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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Meaning of numbers (21): 91

I recently fell in love with the number ninety-one 91, and for good reason, I think. I have mentioned that the numbers eight 8 and eleven 11 are magical in our Chinese superstition, and the sequence between them (8-11) is hence particularly significant. This ascending sequence, it turns out, consists of three integers: nine 9, ten 10 and eleven 11, which, in our Chinese numerical system, constitute the number ninety-one 91. Recall that in Chinese (and in East Asian languages in general) numbers are arranged into units of tens, hundreds, thousands etc, and a number like ninety-one 91 would be pronounced as nine 9 (X) ten 10 (+) one 1 (=91), which perfectly embodies the numerical sequence between eight 8 and eleven 11. There is otherwise nothing particularly striking about ninety-one 91, though one might add that ninety-one 91 is the result of the subtraction of nine 9 from one hundred 100, the latter good and the former bad, and the fact that subtraction (and division) may be considered as an inverse function could be taken to suggest that the subtraction of nine 9 (-9) signifies fortune after all, especially when applied to a number as favourable as a hundred 100. May we all live till eighty-eight 88 and have one last crazy ride in our ninety-first 91st and one hundredth 100th year!

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