Book Review: Origins of Mathematical Words

Andrew I. Dale
2017 Notices of the American Mathematical Society  
There are many reasons for picking up a dictionary beyond finding information, such as the meaning and derivation of a word. For example, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable provides esoterica like the names and dates of the kings and queens of England, while Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary supplies amusement and wit. In addition to the once useful task of removing a ganglion cyst by a smack with a heavy tome, a dictionary in the hand, as opposed to one accessed via a computer, tablet,
more » ... computer, tablet, or cell phone, has the benefit that one hardly ever finds the word one wants straight away. This exposes one to the pleasure of finding other words that in themselves may well be interesting. To a greater or lesser degree the Origins of Mathematical Words (OMW) contains information, esoterica, and humour. "This is a book about words, mathematical words, how they are made and how they are used," Lo Bello writes in the preface. While most entries in the OMW are comparatively short, some-such as Archimedes, cant, Descartes, Euclid, [teaching] evaluation (an excellent discussion),
doi:10.1090/noti1468 fatcat:s55qyxayqbfgnerytdv5tkj4ii