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Origin, Meaning of 'Hypotenuse'


Date: 9/13/96 at 9:11:11
From: Chipper
Subject: Origin, Meaning of 'Hypotenuse'

Dr. Math, 

I was wondering if you could please tell me the meaning and origin 
of the word "hypotenuse."  I know it is a Greek word and somewere in 
high school I was told it means "hippo." Can you confirm this? Thank 
you for your time

Harry A. Mac Alpine III


Date: 9/13/96 at 13:25:24
From: Doctor Tom
Subject: Re: Origin, Meaning of 'Hypotenuse'

It's usually easy to answer questions like this with an English
dictionary.

The hypotenuse is the side opposite the right angle in a triangle
containing a right angle.

My dictionary says that the word is Greek and probably comes from
"hypo", meaning "under" + "teinein", meaning "to stretch".  Hence,
it sort of means "under tension".  Think of it representing a wire
stretched between the ends of a triangle maybe.

-Doctor Tom,  The Math Forum
 Check out our web site!  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
Associated Topics:
Middle School Definitions
Middle School Geometry
Middle School Triangles and Other Polygons

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