14 March 2016

10 Words Derived From Numbers

Monday March 14 is Pi Day. That’s because when written out as numbers “March 14” becomes “3.14”, the first few digits of pi, 3.1415926… So in honour of the most mathematical day of the year, in this week’s #500Words video over on the HaggardHawks YouTube channel we’re looking at 10 Words Derived From Numbers.

You probably know a great many more words that fall under this category than you might think, from unicycle, bicycle and tricycle (“one-”, “two-” and “three-wheels” in Latin) to quartet and quintet (from the Latin for “fifth” and “sixth”), hexagon (“six-cornered” in Greek), heptathlon (Greek for “seven-contest”), and October, November and December (from the Latin for “eighth”, “ninth”, and “tenth”, as these were originally the eighth, ninth, and tenth months of the Roman year).

Alongside a handful of words you’ll recognise, however, we’re looking at some much less familiar words (like Septentrion and khamsin), as well as a few numerical word origins that you might not have known—including a part of the body named for the fact that it is typically 12 finger-breadths long, and a time of the day that now means three hours earlier than it used to

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