eighteenth (adj., n.)
"next in order after the seventeenth; an ordinal numeral; being one of eighteen equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" mid-13c., egtetenþe, modified, by influence of eighteen, from Old English eahtateoða; from eight + teoða "tenth" (see -ty (1)). Cognate with German achtzehnte, Danish attende, Swedish adertonde.
Entries linking to eighteenth
"1 more than seventeen, twice nine; the number which is one more than seventeen; a symbol representing this number;" late 14c., eightene, earlier ahtene (c. 1200), from Old English eahtatiene, eahtatyne; see eight + -teen. Cognate with Old Frisian schtatine, Old Saxon ahtotian, Dutch achttien, Old High German ahtozehan, German achtzehn, Old Norse attjan, Swedish adertån.
"1 more than seven, twice four; the number which is one more than seven; a symbol representing this number;" late 14c., eighte, earlier ehte (c. 1200), from Old English eahta, æhta, from Proto-Germanic *akhto (source also of Old Saxon ahto, Old Frisian ahta, Old Norse atta, Swedish åtta, Dutch acht, Old High German Ahto, German acht, Gothic ahtau), from PIE *okto(u) "eight" (source also of Sanskrit astau, Avestan ashta, Greek okto, Latin octo, Old Irish ocht-n, Breton eiz, Old Church Slavonic osmi, Lithuanian aštuoni). From the Latin word come Italian otto, Spanish ocho, Old French oit, Modern French huit. For spelling, see fight (v.).
Meaning "eight-man crew of a rowing boat" is from 1847. The Spanish piece of eight (1690s) was so called because it was worth eight reals (see piece (n.)). Figure (of) eight as the shape of a race course, etc., attested from c. 1600. To be behind the eight ball "in trouble" (1932) is a metaphor from shooting pool. Eight hours as the ideal length of a fair working day is recorded by 1845.
English, like many other Germanic languages, retains traces of a base-12 number system. The most obvious instance is eleven and twelve which ought to be the first two numbers of the "teens" series. Their Old English forms, enleofan and twel(eo)f(an), are more transparent: "leave one" and "leave two."
Old English also had hund endleofantig for "110" and hund twelftig for "120." One hundred was hund teantig. The -tig formation ran through 12 cycles, and could have bequeathed us numbers *eleventy ("110") and *twelfty ("120") had it endured, but already during the Anglo-Saxon period it was being obscured.
Old Norse used hundrað for "120" and þusend for "1,200." Tvauhundrað was "240" and þriuhundrað was "360." Older Germanic legal texts distinguished a "common hundred" (100) from a "great hundred" (120). This duodecimal system is "perhaps due to contact with Babylonia" [Lass, "Old English"].