Why is there no U in forty?

Surely there should be
22:54 Mon 18th Jan 2010
Best Answer

No best answer has yet been selected by Panic Button. Once a best answer has been selected, it will be shown here.

For more on marking an answer as the "Best Answer", please visit our FAQ.

1 to 20 of 24

2 Next Last

yes you're probably right, it never looks right to me when I write it!! but that's the english language for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Question Author
Mind you, if there was a U, it wouldn't be the only number where all the letters are in alphabetical order.
true! panic button, but still doesn't look right!
I dont understand what you mean by the alphabetical thing, the alphabet doesent go ABCD FORTY JKMN......
ooops, just worked out what ya mean, tis ok.
Question Author
... and four is the only number with the same number of letters as its value
hard to explain! if you look at the letters, they fall in sequence throughout the alphabet.....................f before o, r before t, and so on, do you get it now?.................
yes i get it, thanks
lol, I didn't either, at first!!........
In the same vein then~
Why isn't Fifty spelled FIVEty?
Or thirty spelled threety for that matter
or one hundred tenty..

In Old English, it was spelt feuortig...by the 14th century (Chaucer) it was spelt fourty... and not until the very end of the 17th century was it spelt forty. In other words, it - like multitudes of other English words - went through a process of simplification over time.
(The letter I've given as 'g' in feuortig would have sounded more like the 'ch' in Johann Sebastian Bach, much as the 'g' in the German word for forty - vierzig - is.)
Question Author
Thanks Quizmonster, a very good answer.

There seems to be conformity amongst the others:
thirteen / thirty, fifteen / fifty, sixteen / sixty, seventeen / seventy
eighteen / eighty, nineteen / ninety.

The fours start better, but then go wrong:
four / fourteen / fourty
One of the rules in English is that every rule has an exception. Without changing the spelling to forty there would be no exceptions to the rule for making these numbers.
All these numbers went through similar changes over time, PB, so the fact that they are not identical in 'shape' is not wholly surprising. In Old English, for example, we had threeotynne...by the 14th century, thritten...and by the 17th century, thirteen. Note how the vowel 'i' remained IN FRONT of the consonant 'r' for about three quarters of a millennium, before moving to its present position.
Re forty, the basic word four originally had an 'ow' sound, as it still does in parts of Scotland, "What time is it?" "It's half past fower." When it took on the simpler 'oh' sound in English speech, the 'u' was really superfluous and so disappeared from the spelling.
I should have added above that it disappeared, leaving the word forty, not that it disappeared from four itself. If it had, we'd have been left with 'for' and that would have caused endless confusion!
to my newphew I;m twoteen years old. (12) lol
Question Author
Your information is an eye opener Quizzy.

It makes you realise how much language evolves, and how silly are the stick in the muds who get so angry if rules are not followed.
...and why is there a 'v' in 'twelve' but not in 'twelfth'

1 to 20 of 24

2 Next Last

Related Questions

On the first day, God created the dog and said, sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this I will give you a life span of twenty years. The dog said,...
HEY, WASN'T THIS US ???!!! A little house with two bedrooms, No bathroom and no car on the street. A mower that you had to push To make the grass look neat. In the kitchen or in the hall We only had...
My apologies on losing this yesterday as, apparently, I placed it in Animals accidentally, thinking it was in here. Thanks for the info on that, Ed...... Anyway, a second go! [i] A Phone Call to the...
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning? WITNESS: He said, 'Where am I, Cathy?' ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you? WITNESS: My name is Susan!...
These are from a book called Disorder in the Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while...

Latest posts