Roman Symbols

Do we know from where Roman symbols came? In Rome, people wanted to use their own symbols to express various numbers. These symbols, used by Romans, are known as Roman symbols, Romans used only seven symbols V, X, L, C, D, M to express different numbers.

Roman numeric system uses seven different symbols I, V, X, L, C, D and M, which represents the values 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 of Hindu-Arabic numerals.

The Roman numeral of 2 is written as II, and for 3 it is written as III. Roman numeral for 4 is written as IV because no symbol can be repeated more than three times. There are some more rules for combining the symbols to write Roman numerals.

The Roman numeration system, developed by Romans, is based on these 7 Roman digits. 

We use these Roman digits to express different Roman numbers.

Roman Symbols

What are Roman numbers?

Roman symbols - I, V, X, L, C, D, M stand for different Roman numbers.

I stand for 1 

V stands for 5

X stands for 10

L stands for 50

C stands for 100

D stands for 500

M stands for 1000


We know in some clocks the Roman symbols marked on some of the dials of the clocks. We follow some rules to express Roman numbers.

1. We can use I and X thrice only in a numeral.

For example, we write I, II, III, for 1, 2, 3 respectively but we never write IIII for 4. We write IV for 4.


2. We never repeat V, L and D. They are used in a numeral once only.

For example, we never write VV for 10. We write X for 10.


3. When we write smaller numeral to the left of the greater numeral it means that the smaller numeral is subtracted from the greater one.

Let us consider some examples.

IV means V - I

           = 5 - 1 = 4

IX means X - I

          = 10 - 1 = 9

XL means L - X

           = 50 - 10 = 40


4. When we write a smaller numeral to the right of a greater numeral it means that the smaller numeral is added to the greater one.

VI means V + I  

           = 5 + 1 = 6  

XV means X + V

            = 10 + 5 = 6

VII  means V + II  

             = 5 + 2 = 7  

LX means L + X

           = 50 + 10 = 60


5. We never write V to the left of X. Similarly, L and D are never written to the left to any other symbol.

For example, we write XV for 15 but we never write VX for 5. We write LV for 55 but we never write LC for 50.


Rules for forming Roman Numerals:

Rule 1: Repetition of a Roman numeral means addition.

For example:

III = 1 + 1 + 1 =3

XXX = 10 + 10 + 10 = 30

Note: I, X and C can be repeated only up to three times.


Rule 2: Smaller Roman numeral to the right of a greater Roman numeral is always added to the greater numeral to give the value.

For example:

VI = 5 + 1 = 6

VII = 5 + 1 + 1 = 7

XI = 10 + 1 = 11

XII = 10 + 1 + 1 = 12

Note: Repetition of a symbol is allowed up to three times only. So, 14 is written as XIV.


Rule 3: Smaller Roman numeral to the left of a greater Roman numeral is always subtracted from the greater numeral to give the value.

For example:

IV = 5 - 1 = 4

IX = 10 - 1 = 9

Note: Repetition of a symbol on the left is not allowed. 8 cannot be written as IIX.


Learn the chart below showing Hindu-Arabic numerals and the corresponding Roman numerals.

Roman Numbers

There is no symbol for zero in the Roman numeric system.

You might like these





4th Grade Math Activities

From Roman Symbols to HOME PAGE


New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below. Ask a Question or Answer a Question.



Didn't find what you were looking for? Or want to know more information about Math Only Math. Use this Google Search to find what you need.