Adventures in Etymology: Dyscalculia



Reason for Adventure

This is an Adventure in Etymology that comes purely from my day-to-day non-reading life. One of my Facebook friends (and a Book of Faces Bookbagger!) introduced me to the word, and the knowledge that there is a learning disability for numbers and maths as dyslexia is to words and letters. As I’ve never been great with maths I right away connected with the word, plus it’s a fantastic sounding word – very Latin ūüėõ – so perfect for this feature. Definitions/Origins



1. acalculia. ( based on Random House Dictionary)

2. severe difficulty in making simple mathematical calculations, due to cerebral disease or injury (Collins English Dictionary)

3.  Impairment of the ability to solve mathematical problems, usually resulting from brain
dysfunction. (The American Heritage¬ģ Stedman’s Medical Dictionary)



dyscalculia. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from website:

dyscalculia. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary РComplete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from website:

dyscalculia. (n.d.).¬†The American Heritage¬ģ Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from website:

Online Etymology Dictionary Information

word-forming element meaning “bad, ill, abnormal,” from Greek dys-, inseparable prefix “destroying the good sense of a word or increasing its bad sense” [Liddell and Scott], “bad, hard, unlucky,” from PIE root (and prefix) *dus- “bad, ill, evil” (cf. Sanskrit dus-, Old Persian duŇ°- “ill,” Old English to-, Old High German zur-, Gothic tuz- “un-“), a derivative of *deu- “to lack, be wanting” (cf. Greek dein “to lack, want”). Very productive in ancient Greek, where it could attach even to proper names (e.g. dysparis “unhappy Paris”); its entries take up nine columns in Liddell and Scott. Among the words formed from it were some English might covet: dysouristos “fatally favorable, driven by a too-favorable wind;” dysadelphos “unhappy in one’s brothers;” dysagres “unlucky in fishing;” dysantiblepos “hard to look in the face.”

calculate (v.)
1560s, “to compute, to estimate by mathematical means,” from Latin calculatus, past participle of calculare “to reckon, compute,” from calculus (see calculus). Meaning “to plan, devise” is from 1650s. Replaced earlier calculen (mid-14c.), from Old French calculer. Related: Calculable.

*As Dyscalculia wasn’t listed this was the closest I could get*


Harper, D. (2014). Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from

Harper, D. (2014). Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from

For more information on Dyscalculia go to ūüôā

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