I'm wondering how do you read the following expressions. I have some guesses but I'd like someone to confirm whether my guesses are right and if there are other ways to read those numbers other than the ones I'm proposing.

  • 210 (my guess: "two to the power of then" or "two to the tenth power")
  • ∜5 (my guess: "the fourth root of five")
  • 2x (my guess: "two to the power of x")
  • x√2 (no idea)

Also, I know there are some special cases. For example, 52 is "five squared", √5 is the "square root of five", and ∛5 is the "cube root of five". Are there other special cases (maybe 53)?

  • Your last bullet is presumably "the xth root of two". Typesetting did not allow "X" to fit into the notch of the radical symbol.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 23, 2015 at 8:54

1 Answer 1


Your propositions are all correct. "4th root of five" can be read as "quad root of five", but 4-th root is no way incorrect and both ways are interchangeable. Similarly "fifth root" and "quintic root" are both acceptable. When you get to say 6th root people would understand it easier if you read "sixth root" than "hex root". This ought to answer your question on x√2 as well, with generalised reading of "x-th root of two".

5^3 is read "five cubed". For a^x you simply read "a to the power of x" for x greater than or equal to 4.

  • Thanks for your answer, very informative. By the way, how do you pronounce "x-th"?
    – josh
    Oct 23, 2015 at 9:00
  • @josh By simply reading the letter X and 'th' separately, with 'th' having the f sound (not good with phonetics myself) Oct 23, 2015 at 9:02

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