"art of computation, the most elementary branch of mathematics," mid-13c., arsmetike, from Old French arsmetique (12c.), from Latin arithmetica, from Greek arithmetikē (tekhnē) "(the) counting (art)," fem. of arithmetikos "of or for reckoning, arithmetical," from arithmos "number, counting, amount" (from PIE *erei-dhmo-, suffixed variant form of root *re- "to reason, count").
The form arsmetrik was based on folk-etymology derivation from Medieval Latin ars metrica; the spelling was corrected early 16c. in English (though arsmetry is attested from 1590s) and French. The native formation in Old English was tælcræft, literally "tell-craft."
updated on September 24, 2022