One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A system of notation or symbols regarded as, or devised to be, systematic and rational.
2A system of representing some given number as a product of a number with an absolute value between 1 and 10 (or between 0·1 and 1) and a power of 10 (as 2 ×102 or 0.2 × 103 for 200).
Early 19th century.
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