# Definition:Variable/Real

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## Definition

A **real variable** is a symbol which can stand for any one of a set of real numbers.

The symbols most often used to denote a **real variable** are $x$ and $y$.

## Also known as

When it occurs in a mathematical equation, a **variable** is often referred to as an **unknown**.

In the specific context of elementary algebra, the ugly misnomer **pronumeral** is frequently found in Australia. This was introduced by extension of the concept of a pronoun: a symbol that **stands in** for a **numeral**, by which the term number is actually meant.

Thankfully the term appears not to have caught on in general.

## Sources

- 1947: James M. Hyslop:
*Infinite Series*(3rd ed.) ... (previous) ... (next): Chapter $\text I$: Functions and Limits: $\S 2$: Functions - 1981: Murray R. Spiegel:
*Theory and Problems of Complex Variables*(SI ed.) ... (previous) ... (next): $1$: Complex Numbers: Graphical Representation of Real Numbers