The word “fraction” actually comes from the Latin word “fractio” which means ‘to break’. The line that separates the numerator and denominator is called the vinculum. This is also the word used to describe a connecting band of tissue, such as that attaching a flexor tendon to the bone of a finger or toe!!
History suggests that the first recorded evidence of the use of fractions dates back to 2000 B.C. The Egyptians used fractions to calculate taxes. Each piece of land owned by individuals was split into sections. Then each section was taxed by a certain amount. Similar methods were used in trading at sea, for example in whaling. Men were not paid daily, or monthly, or even given a certain amount for the number of whales caught. Instead they received a fractional share of the total proceeds of the voyage, known as the lay. The fraction earned could vary from around 1/8 for an experienced captain to 1/250 for a young and inexperienced cabin boy.
If you ever struggle with fractions, or just need a reminder, check out our “How to work with Fractions” guide. This will explain how to solve problems for all ages, from working out equivalent fractions in primary to solving algebraic fractions in Year 11. It also covers calculations, fractions of amounts and ordering.
Click on the picture below to view our useful guide.
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