Mathematician portmanteaus

From the NYT in January, a piece about Vi Hart (and her entertaining math doodling videos):

She calls herself a full-time recreational mathemusician, an off-the-beaten-path choice with seemingly limited prospects. And for most of the two years since she graduated from Stony Brook University, life as a recreational mathemusician has indeed been a meager niche pursuit.

It’s the portmanteau mathemusician.

(Hat tip to Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky.)

A little more on Hart:

Then, in November, she posted on YouTube a video about doodling in math class, which married a distaste for the way math is taught in school with an exuberant exploration of math as art .

… She did another about drawing stars (really about geometry and polygons). Then another about doodling snakes (which segues into graph theory, “a subject too interesting to be included in most grade-school curricula,” she says). And another about prime numbers. (“Remember, we use prime numbers to talk to aliens. I’m not making this up.”)

Wait, there’s more. There are mathemagicians. From the Wikipedia entry:

A mathemagician is a mathematician who is also a magician.

The name “mathemagician” was probably first applied to Martin Gardner, but has since been used to describe many mathematician/magicians, including Arthur T. Benjamin, Persi Diaconis, and Raymond Smullyan. Diaconis has suggested that the reason so many mathematicians are magicians is that “inventing a magic trick and inventing a theorem are very similar activities.”

… A character in The Phantom Tollbooth is known only as “The Mathemagician.” He rules over Digitopolis, the kingdom of numbers. [link]

There are surely more: one ghit for mathemasochism and a number for mathemoron, for example. But none for mathemajorette, mathemaharishi, or mathemalachite.



6 Responses to “Mathematician portmanteaus”

  1. irrationalpoint Says:

    In my head, I’ve been using “mathemagician” or just “magician” for mathematical logicians for ages…


  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    Wendy Thrash on Facebook:

    There are 7 ghits for metamathemagician.

  3. mike Says:

    Disney made the (mostly) animated film “Donald in Mathmagic Land” in 1959 (per the infallible Wikipedia):

    I remember seeing that in 5th or 6th grade, anyway, which was a long time ago.

  4. irrationalpoint Says:

    I shall be unable to avoid using “metamathemagician” in ordinary converasation now. Love it!


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    […] foofaraw and garmento, as well as several portmanteaus, such as murderabilia, viewmongous, mathemusician, and […]

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    […] overnight,” and from linguistics expert (linguexpert?) Arnold Zwicky, we read about the mathemagician, a mathematician who also happens to be a magician; viewmongous, a blend of view and humungous, […]

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