What Does L Mean in Roman Numerals?
The letter L in Roman numerals is equivalent to the number 50.
The number 50, represented by the symbol L, is one of the seven letters that are combined (if necessary) and used to create the final number.
For reference, these seven letters are:
Roman Numeral |
Number |
I |
1 |
V |
5 |
X |
10 |
L |
50 |
C |
100 |
D |
500 |
M |
1,000 |
So, while L in Roman numerals means 50, it can also be combined with other Roman numerals to make other numbers.
For example:
- LI = 50 + 1 = 51
- LV = 50 + 5 = 55
- LIX = 50 + 9 = 59 (remember in this one that because a smaller symbol (I) comes before a bigger one (X), then the smaller one needs to be subtracted from the bigger one and not added; in this case 10 (X) – 1 (I). Confused? Make sure to read through our section on the subtractive principle to explain!
Moving From L to C
Of course, the above examples are nice and simple, but one of the main disadvantages of Roman numbers is that things get more complicated as the number becomes bigger (until the next one of the seven letters is reached, as we shall see below).
For instance, while the number 55 is written as LV, the number 67 contains five letters and is written as:
LXVII, which is L (50) + X (10) + V (5) + I (1) + I (1) = 67
The final sum gets even longer as the number increases. The number 88 contains eight letters and is written as:
LXXXVIII, which is L (50) + X (10) + X (10) + X (10) + V (5) + I (1) + I (1) + I (1) = 88
This just shows how Roman numerals can quickly become scary and put many people off as they look particularly difficult to understand. It is also one of the main reasons why they fell out of use and our more familiar number and counting system based on Arabic numerals became the dominant numerical system throughout most of the world.
But then, count a little higher and students can breathe a sigh of relief when the next symbol is reached. When going from L (50), the next one up is C (100). So, while the number 99 is written as:
XCIX, which is − X (10) + C (100) − I (1) + X (10) = 99 (remember the subtractive principle again!)
The number 100 is an easy, straightforward, uncomplicated letter C on its own… and then the whole process starts again up to the next letter (D = 500). The only problem now is that there is a bigger jump between C and D (100 to 500) than there is between L and C (50 to 100).
This means that a number such as 388 will have a whopping eleven letters in it:
CCCLXXXVIII, which is C (100) + C (100) + C (100) + L (50) + X (10) + X (10) + X (10) + V (5) + I (1) + I (1) + I (1) = 388
Conclusion
The letter L, representing 50, is one of the seven letters used to construct a number out of Roman numerals.
Once you have mastered sums and calculations using the smaller Roman numerals such as I (1) and V (5), it is important to begin practicing with the bigger (and, as we have seen above, more complicated) letter sequences that make up larger numbers expressed in Roman numerals.
To help you, please use our handy Roman numeral converter tool below. Why not type a number in, see what it equates to in Roman numerals, and then see if you can deconstruct it to work out why it is expressed like that in Roman numerals? Just don’t forget the subtractive principle!
Roman Numerals Converter Tool
Use the Roman numeral converter tool below to either convert a Roman numeral into a modern-day number, or vice-versa. Of course, this tool is only accurate up to the number 3,999... click here to find out why!
It is particularly handy for finding out the date of when a particular movie was made if the date is in Roman numerals, or for finding out your birthday year in Roman numerals.
This free script provided by
JavaScript Kit
Related Pages:
- Roman Numerals 1-100
- Roman Clock Numerals
- IV Roman Numerals
- LIV Roman Numerals
- LVI Roman Numerals
- IX Roman Numerals
- XXIV Roman Numerals
- XXVI Roman Numerals
- XIX Roman Numerals
- XXI Roman Numerals
- XLIX Roman Numerals
- XLV Roman Numerals
- MMXXI in Roman Numerals
- Roman Numerals Tattoo
- Roman Numeral Music Theory
- Did Gaius Marius Introduce the VII Roman Numeral?
- Examples of Roman Numerals in Ancient History
- The Role of Roman Numerals in Art and Architecture
- The Use of Roman Numerals in Astronomy
- The Use of Roman Numerals in Legal Documents
- The Super Bowl and Roman Numerals
- Roman Numerals and Computer Programs
Roman Numerals in The News:
Did you know...
The first evidence of zero is from the Sumerian culture in Mesopotamia, some 5,000 years ago. The symbol changed over time as positional notation, for which zero was crucial, made its way to the Babylonian empire and from there to India, and to the Greeks. The Romans had no trace of it at all.