# Why do we use both "count of" and "number of" in "I've lost count of the number of times..."?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve hit my thumb with a hammer.

In this sentence, do "the number of" and "count of" not have the same meaning? Why do we use it twice? Can we use it with those forms:

I've lost the number of times I've hit...

or

I've lost count of times I've hit...

I'm not native speaker and this sentence confused me, I hope I can express what I want to ask.

• Tell us what you found for the meaning of "to lose count". Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 12:11
• Yes, you could perfectly well say "I've lost count of the times that...", but not "I've lost the number".
– Kate Bunting
Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 12:17
• You could say I've lost count of how often I've hit my thumb if you don't like the number of times, but there's nothing wrong with the original. Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 22:33
• "I've lost track of the number of times I've hit my thumb" would mean the same thing. That might help you understand the construction. Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 18:55
• My guess: it's a hybrid (now idiomatic) of I've lost count of the times with I've lost track of the number of times. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 2:15

I understand why it sounds odd. From a mathematical point of view, you count something and then the aggregated total is "the number of" the thing you counted.

However, it is quite idiomatic to say "count the number of..."

This ngram shows use of the phrase and will link to examples.

Logically then it is equally correct to say that you have "lost count of the number".

You've misunderstood. There isn't a thing called "count of the number of times...", which has been lost. Rather, "lose count" is a phrasal verb meaning to fail to count correctly.

"Count the number of times" is redundant, but in common usage. I prefer just "count the times" and "I've lost count of the times..." is, in my opinion, better. But there's nothing wrong with "I've lost count of the number of times..."

In the following sentence:

"I have lost count of the number of times eaten spaghetti"

The word count refers to a record.

That is, count is similar in meaning to a book in which things are written.

Consider the following examples

• "I have lost the ledger which had last years taxes"
• The computer records of which person has which book checked-out from the library are gone.
• "I have lost count of the number of times eaten spaghetti"

Just because you have forgotten where the keys for your car are located does not mean that your car keys cease to exist.

Just because you have lost count of the number of times you have eaten spaghetti, does not mean that you have never eaten spaghetti before.

It would not make sense to say,

"I have lost the number of times I have washed my clothes."

The number of times something happens cannot be lost.
The number of times you have hit your thumb exists whether you remember it or not.

I have lost my memory of how many times I have hit my thumb with a hammer.