Meaning of ordinal in English:


Pronunciation /ˈɔːdɪn(ə)l/


  • 1

    short for ordinal number

    ‘In 1907 he introduced special types of ordinals in an attempt to prove Cantor's continuum hypothesis.’
    • ‘Having solved the open problem posed by Davenport on writing numbers as the sums of fifth powers, Conway began to become interested in infinite ordinals.’
    • ‘In this latter book she presented a 30 page appendix on the theory of infinite cardinals and ordinals.’
    • ‘In his work he clarified a remark by Russell and formulated precisely the paradox of the largest ordinal.’
    • ‘Form numbers are conceived as ordinals, with units conceived as being well ordered.’
  • 2Christian Church
    historical A service book, especially one with the forms of service used at ordinations.

    • ‘The report continues with a discussion of the various ministries of deacons, including the basis as expressed in the ordinal at ordination in a new trial liturgy in the Diocese of Salisbury.’


  • 1Relating to the order of something in a series.

    ‘ordinal scales’
    • ‘The answers were transformed to an ordinal scale with values from 0 to 6.’
    • ‘The Mann-Whitney U test is appropriate when the independent variable has two levels and the dependent variable is measured on an ordinal scale.’
    • ‘To account for this bias, we transformed the outcome variables to an ordinal scale with 5 categories.’
    • ‘Children were asked whether they could determine, based on their ordinal position within different classes and families, which of two turtles was faster or taller.’
    • ‘Data indicating familial and ordinal positions are not available.’
    1. 1.1Relating to an ordinal number.
  • 2Biology
    Relating to a taxonomic order.

    ‘The present study suggests that tube-foot morphology may be useful as a taxonomic character at the ordinal level.’
    • ‘While all of the phyla but one were established during the Cambrian explosion, taxonomic increases during the Ordovician were manifest at lower taxonomic levels although ordinal level diversity doubled.’
    • ‘Mammalian phylogenetics at the ordinal level remains one of the outstanding problems in systematics because of the lack of congruence between different data sets.’
    • ‘It is difficult to establish an accurate ordinal assignment of the taxa described above based on the current knowledge.’
    • ‘The same procedure was followed for the two most abundant taxa identified at the ordinal level.’


Middle English (in ordinal (sense 2 of the noun)): the noun from medieval Latin ordinale (neuter); the adjective from late Latin ordinalis ‘relating to order in a series’, from Latin ordo, ordin- (see order).