[FOM] origin of "real"

Thomas Lord lord at emf.net
Mon Sep 19 18:40:56 EDT 2011

I have a history and semantics question that this
group might easily be able to answer (but elsewhere
is hard to find an answer for):

Who coined the term "real" as in "real number"
and *why* did they pick that word?

I ask because in a discourse on the programming 
language theory website "Lambda the Ultimate"
someone wrote:

"The reason real numbers have the name 'real' is
because they correspond to measures of the real

Retrospectively that sounds plausible but is it 
in fact the origin of the term?

It's not a particularly important point in that persons argument
so I'm not looking to go argue against it -- it's just
that, while plausible, that explanation is not one I've
heard before.  Is it a "just so story" is that really
the reason?  

So I'm curious if there is any more concrete
information about the origin of the term.



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