It is probably an embarrassingly simple question, but here is the background: I find myself struggling to verbalize the conceptual, generic name for the terms in simple polynomial equations that are not directly in apposition to unknowns when doing parenting homework.

Just trying to express the very basic concept of "move all the terms with $x$-es to the LHS of the equation, and all the terms without $x$-es to the RHS."

"Constant" doesn't seem like a good choice, because the unknowns are not necessarily "random", such as in the most common one-equation/one-unknown elementary algebra problem.

I am not being picky. I just see that terminology from functions is spilling into the vocabulary of equations, creating noise in trying later to explain the concept of a "variable."

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ constant term instead of constant seems good $\endgroup$
    – Jack Frost
    Dec 4 '15 at 14:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I've always heard ‘the constant term’. $\endgroup$
    – Bernard
    Dec 4 '15 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ The other terms, in the most elementary equations, are also constant, though, aren't they? They are simply not "known". Or not immediately apparent - we need to perform some basic operations. So perhaps they shouldn't be called "unknown", either... $\endgroup$ Dec 4 '15 at 14:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I have seen it called the "free term". $\endgroup$
    – Wojowu
    Dec 4 '15 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Constant term seems to be the most common one. I've also heard affine term. $\endgroup$
    – Paul
    Dec 4 '15 at 14:21

Universally, people say that the "coefficient" of $x^0$ is called the constant term because any number to the power of 0 is 1. So basically $2x^0$ is just $2 \cdot 1$, which is just 2. Simple as that.


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