Wordy Weekly V

Latin first!


i) Calculate – the name of the useful little device that assists students of Mathematics finds its origins in the Latin verb ‘calculo, calculare, calculavi, calculates – to reckon, compute’, which comes from its cognate (related) noun calculus -stone, pebble, counter.


And now for the Greek.


ii) Cycle – the favourite exercise vehicle of many comes from the Greek κύκλος, meaning ‘ring, circle, cycle’, referring in this case to the wheel and its round shape. It also refers to a ‘cycle’ of events. Polybius refers to a κύκλος πολιτείων (‘cycle of governments’), when describing the rise and fall of different ways of governing a people in the sixth book of his Histories. The Greek word was adapted in later Latin to cyclus. The Greek ‘u’ (upsilon) is transliterated with a ‘y’ in Latin, and thenceforth, in English as well (see also the entry on ‘anhydrous’ in Wordy Weekly I).

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