Why is slope represented by the letter m?Any help is appreciated.

Asked on by labtrap

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dwbettine's profile pic

dwbettine | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I believe rozo711 has come closest to an accurate answer. I just have one or two pieces to add and the link below will help. I believe slope is represented by an 'm' due to the Latin word 'modus' which means measure. See the link below for more details.

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Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

It seems that there is no set answer but there are some guesses and urban legends:

In our system, the first letters of 
the alphabet, a, b , c... represent the constants, the last 
letters, x, y, z represent the unknown variables and the middle 
letters, m, n, p... represents the parameters. When we started the 
explanations of slope, it was in studying the first degree 
equation: y = mx + b. x and y were the variables, b was fixed and 
considered as a constant, and what was appended to the 
coefficient of x as its value varied. So it was a parameter and 
that is why we used m.



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