Definition of calculus
- … 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
by my calculus the more efficient air conditioner will have paid for itself within a span of five years
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calculus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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.
First Known Use: 1666See Words from the same year
: an advanced branch of mathematics that deals mostly with rates of change and with finding lengths, areas, and volumes
What made you want to look up calculus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).