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Etymology of the Word Mathematics


Date: 12/10/2001 at 05:10:01
From: Mica
Subject: Maths

Why do you call maths maths?


Date: 12/10/2001 at 10:10:31
From: Doctor Sarah
Subject: Re: Maths

Hi Mica - thanks for writing to Dr. Math.

Good question! Maths is short for mathematics. Here's what Steven 
Schwartzman has to say in his book, _The Words of Mathematics_ 
(Mathematical Association of America):

mathematics: Latin mathematica was a plural noun, which is why 
mathematics has an -s at the end even though we use it as a singular 
noun. Latin had taken the word from Greek mathematikos, which in turn 
was based on mathesis. That word, which was also borrowed into English 
but is now archaic, meant "mental discipline" or "learning," 
especially mathematical learning. The Indo-European root is mendh- 
"to learn." Plato believed no one could be considered educated without 
learning mathematics. A polymath is a person who has learned many 
things, not just mathematics.

- Doctor Sarah, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
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