While researching the source and use of mathematical formulas to calculate the radius of the earth, I came across this passage:

Mitchell also showed that the mean radius of the earth was defined by the ancient geodeters as being the meridian circumference divided by 44/7...

Online dictionary resources held no reference to the word geodeter. Using Google returned 4 indexed page results that contained an exact match, but the original language of each page is Swedish.

Is geodeter an actual word? If so, what is the meaning and etymology of the word?

Source passage

  • 1
    A good example is provided by Puissant, a distinguished geodeter and cartographer. But many if not most instances of the word in Google Books are actually misclassified German texts, so make of that what you will. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 14:17
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    The Oxford English Dictionary doesn't list geodeter, but it does have the similar word geodesist.
    – herisson
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 14:26
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    "Using Google returned 4 indexed page results". In the UK, Google gives 3800 hits, mostly in Swedish, including a Wikipedia "category" page, dictionary entries, etc. The Swedish-English dictionary dict.com/?t=se&set=_ense&w=geodeter gives the root word "geodet" = "geodesist, surveyor"
    – alephzero
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 21:37
  • @alephzero 4 indexed page results with an exact word match. i should have clarified the difference. i'll edit the post. thanks Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 21:54

2 Answers 2


The correct term is geodesist not geodeter (M-W) from geodesy:

Geodesy (n.) :

  • 1560s, "the art of land surveying," from Modern Latin geodaesia, from Greek geodaisia "division of the earth;" ultimately from ge "earth" (see Gaia) + stem of daiein "to divide," from PIE *dai-, extended form of root *da- "to divide."

  • In modern use it refers to mathematical calculations derived from measuring large portions of the earth's surface. In this sense, in reference to structures, from 1936.


See also Ngram: geodesy, geodesist, geodeter.

  • I think it might be worth adding a link from NOAA. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 22:02

From NOAA's article What Is Geodesy?


The science of accurately measuring and understanding three fundamental properties of the Earth: its geometric shape, its orientation in space, and its gravity field— as well as the changes of these properties with time.

So geodeters are those people who practice geodesy: literally they who measure the Earth.


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