Etymology of Odd and EvenDate: 10/08/2002 at 10:11:31 From: Tom Ray Subject: Odd/even numbers Why are odd numbers named "odd" and even numbers named "even"? Date: 10/08/2002 at 10:30:09 From: Doctor Sarah Subject: Re: Odd/even numbers Hi Tom - thanks for writing to Dr. Math. Here's what Steven Schwartzman has to say in his book, _The Words of Mathematics_ (Mathematical Association of America): even (adjective)...: a native English word with cognates in other Germanic languages. Even means "level, having no variation." A whole number is even if it can be divided into two "level" or "uniform" amounts. For example, 8 pennies can be divided into two even (level) stacks of 4, whereas with an odd number of pennies like 7 the two stacks are necessarily uneven and don't reach the same level.... odd (adjective)...: from Old Norse oddi, which referred to pointy or uneven things, including triangles. What distinguishes a triangle from a line is the odd (= third) point "sticking out." For that reason a person who stands out from the norm or who is strange or unusual is called odd. An odd sock is one left over after you've paired up your other socks, and so odd came to refer to a number that is one greater than a pair, i.e., one greater than an even number.... - Doctor Sarah, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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