Word Origin & History
1550s, from M.L. from Arabic al jebr "reunion of broken parts," as in computation, used 9c. by Baghdad mathematician Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi as the title of his famous treatise on equations ("Kitab al-Jabr w'al-Muqabala" "Rules of Reintegration and Reduction"), which also introduced
Arabic numerals to the West. The accent shifted 17c. from second syllable to first. The word was used in Eng. 15c.-16c. to mean "bone-setting," probably from the Arabs in Spain.