Solidus & Subtrahend

I was reading my latest issue of MacAddict, and they made a reference to the forward-slash (/), calling it a “solidus”. I immediately had to look the etymology of the word up in the OED.

So apparently, a solidus was a Roman coin worth 25 denarii. It later referred to a shilling, and then referred to the shilling-mark, the slash used to separate the shillings from pence when writing down a value. The term then came to apply in general to all forward slashes. I guess it’s right up there with “ampersand” and “parenthesis”, in terms of weird-sounding symbol terms.

This reminded Emery of a weird word we had seen in an engineering textbook: the “subtrahend”, which like the dividend, is the thing that is being subtracted (or in the dividend’s case, divided).

Wow. I’m just overflowing with geeky trivia tonight.

I Will Hold On” from Thornhill by Moxy Früvous

5 comments on “Solidus & Subtrahend
  1. metaplasmus says:

    Dude, you can’t forget the subtrahend’s faithful sidekick the minuend (“that which is to be diminished”)! Addends, summands, multiplicands, etc. are fun too.

  2. nautiluspq says:

    So now I like Picard-solidus-Q fic? ;)

  3. jere7my says:

    Ah, but do you know the asterism, the octothorpe, and the pilcrow?

  4. Nicolas Ward says:

    I know the Octothorpe is the pound or number symbol…

  5. stormwynd says:

    Hey, don’t knock the subtrahend. When I was in the 8th grade, Mr. Ecker (my math teacher) said that word all the time.

    My all-time favorite math word, though, is “vinculum”, which I usually manage to sneak into at least one class each year for no good reason. Plus, I once managed to play it during a Scrabble game.

Nurd Up!