Etymologically, mathematics means "something learned". Its ultimate source was the Greek verb manthanein, "learn". Its stem form math- served as a basis of a noun mathema, "science" whose derived adjective mathematikos passed by way of Latin mathematicus and Old French mathematique into English as mathematic; now superseded by the contemporary term of mathematical (from about the 16th century).

Mathematics probably comes from French les mathematiques, a rendering of the Latin plural noun mathematica. From earliest times, the notion of "science" was bound up with that of "numerical reasoning", and when mathematics reached English it was still being used for various scientific discipines that involved geometrical calculations; such as, astronomy and physics, but gradually over the centuries it has been narrowed down to a cover term for the abstract numerical sciences; such as, arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.

The original meaning of the word's Greek ancestor is preserved in several English words; for example, polymath, "a person of wide learning" and philomath, "a fondness for learning".

—Based on information from Dictionary of Word Origins
by John Ayto; Arcade publishing, New York, 1990.

The current usages of the word mathematics

In its current usage, mathematics includes three departments:

  1. Arithmetic.
  2. Geometry, including Trigonometry and Conic Sections.
  3. Analysis, in which letters are used, including Algebra, Analytical Geometry, and Calculus.

Each of these divisions is divided into pure or abstract areas, which considers magnitude or quantity abstractly, without relation to matter; and mixed or applied, which deals with magnitude as subsisting in material bodies, and is therefore interwoven with physical considerations.

Pointing to a page about a the origins of mathematics. The word unit of math- elements.