Why is the "<" symbol named the "less-than sign"?

Roger L Costello costello at mitre.org
Wed Sep 16 07:01:51 CDT 2020

Séamas made a really interesting remark:

	I always thought it was obvious, or at least fairly intuitive. 
	A < B: A is less than B; A > B: A is greater than B.

Me too! I've been taught (brainwashed?) from childhood to interpret "<" as less-than. But yesterday when I reflected on it, it occurred to me that there is nothing at all obvious or intuitive about using "<" to denote less-than. Why would two non-parallel lines terminating at the meeting point denote less-than? Stated another way, why would a "v" turned sideways denote less-than?

I guess someone (French mathematician Pierre Bouguer, British logician John Wallis) just made it up.


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