I myself am a native Finnish speaker and the whole numbers 10, 20 and so on translate word for word as ten, two tens etc. Why in Portuguese are these said dez and vinte. The rest make sense to me as they are some form of the numbers three, four, five...

  • 4
    Portuguese is a romance language, so it's just because 10 in Latin is decem and 20 is viginti. Now you have to ask about the Latin etymology... Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 23:03
  • Severi, because Latin did it and, as Portuguese comes from Latin, we do as the Romans do. Though, you could say dezena, which is ten as a noun; for example, «três dezenas de queijo» (= «three tens of cheese»), but its use is stricter and less common than the cardinal numerals, and saying X dezenas is used usually only with things that are somehow separated in tens, as with the number system. Do you want a list for the etymology of ten, twenty, ..., and ninety, or do you want an explanation?
    – Schilive
    Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 23:11
  • 2
    I really do not understand this. In English and Portuguese no number such as 20 is said two tens. Also, do you mean etymology?
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 14:35
  • I asked the same question regarding the variations of the "three" morpheme as we know them today.
    – bad_coder
    Commented Nov 13, 2021 at 12:28
  • 1
    If the answer addressed your question sufficiently please don't forget to upvote and accept it by clicking the green check mark on the left side of the answer.
    – bad_coder
    Commented Nov 13, 2021 at 12:30

1 Answer 1


Well, if you go far, far, far, back, according to Wiktionary, vinte ultimately comes from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) dwi(h₁)dḱm̥ti, meaning ’two tens, two decades’; dwóh₁ was ’two’ (Wiktionary), and déḱm̥ ’ten’ (Wiktionary; these were reconstructed by linguists, not attested words). These eventually became viginti, duo and decem in Latin, which became vinte, dois and dez in Portuguese.

Of the similarity between PIE dwi(h₁)dḱm̥ti and dwóh₁ + déḱm̥ very little survived into Classical Latin: only the vi in viginti, pronounced as (listen in Wiktionary), was related to uo in duo; and viginti and decem (listen) were pronounce with hard [g] and [k], two very similar sounds (as in frango and franco), and were both heirs to the k in déḱm̥. But even that was lost in Portuguese vinte and dez.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.