Etymology of the Word Radical
Date: 12/28/2001 at 10:31:19 From: Chrissy Subject: Where do radicals come from? I have to do a report on where certain words come from. I can't find anywhere where the word 'radical' comes from. Is it a Latin word or a Greek word or what?
Date: 12/28/2001 at 10:50:38 From: Doctor Sarah Subject: Re: Where do radicals come from? Hi Chrissy - thanks for writing to Dr. Math. From Steven Schwartzman's _The Words of Mathematics_: radical (noun): from Latin radix, stem radic- "root," from the Indo-European root wrad- "branch, root." An English cognate of radix is root, borrowed from Old Norse... In algebra the radical symbol indicates that the nth root of a quantity is being taken. The symbol itself is abstracted from the first letter of Latin radix. For quite some time the symbol was used without a horizontal bar at the top. The current version of the symbol is actually a fusion of the stylized letter r and the vinculum that was later used when a sum of terms was to have its root extracted... - Doctor Sarah, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
Search the Dr. Math Library:
Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.