The names of many technical and scientific subjects, like mathematics, physics, statistics, etc., etc., end with letters "ics". What is meant by this, if anything? Was there any logic behind it or is it just random?

I have discussed this with some experts on these subjects, but the answer was that it is random. But I want to make sure, is there nothing behind it?

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ If your expert said it was random, the expert wasn't an expert. $\endgroup$
    – Mast
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


It is not random. These names are of Greek origin, and -ic or -ics are Anglicizations of the Greek suffix -ikos, which meant "pertaining to". In other languages it can be rendered as -ika or -ica, Wolfram's "Mathematica" uses such a version. From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

"-ics in the names of sciences or disciplines (acoustics, aerobics, economics, etc.), a 16c. revival of the classical custom of using the neuter plural of adjectives with Greek -ikos "pertaining to" (see -ic) to mean "matters relevant to" and also as the titles of treatises about them. Subject matters that acquired their English names before c. 1500, however, tend to be singular in form (arithmetic, logic, magic, music, rhetoric). The grammatical number of words in -ics (mathematics is/mathematics are) is a confused question".

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    $\begingroup$ Not only -ika -ica but also -yka is popular (especially in eastern Europe) $\endgroup$
    – kukis
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you I have discussed a lot of time but I never got such logic , there was only one answer that its random thanks again.I am trying to understand this logic till to depth so that I can share this to other but if I will confuse than I will also ask some question...sir. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 9:06

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