After taking a building construction course, most Waterloo Architecture students are familiar with the term aggregate as being the main constituent in concrete, mortar, and plaster; aggregates can be materials such as gravel or sand, which are added to a binding agent in order to form concrete. The term also has a broader definition pertaining to aggregate as a noun, and is used to describe an assemblage, a collection, or a whole formed by the gathering of units or particles. As an adjective, aggregate is described as being formed by the collecting of elements into one mass; this action of collecting can be described by aggregate as a verb. This idea of aggregate as a combined sum is what ties (or aggregates… ha-ha…) the different forms of the term together.
The term aggregate (n.) is from the use of the classical Latin word “aggregatum” (adj.) which is the number of persons or things regarded as an entirety. Aggregate is closely related to gregarious which means to gather or assemble into a herd or flock. The granular materials such as crushed stone, gravel, and sand—or aggregates—are what carry out the action of gathering, collecting, and assembling into one body or mass (the concrete, mortar, or plaster). They are all individual components each serving a purpose to unite and cooperate with each other in order to create a blended whole.
The term aggregate can also be used to describe many different types of collections. A social aggregate is a gathering of people who, together, do not form a true social group. Some Christian churches have single religious services—or aggregates—made up of several Canonical hours. In music, the set of all twelve pitch classes is called the total chromatic or the aggregate. No matter the use, the term aggregate serves as a connector of separate elements, joining them together as one.
Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary." Last modified 2012. Accessed November 17, 2012. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=aggregate&searchmode=none