What word does your mother always say?


[fawr, fohr] /fɔr, foʊr/
a cardinal number, three plus one.
a symbol of this number, 4 or IV or IIII.
a set of this many persons or things.
a playing card, die face, or half of a domino face with four pips.
fours, Jazz. alternate four-bar passages, as played in sequence by different soloists:
with guitar and piano trading fours.
  1. an automobile powered by a four-cylinder engine.
  2. the engine itself.
amounting to four in number.
on all fours. all fours (def 3).
Origin of four
before 1000; Middle English four, fower, Old English fēower; cognate with Old High German fior (German vier), Gothic fidwor; akin to Latin quattuor, Greek tésseres (Attic téttares)
Can be confused
for, fore, four. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for four
  • The ancestors of birds may have taken to the air on four wings and a prayer.
  • Reaction includes a national strike by four million students.
  • Choose no more than three or four colors that appeal to you.
  • four years after the investigation began there have still been no convictions.
  • If all four or three out of four advisors agree on the first bet, then bet all the money you have.
  • four great fillings to fold up for dinner tonight.
  • Players move round by throwing four coins and progressing as many squares as they throw heads.
  • Fluctuating star discovered four centuries ago still holds surprises for astronomers.
  • It had four well-developed legs, which would have enabled it to move around on land.
  • Although the number euthanized yearly is down to three million to four million, there is still more work to be done.
British Dictionary definitions for four


the cardinal number that is the sum of three and one
a numeral, 4, IV, etc, representing this number
something representing, represented by, or consisting of four units, such as a playing card with four symbols on it
Also called four o'clock. four hours after noon or midnight
  1. a shot that crosses the boundary after hitting the ground
  2. the four runs scored for such a shot
  1. a racing shell propelled by four oarsmen pulling one oar each, with or without a cox
  2. the crew of such a shell
  1. amounting to four: four thousand eggs, four times
  2. (as pronoun): four are ready
prefixes quadri- tetra-
Word Origin
Old English fēower; related to Old Frisian fiūwer, Old Norse fjōrir, Old High German fior, Latin quattuor, Greek tessares, Sanskrit catur
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for four

Old English feower, from Proto-Germanic *petwor- (cf. Old Saxon fiwar, Old Frisian fiuwer, Frankish *fitter-, Dutch and German vier, Old Norse fjorir, Danish fire, Swedish fyra, Gothic fidwor "four"), from PIE *kwetwer- "four" (cf. Sanskrit catvarah, Avestan čathwaro, Persian čatvar, Greek tessares, Latin quattuor, Oscan petora, Old Church Slavonic četyre, Lithuanian keturi, Old Irish cethir, Welsh pedwar). The phonetic evolution of the Germanic forms has not been fully explained.

Slang four-eyes "person who wears glasses" first recorded 1874. Four-letter word first attested 1934; four-letter man, however, is recorded from 1923 (as a euphemism for a shit). A four-in-hand (1793) was a carriage with four horses driven by one person; in the sense of "loosely tied necktie" it is attested from 1892. To study The History of the Four Kings (1760, cf. French Livres des Quatre Rois) contains euphemistic slang phrase for "a pack of cards" from the time when card-playing was considered a wicked pastime for students. Slang 4-1-1 "essential information" (by 1993) is from the telephone number called to get customer information.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for four


Related Terms


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with four


In addition to the idioms beginning with four
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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