In the 17th century, Descartes introduced the term "real" to describe roots of a polynomial, distinguishing them from "imaginary" ones.
Every convergent sequence is a Cauchy sequence, and the converse is true for real numbers, and this means that the topological space of the real numbers is complete.
The real numbers are often described as "the complete ordered field", a phrase that can be interpreted in several ways.
Additionally, an order can be Dedekind-complete, see § Axiomatic approach. The uniqueness result at the end of that section justifies using the word "the" in the phrase "complete ordered field" when this is the sense of "complete" that is meant. This sense of completeness is most closely related to the construction of the reals from Dedekind cuts, since that construction starts from an ordered field (the rationals) and then forms the Dedekind-completion of it in a standard way.
As a topological space, the real numbers are separable. This is because the set of rationals, which is countable, is dense in the real numbers. The irrational numbers are also dense in the real numbers, however they are uncountable and have the same cardinality as the reals.
The real numbers can be generalized and extended in several different directions: