Etymology
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cardinal number (n.)

1590s, "one, two, three," etc. as opposed to ordinal numbers "first, second, third," etc.; so called because they are the principal numbers and the ordinals depend on them (see cardinal (adj.)).

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Definitions of cardinal number

cardinal number (n.)
the number of elements in a mathematical set; denotes a quantity but not the order;
Synonyms: cardinal
From wordnet.princeton.edu