Ah ha! A Swedish word with an Arabic etymology. 'Sifr' means 'zero,' but it's also apparently where we got the word 'cipher,' which loosely could mean a figure. Interesting.
There are viking runes carved into the marble at the Hagia Sophia. Maybe Halfdan went back to Sweden and told them about zero?
Haha, hmm, I like the theory, but whichever Halfdan it was, Hagia Sophia was definitely still a Greek Orthodox cathedral at the time. Although who knows all the knowledge that was shared back then and with whom. :)
Indeed. And these cognates are traceable to the Arabic sifr (empty). https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D1%86%D0%B8%D1%84%D1%80%D0%B0
Yes, as an english speaker, I would expect a figure to mean an entire tally or a total. A figure would be "120,987" and a digit would be one of the numbers that makes up "120,987"
Well, 'siffra' could be the whole number as well as one of the digits. If someone asks you 'tänk på en siffra' ('to think of a number' = e.g. a magician doing a trick), you don't have to restrict yourself.
There is the saying "figure eight," but other than that I would generally agree.
I agree, digit would be better here. I imagine figure as a shape or a character here, not as a digit.
I was about to point that out too. Looks like this word has travelled through many languages.
It reminds me quite a lot 'cifra' from Portuguese, which is generally used to refer to a huge amount of money.
Basically, the Arabic 'sifr' meaning zero has traveled through many languages as stated above, some forms mean zero, some mean figure. Helpful etymology tip.
Probably related to the Hebrew word with the same meaning ספרה (sifra) which is derived from the root S-F-R which means: "count"
The "correct" use (as far as I know) is:
"En siffra" (digit) is a single digit, like 7.
"Ett tal" (figure) is just any number of an infinite scope, something in math, and it can have decimals, e.g "3.14" or "3,14" if we use decimal comma which one are supposed to in Sweden, but computers have blurred that rule a bit.
"Ett nummer" (number) is one in a set of enumerated numbers, like phone number or lottery number.
In reality though, usage overlaps, and both siffra and nummer are used for any figure in some situations and/or by some people.
Also "nummer" is sometimes used for things with more than digits. For example "ett artikelnummer" (an item number/po number) can sometimes be e.g "ap1-724" with letters etc.
And I might as well include "ett belopp" (amount) that is used only for amount of money.
A cipher literally. Amazing how this Arab loan word has travelled around Europe.