Originally titled in Greek Mathematike syntaxis ("Mathematical Composition"), commonly called Megale syntaxis "Great Composition" (Greek megale is the fem. of megas); Arab translators in their admiration altered this. Extended in Middle English to other works on astrology or astronomy,

mid-15c., originally in astrology and astronomy in the phrase quartile aspect in reference to celestial bodies when 90 degrees apart in longitude; see quartile (adj.). In statistics, from 1879.

"of, pertaining to, or of the nature of mathematics," early 15c., from Medieval Latin mathematicus "of or belonging to mathematics," from Latin mathematica (see mathematic) + -al (1). Also, by 1765, "pertaining to the quadrivium," comprising arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. It also could include optics. Related: Mathematically.

The four mathematical arts are arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy; these anciently were termed the quadrivium, or fourfold way of knowledge. [Sir John Hawkins, "A General History of the Science and Practice of Music," Sir John Hawkins, 1776]

in optics, "point or object from which light radiates," 1714; see radiant (adj.). In astronomy, of meteor showers, "the point in the heavens from which the shooting stars seem to proceed," by 1834, in reference to the great shower of the previous November.