The element of a set of numbers that when combined with another number in a particular operation leaves that number unchanged. For example, 0 is the identity element under addition for the real numbers, since if a is any real number, a + 0 = 0 + a = a. Similarly, 1 is the identity element under multiplication for the real numbers, since a × 1 = 1 × a = a. Also called unity.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.