Definition of twelve in English:

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Pronunciation: /twelv/

cardinal number

1Equivalent to the product of three and four; two more than ten; 12: he walked twelve miles there are just twelve of us in all a twelve-string guitar (Roman numeral: xii, XII)
More example sentences
  • I've walked twelve miles today, and most of it on roads - busy and congested - and my feet hurt from the heavy pack and the asphalt.
  • She stopped to rest twice but covered the entire twelve miles on foot.
  • On the ground floor the books must go twelve feet up the wall, and you can't even read the titles of the ones on the top shelf without a ladder.
1.1A group or unit of twelve people or things.
Example sentences
  • Mincepies were originally made in twelves and should be offered by a friend-they go with anything, sherry, mulled wine, tea or coffee and can be eaten at any time of day.
  • Charles really nailed it when he sang ‘Ribbon In the Sky’, a Stevie Wonder ballad, which propelled him to the final twelve.
  • And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, ‘If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’
1.2Twelve years old: a small blond girl of about twelve
More example sentences
  • Around 8 a.m., the oldest of his three offspring, all girls aged ten through twelve, would load up and head for Castries.
  • Youth theatre for boys and girls aged eight to twelve years is held in Rathdowney Church of Ireland Hall on Saturdays from 2 to 4pm.
  • Padma draped her first sari at the age of twelve, the age at which girls traditionally began to wear saris when they, as she politely puts it, matured.
1.3Twelve o’clock: it’s half past twelve
More example sentences
  • All this occurred between twelve and one o'clock this morning.
  • Byrne's World of Wonder, on the Cork Road, Waterford will be open at midnight on Friday and will commence selling the book at one second past twelve!
  • Unfortunately, those three came back at five past twelve.
1.4A size of garment or other merchandise denoted by twelve.
Example sentences
  • It was Alexz that would never fit in mom's clothes, being the size twelve that she is.
  • Who wants to tell someone she's really a size twelve, anyway.
  • Walking was a bore and I really hated exercise so it was a surprise that I was a size twelve, if you saw the amount I could eat.
1.5 (the Twelve) The twelve Apostles.


Old English twelf(e), from the base of two + a second element (probably expressing the sense 'left over'); of Germanic origin and related to Dutch twaalf and German zwölf. Compare with eleven.

  • two from Old English:

    An Old English word from the same source as twain, twelve, twenty, twilight, and twin (all OE), with an ancient root shared by Latin and Greek duo, source of double (Middle English), duo (late 16th century), duplicate (Late Middle English), and other words. The formula it takes two to…appeared in the 1850s in it takes two to make a quarrel, and in the 1940s in it takes two to make a bargain ( see also tango). The saying two's company, three's a crowd was originally two's company, three's none, in the 1730s. Before the British currency was decimalized in 1971 twopence or tuppence was a standard sum. To add or put in your twopenn'orth is to contribute your opinion; twopenn'orth is a contraction of twopennyworth meaning ‘an amount costing two pence’, used also for ‘a small or insignificant amount’.

Words that rhyme with twelve

delve, helve, shelve

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: twelve

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