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Glossary of Common Math Terms

homework helpUse the definitions in this glossary of math terms to help you talk about math ideas with your child.

  • Angle: the V-shaped figure formed by two lines meeting at a point (angle shape); or, the measure of the turn formed by two lines meeting at a point (angle measure).
  • Attribute: a detail, such as size, shape, or color, used to describe an object.
  • Area: the number of square units that fit inside a two-dimensional shape (like a rectangle), or that cover a surface of a three-dimensional shape (like a cube).
  • Bar Graph: a graph where the length of a bar represents a certain amount.
  • Circle: a two-dimensional round shape where every point on its boundary is the same distance from the center.
  • Circumference: the distance around a circle.
  • Cube: a three-dimensional solid shape with 6 identical square faces.
  • Cylinder: a three-dimensional solid shape with identical circular ends (a can).
  • Estimation: an educated ‘guess’; a rough calculation.
  • Geometry: the mathematics of points, angles, lines, surfaces, flat shapes and solids.
  • Graph: a drawing or diagram that shows the relationship between numbers using pictures, bars, or lines.
  • Line: a collection of points forming a straight path extending in two directions.
  • One-to-One Correspondence: the matching of one thing to another; for example, the matching of the number “3″ to three bears, or “4″ to moving forward four spaces on a board game.
  • Parallel: lines that are always the same distance apart and never intersect.
  • Pattern: a design or sequence that repeats itself in a predictable way.
  • Probability: the numerical chance that a specific outcome will occur.
  • Pyramid: a three-dimensional shape with a square or triangular base and triangular sides that come together in a point.
  • Rectangle: a two-dimensional, four-sided shape with two pairs of equal-length, parallel sides and four right angles.
  • Spatial Reasoning Skills: the ability to figure out how two-dimensional flat shapes or three-dimensional solid shapes may fit together to create new shapes.
  • Square: a two-dimensional, four-sided shape with equal-length sides and four right angles.
  • Statistics: the mathematics of collecting and analyzing data to draw conclusions and make predictions.
  • Symmetry: an attribute of a figure where one part of it fits exactly onto itself, as when something can be folded along a line so the two halves match exactly.
  • Tally: a way to keep track when counting by making marks or using counters.
  • Tessellation: a design of repeating shapes that fit together without gaps or overlaps.
  • Triangle: a two-dimensional, three-sided shape with three angles.
  • Volume: how much a container holds, or the amount of space occupied by a three-dimensional object.
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