The etymology of the word equal is from the Latin word aequalis, meaning "uniform, identical, or equal," from aequus "level, even, just." The "=" symbol that is now universally accepted by mathematics for equality was first recorded by Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde in The Whetstone of Witte (1557). The original form of the symbol was much wider than the present form. In his book Recorde explains his design of the "Gemowe lines" (meaning twin lines, from the Latin gemini):
...to auoide the tediouſe repetition of theſe woordes : is equalle to : I will ſette as I doe often in woorke vſe, a paire of paralleles, or Gemowe lines of one lengthe, thus: =, bicauſe noe .2. thynges, can be moare equalle.
...to avoid the tedious repetition of these words: "is equal to", I will set (as I do often in work use) a pair of parallels (or Gemowe lines) of one length (thus =), because no two things can be more equal.