You can count on me!


Senior Member
You can count on me!

I saw this paragraph before.
And then, I was pondering for a moment why the verb form 'count on' means like 'rely on' ?...
The verb 'Count' means, as it is, just counting numbers, but how does 'count on' mean to be so ?
I want to know the origin of it.
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  • The phrase is "count upon", where upon is an adverb of place. (The cat is upon the table)

    Quite literally, mediaeval bankers counted their money upon a counting-bench. (In Italian, bench = 'banca' and is the origin of the word 'bank' and banker.)
    On this bench was a table (in the sense of a set of rows and columns) This table allowed money to be counted1 (This was in the time when the number zero had not been invented)-> They could count their money upon the table and receive an accurate result.

    Thus if you can count [up]on something, it is reliable. You can rely on an accurate (or the desired) result.

    1and other calculations to be made.

    Here is a picture of a banker sitting at his bench upon which is a counting table:

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    I'm so grateful for your nice explaining.
    It's very interesting!
    Do most verbs, formed like 'count on' have origin ?
    On June 9 2019 on German StackExchange, Frank from Frankfurt surmised another explanation

    In my opinion, this double usage must have been already present in a common ancestral language: Proto-Indo-European, about 3000 BCE. At that time the people must have seen some link While I didn't find any etymological explanation, which explains how the words developed over the past millenia, I found the following about the French word *compter* in the 12th century (at

    1115-30 cunter « comprendre (quelqu'un) dans un dénombrement

    This means to include (someone) in a count (or maybe group). This explanation refers to a time that is still millenia too late, but might provide the relevant idea. So, if I count (on) someone, it could have implied that I expected them to be readily geared at some place to join a hunting (or raiding) party.