Before I give you the lengthy definition of this word, let me tell you that I both love and hate the adoption of previously unrelated terms into a new use. Actually, unrelated might be a bit strong; deep (deep) down in the definitions of such words usually lies the description of such use.

Anderson Cooper, from one of my favorite word channels (CNN), used calculus to describe the dynamics of the situation in Syria.  He remarked that the strategy being discussed in his particular segment would not “change the calculus on the ground.”

We all know that calculus is math.  Really hard math.  But the term itself means calculation.  “Calculus on the ground,” as you will see below, describes the “system or arrangement of intricate or interrelated parts.”  Essentially the situation in that country’s crisis as it stands.

Now the definitions.  Follow this link to read the extensive compilation of dictionary definitions.  Some involve teeth and bladder stones.  All are too extensive to include in this post, but Merriam-Webster defines it thusly:  NOUN

1 a : a method of computation or calculation in a special notation (as of logic or symbolic logic)
b : the mathematical methods comprising differential and integral calculus —often used with the
2: calculation
3 a : a concretion usually of mineral salts around organic material found especially in hollow organs or ducts
b : 1 tartar

4 : a system or arrangement of intricate or interrelated parts

Origin of CALCULUS Latin, stone (used in reckoning) First Known Use: 1666


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