Become a mathematical master by learning these common maths terms!

Author

Chal Emery

Expert Reviewer

Jill Padfield

Published: July 2024

Become a mathematical master by learning these common maths terms!

Author

Chal Emery

Expert Reviewer

Jill Padfield

Published: July 2024

Become a mathematical master by learning these common maths terms!

Author

Chal Emery

Expert Reviewer

Jill Padfield

Published: July 2024

Key takeaways

**Maths has its own set of specialised “terms”**– Learning them can make your child’s maths experience much easier.**Practise, practise, practise**– It’ll take time to get used to using these new terms. Practice is key to making them stick—both for you and for your child.**Try flashcards or virtual quizzing tools**– Both you and your child can benefit from frequent review using tools like vocabulary cards or quiz tools.

Table of contents

Maths can be confusing—but it doesn’t have to stay confusing! Mastering the “language of the land” can help keep your homework sessions simple, painless, and even more effective, fully immersing your student in their learning process.

Below, we’ve rounded up the most common mathematical terms that you’ll encounter through KS3 and beyond, preparing your learner to thrive in higher-level educational settings.

Read on to learn common maths words and their related definitions via our handy list:

**Abacus**— An abacus is a tool that usually features beads or balls on bars, which can slide across to “count” an item or value.**Acute angle**— These are angles that measure between 0 and 90 degrees on a protractor, often creating very “slim-looking” angles like you’d see in an acute isosceles triangle. This term covers concepts that your learners will encounter in geometry.**Addend**— This term defines any number that’s being added with others.**Algebra**— Algebra is a specific area of maths study that swaps known values with variables, usually shown by an alphabetical letter. Your student might start maths lessons around algebra topics in KS2 and beyond.

**Bar graph**— Graphs like these represent values in a data set using “bars,” making them easy to visualise. Kids often find that they are the easiest to use to reference a specific data point or set on the x-axis and y-axis of a graph.**BEDMAS**— A handy alternative to PEMDAS, this acronym stands for Brackets, Exponents, Division, Multiplication, Addition, and Subtraction.

**Capacity**— This term defines what volume of substance something can hold in itself, and is often referenced in geometry or higher-level math.**Centimetre**— A centimetre is a metric unit of measurement.**Circumference**— This term defines the total distance around a circle.**Common factors**— Students often encounter common factors early on, identifying factors that divide cleanly into two separate numbers.**Constant**— Constants can be found in algebra and higher-level maths, and define unchanging numbers or values.**Congruent**— This term defines shapes that have the same shape and size.

**Decimal**— This is a mathematical mark that looks like a point (or dot), indicating a partial number or value.**Denominator**— This is the value or number that’s located at the bottom of a fraction, directly underneath the division bar.**Difference**— This is a special term given to the final answer of a subtraction problem.**Digit(s)**— Digits are numbers that fall on or between 0-9 in the number line. For example: The number 52 includes two digits, five (5) and two (2).**Divisor**— This is a number that slices a number into equal parts, and is used in division functions. It sits outside of the bracket when the student is doing long division.**Dividend**— This is the number that is being divided into equal parts during a division operation. It is located inside the division bracket.

**End Point**— An end point is the exact location where a line ends. It is indicated by a dot.**Equilateral**— This term defines a shape in which all sides are equal in length.**Even number**— An even number is a number that can be divided by two.

**Factor**— A factor of a number is a number that can divide the given number evenly. For example: Factors of 4 include 2, 4, and 1. (1 x 4, 2 x 2)**Factoring**— This is an operation that occurs when a student is breaking numbers down into their most basic components.

**Geometry**— This is an area of study in maths that focuses on shapes, angles, lines, and logical application of each.**Greatest common factor (GCF)**— The greatest common factor is the largest number that is common to a factorial set that can divide into both cleanly.

**Hypotenuse**— The hypotenuse is the longest side on a right-angled triangle.

**Improper fraction**— This term defines a fraction that is “top heavy” (meaning that the top number is larger than the denominator, or bottom number) or that is equal to its denominator. An example of an improper fraction in action would be 250/3.**Inequality**— Inequalities are housed in equations that show values that are less than or greater than each other. They may also be noted as equal or unequal to each other.**Integers**— This term defines whole numbers that are either negative or positive. It also includes the value of zero (0) in its definition.

**Kilometre**— A kilometre is equal to 1000 metres in length.

**Like terms**— Terms that are like share the same variable, as well as any associated powers or exponent notations.**Logic**— This is a term that’s used synonymously with critical thinking or reasoning.

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**Median**— This is defined as the middle number or value in a series. You can find it by putting your values in order from the least to greatest and finding the middle number.**Midpoint**— The midpoint is the point exactly in the middle of a line segment. It can also be a point in space that is exactly in the middle of two other set points.**Mean**— This is the average of a set of values. It can be found by adding up all numbers in a given series and dividing the sum (or the result) by the number of values present.**Mode**— The mode of a set is the value(s) that occur the most often.**Multiplication**— Multiplication is a math operation that repeats the addition process a certain number of times. It’s denoted by an “x” between two or more values (i.e., 4 x 4).

**Numerator**— The numerator is opposite the denominator in a fraction; sitting at the very top of the bar.

**Odd number**— An odd number is any number that can’t be evenly divided by two.**Operation**— This term defines any sort of processes related to division, subtraction, addition, or multiplication.**Order of operations**— This term defines the set of rules that is required to fully solve a mathematical equation. It follows the BEMDAS process (as above) and is also known as PEMDAS (which is the same as BEMDAS, swapping B for brackets for P for parentheses).

**Pentagon**— This term defines a shape with five sides and five angles.**Percent**— A percent is a “part of 100,” which is often converted to a fraction or ratio. It’s indicated using a percentage mark (%).**Product**— This defines the final answer of a multiplication problem.

**Proper fraction**— A proper fraction has a larger denominator (bottom number) and a smaller numerator (top number)

**Quotient**— A quotient is the final answer of a division problem.

**Ratio**— A ratio is a term that defines a relationship between two separate values. It can be converted to a percentage, fraction, or decimal.**Repeating decimal**— This is a value that is a part of a whole, in which the digits repeat into eternity. For example: 3.555555…**Right angle**— A right angle is an angle that measures exactly 90 degrees at its vertex.

**Subtraction**— This is a maths operation in which a value is taken away from another value, resulting in the difference. For example: 4-2 = 2.**Symmetry**— Symmetry occurs when two halves of a shape are a “perfect match” and mirror each other.

**Unit**— A unit can be used generally, defining a measurement of any type (such as centimetres or millimetres).

**Variable**— This term defines any letter or symbol that is in place of a number. For example: In x + 3 = 10, the variable is x, which stands in place of the value that would “solve” the equation (which is 7, in this case).

**Weight**— This term defines how heavy or light something is.

**X-axis**— This axis runs horizontally (sideways or side-to-side) on a graph.

**Y-axis**— This axis runs vertically (up and down) on a graph.

Parents, sign up for a DoodleMaths subscription and see your child become a maths wizard!

Lesson credits

Chal Emery

Chal Emery is a freelance writer. Outside of writing, he enjoys long drives through spectacular country, and spending time getting lost in a decent film.

Jill Padfield

Jill Padfield has 7 years of experience teaching mathematics, ranging from Algebra 1 to Calculus. She is currently working as a Business Analyst, working to improve services for Veterans while earning a masters degree in business administration.

Chal Emery

Chal Emery is a freelance writer. Outside of writing, he enjoys long drives through spectacular country, and spending time getting lost in a decent film.

Jill Padfield

Jill Padfield has 7 years of experience teaching mathematics, ranging from Algebra 1 to Calculus. She is currently working as a Business Analyst, working to improve services for Veterans while earning a masters degree in business administration.

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