The numeral system (writing system for representing numbers) started in ancient Rome, known as roman numerals. This system remained a common way of writing or expressing numbers all over Europe until the Late Medieval Period. In this numeral system, numbers are represented by Latin alphabet letters or their combination. But in the modern era, only seven symbols with constant integer values are used. These 7 alphabetic letters make great or thousands of numbers.

Below is the table shows the Roman numerals that are used to represent Arabic numerals:

Roman Numerals      I     V      X     L      C      D      M
Arabic Numerals     1     5      10    50    100    500   1000
  • There is no symbol for zero in Roman numerals because they are used for trading; zero is not needed in trading. The Latin term “Nulla” was used to represent zero.
  • Fractions not commonly used in currency mainly, two fractions, twelfths, and halves, were used. Single dot “.” It is used to represent the twelfth which is called “unica.” The symbol “S” is used to represent halves called “semis.”


It is believed that the ancient counting system begins with ancient Etruscans. Because initially, Roman numerals were the same as Etruscan numerals, like symbols for 1, 10, and 100. The symbol for 5 was inverted V initially but changed to V, and at some point symbol for 50 was an upward arrow initially changes to a downward arrow. Sometimes later, by the time of August symbol for 50 again changes to inverted T, and after sometimes 50 was represented by the symbol L that is its present representation. In the way, many changes regarding writing the Roman numerals occur during different eras. But nowadays, only 7 alphabets with constant integers are used.


  • From the 7 Roman symbols, I, X, C, and M can be repeated to make a symbol for a larger value such as M is for 1000, MM is for 2000, and MMM for 3000, but it can be repeated a maximum of 3 times. But V, L, and D cannot be repeated.
  • For addition smaller value written after greater value symbol like VI= 5+1=6, and LXX=50+10+10=70.
  • For subtraction, smaller value symbols are written before greater value symbols like IV=5-4=4 and XC=100-10=90.

Use of Roman Numerals:

  • The clock face is one of the places where Roman numerals are often used. A Big Ben clock was designed in 1825 for the 1 to 12 hours written in Roman numerals on that clock. Many clocks are now available in which hours are dedicated in Roman numerals.
  • Copyright dates commonly written in Roman numerals on the title screen of television shows and movies.
  • Year numbers nowadays on buildings and monuments written in Roman numerals. 
  • Roman numerals like Henry VIII of England represented the kings, emperors, queens, and popes.


The numbers 1, 2, 3…. are Arabic numerals. Another system that used alphabetic letters to represent the numbers is Roman numerals. The Romans used the numerical notations system that is Roman numerals. Using the alphabetical letters by addition and subtraction, some letters are used as a base number, and then a combination of base numbers is used to denote arbitrary numbers.