I've never come up with a better one, probably part of why I decided to quit rebelling against the term. I do kind of translate the term in my head to an image of the number's direction. I finally "got" the whole concept when my husband, an engineer, said that the negative just meant the number was heading south. The directional explanation was a light bulb moment for me -- long after college math classes were done. I'm slowly working my way through calculus with him; I doubt I could if I was still frustrated by the term.
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