Can You Match the Roman Numeral to the Number?

EDUCATION

By: Jonnathan Chadwick

6 Min Quiz

Image: Rosa María Fernández Rz/ Moment/ Getty Images

About This Quiz

There are seven Roman numerals, and once you learn them, you can create any integer you want. They come with guidelines but no official rules, so you can create whatever you want with them, and they're easy to learn. For starters, I represents the number one, and V represents the number five. If you want to write the number three in Roman numerals, you simply write III. If you want to write the number four, however, things get a little trickier.

Since guidelines for using Roman numerals say no numeral should be repeated more than three times, they're commonly inscribed in what's called "subtractive notation." Instead of writing IIII for the number four, we write IV, which stands for "one less than five." You may still see some clocks and inscriptions that use IIII (additive notation) for the number four, but the subtractive notation is more common.

It gets a bit trickier when you need to write "10 less than 100" or "100 less than 1,000," but the concept is the same. Because there are no official rules, some people use subtractive notation to create random numbers like "three less than 20," and some people use additive notation to create giant numbers like 10,000. The practice isn't common, and you don't have to worry about them. The largest number that can be written in Roman numerals is 3,999. The smallest is one. There is no zero. They're written left to right from largest to smallest, and when you see a small numeral in front of a larger one, it's subtractive notation. Can you match the Roman numeral to the number?

Let's start off easy. What number is this?

This is the most widely used Roman numeral and can be seen everywhere from clock faces to last names. It represents the number one, but might also be used to represent "the first," as in King Henry I. It's also used to represent the first day of the workweek (Monday) on some tables.

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Do you know this number?

The number five isn't as popular as one, but it's seen as a pretty important number everywhere in life. Roman numerals were derived from ancient Italian Etruscan numerals, and the Etruscan numeral for the number five was an upside down "V."

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What numeral is this?

The Roman Empire was highly influenced by the Etruscans, and the numeral "X" was used to represent the number 10 in both societies. The Romans adopted the entire system and applied a few changes. The numeral can also stand for "the tenth," as in Pope Benedict X.

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The Denver Broncos won Super Bowl L. What Super Bowl was that?

The NFL usually identifies the Super Bowl by Roman numerals, but for Super Bowl 50, the league was advised to use the numeral "50" instead of the Roman numeral "L." It was anticipated that "Super Bowl L" wouldn't fare well in today's social media age.

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What number does this stand for?

The Latin word for 100 is "centum," but it's unlikely that's where the Roman numeral stemmed from. It's believed the Roman numeral C used to be a theta symbol that was then changed to a C at some point in time.

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What number is this?

The evolution of Roman numerals is long and complex, but there was a time when some people used the symbol IƆ to represent the number 500. That symbol is half of the phi symbol, which represents 1,000.

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This is the largest single Roman numeral. What is it?

This is the largest single Roman numeral and since guidelines say we can't repeat the same numeral more than three times, the largest number we can make is 3,999. There are special rules and symbols for creating Roman numerals larger than 3,999.

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Once you know the seven major Roman numerals, you can make any integer you want. What number is this?

This is the Roman numeral for 17. It's simply written as 10 + 5 + 2. There are some rare inscriptions that display the number 17 as IIIXX, which stands for "three less than 20." There are no rules, so this isn't incorrect, but it's uncommon.

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Roman numerals can be written in either "additive" or "subtractive" notation. What number is this?

This is the Roman numeral for "four" written in additive notation. Common usage says not to use four consecutive numerals, but IIII can still be seen in some places like clocks. Somewhere along the line, Romans began writing numerals in subtractive notation, but both forms are still recognized.

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What number is this?

This is the Roman numeral for "four" written in subtractive notation. It can be read as "one less than five." Subtractive notation can be used to represent any "four" or "nine" (e.g. 14, 400, 9, 90, etc.) all the way to 1,000. There are no Roman numerals for 5,000 or 10,000.

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Now that you understand subtractive notation and know that C = 100 and D = 500, what number does CD represent?

This is the Roman numeral for the number 400. It can be read as "100 less than 500." If you wanted to write 400 in additive notation, it would read CCCC. When you see a smaller numeral ahead of a larger numeral, you should subtract the smaller from the larger.

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What number does XL stand for?

In Roman numerals, X stands for 10 and L stands for 50, so XL represents "10 less than 50." The Roman numeral XL stands for the number 40. If you wrote it in additive notation, the Roman numeral would be XXXX.

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XXX means many things in society. What does it mean in Roman numerals?

This is the Roman numeral for 30 but commonly stands for anything from hugs and kisses to adult hugs and kisses. Super Bowl XXX was played in 1996 between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cowboys won their third Super Bowl in four years.

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The MMXX Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo. What year is that?

There's no zero in Roman numerals, so 2020 is simply written MMXX, which represents 1,000 + 1,000 + 10 + 10. There's no Roman numeral for the numbers 2,000 or 20. Always use the largest possible value when writing Roman numerals. This should never be written "DDDDVVVV."

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In 2020 the NFL will hold Super Bowl LIV. What number is that?

This is written in subtractive notation and could read "LIIII" if it were written in additive notation. Super Bowl LIV is being played in February of 2020 in Miami. Super Bowl 50 was one of the only Super Bowls that wasn't marketed with Roman numerals.

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Lady Liberty is holding a book in her left hand that has MDCCLXXVI inscribed on it. What number is that?

The full inscription says "July IV MDCCLXXVI," which stands for July 4, 1776. If you break down 1776 (1,000 + 700 + 70 + 6), you can see how the numeral is formed. M = 1,000, DCC = 700, LXX = 70 and VI = 6.

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If you eat a really tasty meal, you might say "MMM." What number is that?

The largest Roman numeral is M. You can technically use the seven Roman numerals to write really large numbers like 100,000, but writing 100 Ms is cumbersome. The apostrophus was invented to write large numbers in Roman numerals. The apostrophus looks like a backwards "C."

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In MMXXVI, America will celebrate its 250th birthday. What year is that?

The third decade of the millennium will be one of the most historic in American history. July 4, 2026 can be written VII.IV.MMXXVI, and it'll likely be one of the country's largest Independence Day celebrations.

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Common usage says we shouldn't use more than three of the same numeral consecutively. What number is MMMCMXCIX?

This is technically the largest number that can be written in Roman numerals since only three consecutive letters should be used. There are special rules for writing larger numbers that allow any number to be represented.

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King Louis XVI was the last king of France before the French Revolution. What number is XVI?

The French Revolution was heavily inspired by the American Revolution and the people were even inspired by the American Declaration of Independence. King Louis XVI was the last king of France. He was found guilty of high treason and sent to the guillotine in the middle of the war.

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What year is this?

There are no zeros in Roman numerals, so the year 2001 is simply MMI. Although there are no official rules regarding Roman numerals, it's standard to use the largest value possible when writing numbers.

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What number does MIX stand for?

The Roman numeral MIX stands for 1,000 and "one less than 10," which equals 1,009. We're always supposed to use the largest values possible, so this should never be written as MVIIII or MIIIIIIIII or CCCCCCCCCCIIIIIIIII.

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What number does MCMIX stand for?

You can read this numeral by knowing M = 1,000, CM = "100 less than 1,000" (900), and IX = "1 less than 10" (9) so the numeral stands for 1,909. The year 1909 started on a Friday and was the last year of the decade.

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What day is VII.IV.MDCCLXXVI?

It's uncommon to see dates written in Roman numerals like this, but this is what it would look like. July 4, 1776 is recognized as America's birthday, although the country had officially been formed a couple of days earlier.

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Roman numeral VIII has been known to represent balance in the universe. What number is it?

The number eight is written with a single, never-ending line and the number represents birth, totality and perfection in different cultures. When it's laid on its side, it represents infinity. The Roman numeral is VIII and the Greek numeral is H.

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MCCCXIII Mockingbird Lane is known for being a haunted house. What number is MCCCXIII?

M = 1,000, CCC = 300 and XIII = 13 so the entire numeral stands for 1313. Most people in the world know "13" is recognized as an unlucky number, and 1313 Mockingbird Lane is a fictional haunted house used in Hollywood.

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The Magna Carta was published in MCCXV. What year is that?

The Magna Carta is one of the most important legislative charters in the world and has heavily influenced all charters since. It was published in 1215 under King John of England, but both sides eventually broke the contract and waged war.

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The U.S. Constitution was ratified in MDCCLXXXVIII. What year is that?

The U.S Constitution was created in 1787 but wasn't ratified until 1788 and didn't go into effect until 1789. For more than 200 years, members of the House and Senate have proposed thousands of amendments, but the document is rarely changed.

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Roman numeral XVIII is an important number in societies across the world. What is it?

The age of 18 is seen in several cultures around the world as the age of adulthood. It's the voting age for much of the world and an important age in the U.S. In some rare cases, the Roman numeral might be written IIXX, which represents "two less than 20."

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Kids in America can't wait until they turn XXI. What number is that?

The age of 21 is also the voting age and the age of adulthood in many cultures around the world. It's the drinking age in every U.S. state, and Prohibition was repealed because of the 21st Amendment. It's the minimum age to purchase tobacco in several U.S. states.

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The suffix M.D. stands for "medical doctor." What does the Roman numeral MD stand for?

This is just about as straightforward as Roman numerals can get. M stands for 1,000, and D stands for 500. In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and in 1500, many people believed the world was going to end.

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This is one of the most famous numbers in America. What does CMXI stand for?

Using subtractive notation, CM = 100 less than 1,000 (900) and XI = 11, so CMXI stands for 911. This is the standard emergency service number in America. The number is technically 9-1-1, not 911, so the Roman numerals would be: IX - I - I.

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Do you know what number XXIII stands for?

Roman numeral XXIII stands for 23 and is one of the most popular sports numbers in the world because of Michael Jordan. He wore the number in college at U.N.C. and professionally for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.

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There are no phone numbers in America that start with DLV. What number is that?

Roman numeral DLV stands for 555 and there are no phone numbers in America that start with 555. D = 500, L = 50 and V = 5. The "555" telephone code is reserved for fictional phone numbers used in TV shows and movies in America.

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Every CCCLXV days you become one year older. What does CCCLXV stand for?

It takes about 365 and a quarter of a day for the Earth to orbit the sun. Every four years we get a full extra day left over, and we add it to the month of February to equal everything out. There are 366 days in a leap year.

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The year MDCCLXV is one of the most important in American history. What year is it?

In the spring of 1865, the American Civil War finally came to an end. Confederate leader Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union leader Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The Civil War was the deadliest in American history.

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The U.S. Constitution is comprised of XXVII Amendments. How many is that?

The 27th Amendment to the U.S Constitution deals with congressional salaries and was actually proposed along with the Bill of Rights in 1789. It took more than 202 years for the law to get ratified. It went into effect in 1992.

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There have been XLV presidencies in American history. What does XLV stand for?

This is a bit tricky because we can't use four numerals in a row. Common sense says 45 should be written like XXXXV, but it isn't. Subtractive notation says we should be able to write VL (five less than 50), but that doesn't work either. We have to write XL (10 less than 50) + V to get to 45.

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What year is this?

Roman numeral MCM stands for 1900. M = 1,000 and CM = 100 less than 1,000 (900). MCMXX stands for 1920, MCML stands for 1950 and MCMXCIX stands for 1999. In 1900, the average American family had no plumbing, no phone and no car.

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What number is XCIX?

Only in Roman numerals can the number 99 be longer than the number 100. The Roman numeral for 100 is simply C. To write 99, you must write "10 less than 100" and then add "one less than 10" Ten less than 100 (90) is XC and one less than 10 is IX. In additive notation, 99 would be written as LXXXXVIIII.

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