You may have heard someone refer to a score as a number and pondered its meaning. The point value is 20. There are examples of the term in literature and history, despite the fact that it is hardly used today.
Where did the “score” of 20 originate?
The first use of “score” to refer to 20 elements dates back to approximately 1100. The term “score” was used to tally flocks of sheep or cattle. Shepherds or cattlemen would count twenty sheep or cows and mark a stick to show that they had numbered twenty sheep or cows. Counting by scores enabled the livestock workers to maintain track of vast numbers of cattle or sheep without losing count.
The History of the Term “Score”
The origin of the term “score” is the Old Norse word “skor,” which meant to notch something. People who cared for cattle actually notched a stick to assist them recall the number of cows they had counted. Therefore, the word “score” came to denote the number twenty.
Ancient Numbering Methods
From the ancient world to the Middle Ages, multiple numbering systems were utilised, similar to how we use twos, fives, and tens now. Numbering by the dozens, for instance, is a throwback to previous counting systems.
Other ancient counting systems include Roman numerals, which appear frequently in vintage films. A film produced in 1938, for instance, may display the year as MCMXXXVIII, with each letter of the Roman numeral signifying a distinct value.
Using Scores in Ancient Texts
There are references to counting by scores in the Bible and other sources. Older translations of the Bible, such as the King James Version, have references to score counts. Exodus 15:27 is an example of counting by scores in the Bible. Here, the Israelites came upon 70 palm trees, often known as “three score and ten palm palms.”
In notable works of literature, such as Shakespeare’s plays, the term “score” can also be used to refer to 20 of something. In
An old man tells Macbeth, “I recall three score and ten years with clarity.” He means that he can recall the past seventy years of his life.
Scores in Notable Addresses
There are examples of American speakers using “score” to refer to 20 of something. This way of counting enables the speaker to make a biblical or literary-sounding message. For instance, in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” address, he referred to the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued 100 years prior, by saying “five score years ago.”
Before four hundred and seven years ago
Clearly, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is the most remembered use of “score.” This legendary speech was introduced by the phrase “four score and seven years ago.” This number (87) refers to the year 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Founding Fathers.