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“Math Vocabulary” – The Language of Mathematics

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Mathematics is a subject that can be intimidating for many students. One of the biggest challenges that students face is learning and understanding the complex vocabulary that is used in math. From basic terms like “addition” and “subtraction” to more advanced concepts like “calculus” and “trigonometry,” math vocabulary can be overwhelming.

The language of mathematics is the system used by a mathematician to communicate mathematical ideas among themselves. This language consists of a substrate of some natural language (for example English) using technical terms and grammatical conventions that are peculiar to mathematical discourse, supplemented by a highly specialized symbolic notation for mathematical formulas.

Basic Math Vocabulary

Mathematics is a language of its own, and like any language, it has its own vocabulary. In this section, we will cover some of the basic math vocabulary that you need to know to understand and communicate effectively in math.

Arithmetic Terms

Arithmetic is the branch of mathematics that deals with the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Here are some of the most important terms you need to know:

  • Addition: The process of combining two or more numbers to get a total.
  • Subtraction: The process of taking one number away from another.
  • Multiplication: The process of adding a number to itself a certain number of times.
  • Division: The process of dividing a number into equal parts.

Geometry Terms

Geometry is the branch of mathematics that deals with the study of shapes, sizes, and positions of objects. Here are some of the most important terms you need to know:

  • Point: A location in space that has no size or shape.
  • Line: A straight path that extends infinitely in both directions.
  • Angle: A measure of the amount of turn between two lines that meet at a point.
  • Triangle: A shape with three sides and three angles.
  • Circle: A shape with a curved line that is always the same distance from the center.

Below is the list of math vocabulary in English.

  • +: plus/add
  • : minus/take
  • x: multiply/times
  • :: divide
  • =: equals
  • <: less than
  • >: more than
  • %: percentage
  • #: is not equal to

Math Vocabulary - The Language of Mathematics

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Advanced Math Vocabulary

Algebra Terms

In advanced algebra, we encounter many new terms that build upon the basics. Here are a few important ones to know:

  • Polynomial: an expression consisting of variables and coefficients, with operations of addition, subtraction, and multiplication.
  • Quadratic Equation: an equation of the form ax² + bx + c = 0, where a, b, and c are constants and x is a variable.
  • Matrix: a rectangular array of numbers or symbols arranged in rows and columns.
  • Function: a rule that assigns each input value to exactly one output value.

Calculus Terms

Calculus is a branch of mathematics that deals with rates of change and slopes of curves. Here are some key terms to know:

  • Derivative: the rate at which a function is changing at a given point.
  • Integral: the area under a curve, calculated by finding the antiderivative of a function.
  • Limit: the value a function approaches as the input approaches a certain value or infinity.
  • Taylor Series: a representation of a function as an infinite sum of terms calculated from the function’s derivatives at a single point.

Remember, these are just a few of the many terms you may encounter in advanced math. Keep practicing and studying to become familiar with even more!

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How to Say and Write Numbers in English

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“Angles” Vocabulary

  • An angle equal to 1/4 turn (90° or π/2 radians) is called a right angle. Two lines that form a right angle are said to be normal, orthogonal, or perpendicular.
  • A pair of angles opposite each other, formed by two intersecting straight lines that form an “X”-like shape, are called vertical angles or opposite angles or vertically opposite angles.
  • Angles larger than a right angle and smaller than a straight angle (between 90° and 180°) are called obtuse angles (“obtuse” meaning “blunt”).
  • An angle equal to 1/2 turn (180° or π radians) is called a straight angle.
  • Angles larger than a straight angle but less than 1 turn (between 180° and 360°) are called reflex angles.
  • An angle equal to 1 turn (360° or 2π radians) is called a full angle, complete angle, or a perigon.
  • Angles that are not right angles or a multiple of a right angle are called oblique angles.

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Applied Math Vocabulary

Statistics Terms

In applied math, statistics is a crucial component. Here are some important statistics terms to know:

Term Definition
Mean The average of a set of numbers
Median The middle number in a set of numbers
Mode The number that appears most frequently in a set of numbers
Standard deviation A measure of how spread out a set of numbers is

Probability Terms

Probability is another important concept in applied math. Here are some key probability terms:

  • Event: An outcome or set of outcomes in a probability experiment.
  • Sample space: The set of all possible outcomes in a probability experiment.
  • Probability: The likelihood of an event occurring, expressed as a number between 0 and 1.
  • Independent events: Two events are independent if the occurrence of one does not affect the probability of the other.
  • Dependent events: Two events are dependent if the occurrence of one affects the probability of the other.

Understanding statistics and probability terms is essential for anyone working in applied math. By mastering these concepts, we can make more informed decisions and solve complex problems with greater ease.


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Thursday 15th of October 2020

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Wednesday 1st of July 2020


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Thursday 15th of October 2020

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Tuesday 11th of December 2018


Sohini Barik

Thursday 15th of October 2020