\ \ [17] Latin computāre meant ‘reckon together’. It was a compound verb formed from the prefix com- ‘together’ and putārereckon, think’ (source of English putative and various derived forms such as amputate, deputy, dispute, impute, and reputation). It was borrowed into Old French as compter, from which English got count, but English compute was a direct borrowing from Latin. The derivative computer was coined in the mid-17th century, and originally meant simply ‘person who computes’; the modern meaning developed via ‘device for calculating’ at the end of the 19th century and ‘electronic brain’ in the 1940s.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.


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