What word in latin would be the best representation of the 'order' or 'cardinality' of a mathematical 'group' or 'set' respectively. I'm looking to translate "Finite Simple Group of Order 2[/Two]" into classical latin. In this context, it seems that it would mean the size of the set rather than the number of elements in it. I'm considering magnitūdō, mēnsūra, and numerus (just their singular nominative forms, because I don't need any hints on how to translate, but rather what word to use) as candidates, but I realise there may be a better alternative that I do not fully grasp the cultural connotations of the usage of these words.

Thank you!

  • Great question! Out of curiosity, are you translating that as an isolated phrase or in connection to something else? There is also a nice song by that name. // For those not in the know: A "finite simple group of order two" is something of a running joke, a very complicated way of saying a simple thing. It is a good exercise in algebra to figure out what the group is.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 22:38
  • It is simply an isolated phrase. I'm studying Latin, and I heard that song, and it inspired me to attempt a translation. Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


If I understand correctly, "order" in this context is conventional or idiomatic: it's used at this point because it's always been used that way.

In this case, I'd suggest ōrdō. Not only is it a decent translation of the English (in the sense of "methodical arrangement, ordering"), but it'll be immediately clear to mathematicians that the "order" is meant.

EDIT: As Joonas and C.M. Weimer have suggested in the comments, it may also be more idiomatic to use an ordinal number (ba-dum tsss). So instead of ōrdō duō "order two", perhaps ōrdō secundus "second order". That would make the full phrase something like grex fīnītus simplex ōrdinis secundī "finite simple group of the second order".

  • 1
    I agree that ordo is a good choice here. I might add that it sounds better to me to translate from "second order" than "order two". But as far as I know, there is no canonical modern mathematical Latin.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 22:29
  • 1
    I'll second ordo secundus.
    – cmw
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 22:43

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