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News from Mathnasium of Hinsdale

"Hundred" Doesn't Mean 100

Dec 16, 2019

According to MashedRadish, "hundred" doesn't mean "100" because the roots of the word comes from three different languages: Old Norse, Old English, and Latin.

The articles goes on to tell us exactly how that breaks down by each language:

  • In Old Norse didn’t even mean 100: It meant 120!
  • "Hund" has very widespread cognates across the Indo-European languages, such as the Latin centum (century, centennial), and is rooted in the Proto-Indo-European.
  • And "red" comes from an old Germanic root meaning “reckoning,” found in the Gothic raþjo, “reckoning, account, number.” For this root, Indo-European scholars have reconstructed *re(i)-, “to reason” or “count.”

100 shows up in everyday places. It marks the end of a century, it tells us how many centimeters are in a meter, and in Roman numerals, it it marked with a "C" for century!