The First Algebra Printed in English: The Whetstone of Witte (1557) of Robert Recorde

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This volume investigates Robert Recorde's (1510ca.-1558) contribution to the origin and historical development of the English vocabulary of mathematical science in Tudor England. Special attention is given to his treatise "The Whetstone of Witte" (1557), which was the first competent introduction to algebra printed in the English language. While analysing Recorde's attitudes to mathematical terms in English, a language which had no vernacular tradition in that subject, this study also tries to bring to light the extent to which this Tudor "Scientist" (Kaplan 1960) was able to "bridge the gap between the university and the craftsman through his skillful use of the vernacular" (Kaplan 1960: 180) and to assess whether the direction, the intent and the language of his science can only be accounted for by his time. The data for this study originate from the scrutiny of all Recorde's works and the scrutiny of the Latin and vernacular works of the Ancient, Medieval, and Contemporary sources that had been in use among continental mathematicians for a long time.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherISU - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Number of pages195
ISBN (Print)88-8311-353-5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Early Modern English
  • Early Modern English Vocabulary of Algebra
  • Lessico dell'Algbebra del Primo Inglese Moderno
  • Primo Inglese Moderno


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