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A milestone which uses both Tamil and Indo-Arabic Numerals (Tanjore Palace Museum).
Modern Tamil numerals featured on a 100 Mauritian rupee note.

The Tamil language has number words and dedicated symbols for them in the Tamil script.

Basic numbering in Tamil


Old Tamil possesses a special numerical character for zero (see Old Tamil numerals below), which is read as andru (literally, no/nothing); yet Modern Tamil renounces the use of its native character and uses the Indian symbol '0' for Shunya meaning nothingness in Indic thought. Modern Tamil words for zero include சுழியம் (suḻiyam) or பூஜ்ஜியம் (pūjjiyam).

First ten numbers (முதல் எண்கள்)

Tamil script
Tamil numeral Tamil word and transliteration
0 சுழியம் (suḻiyam)
Old Tamil: பாழ் (pāḻ)[1]
1 ஒன்று (oṉṟu)
2 இரண்டு (iraṇḍu)
3 மூன்று (mūṉṟu)
4 நான்கு (nāṉku)
5 ஐந்து (aindhu)
6 ஆறு (āṟu)
7 ஏழு (ēḻu)
8 எட்டு (eṭṭu)
9 ஒன்பது (oṉpathu)
10 பத்து (paththu)

Transcribing other numbers

Reproductive and attributive prefixes

Tamil has a numeric prefix for each number from 1 to 9, which can be added to the words for the powers of ten (ten, hundred, thousand, etc.) to form multiples of them. For instance, the word for fifty, ஐம்பது (aimpatu) is a combination of (ai, the prefix for five) and பத்து (pattu, which is ten). The prefix for nine changes with respect to the succeeding base 10. தொ + the unvoiced consonant of the succeeding base 10 forms the prefix for nine. For instance, 90 is தொ + ண் (ண் being the unvoiced version of ணூ), hence, தொண்ணூறு).

Tamil script Tamil prefix Transliteration
ஓர் ōr
ஈர் īr
நான் nāṉ
ஆறு āṟ(u)
ஏழ் ēḻ(u)
எண் eṇ

These are typically void in the Tamil language except for some Hindu references; for example, அட்ட இலட்சுமிகள் (the eight Lakshmis). Even in religious contexts, the Tamil language is usually more preferred for its more poetic nature and relatively low incidence of consonant clusters.

Specific characters

Unlike other Indian writing systems, Tamil has distinct digits for 10, 100, and 1000. It also has distinct characters for other number-based aspects of day-to-day life.

ten hundred thousand
day month year debit credit as above rupee numeral

Powers of ten (பதின்பெருக்கம்)

There are two numeral systems that can be used in the Tamil language: the Tamil system which is as follows[2] [clarification needed]

The following are the traditional numbers of the Ancient Tamil Country, Tamiḻakam.[clarification needed]

Original Tamil system

Rank 101 102 103 104 105 106 109 1012 1015 1018 1020 1021
Words பத்து நூறு ஆயிரம் பத்தாயிரம் நூறாயிரம் மெய்யிரம் தொள்ளுண் ஈகியம் நெளை இளஞ்சி வெள்ளம் ஆம்பல்
Character ௰௲ ௱௲ ௲௲ ௲௲௲ ௲௲௲௲ ௲௲௲௲௲ ௲௲௲௲௲௲ ௱௲௲௲௲௲௲ ௲௲௲௲௲௲௲
Transliteration pattu nūṟu āyiram pattāyiram nūṟāyiram meyyiram toḷḷuṇ īkiyam neḷai iḷañci veḷḷam āmbal
Translation ten hundred thousand ten thousand hundred thousand million billion (milliard) trillion (billion) quadrillion (billiard) quintillion (trillion) hundred quintillion sextillion (trilliard)

Current Tamil system

See also: Indian numbering system

Rank 105 106 107 108 109 1011 1013 1015 1017 1019 1021 1025
Words இலட்சம் பத்து இலட்சம் கோடி பத்துக் கோடி அற்புதம் நிகர்ப்புதம் கர்வம் சங்கம் அர்த்தம் பூரியம் முக்கொடி மாயுகம்
Character ௱௲ ௲௲ ௰௲௲ ௲௲௲ ௱௲௲௲ ௱௲௲௲௲ ௲௲௲௲௲ ௱௲௲௲௲௲ ௰௲௲௲௲௲௲ ௲௲௲௲௲௲௲ ௰௲௲௲௲௲௲௲௲
Transliteration ilaṭcam pattu ilaṭcam kōṭi pattuk kōṭi aṟputam nikarpputam karvam śaṅkam arttam pūriyam mukkoṭi māyukam
Translation lakh ten lakh crore ten crore arab kharab nil / hundred kharab padma shankh / hundred padma hundred shankh ten thousand shankh ten crore shankh

Partitive numerals (பகுத்தல்)

Fractions (பின்னம்)

Proposals to encode Tamil fractions and symbols to Unicode were submitted.[3][4] As of version 12.0, Tamil characters used for fractional values in traditional accounting practices were added to the Unicode Standard.

Transcribing fractions (பின்னம் எழுத்தல்)

Any fraction can be transcribed by affixing -இல் (-il) after the denominator followed by the numerator. For instance, 1/41 can be said as நாற்பத்து ஒன்றில் ஒன்று (nāṟpattu oṉṟil oṉṟu).

The suffixing of the -இல் (-il) requires the last consonant of the number to be changed to its (i) form. For example, மூன்று + இல் (mūṉṟu + -il) becomes மூன்றில் (mūṉṟil); note the (u) has been omitted.

Common fractions (பொது பின்னங்கள்) have names already allocated to them, hence, these names are often used rather than the above method.

Value 14 12 34 15 18 110 116 120 140 180 1160
Name கால் அரை முக்கால் நாலுமா அரைக்கால் இருமா மாகாணி, வீசம் ஒருமா அரைமா காணி அரைக்காணி
Transliteration kāl arai mukkāl nālumā araikkāl irumā mākāṇi, vīsam orumā araimā kāṇi araikkāṇi

Other fractions include:

Value Name Transliteration
316 = 0.1875 மும்மாகாணி mummākāṇi
320 = 0.15 மும்மா mummā
364 = 0.046875 முக்கால்வீசம் mukkālvīsam
380 = 0.0375 முக்காணி mukkāṇi
132 = 0.03125 அரைவீசம் araivīsam
164 = 0.015625 கால் வீசம் kāl vīsam
3320 = 0.009375 முக்கால்காணி mukkālkāṇi
1320 = 0.003125 முந்திரி muntiri
31280 = 0.00234375 கீழ் முக்கால் kīḻ mukkāl
1640 = 0.0015625 கீழரை kīḻarai
11280 = 7.8125×10−4 கீழ் கால் kīḻ kāl
11600 = 0.000625 கீழ் நாலுமா kīḻ nālumā
35120 ≈ 5.85938×10−4 கீழ் மூன்று வீசம் kīḻ mūṉṟu vīsam
36400 = 4.6875×10−4 கீழ் மும்மா kīḻ mummā
12500 = 0.0004 கீழ் அரைக்கால் kīḻ araikkāl
13200 = 3.12500×10−4 கீழ் இருமா kīḻ irumā
15120 ≈ 1.95313×10−4 கீழ் வீசம் kīḻ vīsam
16400 = 1.56250×10−4 கீழொருமா kīḻorumā
1102400 ≈ 9.76563×10−6 கீழ்முந்திரி kīḻmuntiri
12150400 ≈ 4.65030×10−7 இம்மி immi
123654400 ≈ 4.22754×10−8 மும்மி mummi
1165580800 ≈ 6.03935×10−9 அணு aṇu[1]
11490227200 ≈ 6.71039×10−10 குணம் kuṇam
17451136000 ≈ 1.34208×10−10 பந்தம் pantam
144706816000 ≈ 2.23680×10−11 பாகம் pāgam
1312947712000 ≈ 3.19542×10−12 விந்தம் vintam
15320111104000 ≈ 1.87966×10−13 நாகவிந்தம் nāgavintam
174481555456000 ≈ 1.34261×10−14 சிந்தை sintai
11489631109120000 ≈ 6.71307×10−16 கதிர்முனை katirmuṉai
159585244364800000 ≈ 1.67827×10−17 குரல்வளைப்படி kuralvaḷaippaḍi
13575114661888000000 ≈ 2.79711×10−19 வெள்ளம் veḷḷam
1357511466188800000000 ≈ 2.79711×10−21 நுண்மணல் nuṇmaṇal
12323824530227200000000 ≈ 4.30325×10−22 தேர்த்துகள் tērttugaḷ

^ Aṇu was considered as the lowest fraction by ancient Tamils as size of smallest physical object (similar to an atom). Later, this term went to Sanskrit to refer directly to atoms.[citation needed]

Decimals (பதின்மம்)

Decimal point is called புள்ளி (puḷḷi) in Tamil. For example, 1.1 would be read as ஒன்று புள்ளி ஒன்று (oṉṟu puḷḷi oṉṟu). In Sri Lankan Tamil, Thasam தசம்.

Percentage (விழுக்காடு)

Percentage is known as விழுக்காடு (viḻukkāḍu) in Tamil or சதவீதம் (śatavītam). These words are simply added after a number to form percentages. For instance, four percent is நான்கு சதவீதம் (nāṉku satavītam) or நான்கு விழுக்காடு (nāṉku viḻukkāḍu). Percentage symbol (%) is also recognised and used.

Ordinal numbers (வரிசை எண்கள்)

Ordinal numbers are formed by adding the suffix -ஆம் (ām) after the number, except for 'First'.

Ordinal Tamil Transliteration
First முதல் mudal
Second இரண்டாம் iraṇḍām
Third மூன்றாம் mūṉṟām
Fourth நான்காம் nāṉkām
101st நூற்று ஒறாம் nūṟṟu oṉṟām

Collective numerals (கூட்டெண்கள்)

English Tamil Transliteration
Single ஒற்றை oṟṟai
Pair இரட்டை iraṭṭai
Reproductives + வினைச்சொல் Numeric prefix + noun*
Single (pillar), double (pillar)... ஒருக்(கால்), இருக்(கால்)- oruk(kāl), iruk(kāl)*
Distributives + முறை Numeric prefix + muṟai
Once, twice... ஒருமுறை, இருமுறை orumuṟai, irumuṟai

Traditional Tamil counting song

This song is a list of each number with a concept its primarily associated with.

Tamil Transliteration English
ஒரு குலம் oru kulam One race
ஈரினம் īriṉam Two sexes – male (ஆண், āṇ), female (பெண், peṇ)
முத்தமிழ் muttamiḻ Three sections of Tamil – literature (இயல், iyal), music (இசை, isai), and drama (நாடகம், nāṭakam)
நான்மறை nāṉmaṟai Four scriptures
ஐம்புலன் aimpulaṉ Five senses
அறுசுவை aṟucuvai Six tastes – sweet (iṉippu), pungent (kārppu), bitter (kasappu), sour (puḷippu), salty (uvarppu), and astringent (tuvarppu).
ஏழிசை ēḻicai Seven musical notes (kural, tuttam, kaikkiḷai, uḻai, iḷi, viḷari, tāram)
எண் பக்கம் eṇ pakkam Eight directions – east (kiḻakku), west (mēṟku), north (vaḍakku), south (teṟku), south-west (teṉ-mēṟku), south-east (teṉ-kiḻakku), north-west (vaḍa-mēṟku), and north-east (vaḍa-kiḻakku).
நவமணிகள் navamaṇikaḷ Nine gems – diamond (வைரம், vairam), emerald (மரகதம், marakatam), blue sapphire (நீலம், nīlam), garnet (கோமேதகம், kōmētakam), red coral (பவளம், pavaḷam), ruby (மாணிக்கம், māṇikkam), pearl (முத்து, muttu), topaz (புட்பராகம், puṭparākam), and cat's eye (வைடூரியம், vaiṭūriyam).
தொன்மெய்ப்பாடு toṉmeyppāṭu Also known as navarasam as per the dance expressions. These are joyful (uvakai), humour (nakai), cries (aḻukai), innocent (vekuḷi), proud (perumitam), fear (accam), disgust (iḷivaral), wonder (maruṭkai), and tranquility (amaiti).[5]

Influence on other dravidian languages

As the ancient classical language of the Dravidian languages, Tamil numerals influenced and shaped the numerals of the others in the family. The following table compares the main Dravidian languages.

Number Tamil Kannada Malayalam Tulu Telugu Kolami Kurukh Brahui Proto-Dravidian
1 oṉṟu ondu onnŭ oñji okaṭi okkod oṇṭa asiṭ *oru(1)
2 iraṇḍu eraḍu raṇṭŭ eraḍ, iraḍ renḍu irāṭ indiṅ irāṭ *iru(2)
3 mūṉṟu mūru mūnnŭ mūji mūḍu mūndiṅ mūnd musiṭ *muC
4 nālu, nāṉku nālku nālŭ‌ nāl nālugu nāliṅ kh čār (II) *nān
5 aintu, añju aydu añcŭ ayin, ain ayidu ayd 3 pancē (II) panč (II) *cayN
6 āṟu āru āṟŭ āji āru ār 3 soyyē (II) šaš (II) *caru
7 ēḻu ēḷu ēḻŭ ēḍ, ēl, ēḷ ēḍu ēḍ 3 sattē (II) haft (II) lu
8 eṭṭu eṇṭu eṭṭŭ eḍma, yeḍma, eṇma, enma enimidi enumadī 3 aṭṭhē (II) hašt (II) *eṭṭu
9 oṉpatu ombattu onpatŭ ormba tommidi tomdī 3 naiṃyē (II) nōh (II) *toḷ
10 pattu hattu pattŭ patt padi padī 3 dassē (II) dah (II) *pat(tu)

Also, Tamil through the Pallava script which itself through the Kawi script, Khmer script and other South-east Asian scripts has shaped the numeral grapheme of most South-east Asian languages.


Before the Government of India unveiled as the new rupee symbol, people in Tamil Nadu used the Tamil letter as the symbol. This symbol continues to be used occasionally as rupee symbol by Indian Tamils. It is also used by Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The symbol is also known as the Piḷḷaiyār Suḻi (lit.'Curl of Piḷḷaiyār'), a symbol that most Tamil Hindus will start off any auspicious document with. It is written to invoke the god Piḷḷaiyār, known otherwise as Ganesha, who is the remover of obstacles.

See also


  1. ^ N. Subrahmanian (1996). Śaṅgam polity: the administration and social life of the Śaṅgam Tamils (3 ed.). Ennes Publications. pp. 235, 416. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  2. ^ Selvakumar, V. (2016). History of Numbers and Fractions and Arithmetic Calculations in the Tamil Region: Some Observations. HuSS: International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(1), 27-35.
  3. ^ Sharma, Shriramana. (2012). Proposal to encode Tamil fractions and symbols. Retrieved 12 March 2019 from
  4. ^ Government of Tamil Nadu. (2017). Finalized proposal to encode Tamil fractions and symbols. Retrieved 12 March 2019 from
  5. ^ Literary theories in Tamil: with special reference to Tolka:ppiyam. Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture. 1997. p. 135.