Nominal vs Ordinal Number: Difference and Comparison

In contrast to common belief, a number is more than just simply a number. There’s more to it than that since it’s intriguing and diversified.

It may be segregated into mainly 2 types: ordinal and nominal numbers. Such numbers are employed in our daily lives without our knowledge.

Key Takeaways

  1. Nominal numbers represent identification or naming without any inherent order or value.
  2. Ordinal numbers indicate a specific position or rank within a sequence.
  3. Researchers use nominal numbers for categorical data, while ordinal numbers apply to data with a clear order or hierarchy.

Nominal vs Ordinal Number

Nominal numbers are used to categorize or classify data into groups without any implied order or ranking. For example, gender (male or female), eye color (blue, green, or brown), or type of car (sedan, SUV, truck). Ordinal numbers are used to rank or order data based on a specific criterion. They indicate the relative position or importance of the data points being measured.

Nominal vs Ordinal Number

Nominal numbers suggest a name for something without keeping it in a hierarchy with other numbered items or data. A “fail” or “pass” categorization for the result of every student’s examination is a very good demonstration of a nominal number.

Even if the information is restricted to counts, a nominal number gives little info regarding a set or collection of occurrences.

Ordinal numbers have some sort of order to them; they are ordered with respect to one another. Consider this scenario: you get a review from your preferred cafeteria asking for comments on the facility you got in their cafeteria.

You could rate the service value as “E”, which means terrible, “D”, which means below average, “C”, which means average, “B”, which means outstanding, and “A”, which means very good.

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The information gathered in this survey is a very good demonstration of the ordinal number. The given numbers have a rank or order; for example, a rank of “A” is better than a rank of “D.”

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonNominal numberOrdinal number
MeaningThe things that are differentiated by a modest identification scheme are known as nominal numbers.Ordinal numbers are statistics that are arranged in some way based on their location on a scale, and they can signify superiority.
CategorialNominal numbers are also denoted as categorical data.Ordinal variables are in between the spectrum of categorical and quantitative variables.
Quantitative valueA nominal number is one that has no numerical value.Ordinal numbers can be assigned numbers, but they cannot be used to do arithmetic.
Association to rememberThe Nominal numbers can be linked to “Name.”The Ordinal Numbers can be related to the word “Order.”
ExampleSocial security numbers, zip codes, bank codes, routing numbers, and car model numbers are all instances of nominal numbers.  Ordinal Numbers include things like the first footman, the third of October, the eighth kid in the family, and the third Saturday of the month.

What is Nominal Number?

The word nominal is a derivative of the Latin term ‘nomen’. It means name.’ A nominal number is a number that is used to identify anything.

Nominal numbers have no meaning in relation to amount or rank. They are only numbers with no additional information beyond object identification. It isn’t necessary to specify it on a set of objects.

A number may be applied to nominal things. Any object that is necessary for everyday life qualifies as a nominal item.

The nominal number does not generally have an inherent order. Race, for instance, is a nominal number with several classifications, but generally, there is no clear method to arrange them from lowest to highest in other words, you cannot sort them according to the situation.

In mathematics, a nominal numeral is a one-to-one connection between a group of numbers and a set of objects. As a result, each item is assigned a unique identifier.

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No two objects have the same identity. Nominal numbers include ZIP codes, phone numbers, and driver’s license numbers, to name a few.

nominal number

What is Ordinal Number?

Any ordinal numeral refers to a specific position or the order of any figure in a collection. Ordinal numbers could be safely assumed to be relational.

For 2 of the proposals, natural numbers are employed. One method is to count how many items there are in a set. Another option is to provide an object’s location within an order or set.

Natural numbers are extended into ordinal numbers. Ordinal numbers are used to represent the location or rank of anything in a list. Ordinary numerals have no meaning in terms of quantity.

The 2nd word in the expression “apple, orange, banana” is “orange.

Ordinal numbers can take three forms: spatial/chronological, precedence/effect, and Greek prefix. First, second, and third are examples of spatial/chronological concepts. 

Primary, secondary, and tertiary effects are all examples of precedence/effect. Finally, the Greek prefix, which includes words like proto-, deutero-, and trito-, is the least commonly used.

In 1870, Georg Cantor created ordinal numbers. These were created to categorize the collections of structures in a certain order and to accommodate endless sequences.

ordinal number

Main Differences Between Nominal and Ordinal number

  1. Within a set, nominal numbers indicate an object, person, date, or location. Ordinal numerals are figures that demonstrate the order or position of a number in a particular collection.
  2. Nominal numbers were not expressly introduced but were first used to signify data in memberships. The Ordinal numbers, on the other hand, were invented by Georg Cantor and are utilized in endless sequences.
  3. In everyday life, nominal numbers might be found. Ordinal numbers, on the other hand, maybe utilized in mathematical operations.
  4. Categorical data is another name for nominal numerals. Ordinal variables, on the other hand, are the “in-between” category and quantitative variables.
  5. A nominal number is a figure which is used to identify anything. The ordinal number, on the other hand, is a natural number extension.



Last Updated : 09 August, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Nominal vs Ordinal Number: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The distinction made between nominal and ordinal numbers is quite enlightening. The real-world examples used to illustrate their uses helped to solidify the difference in a tangible way.

  2. The breakdown of nominal numbers in relation to categorical data and the explanation of ordinal numbers as variables between categorical and quantitative variables gave a comprehensive view of their roles.

  3. The article provides a comprehensive understanding of the purpose and functions of nominal and ordinal numbers, making it easier to differentiate and apply them in practical situations.

  4. The detailed explanation of what constitutes nominal numbers and examples such as ZIP codes or phone numbers helped to establish a deeper understanding of their applications.

  5. The historical insight into the origin and meaning of the terms ‘nominal’ and ‘ordinal’ provided further context to their significance in the realm of mathematics and data representation.

  6. The in-depth analysis of ordinal numbers and the examples provided to explain their various forms, such as spatial/chronological, precedence/effect, and Greek prefix, were highly insightful.

  7. The detailed explanation of ordinal numbers, including their relevance in representing the rank of items in a list and the examples given, offered a well-rounded comprehension of their significance.

  8. The article provides an informative insight about nominal and ordinal numbers, showcasing their differences and similarities, giving a deeper understanding of their applications and functions.

  9. The article effectively elucidates the nature and roles of nominal and ordinal numbers, offering valuable knowledge on their classification, applications, and characteristics.

  10. The comparison table provided a clear overview of the parameters to differentiate nominal and ordinal numbers, making it easier to comprehend their characteristics and applications.


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