Roman Numerals

Ancient Romans used a special method of showing numbers

Examples: They wrote V instead of 5
And wrote IX instead of 9

Read on to learn about Roman Numerals or go straight to the Roman Numeral Conversion Tool.

The Roman Symbols

Romans Numerals are based on the following symbols:

1
5
10
50
100
500
1000
I
V
X
L
C
D
M

Basic Combinations

Which can be combined like this:

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
VIII
IX
 
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
X
XX
XXX
XL
L
LX
LXX
LXXX
XC
 
100
200
300
400
500
600
700
800
900
C
CC
CCC
CD
D
DC
DCC
DCCC
CM

Forming Numbers - The Rules

When a symbol appears after a larger symbol it is added

  • Example: VI = V + I = 5 + 1 = 6

But if the symbol appears before a larger symbol it is subtracted

  • Example: IX = X - I = 10 - 1 = 9

To Remember: After Larger is Added

Don't use the same symbol more than three times in a row (but IIII is sometimes used for 4, particularly on clocks)

Really Big Numbers

Numbers greater than 1,000 are formed by placing a dash over the symbol, meaning "times 1,000", but these are not commonly used:

5,000
10,000
50,000
100,000
500,000
1,000,000
V
X
L
C
D
M

How to Convert to Roman Numerals

Break the number into Thousands, Hundreds, Tens and Ones, and write down each in turn.

Example: Convert 1984 to Roman Numerals.

Break 1984 into 1000, 900, 80 and 4, then do each conversion

  • 1000 = M
  • 900 = CM
  • 80 = LXXX
  • 4 = IV

1000 + 900 + 80 + 4 = 1984, so 1984 = MCMLXXXIV

How To Remember

Think "MeDiCaL XaVIer".
It has the roman numerals in descending order from 1000 to 1.

I, for one, like Roman numerals!

Conversion Tool

You can convert to/from Roman Numerals here: