Symbols:Nabla/Linguistic Note

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Linguistic Note on Nabla

The term nabla derives from the ancient Greek word νάβλα for a Phoenician harp.

This arises from the shape of the nabla symbol: $\nabla$.

The term was originally suggested by the encyclopedist William Robertson Smith to Peter Guthrie Tait.

As a result of this suggestion, the term was used in correspondence between Tait and James Clerk Maxwell, mainly in a jocular context.

The name gained official traction as a result of its adoption by Lord Kelvin in his lectures.