Ninth vs. nineth — which spelling is correct?
There is usually nothing to write home about when we refer to cardinal numbers. One, two, three, and so on. Ordinal numbers… well, it’s a different cup of tea — or nine teas. You have nine little cuppas; they lay on the table: the 1st, the 2nd, up to the 9th —and how do you spell the ordinal number 9th? Is it nineth or ninth? Let’s drink this tea.
Ninth or nineth — which spelling is correct?
Ninth is the only correct spelling of the ordinal number 9th. On the other hand, why is the number 90th spelled as ninetieth? In the case of the cardinal number nine, the final –e is silent. However, ninety ends with the letter –y, transcribed as the sound /i/. According to the rule, when a cardinal number ends with the letter –y, the letter changes to –i, and the ending –eth is added. Hence, thirty changes into thirtieth, seventy becomes seventieth, and so on. To learn more about deceptive numbers, see other articles.
Idioms with ninth
Interestingly, there are no cheerful idioms with the word ninth. Bottom of the ninth means ‘a critical moment of a desperate situation’. The ninth circle of hell, alluding to Dante’s masterpiece, is used to describe a thing or a place considered vile or torturous. Maybe the spelling problems have something to do about that?
Nineth vs. ninth — no more doubts! Enjoy some literary examples
“The optimum population is modelled on the iceberg- eight-ninths below the water line, one-ninth above”.
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, 1932
“You could sometimes see her twelfth year in her cheeks, or her ninth sparkling from her eyes; and even her fifth would flit over the curves of her mouth now and then”.
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, 1891
“A mandarin fell in love with a courtesan. ‘I shall be yours,’ she told him, ‘when you have spent a hundred nights waiting for me, sitting on a stool, in my garden, beneath my window.’ But on the ninety-ninth night, the mandarin stood up, put his stool under his arm, and went away”.
Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, 1977