I’d popped over to Wikipedia to check out this notion I’d had rattling around in my head for years that when Britain and her dominions switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1750 there were minor riots with people indignantly demanding that the Government return their eleven missing days. (It turns out there were no such riots; it was a myth based in part on a misinterpretation of a political print by Hogarth, An Election Entertainment.)
While on the Wikipedia page I followed the link to the 1750 Act and straight came across this word: supputation.
Whereas the legal supputation of the year of our Lord in England, according to which the year beginneth on the twenty-fifth day of March, hath been found by experience to be attended with divers inconveniences, not only as it differs from the usage of neighbouring nations, but also from the legal method of computation in Scotland, and from the common usage throughout the whole kingdom, and thereby frequent mistakes are occasioned in the dates of deeds and other writings, and disputes arise therefrom: And whereas the calendar now in use throughout all his Majesty’s British dominions, commonly called The Julian Calendar, hath been discovered to be erroneous, by means whereof the vernal or spring equinox, which at the time of the general council of Nice in the year of our Lord three hundred and twenty-five happened on or about the twenty-first day of March, now happens on the ninth or tenth day of the same month; and the said error is still increasing, and if not remedied would in process of time occasion the several equinoxes and solstices to fall at very different times in the civil year from what they formerly did, which might tend to mislead persons ignorant of the said alteration: ............
OED defined thus: “The action or process of calculating or computing (an amount, chronological period, etc.); calculation, computation, reckoning. Also: an instance of this; a method or system of reckoning; a calculation. Now arch. and rare.”
Interesting, but here’s what I found fascinating. The ultimate Latin root is the verb putare, to trim, to prune, and later to clear up, settle, reckon. And this same word for pruning is behind all of the following English words: compute, reputation, dispute, deputy, imputation, putative, amputate (back to beginnings there) and more.
From a Cincinnatus pruning his vines on his farm to an Englishman typing these words on his superfast laptop computer, that’s some journey for the humble putare.