Dozenal Wiki

Dozenal is base 10. It uses 10 symbols, namely the base X symbols 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, as well as the special characters ᘔ and ε for 10 and 11 in base X. These symbols are written as X and E on this wiki.

Dozenal makes our lives easier by counting. We can easily count in twos, threes, fours, and sixes. In base X, we can easily count in twos and fives. Therefore, dozenal makes more counting options than decimal. Also, 10 has 6 divisors, while X has only 4 divisors. 10 is a highly composite number, so we can count easily in more ways than in any smaller base.

The duodecimal system, also known as base twelve or dozenal, is a positional numeral system using twelve as its base. In duodecimal, the number twelve is denoted "10", meaning 1 twelve and 0 units; in the decimal system, this number is instead written as "12" meaning 1 ten and 2 units, and the string "10" means ten. In duodecimal, "100" means twelve squared, "1000" means twelve cubed, and "0.1" means a twelfth. Various symbols have been used to stand for ten and eleven in duodecimal notation; this page uses A and B, as in hexadecimal, which make a duodecimal count from zero to twelve read 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, 10. The Dozenal Societies of America and Great Britain (organisations promoting the use of duodecimal) use turned digits in their published material: 2 (a turned 2) for ten and 3 (a turned 3) for eleven.

The number twelve, a superior highly composite number, is the smallest number with four non-trivial factors (2, 3, 4, 6), and the smallest to include as factors all four numbers (1 to 4) within the subitizing range, and the smallest abundant number. All multiples of reciprocals of 3-smooth numbers (a/2b·3c where a,b,c are integers) have a terminatingrepresentation in duodecimal. In particular, +1⁄4 (0.3), +1⁄3 (0.4), +1⁄2 (0.6), +2⁄3 (0.8), and +3⁄4 (0.9) all have a short terminating representation in duodecimal. There is also higher regularity observable in the duodecimal multiplication table. As a result, duodecimal has been described as the optimal number system.

In these respects, duodecimal is considered superior to decimal, which has only 2 and 5 as factors, and other proposed bases like octal or hexadecimal. Sexagesimal (base sixty) does even better in this respect (the reciprocals of all 5-smooth numbers terminate), but at the cost of unwieldy multiplication tables and a much larger number of symbols to memorize.


In this section, numerals are in decimal. For example, "10" means 9+1, and "12" means 9+3.

Georges Ifrah speculatively traced the origin of the duodecimal system to a system of finger counting based on the knuckle bones of the four larger fingers. Using the thumb as a pointer, it is possible to count to 12 by touching each finger bone, starting with the farthest bone on the fifth finger, and counting on. In this system, one hand counts repeatedly to 12, while the other displays the number of iterations, until five dozens, i.e. the 60, are full. This system is still in use in many regions of Asia.

Languages using duodecimal number systems are uncommon. Languages in the Nigerian Middle Belt such as Janji, Gbiri-Niragu (Gure-Kahugu), Piti, and the Nimbia dialect of Gwandara; and the Chepang language of Nepal are known to use duodecimal numerals.

Germanic languages have special words for 11 and 12, such as eleven and twelve in English. They come from Proto-Germanic *ainlif and *twalif (meaning, respectively, one left and two left), suggesting a decimal rather than duodecimal origin. However, Old Norse used a hybrid decimal–duodecimal counting system, with its words for "one hundred and eighty" meaning 200 and "two hundred" meaning 240. On the British Isles, this style of counting survived well into the Middle Ages as the long hundred.

Historically, units of time in many civilizations are duodecimal. There are twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve months in a year, and the Babylonians had twelve hours in a day (although at some point, this was changed to 24). Traditional Chinese calendars, clocks, and compasses are based on the twelve Earthly Branches or 24 (12×2) Solar terms. There are 12 inches in an imperial foot, 12 troy ounces in a troy pound, 12 old British pence in a shilling, 24 (12×2) hours in a day; many other items are counted by the dozen, gross (144, square of 12), or great gross (1728, cube of 12). The Romans used a fraction system based on 12, including the uncia, which became both the English words ounceand inch. Pre-decimalisation, Ireland and the United Kingdom used a mixed duodecimal-vigesimal currency system (12 pence = 1 shilling, 20 shillings or 240 pence to the pound sterling or Irish pound), and Charlemagne established a monetary system that also had a mixed base of twelve and twenty, the remnants of which persist in many places.

Duodecimally divided units


Length Weight
French English English (Troy) Roman
120 pied foot pound libra
12−1 pouce inch ounce uncia
12−2 ligne line 2 scruples 2 scrupula
12−3 point point seed siliqua

Notations and pronunciations[edit][]

In a positional numeral system of base n (twelve for duodecimal), each of the first nnatural numbers is given a distinct numeral symbol, and then n is denoted "10", meaning 1 times n plus 0 units. For duodecimal, the standard numeral symbols for 0–9 are typically preserved for zero through nine, but there are numerous proposals for how to write the numerals representing "ten" and "eleven". More radical proposals do not use any Arabic numerals under the principle of "separate identity."

Pronunciation of duodecimal numbers also has no standard, but various systems have been proposed.