# "La cifra"

February 8, 2013

## 87 CommentsThis discussion is locked.

Is this the same thing es "el numero"?

Was wondering the same myself. The English word "number" covers several meanings that are distinct in other languages.

Would it be right to say that "cifra" refers to the sign used to represent a number/quantity while "nombre" is the actual quantity (concrete or abstract) represented by this sign?

I have been a math teacher in the USA for 40 years. The symbol, that you write, is called the "numeral" and the concept is called the "number." (But you will be understood using either word.) A related word in English is "cipher" which can mean to write something in a secret code (the key to that code can also be called a cipher). "Cipher" can mean "zero" or a person/thing that has little importance. (He is a real zero.) An old definition is to "do arithmetic." As in: I can cipher my multiplication tables up to 12 times 12.

MikeBradle4. Thank you so much. I keep forgetting this word and came here looking for a way to remember it.

See above for a thorough explanation of the history of this word from user kirakrakra.

As I see it, yes. In Hebrew and Arabic the word "sifra" means exactly that. The symbol of a single number for example 'sifra 1'. So your assumption makes a lot of sense.

Interesting. That eould also explain why a similar word does not appear in the other romance languages, given that Spain was controlled by the Moors for a significant period of time.

dunk999!Sure it comes from Arab but certainly not as you assume: From أَلصِّفْر ʾaṣ-ṣifr = emptiness, we have

1. cero (Sp) = zero (En) = zéro (Fr) = the number 0

2. cifra (Sp, It, Rom) = chiffre (Fr) = Ziffer (Ge) = siffra (Sw) = the numeral of a digit

3. cipher (En) = chiffre (Fr) = chiffer (Sw)

4. cifrar (Sp) = to code -> en cifra = coded, in code

and many many other languages because:

It is the great Persian mathematician and astronomer AL-KWĀRIZMĪ who is the father of them all as well as el algoritmo y el álgebra and this both as concepts and as words. In his book from 825 he introduced zero as a number like 1, 2, 3, ... A revolutionary thought (but how can nothing be something? that was and is a difficult question). Hitherto one had avoided zero writing an empty space if necessary. He gave his number a small circle as symbol and named it emptiness in Arab. In this same book he also introduced the Hindu numeral system 0,1,2,...9. His ideas was conceived by non-Arabic Mathematicians 400 years later (Fibonacci 1202) and by people generally more than 1000 years later. Due to some confusion of the concepts: zero, digit and number, mixed with his name misspelled to Algoritm in the Latin translation, also algoritm and cipher were confused see above

For completeness In 830 he published a book: " Im al-jabr wa'l-mukābala where he created an abstract mathematical language which now is used everywhere under the name "algebra" from "al-jabr/restoration" in the title of the book

Thanks for the reply! This is awesome information.

Interesting!

wow! Fascinating and wonderful! Thank you.

You are a highly evolved human being. Thank you.

Tremendous!

Don't mind me. I love sitting in the company of intellectuals communicating. Thank you for the insight.

Many thanks for that comprehensive response. Item learned for today!

Thank you. Great explanation. In dutch cifra = cijfer.

wow, wow, wow!

My head is spinning. That's enough Duolingo for the night LOL! Cheers!

French has chiffre, Italian cifra, German Ziffer.

interesting. I haven't encountered those.

Sifra doesn't mean number in Arabic, but it does mean "zero".

I think lenvm meant to say "número" instead of nombre. Can you guys answer his/her question based on that? I, too, am curious.

Yeah nombre is name. Número is number. Thats okay theyre easy to mix up

Numero not nombre. Nombre is name.

"Cifra' also means "figure".
http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/cifra

"Figure" is accepted by DL

In English, "figure" has different meanings. Some meanings are as a "digit" or "numeral" or "number."

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/figure

It comes from mathematics where the Sp. cifra = digit in English i.e. one of the numbers with a numeral (figure)/ dígito: 0, 1, ... , 9

number/ número the real thing, a quantity

dígito Sp., is a number (note) which can be written with only one symbol, has no counterpart in English

numeral/ numeral or guarismo a symbol used to represent a number

En. digit/ Sp. cifra a numeral consisting of only one symbol

Cifra (matemática) https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cifra_(matem%C3%A1tica)

numbers, numerals, digits https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/numbers-numerals-digits.html

Thanks SGuthrie0. It seems this would be a better translation to use since it differentiates the meaning from "number".

While many different words are often used interchangeably, I feel it is important (especially for learning purposes) to maintain a distinction between them. Otherwise, why would we need all those different words?

This is basically the same as "el número".

In Spanish, the meaning of cifra has expanded over time.

I believe that cifra originally meant "numeral" as in the symbol used to express a number/número.

cifra = numeral

número = number

For example, "Two", "2", and "II" are all symbols/numerals/cifras to express the same number/número that has the concept of "twoness".

So to express the number 2 (or the concept of "twoness"), you can use either one of these three numerals: Two, 2, or II

En español...

Para el número 2, las cifras son "Dos", "2" y "II".

You are almost right. In mathematics cifra is a numeral of a number with one digit only

cifra = 0, 1, 2, ... 9

2 one "cifra", 45 two "cifra", 543 three "cifra", 6928 four "cifra" and so on... We have the same word in Danish.

Then would cifra mean digits?

Yea.. Sort of. It is more commen to use "cifra" if you are talking about a code - like creditcard code. In Denmark we have a four "cifra" code for our creditcards. My phone has a 7 "cifra" code [number]. Another example where "code" og the number of digits aren't used; you need to find the correct "cifras" to unluck next level.

No cifra is digit in English a symbol El numeral (numeral = symbol for a number) 3732 tiene tres cifras 2, 3 y 7/ the numeral 3732 has three digits 2,3 and 7

To complicate things dígito is a number, not a symbol as in English, represented by a digit in English/ cifra in Spanish

To make it easy (a spanish speaker here): In Spanish a "cifra" refers to an amount with more than one number in it: 2573. While a "digito" refers to the numbers that make up those numbers: 2, 5, 7, 3. This "cifras" has "4 digitos"

Simply means Cipher in English

Is there any difference between el numero and la cifra?

Yes, in theory. A 'cifra' is everyone of the single number which is in any other number :

un número de siete cifras = one number with seven ciphers/digits.

So 'cifra' is just from zero to nine, but a number could be forty-five. However a lot of people in Spanish confuse both words, e.g.

la cifra de visitantes fue de 15.400.

Like digit?... 100 is three digits

Certainly, I think so.

'digit' is not accepted tho. Guess I can report it then!

From what I understand, cifra is closer to "numeral" than "digit".

We don't use "numeral" too often in English, but it refers to the number itself.

Here is the distinction: "7" is numeral and it is also a digit.

However, the number 7717 has four digits, but only two numerals: "7" and "1".

So, in Spanish 7717 has only "2 cifras"

You mean cifra is a digit?

Well... in Spanish, yes it is. However as I said, cifra is used for everything while dígito is rarely used and only for count the quantity of digits in a number, such as: una cantidad de cuatro dígitos.

It also conveys the idea of quantity are money, and in this exercise, "business", it's probably some amount of money

This doesn't mean "cipher"?

Yes, in some sense. In English "cipher" can be used to mean number but it is obsolete. My grandfather used the word ciphering to mean doing arithmetic. You can find it in old books, as well.

It really means number.

It can mean "number" or "cipher", depending on the context. (http://lema.rae.es/drae/?val=cifra -- 3. Escritura en que se usan signos, guarismos o letras convencionales, y que solo puede comprenderse conociendo la clave.)

Yes it can, but that third explanation is for

It's just another meaning for the word 'cifra'.

Numero and cifra can be used interchangeably I am guessing.

[deactivated user]

Mistercatfm, Duolingo accepted "cipher" as a translation. Whether or not native Spanish speakers around the world do, I couldn't say but the comments section is revealing.

It's interesting that Spanish and Arabic share many words... Such as cifra, aceite etc...

Can I say: the digit?

Numbers are made up of digits. 36 is a single number, but double digits.

I said the figure and it accepted that as an answer

I also wrote "figure".

interesting..."sifra" is also "digit" in Hebrew (not a loanword - an original hebrew word)

Wouldn't you are referring to Ladino? That's a kind of medieval Spanish preserved by those Jews expelled from Spain by Catholic Kings in the fifteenth century.

Exactly. But I believe that would be "Catholic Monarchs," not "Catholic Kings." The expulsion in Spain (not to be confused with the expulsion from England in the 13th century) was ordered by Ferdinand and Isabel, and unlike the State Farm commercial, Isabel was not a guy. ;-)

Hahaha... it's said Isabel was not very pretty. ;-)

Thanks for your correction, you are right, but you have a "typo": Ferdinand (or Fernando if you say Isabel and not Elisabeth. Names for kings and queens are commonly translated, it isn't?)

My thinking is that cifra is digit, while numero is number.

why is the digit wrong?

I think the "figure" would be a better translation

so it is more like digit?

Cifra is. Code.

Not Exactly.

cifra (Feminne Noun)

1. (digit) a. figure Ex: Se dice que su salario anual es de seis cifras.They say that his annual salary is six figures.

2. (quantity) a. number Ex: La cifra de heridos va en aumento después del terremoto.The number of injured is on the rise after the earthquake.

3. (amount) a. sum Ex: La cifra total de sus compras es de \$2,500.The total sum of your purchases is \$2,500.

This sounds similar to tsifra in Russian to mean number.

In hebrew sifra is a digit

Why is "The digit" wrong? According to http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/digit it should be accepted.

Cifra is cipher in English, which is a numeric sequence or a code used to encrypt or decrypt information (don't know if Cipher is accepted here though but it should be)

[deactivated user]

I've tried it on DL but it was not accepted. As you indicate, that doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong.

I'm guessing cifra has the same etymological origin as the English word cypher.

My dictionary includes code as a translation

number, quantity or amount - that is what ole Mr Webster translates "cifra"as so why am I wrong to use one of those other two than their "number"?

"The figure" no es aceptada y por tanto reporte al canto 13/05/18

I rout the digit and it was marked as wrong

### Digit is mathematically the only correct translation of cifra

In Spanish "cifra" is defined as the symbol of the numbers 0, 1, 2, ... 9 and this is excactly the definition of "digit" in English, see below

Una cifra es un símbolo o carácter gráfico que sirve para representar un número. Por ejemplo, los caracteres '0', '1', '2', '3', '4', '5', '6', '7', '8' y '9' son cifras de nuestro sistema, see: https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cifra_(matem%C3%A1tica)

A digit is a numeral, a symbol of one of the numbers which consist the base of the numerical system, see

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numerical_digit

Who uses this? all my Spanish speaking friends from across the globe use 'El numero'

It comes from Arabic

Code not accepted 12/5/17.

I answered the "figure" as in numbers are figures. Marked incorrect. Why?

I thought la cifra meant the figure as in "these figures need more work".

"The figure" should also be accepted

according to my dictionary it can also mean quantity but it is not accepted