AskDefine | Define counting

Dictionary Definition

counting n : the act of counting; "the counting continued for several hours" [syn: count, numeration, enumeration, reckoning, tally]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. present participle of count

Extensive Definition

Counting sometimes involves numbers other than one; for example, when counting money, counting out change, when "counting by twos" (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12…) or when "counting by fives" (5, 10, 15, 20, 25…).
There is archeological evidence suggesting that humans have been counting for at least 50,000 years. Counting was primarily used by ancient cultures to keep track of economic data such as debts and capital (i.e., accountancy). The development of counting led to the development of mathematical notation and numeral systems.


Counting can occur in a variety of forms.
Counting can be verbal; that is, speaking every number out loud (or mentally) to keep track of progress. This is often used to count objects that are present already, instead of counting a variety of things over time.
Counting can also be in the form of tally marks, making a mark for each number and then counting all of the marks when done tallying. This is useful when counting objects over time, such as the number of times something occurs during the course of a day.
Counting can also be in the form of finger counting, especially when counting small numbers. This is often used by children to facilitate counting and simple mathematical operations. The most naive finger-counting uses unary notation (one finger = one unit) , and is thus limited to counting 10. Other hand-gesture systems are also in use, for example the Chinese system by which one can count 10 using only gestures of one hand. By using finger binary (base 2 place-value notation), it is possible to keep a finger count up to 1023 = 210 - 1.
Various devices can also be used to facilitate counting, such as hand tally counters and abacuses.

Inclusive counting

Inclusive counting is usually encountered when counting days in a calendar. Normally when counting 8 days from Sunday, Monday will be day 1, Tuesday day 2, and the following Monday will be the eighth day. When counting inclusively, the Sunday (the start day) will be day 1 and therefore the following Sunday will be the eighth day. For example, the French word for fortnight is quinze jours (15 days), and similar words are present in Greek (δεκαπενθήμερο) and Spanish (quincena). This practice appears in other calendars as well; in the Roman calendar the nones (meaning nine) is 8 days before the ides; and in the Christian calendar Quinquagesima (meaning 50) is 49 days before Easter Sunday.
The Jewish people also counted inclusively. For instance, Jesus announced he would die and resurrect "on the third day," i.e. two days later. Scholars most commonly place his crucifixion on a Friday afternoon and his resurrection on Sunday before sunrise, spanning three different days but a period of around 36-40 hours.
Musical terminology also uses inclusive counting of interval between notes of the standard scale: going up one note is a second interval, going up two notes is a third interval, etc., and going up seven notes is an octave.


By age 3, most children acquire the ability to count, and the majority of 3 year olds can count up to 10 objects correctly. Children eventually come to understand the following 5 counting principles:
  1. One-to-one correspondence: Each object must be labeled by a single number word.
  2. Stable order: The number should always be recited in the same order.
  3. Cardinality: The number of objects in the set is equal to the last number stated.
  4. Order irrelevance: Objects can be counted left to right, right to left, or in any order.
  5. Abstraction: Any set of discrete objects can be counted.

See also


External links

counting in Catalan: Comptar
counting in Cebuano: Ihap
counting in German: Zählen
counting in French: Compte
counting in Hebrew: מנייה
counting in Dutch: Tellen
counting in Simple English: Counting
counting in Swedish: Räknande
counting in Thai: การนับ
counting in Volapük: Numam
counting in Chinese: 計數

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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