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“Math” or “Maths”?

As far as I know, the term "math" is a clipped form of the word mathematics. In other words, it's already plural. So is there really a valid word "maths"?

I realize that the above is a picky/whiny question, and I'm definitely not an English professor, however I have seen the word "maths" show up in published technical articles (along with misspelled words and bizarre English), and I'm wondering if anyone is checking/editing this stuff.

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migrated from Apr 4 '11 at 20:16

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marked as duplicate by F'x, kiamlaluno, waiwai933, Kosmonaut Apr 4 '11 at 22:24

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You must be American. –  cardinal Apr 4 '11 at 19:12
That explains it. –  cardinal Apr 4 '11 at 19:17
Merriam-Webster: maths (I think most, if not all, Australians would use this form as well, as would at least many English-speakers in other former British colonies.) –  cardinal Apr 4 '11 at 19:22
Duplicate of –  onestop Apr 4 '11 at 19:50
@Orbling: So, is it OUR language or OURS language? Just kidding(s). –  bill_080 Apr 4 '11 at 21:28

2 Answers 2

You seem to leap to two unfounded conclusions: (a) that "mathematics" is plural in the first place, and (b) that just because the original form is singular/plural, any derivative form must be of the same number. Neither of these assumptions is an a priori truth.

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mathematics - is sort of plural. The original term means all things mathematical, or the mathematical sciences if you prefer –  mgb Apr 4 '11 at 21:22

Math is a noun, being an informal abbreviation of mathematics. Maths is a plural noun, treated as singular and also informal. It is chiefly British. Etymonline says that math is American English, dated 1890, while the British preference, maths, is attested from 1911. (The New Oxford American Dictionary confirms this.)

Both are commonly used as adjectives, as in “He was the best maths teacher ever!”.

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"Maths" is not being used as an adjective in "the best maths teacher ever". It's a noun in a compound noun phrase. –  Peter Taylor Apr 4 '11 at 21:41

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