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
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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
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having a quality expressive of sadness
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