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Word Origins: Math and Science


Word Origins: Math and Science

Discover the fascinating origins of math and science terms! Enhance your vocabulary and understanding with our in-depth guide. #WordOrigins #MathScienceVocabulary


Ever wondered why we call a five-sided shape a "pentagon" or why "astronomy" deals with stars? The answers lie in the fascinating origins of words, particularly those in math and science. These terms often have roots in ancient languages like Latin and Greek, revealing a rich history that enhances our understanding of these fields. Whether you're a student curious about etymology or a teacher looking to enrich your lessons, diving into the origins of math and science vocabulary can be incredibly enlightening. In this post, "Word Origins: Math and Science," we’ll explore the etymological roots of key terms, making your learning journey both educational and intriguing. Let's uncover the stories behind the words and deepen our appreciation for the language of math and science!

Learning Objectives

In this lesson, you will focus on the following objective:
Vocabulary: Understanding word origins.

Word Origins: Math and Science

Many English math and science terms come from the Latin language, as do many of the word parts at the left.

Literature Connection
The word squadron is related to the Latin word quadrum, meaning “square.”
“Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing . . . Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message.”

 —Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from “War Message to Congress”

Several math and science terms come from this root: quadrangle, quadrant, quadruped, and quadratic, for example. You have probably figured out that quadru- or quadr- means “four.”

You can figure out what many math and science terms mean if you know some common word parts and their definitions, such as those below.

star; celestial body; outer space
water; liquid
poly- more than one; many; much
penta- five
-cephalus a head
-gon a figure having a specified kind or number of angles
-nomy a body of knowledge about a specific field
-sphere a celestial body, such as a planet or star

Word Origins: Math and Science Quiz

Answer the following questions by combining two word parts from the list above. Consult a dictionary to check your answers. Write the answers on a piece of paper.
  1. What is the word for an abnormal increase of fluid in the skull? 
  2. What is the word for the scientific study of heavenly bodies in outer space? 
  3. What is the word for a closed plane figure bounded by straight lines? 
  4. What is the word for water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere? 
  5. What is the word for a five-sided polygon?

Answer Key

  1. hydrocephalus 
  2. astronomy 
  3. polygon 
  4. hydrosphere 
  5. pentagon


Exploring the origins of math and science terms not only boosts your vocabulary but also enriches your understanding of these disciplines. By learning the roots of key words, you can make connections that enhance your comprehension and retention. Keep practicing with the examples and quizzes provided, and revisit this guide whenever you encounter new terms. Remember, the key to mastering vocabulary lies in curiosity and consistent learning. Happy exploring, and may your journey through the etymology of math and science words be as enlightening as the subjects themselves!
Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎


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