scalar (adj.)

1650s, "resembling a ladder," from Latin scalaris "of or pertaining to a ladder," from scalae (plural) "ladder, steps, flight of steps" (see scale (n.2)). The noun in the mathematical sense of "a real number" is from 1846, coined by Irish mathematician William R. Hamilton (1805-1865), who can explain why it is the correct word for that.

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