The Vocabularist: What’s the root of the word computer?

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‘The defeat by a computer of a human champion at the game of Go has caused much excitement. But computers used to be human themselves, writes Trevor Timpson.

“Computer” comes from the Latin “putare” which means both to think and to prune. Virgil’s Georgics – depictions of country life – speak of tidying vines by pruning (fingitque putando).

The playwright Terence left one of the most famous Latin quotations – I am a man and I think nothing human foreign to me (humani… nihil alienum puto).’

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