calculus

noun

cal·​cu·​lus ˈkal-kyə-ləs How to pronounce calculus (audio)
plural calculi ˈkal-kyə-ˌlī How to pronounce calculus (audio)
-ˌlē
also calculuses
1
a
: a method of computation or calculation in a special notation (as of logic or symbolic logic)
b
: the mathematical methods comprising differential and integral calculus
often used with the
2
: calculation
… even political conservatives agree that an economic calculus must give way to a strategic consciousness when national or global security is at stake.Stephen H. Schneider
3
a
: a concretion usually of mineral salts around organic material found especially in hollow organs or ducts
4
: a system or arrangement of intricate or interrelated parts

Did you know?

In Latin calculus meant “pebble.” Because the Romans used pebbles to do addition and subtraction on a counting board, the word became associated with computation. Other English derivatives include calculator and calculation. Calculus itself has been borrowed into English as a medical term that refers to masses of matter in the body such as kidney stones (a straightforward extension of the meaning “pebble”) and to refer to a system of mathematical computation.

Examples of calculus in a Sentence

by my calculus the more efficient air conditioner will have paid for itself within a span of five years
Recent Examples on the Web The wide spread in interest rates on car loans reflects a complicated calculus. Daniel De Visé, USA TODAY, 4 July 2024 And the calculus was that the majority parties were already very organized and united. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 1 July 2024 In other places, the Cold War’s end radically changed the domestic calculus, compelling belligerents to sue for peace because the flow of weapons had been cut off or obliging autocratic rulers to open political space because the support of external powers had faded. Judd Devermont, Foreign Affairs, 27 June 2024 Given how few tickets are sold each year, a raise in ticket price may have to be part of that calculus as well. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 12 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for calculus 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'calculus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Latin, stone (used in reckoning)

First Known Use

1666, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of calculus was in 1666

Dictionary Entries Near calculus

Cite this Entry

“Calculus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/calculus. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

calculus

noun
cal·​cu·​lus ˈkal-kyə-ləs How to pronounce calculus (audio)
plural calculi -ˌlī How to pronounce calculus (audio)
-ˌlē
also calculuses
1
: a branch of higher mathematics concerned especially with rates of change and the finding of lengths, areas, and volumes
2
a
: a mass that consists mostly of mineral salts and is formed in a hollow organ or bodily duct

Medical Definition

calculus

noun
cal·​cu·​lus -ləs How to pronounce calculus (audio)
plural calculi -ˌlī, -ˌlē How to pronounce calculus (audio) also calculuses
1
: a concretion usually of mineral salts around organic material found especially in hollow organs or ducts
2
: a concretion on teeth : tartar

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