What Is a Denominator?

What Is a Denominator?

The denominator is the number written below the line of a fraction.

The denominator of this fraction is 4.

(The number above the line is called the numerator. It is 1 in the fraction above).

Dictionary Definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the denominator as "The number written below the line in a vulgar fraction, which gives the denomination or value of the parts into which the integer is divided."

Examples of Denominators

The denominator of the fraction 2/3 (two-thirds) is 3. The denominator of the fraction 5/7 (five-sevenths) is 7.

What Does the Denominator Mean?

A fraction is a part of a whole number.

The denominator tells you how many equal parts the whole is divided into.

(The numerator tells you how many parts of the whole number there are).

Visualizing the Denominator

Thinking of slices of a cake is a useful way of visualizing the denominator. A fraction is a part of a whole number. So it can be visualized as a number of slices of cake, which are parts of the whole cake.

The denominator tells you how many slices the cake is cut into:

  • A denominator of 1 means the cake is left whole.

  • A denominator of 2 means the cake is cut into 2 equal slices.

  • A denominator of 3 means the cake is cut into 3 equal slices.

(The numerator tells you how many slices are in the fraction. In our example above, we have included 1 slice of the 3 equal slices. The numerator of this fraction is 1.)

See Also

What is a fraction? What is a numerator? What is a proper fraction? What is an improper fraction? What is a mixed fraction?