
2,002 MMII
2,100 MMC
3,000 MMM
4,000 IV or MMMM
5,000 V

The Editors of Encyclopaedia BritannicaThis article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.

Roman numeral | Chart & Facts (2024)
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