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To the nth degree

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 09, 2007

In Reply to: To the nth degree posted by James Maiewski on April 09, 2007

: In re: "dressed to the nines." When I read that it was first seen as a translation, and that the translated phrase was "to the nine degree," I immediately thought of "to the nth degree." When was this phrase coined? was it in use in France?

In math, nth or Nth uses N as a sort of placeholder for any number, or specifically for some number as a place in a series. In general use, however, to the nth degree, to the nth power, for the nth time, it is used to mean to the highest degree, to the utmost degree, without limit, for the umpteeth time. (OED paraphrased.)

If this has anything to do with "dressed to the nines," it hasn't been shown to me.

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