1520s, "word expressing a number," from Middle French numéral (late 15c.), from Late Latin numeralis "of or belonging to a number," from Latin numerus "a number" (see number (n.)). Meaning "figure standing for a number" is from 1680s. As an adjective, "expressing number," from 1520s. Old English numerals were formed as in German (seofan and twentig); the modern English pattern likely is from influence of French (vingt-sept).