Heximal, or: how to really read hexadecimal

Many debates have been had about the "correct" way to pronounce hexadecimal numbers. If you ask me, the best way to do it is to just read the letters out loud, or use the Nato phonetic alphabet. But what if you don’t want to simply read hexadecimal? What if you want to.... count?

Many brave souls have tried, but more often than not, the names seem utterly nonsensical. Christeen, dickety-one, and fimteek are just some of the horrors found in existing ideas for hexadecimal numbering. Armed with inspiration from jan Misali’s seximal, i set out to make a better system. Introducing: heximal.

Counting from 1–F

Counting from 0–C0 is easy:

Number Word
1 one
2 two
3 three
4 four
5 five
6 six
7 seven
8 eight
9 nine
A (10) ten
B (11) eleven
C (12) twelve

Where we go from here is a challenge. Given that this is base sixteen, we can’t exactly say thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen, since those come from decimal terms; so, we instead use shortened forms of the Nato phonetic alphabet’s letters: del from Delta, eck or ech1 from Echo, and fox from Foxtrot.

Number Word
D (13) del
E (14) eck or ech
F (15) fox

...And further!

10 is, of course, called hex. There’s no messing about with thirteen-type formulations; right after hex comes hex-one.

Number Word
10 (16) hex
11 (17) hex-one
12 (18) hex-two
13 (19) hex-three
etc.
1F (31) hex-fox

Numbering continues along roughly the same lines as the decimal -ty sequence; in this case, the relevant suffix is -ex. (Some familiar numbers are included in the table below to aid recognition.)

Number Word
20 (32) twennex
21 (33) twennex-one
2A (42)2 twennex-ten
30 (48) thirex
40 (64) fourex
50 (80)3 fiffex
60 (96) sixex
69 (107) sixex-nine4
70 (112) sevenex
7A (122)5 sevenex-ten
80 (128) eightex
90 (144) ninex
A0 (160) tennex
B0 (176) elevex
C0 (192) twelvex
D0 (208) deltex
E0 (224) eckex or echex
F0 (240)6 foxex
FF (255) foxex-fox

Greater and greater numbers

The logical term for a value of 100 is, of course, a byte.

Number Word
100 (256) one byte
3E8 (1000) three byte eckex-eight
7E4 (2020)7 seven byte eckex-four

There is no distinct word for 104; the numbering system simply continues into the hex-bytes.

Number Word (rounded to 3 s.f.)
1000 (4096) hex byte
2710 (10 000) twennex-seven byte hex
2EF5 (12021) twennex-byte foxex-five8

Many programming languages refer to numbers smaller than 104 (65 536) as shorts, so that’s what we’ll call said number.

Number Word (rounded to 3 s.f.)
1 0000
(65 536)
one short
1 6B00
(93 000)
one short sixex-eleven byte9
F 4240 (1 000 000) fox short fourex-two byte
18 8E80 (1 609 334) hex-eight short eightex byteA
27 6000 (c. 2 580 000) twennex-seven short sixex byteB
109 0000 (c. 17 400 000) one byte nine shortC
138C E200 (c. 328 000 000) hex-three byte shortD
3B9A CA00 (1 000 000 000) thirex-eleven byte short

We can continue on, extending short in the vein of decimal’s -illion series.

Number Word Decimal
108 one bort 4.29×109
1.CF×108 one bort, twelvex-fox byte shortE 7.76×109
10C one trort 2.80×1014
8.E9×109 eight trort, eckex-nine byte shortF 4.01×1016
1010 one quadrort 1.84×1019
2.58×1010 Two quadrort, fiffex-eight byte trort10 4.33×1019
7.F8×1013 Sevenex-fox byte eightex quadrort11 6.02×1023
1014 one quinort 1.21×1024
1018 one sexort 7.92×1028
101C one septort 5.19×1033
1020 one octort 3.40×1038
1024 one nonort 2.23×1043
1028 one decort 1.46×1048
102C one elevort 9.58×1052
1030 one dozenort 6.28×1057
1034 one delort 4.11×1062
1038 one eckort or echort 2.70×1067
103C one foxort 1.77×1072
1040 one hexort 1.16×1077
1044 one hexishort 7.59×1081
1048 one hexibort 4.97×1086
1080 one bihexort 1.34×10154
10C0 one trihexort 1.55×10231
10100 one quadrihexort; one hexgol 1.80×10308
10400 one bytort 1.04×101233
104000 one hexibytort 2.00×1019278

I’ve decided to end the naming scheme just short (heh) of what would otherwise be a "shortort", to save it from collapsing in on itself. This means that the largest named number is...

Number Word Decimal
1040000-1 foxex-fox byte foxex-fox foxihexifoxibytifoxihexifoxort, foxex-fox byte foxex-fox foxikayfoxibytifoxihexeckort, [...] foxex-fox byte foxex-fox 6.74×10315652

...
Oh, go on then. Two more.

Number Word Decimal
1010100 one hexgolplex 102.16×10308
101010100 one hexgolplexian 10102.16×10308

Try it yourself!

This little widget will convert decimal and hexadecimal numbers into heximal words. Why not give it a go?

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