ten (adj., n.)
"1 more than nine, twice five; the number which is one more than nine; a symbol representing this number;" Old English ten (Mercian), tien (West Saxon), adjective and noun, from Proto-Germanic *tehun (source also of Old Saxon tehan, Old Norse tiu, Danish ti, Old Frisian tian, Old Dutch ten, Dutch tien, Old High German zehan, German zehn, Gothic taihun "ten"), from PIE root *dekm- "ten."
Meaning "ten o'clock" is from 1712. Tenner "ten-pound note" is slang first recorded 1861; as "ten-dollar bill," 1887 (ten-spot in this sense dates from 1848). The Texan's exaggerated ten-gallon hat is from 1919. The ten-foot pole that you wouldn't touch something with (1909) was originally a 40-foot pole; the notion is of keeping one's distance, as in the advice to use a long spoon when you dine with the devil.
From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away. [Raymond Chandler, "The High Window," 1942]
Ten-four "I understand, message received," is attested in popular jargon from 1962, from citizens band and emergency dispatch radio 10-code (in use in U.S. by 1950).
updated on December 26, 2021