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An adder is a machine that performs additions. Yeah, they really did used to have those sorts of things. If you are younger than 20 you probably aren’t familiar with any sort of electronic calculator, let alone a mechanical one, less powerful than a full-blown computer, but, believe it or not, there was a time when computers didn’t exist. I like to call that my early childhood. Back then, adders (also called adding machines) were considered to be marvelous gadgets.

My dictionary doesn’t say this, but I suppose you could also refer to someone who sits at his or her desk all day and does nothing but add numbers as an adder. You could also refer to them as insane because who the hell does that sort of thing these days? They have machines for that now.

An adder is also a common venomous snake found in Europe and northern Asia. That is to say, it’s not always found in Europe and parts of Asia. I don’t know about Asia, but I’ve been to Europe a few times and, fortunately, I’ve never found one. I’m not at all enamored with snakes and even less so with venomous snakes. But if you are crazy enough to want to find an adder and you don’t like going to zoos Europe and Northern Asia would be a good places to start your search.

I don’t know why a venomous snake came to be called an adder. I suppose it’s because so many people find arithmetic to be poison. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

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