Additional Math Pages & Resources

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How Wrong?

In a math class, after discussion of a topic, investigation of its relationships to things they already know, and some practice, we then ask students to find the answers to a question or problem.

Sometimes students succeed and sometimes they fail. Sometimes they are close and sometimes they miss by a country mile. They can right on, or flat wrong.

But what is wrong? Does it mean "I blew it but I was sincere - so I should receive credit anyway?"
  • the original sources of wrong meant twisted, crooked, bent, uneven, sour
  • wrongness usually refers to a state of incorrectness, inaccuracy, error or miscalculation
  • a wrong answer refers to an error of calculation or judgment
  • wrong can mean inaccurate, incorrect, false, untrue, mistaken, improper, amiss, askew, at fault, awry, defective, erring, erroneous, fallacious, false, faulty, fluffed, goofed, erred, miscalculated, misconstrued, misguided, mishandled, mistake, off-target, off-track, out of line, out of order, perverse, specious, spurious, unsatisfactory, unsound, untrue, or unsuitable
A clever tool called the Visual Thesaurus constructs diagrams to show you relationships between words and meanings. They chart the word wrong like this:

We are most interested in the branch at the bottom that's labeled incorrect. Generally speaking (and thankfully) answers to math questions can be wrong without being immoral.

The dictionary tells me that we can say wrong, more wrong and most wrong, but we can't
  • use wronger or wrongest or wrongified
  • say he wronged the problem 
  • wrong'd is incorrect as well
  • finally, wring and wrung aren't even related to wrong