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[thur-teen] /ˈθɜrˈtin/
a cardinal number, 10 plus 3.
a symbol for this number, as 13 or XIII.
a set of this many persons or things.
amounting to 13 in number.
Origin of thirteen
late Middle English
before 900; late Middle English thirttene, variant of Middle English thrittene, Old English thrēotēne; cognate with Dutch dertien, German dreizehn, Old Norse threttān. See three, -teen Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for thirteen
  • The following list contains short summaries of each of the thirteen articles.
  • At the party, there were thirteen guests at the dinner table.
  • It is a concise listing of thirteen fundamental doctrines of mormonism.
  • thirteen days later, to see the relief efforts, they traveled to the affected areas.
  • Both species have twelve or thirteen costal grooves visible from the side.
  • The gibbon family, hylobatidae, is composed of thirteen mediumsized species.
  • At thirteen he enrolled in the lakeside school, an exclusive preparatory school.
  • Cubs leave their mother between thirteen and twenty months after birth.
British Dictionary definitions for thirteen


the cardinal number that is the sum of ten and three and is a prime number See also number (sense 1)
a numeral, 13, XIII, etc, representing this number
the amount or quantity that is three more than ten; baker's dozen
something represented by, representing, or consisting of 13 units
  1. amounting to thirteen: thirteen buses
  2. (as pronoun): thirteen of them fell
Word Origin
Old English threotēne; see three, -teen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for thirteen

early 15c., metathesis of Old English þreotene (Mercian), þreotiene (West Saxon), from þreo "three" (see three) + -tene (see -teen). Cf. Old Frisian thretten, Dutch dertien, German dreizehn.

Not an unlucky number in medieval England, but associated rather with the customary "extra item" (e.g. baker's dozen). Superstitions began with association with the Last Supper, and the unluckiness of 13 sitting down together to dine (attested from 1690s). Most of the modern superstitions (buildings with floor "12-A," etc.) have developed since 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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