Algebra is the offer made by the devil to the mathematician. The devil says: `I will give you this powerful machine, it will answer any question you like. All you need to do is give me your soul: give up geometry and you will have this marvellous machine.'
The historical associations of the word algebra almost substantiate the sordid character of the subject. The word comes from the title of a book written by... Al Khowarizmi. In this title, al-jebr w' almuqabala, the word al-jebr meant transposing a quantity from one side of an equation to another and muqabala meant simplification of the resulting expressions. Figuratively, al-jebr meant restoring the balance of an equation... When the Moors reached Spain... algebrista... came to mean a bonesetter... and signs reading Algebrista y Sangrador (bonesetter and bloodletter) were found over Spanish barber shops. Thus it might be said that there is a good historical basis for the fact that the word algebra stirs up disagreeable thoughts.
Morris Kline, Mathematics and the Physical World (1959), p. 69
[T]he sciences that are expressed by numbers or by other small signs, are easily learned; and... this facility rather than its demonstrability is what has made the fortune of algebra.