Little black number

anglicana

Senior Member
France
"You look stunning". He meant it. He heard most women had a 'little black number' in their wardrobe, but they wouldn't look like Mary in it.

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What is a Little black number???
 
  • stezza

    Banned
    english
    A little black number is a short black, usually sleeveless, dress. It is worn to cocktail paeries and other formal or semi-formal occasions.
     

    jennball

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "Number" is used in other slang ways, too. "He did a number on you" means he beat you up and it shows. "She's a sassy little number" means she's a sassy woman. "I'm going to go out and do my number" means I'm going to go out and perform on stage.
     

    panzona

    Senior Member
    << Moderator Note: The thread beginning with this message has been merged with the thread above. >>

    Hi all,
    I'm trying to find a short sentence that would example the meaning of "number" as "something that attracts attention, admiration".

    All dictionaries (I've checked) have:
    she was wearing a little black number.

    Just to have something (sort of) new, could the following be ok? (Do I get it correctly that it's most of the time referred to clothing?)

    "I wore my new red number for the party".

    ("at" the party?? Oh my, in short, contextless sentences one forgets everything... :rolleyes:)

    Thank you!
    :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Number in this sense just means something like "item". It is used especially for an article of clothing; although number has other similar meanings (where it refers to a thing or an action, or even a person), they are not necessarily related in sense development to this usage, I don't think.

    I also don't think it originally meant anything other than "item" (in the fashion industry); it's just that it is almost always used in conversation to describe some garment which is attractive, "sexy", etc. It also often goes with the intensifier "little" (see Renaissance Man's link).

    I think your sentence is fine, but it's pretty much the same as the dictionary examples, but with the colour changed.
     

    panzona

    Senior Member
    Thank you both for your help, I needed to "hear a real voice" on the subject to make up my mind... :)

    Number in the general sense is mostly used for something that is a typical characteristic of someone, like a frequently used method or attribute.

    In this case, you're talking about a slang term for a specific garment. Take a look at
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=462740

    Doh! I actually perused the list of all the forum discussions about "number" and didn't see this one... I must apologize, only now I realise I was browsing through a partial list (I had never realised before that if I search a word in a bilingual WR dictionary the list of threads refers to the related bilingual forum only, not all forums - it makes sense, I just hadn't noticed it before...).


    Number in this sense just means something like "item". It is used especially for an article of clothing; although number has other similar meanings (where it refers to a thing or an action, or even a person), they are not necessarily related in sense development to this usage, I don't think.

    I also don't think it originally meant anything other than "item" (in the fashion industry); it's just that it is almost always used in conversation to describe some garment which is attractive, "sexy", etc. It also often goes with the intensifier "little" (see Renaissance Man's link).

    Yes... M-W has actually this as a meaning (5.e)... whereas OD reports the "informal" meaning only (3.3). That's why I asked if it were used mostly with clothing... (and yes, I saw the meaning "girl, woman" in M-W, but everywhere else this use is marked as "dated"...)

    I think your sentence is fine, but it's pretty much the same as the dictionary examples, but with the colour changed.

    AH ah ah I know! It's just that I was afraid of deviating from clothing... :D (I've changed the adjective too... ;):D)

    Thank you again!
    :)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    How about:

    I was looking for a purse, and this little number caught my eye.

    His new car is a sporty little number, and it gets good gas mileage too.
     
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