from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A step-by-step problem-solving procedure, especially an established, recursive computational procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A precise step-by-step plan for a computational procedure that possibly begins with an input value and yields an output value in a finite number of steps.
  • n. Calculation with Arabic numerals; algorism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem; a set of procedures guaranteed to find the solution to a problem.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An erroneous form of algorism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem


Variant (probably influenced by arithmetic) of algorism.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French algorithme; from the Old French algorisme ("the Arabic numeral system"), a modification likely due to a mistaken connection with Ancient Greek ἀριθμός (arithmos); from Medieval Latin algorismus, a transliteration of Arabicized form of the name of the Persian mathematician al-Khwārizmī (الخوارزمي ("native of Khwarezm")). (Wiktionary)



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  • I've been noticing the increased usage of algorithm when referring to Facebook Google Instagram Amazon and other big web sites.
    It's almost like they're describing the personality of the site where the site maximizes ad revenue and games the users into using it more.
    But the rules of the game are hidden in a black box called 'the algorithm'.

    March 31, 2016

  • Named after the Persian mathematician Muhammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (c. 780-c. 850), referred to in Latin texts as Algoritmi or Algaurizin (acc. to Wikipedia). The "al-Khwarizmi" part of his name, which gave us the word "algorism", which then became "algorithm", means "from Khwarezm", a medieval country in Central Asia that was also known as Chorasmia. Hence, our word is both eponymous and toponymous.

    May 23, 2015

  • I never would have guessed this word was referring to a precise set of rules. It sounded to me like a word that meant theory.

    October 5, 2011

  • This word applies to Gladwell's book called Outliers.

    Check out his website.

    September 28, 2011

  • I stumble to this word when reading the book, Outliers. I found it interesting and new to me!

    September 28, 2011

  • Nice visuals! Good catch, fbharjo!

    July 24, 2011

  • Did Al Gore invent this, too?
    Maybe it was Gore Vidal?

    July 24, 2011

  • Citation: 'algorithm' used as a verb

    “Google’s culture is very much based on the power of the algorithm, and it’s very difficult to algorithm social interaction,” Ms. Li said. [Comments attributed to "Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group, a technology research and advisory firm" in Oct. 17th, 2010 New York Times article, "Determined to Crack the Social Code" by Claire Cain Miller.

    October 18, 2010

  • Eponymous and toponymous!

    December 16, 2007