Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

### Origin of the word Quadratic

```
Date: 04/07/98 at 23:34:28
From: Paul Wilson
Subject: Why call it "quad"ratic? it has Two terms!

Dr. Math,

I am in the middle of a unit on quadratic equations with my algebra I
students. We discussed monomials, binominals, trinomials, and so
on. The problem started with a discussion about the different types
of equations: mono means one, bi means two, tri means three, but

If the degree of the equation is two why isn't it a

I thought quad means four, but your highest power is two and at most
you have three terms. I don't get it. The question I have for
you:

I tried dictionaries, searches, archives, etc. It was my guess, that
the word is derived from Latin, but I haven't found someone to verify
this. Can you help?

P. Wilson
```

```
Date: 04/08/98 at 09:53:43
From: Doctor Sonya
Subject: Re: Why call it "quad"ratic? it has Two terms!

Well, here's what I was able to find out. Jeff Miller's History of
Mathematics pages say that the word "quadratic" was first used in
English in 1668 by John Wilkins (1614-1672) in an essay towards a real
character, and a philosophical language [London: Printed for Sa.
Gellibrand, and for John Martyn, 1668]. He wrote: "Those Algebraical
notions of Absolute, Lineary, Quadratic, Cubic" (OED2). They don't say
why he chose that word, though.

We use the word quadratic because "quadra" refers to a square, and the
with calling a degree three polynomial a "cubic" for the leading term
represents a cube. The word for an equation with a leading term of x^4
is "quartic."

http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/58332.html

-Doctor Sonya,  The Math Forum
Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
```

```
Date: 04/08/98 at 15:21:15
From: Sleprock01
Subject: Re: Why call it "quad"ratic? it has Two terms!

Thank you.  I will relay the info to my kids. That was my guess, but
I just didn't find "quadra" to mean square!
```
Associated Topics:
Middle School Algebra

Search the Dr. Math Library:

 Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):   Click only once for faster results: [ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.] all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math
Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search