There is a piyut which is said by Minhag Lita on the fifth (sometimes, in some customs, on the fourth) weekday of the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah; by Nusach Sefard on the second Monday of BeHa”B; and by Nusach Ashkenaz during Ne’ilah, beginning אזכרה אלקים ואהמיה. It contains a stanza that reads as follows:
תָּמַכְתִּי יְתֵדוֹתַי בִּשְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה תֵבוֹת. וּבְשַׁעֲרֵי דְמָעוֹת כִּי לֹא נִשְׁלָבוֹת. לָכֵן שָׁפַכְתִּי שִׂיחַ פְּנֵי בוֹחֵן לִבּוֹת. בָּטוּחַ אֲנִי בָּאֵלֶּה וּבִזְכוּת שְׁלֹשֶׁת אָבוֹת.
The first line literally translates to “I have placed my reliance in the Thirteen Words,” but in context, it seems to refer to the Thirteen Middos.
As far as I’m aware, there is no opinion that the Thirteen Middos are all individual words; all opinions of which I am aware have at least one Middah being a phrase, rather than a single word. As such, why does the paytan refer to them as “words”? Is he following a different counting of which I am not aware, or is there a different reason that this term is employed?