Sunday, March 22, 2015

What does "calculate" really mean?

We've all “calculated” a lot! But why are we “calculating”? Why use the word “calculate” to denote the action of determining quantities mathematically? Read on to find the reason.


Rewind to the days of ancient Rome. Ancient Romans had used an instrument called a “hodometer” to measure distances, while giving two-wheeled vehicles on hire. This instrument had a tin-like structure, and pebbles in a revolving metal cover. As the wheels of the vehicle turned, the metal cover revolved and making a pebble fall inside the tin. So, at the end of the journey, they count the number of pebbles to “calculate” or sum up their bill.


In Latin, the word “calculus” means pebbles, and so we get the word “calculate”!


Now, we know where the word- so very often used for all kinds of calculations from elementary math, to the vegetable vendor, to high-school mathematics, or in any other context- comes from!


Hope you enjoyed it!


Source: 30 Days To A More Powerful Vocabulary by Dr. Wilfred Funk and Norman Lewis



 

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