Roots, Radicands, and Radicals

Roots, radicands, and radicals are yet another way to express numbers in algebra. In this post, we will go over some basic terms to know.


A square root is a number that is multiplied by itself to get a new number. Below is an example


In the example above 5 is the square root of 25. This means that if you multiply 5 by its self you would get 25.

Another term to know is the square. The square is the result of multiplying a number by its self. In the expression above 25 is the square of 5 because you get 25 by multiplying 5 by its self.

Square Roots

Square roots, in particular, have a lot of other ways to be expressed. To understand square roots you need to know what roots, radicands, and radical sign are. Below is a picture of these three parts.


The radical sign is simply a sign like multiplication and division are. The radicand is the number you want to simplify by finding a number that when multiplied by itself would equal the value in the radicand. We also call this new number the square root. For example,


What the example above means is that the number you can multiply by itself to get 100 is 10.

The index is trickier to understand. It tells you how many times to multiply the number by its self to get the radicand. If no number is there you assume the index is 2. Below is an expression with an index that is not 2.


What this expression is saying is that you can multiply 2 by its self 3 times to get eight as you can see below.

2 * 2  = 4 * 2 =  8

Additional Terms

There are some basic terms that are needed to understand using radicals. Generally, when every we are speaking of multiplying two times we call it square. Multiplying three times is referred to as cub or cubic. Anything beo=yond 3 is called to the nth powered. For example, multiplying a number by its self 4 times would be called to the 4th power, 5 times to the 5th power etc. However, some people referred to the square as the 2nd  power and the cube as the 3rd power if this is not already confusing. Below is a table that clarifies things

Number Power Example
2 square n2
3 cube n3
4 4th power n4
5 5th power n5


There are many more complex ideas and operations that can be performed with radicands and radicals. One of the primary benefits is that you can avoid dealing with decimals for many calculations when you understand how to manipulates these terms. As such, there actual are some benefits in understanding radicands and radicals use.

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