History & Symbols of Roman Numerals | WhatNumberisIV

Roman Numerals History

History & Symbols of Roman Numerals

The numeral system starts in Rome known as roman numerals. This system remained as a common way of writing or expressing numbers all over Europe. In this numeral system, numbers are represented by Latin alphabet letters. Seven symbols with constant integer values are used. These 7 alphabetic letters make great or thousands of numbers.


• Zero has no value in trading so, there is no symbol for it. A term “Nulla” was used for it.

• Fractions not commonly used in currency mainly two fractions twelfths and halves were used. Single dot “.” Is used to represent the twelfth which is called “unica”. The symbol “S” is used to represent halves called “semis”.

• Roman alphabet I am equal to 1 Arabic numeral, V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100, D=500, and M=1000


It is believed that the ancient counting system begins with ancient Etruscans. Because initially. In the start Roman numerals were similar to Etruscan numerals. The symbol for 5 was inverted V initially but change 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 regard writing the Roman numerals occur during different eras. But nowadays only 7 alphabets with constant integers are used.


Arabic numerals from 14th century begins to replace Roman numerals gradually. Hence, Roman numerals used for very long time even after the downfall of Romans.


• The 7 Roman symbols I, X, C, and M can be repeated to make the symbol for 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.

• 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. Four is written as IIII on some clocks instead of IV.

• 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.

• The kings, emperors, queens, and popes are represented by Roman numerals like Henry VIII of England.


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 are used to denote arbitrary numbers.

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