Alternative numbers to avoid confusion


Senior Member
Does your language have any particular digit that may, in a noisy setting, be mixed up with another one and is thus given an alternative name? For example on the phone or when reading out loud a number code, or in military parlance?

For example in German instead of zwei "two" which may be mistaken as drei "three", they would use zwo, which is originally the feminine form of the number. In Mandarin, instead of "one", which sounds similar to 七 "seven", they'd use yāo. Do you know any more examples?

  • AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    In American English "niner" replaces nine in military and aviation communications. "Fife" for five exists, but is much less widely used.


    Senior Member
    American English & Kreyòl Ayisyen
    In Brazilian Portuguese it's common to use "meia" for six "seis" when, for example, giving out a phone number.

    E.g. 641 = meia quatro um instead of seis quatro um.

    It comes from meia-dúzia (literally half a dozen).
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    New Member
    In English, we typically don't read out phone numbers as in many languages as for example "forty-two, sixty-one, ninety-five. It is likely to be misheard as 422 621 925. Also, although we typically begin phone numbers saying O (as in letter O), it is advised to say zero elsewhere, as O can be misheard as 4.

    The biggest problem in English is distinguishing the -teens from the -ties, as thirteen, thirty. In face to face speech, native speakers usually have no problem, but over the phone .... it's a good idea on the phone or when speaking with a non-native to confirm: thirty three zero, thirteen one three.


    Senior Member
    In Hungarian, kétszáz (200) and hétszáz (700), or kétezer (2,000) and hétezer (7,000) sound confusingly similar.
    To avoid confusion, we say kettőezer, where "kettő" is a longer form of "two", which is normally used on its own (e.g. when counting: egy, kettő, három).
    Instead of "hétszáz", we often say "hetesszáz", where "hetes" means "the number seven".
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