[al-guh-rith-uh m]
See more synonyms for algorithm on

Origin of algorithm

1890–95; variant of algorism, by association with Greek arithmós number. See arithmetic
Related formsal·go·rith·mic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for algorithmic


  1. a logical arithmetical or computational procedure that if correctly applied ensures the solution of a problemCompare heuristic
  2. logic maths a recursive procedure whereby an infinite sequence of terms can be generated
French name: algorism
Derived Formsalgorithmic, adjectivealgorithmically, adverb

Word Origin for algorithm

C17: changed from algorism, through influence of Greek arithmos number
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for algorithmic

by 1799, from algorithm + -ic. In reference to symbolic rules or language, by 1881.



1690s, from French algorithme, refashioned (under mistaken connection with Greek arithmos "number") from Old French algorisme "the Arabic numeral system" (13c.), from Medieval Latin algorismus, a mangled transliteration of Arabic al-Khwarizmi "native of Khwarazm," surname of the mathematician whose works introduced sophisticated mathematics to the West (see algebra). The earlier form in Middle English was algorism (early 13c.), from Old French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

algorithmic in Medicine


  1. A step-by-step protocol, as for management of health care problems.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

algorithmic in Science


  1. A finite set of unambiguous instructions performed in a prescribed sequence to achieve a goal, especially a mathematical rule or procedure used to compute a desired result. Algorithms are the basis for most computer programming.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

algorithmic in Culture



A set of instructions for solving a problem, especially on a computer. An algorithm for finding your total grocery bill, for example, would direct you to add up the costs of individual items to find the total.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.