1650s in geometry, in reference to conic sections, from Modern Latin parameter (1630s), from Greek para- "beside, subsidiary" (see para- (1)) + metron "measure" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure").

A geometry term until late 1920s when it began to be extended to "measurable factor which helps to define a particular system," hence the common meaning (influenced by perimeter) of "boundary, limit, characteristic factor," common from 1950s. Related: Parametric; parametrical.

"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]

"the metaphysics of mathematics," including the philosophy of non-Euclidian geometry, 1878, from meta- in the sense of "transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of" + mathematics. Related: Metamathematical.

"continuous bending, the essential characteristic of a curve," 1660s, from Latin curvatura "a bending," from curvatus, past participle of curvare "to bend," from PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend." In non-Euclidian geometry, from 1873.