Meaning of twelve in English:


cardinal number

  • 1

    (also xii, XII)
    Equivalent to the product of three and four; two more than ten; 12.

    ‘he walked twelve miles’
    ‘there are just twelve of us in all’
    ‘a twelve-string guitar’
    • ‘I've walked twelve miles today, and most of it on roads - busy and congested - and my feet hurt from the heavy pack and the asphalt.’
    • ‘She stopped to rest twice but covered the entire twelve miles on foot.’
    • ‘On the ground floor the books must go twelve feet up the wall, and you can't even read the titles of the ones on the top shelf without a ladder.’
    • ‘Thirty-six million years ago, volcanic mudflows blocked a stream flowing through this valley, producing a lake about twelve miles long.’
    • ‘These were generally a few inches to twelve feet thick and were concentrated along a linear distance of about two miles.’
    • ‘The space is largely filled with wide metal shelves, about twelve feet high and four feet deep.’
    • ‘She has four children and twelve grandchildren.’
    • ‘The new board will comprise twelve members, including four worker directors.’
    • ‘We have twelve olive trees, four fig trees, one pomegranate and a couple of as-yet-unidentified trees.’
    • ‘The creatures were roughly six feet tall standing on all four legs, and could have been at least twelve feet long.’
    • ‘There are two cabins, one sleeping four, the other a small trappers cabin, measuring twelve feet by sixteen feet sleeping two people.’
    • ‘In order to tailor each course to your company's requirements, we plan to confine group sizes to between four and twelve participants.’
    • ‘Watch for the number of stores to increase dramatically in the next twelve months.’
    • ‘After letting it ring twelve times she threw the phone on the bed.’
    • ‘Over the past twelve years, the NCH has worked with homeless shelters around the country.’
    • ‘At exactly twelve minutes past two by my wristwatch the unbearable feeling of tension collapsed, and I knew it was over.’
    • ‘At age 34, and after six apartments in the past twelve years, I made a vow: No more renting.’
    • ‘Place twelve good-quality sausages into a casserole dish.’
    • ‘These twelve essays examine an enormous number of aspects involved in keeping the peace and resolving conflict in troubled parts of the world.’
    • ‘He said that he had raised this issue in the Parliament twelve or thirteen years ago.’
    dozen, zodiac
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A group or unit of twelve people or things.
      • ‘Mincepies were originally made in twelves and should be offered by a friend-they go with anything, sherry, mulled wine, tea or coffee and can be eaten at any time of day.’
      • ‘Charles really nailed it when he sang ‘Ribbon In the Sky’, a Stevie Wonder ballad, which propelled him to the final twelve.’
      • ‘And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, ‘If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’’
      • ‘She is likely a shoo-in for the top twelve.’
      • ‘The top twelve qualified for the county finals.’
      • ‘In the hierarchy of local raja he was the most junior of the twelve in the Kei Islands, but he was able to approach the others and start a movement of customary reconciliation.’
      • ‘Having won only one of the four rounds to date, he is now placed second from the bottom in the competition with a score of six points out of a possible twelve.’
      • ‘They have 10 points out of a possible twelve and are in second position.’
      • ‘After all these weeks of paring it down to the final twelve, these are the twelve?’
      • ‘The twelve of us must wait until tomorrow before we can retire to the jury room, discuss all that we have heard and finally reach a verdict.’
      • ‘When the field was reduced to the final twelve, lesser talents got knocked off one by one.’
      • ‘The number of Ollie-inspired pieces could range from a likely none to a possible twelve - stay tuned.’
      • ‘We were on Saltspring Island about a week ago and I met a man who was one of the first twelve who came in the Vietnam era.’
      • ‘Well done to all three who made it to the final twelve in the nationwide event.’
      • ‘All twelve are worthy winners and any one of them could easily be chosen as the overall winner.’
      • ‘On the third occasion He sent the twelve on ahead by twos and followed after them.’
      • ‘The other twelve were Iraqis but were not identified as such, a telling omission.’
      • ‘Only twelve came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived.’
      • ‘Since ancient mathematics divided things into twelves and sixes, 13 and seven have always held special significance.’
      • ‘Of the twelve, four are particularly noteworthy.’
    2. 1.2Twelve years old.
      ‘a small blonde girl of about twelve’
      • ‘Around 8 a.m., the oldest of his three offspring, all girls aged ten through twelve, would load up and head for Castries.’
      • ‘Youth theatre for boys and girls aged eight to twelve years is held in Rathdowney Church of Ireland Hall on Saturdays from 2 to 4pm.’
      • ‘Padma draped her first sari at the age of twelve, the age at which girls traditionally began to wear saris when they, as she politely puts it, matured.’
      • ‘They start at 7pm and any little girl between the ages of six and twelve is welcome to join.’
      • ‘The week's sport and fun is open to all boys and girls from the ages of eight to twelve years.’
      • ‘Come this May, a judge's signature will be enough to allow girls as young as twelve to marry; boys have to wait until they're fourteen.’
      • ‘She calls to one, a girl, probably about twelve.’
      • ‘I knew a girl when I was twelve and for some reason she was in love with him during the ‘Love, Sydney’ years.’
      • ‘She is a very young girl as young as twelve, who is not old enough to look after herself yet never mind a child of her own.’
      • ‘A window opened and a girl around the age of eleven or twelve poked her head out the window.’
      • ‘These sessions will continue on Wednesday and Friday each week at 11 a.m. for players under the age of twelve.’
      • ‘Girls and boys play in mixed teams until the age of twelve.’
      • ‘Ngima's father died young and at the age of twelve Ngima started work as a trekking porter to help support the family.’
      • ‘About 35 kids between the ages of nine and twelve gather every Saturday to play rugby.’
      • ‘Soon El Marichal ordered that the minimum conscription age be lowered to twelve.’
      • ‘At the age of twelve his parents divorced and he moved to London with his father.’
      • ‘I first came to realise my mother hated me when I was only twelve.’
      • ‘She was the oldest, true, but she was also only twelve then.’
      • ‘I was only twelve then, but I did get my wish that day.’
      • ‘When I was ten and my sister twelve, we spent the summer in the lush Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, at Camp Chimney Rock.’
    3. 1.3Twelve o'clock.
      ‘it's half past twelve’
      • ‘All this occurred between twelve and one o'clock this morning.’
      • ‘Byrne's World of Wonder, on the Cork Road, Waterford will be open at midnight on Friday and will commence selling the book at one second past twelve!’
      • ‘Unfortunately, those three came back at five past twelve.’
      • ‘At ten past twelve I looked at my watch and realised - oh!’
      • ‘Back to the present, quarter past twelve today, I got back to Reading to find the thing was still there.’
      • ‘At half past twelve, Margot and Daddy read, and others clean.’
      • ‘The seminar ran every Wednesday from half past twelve to two o'clock in Mathematical Institute.’
      • ‘So it wasn't a very big surprise when Dustin and Justin showed up at half past twelve.’
      • ‘The clock struck twelve, and several guards shooed the reporters out of the castle.’
      • ‘Suddenly the clock struck twelve and the two were broken from their trance.’
    4. 1.4A size of garment or other merchandise denoted by twelve.
      • ‘It was Alexz that would never fit in mom's clothes, being the size twelve that she is.’
      • ‘Who wants to tell someone she's really a size twelve, anyway.’
      • ‘Walking was a bore and I really hated exercise so it was a surprise that I was a size twelve, if you saw the amount I could eat.’
      • ‘Well, I know she's a size twelve but, you know, erm, how exactly does that relate to, well, bikini tops?’
      • ‘It looked like a size twelve boot had crashed through the screen.’
      • ‘After I had my first daughter, I could wear my size ten and twelve clothes a week after she was born.’
      • ‘"Size twelve and a half, " the voice that belonged to Feet said.’
    5. 1.5the TwelveThe twelve Apostles.
    6. 1.6British (of a film) classified as suitable for people of 12 years and over.


Old English twelf(e), from the base of two + a second element (probably expressing the sense ‘left over’); of Germanic origin and related to Dutch twaalf and German zwölf. Compare with eleven.