Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Words of Mathematics

The Words of Mathematics: An Etymological Dictionary of Mathematical Terms Used in English

Steven Schwartzman
Series: Spectrum
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: 1
Pages: 269
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Words of Mathematics
    Book Description:

    The Words of Mathematics explains the origins of over 1500 mathematical terms used in English. While other dictionaries of mathematics define technical terms, this book concentrates on where those terms came from and what their literal meanings are. The words included here range from simple to advanced. This dictionary is easy to use. Although some of the entries are highly technical, the book explains them in plain English. The introduction gives an overview of how the ancient language known as Indo-European developed into Latin, Greek, French, and English, the languages from which most of our mathematical vocabulary has been derived. Another section discusses the many ways in which mathematicians have borrowed and created their specialized vocabulary over the centuries. A glossary explains historical and linguistic terms used throughout the book.

    eISBN: 978-1-61444-501-2
    Subjects: Mathematics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Steven Schwartzman

    In recent years I’ve become very fond of asking my students why the White House is called the White House. When the question first comes up the students are usually dumbfounded. They wonder if I could really be asking them that question in a mathematics class—or any other class, for that matter—and they try to figure out what I might be driving at. More interestingly, though, they seldom know how to answer the question even though the answer is trivial. The White House is called the White House for two reasons: because it’s white and because it’s a...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 9-10)
  5. Explanation of terms and symbols
    (pp. 11-16)
  6. An etymological dictionary of mathematical terms

  7. Appendix: Mathematical entries that are etymologically related, grouped by roots.
    (pp. 241-256)
  8. References
    (pp. 257-261)