abacus

[ab-uh-kuh s, uh-bak-uh s]
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noun, plural ab·a·cus·es, ab·a·ci [ab-uh-sahy, -kahy, uh-bak-ahy] /ˈæb əˌsaɪ, -ˌkaɪ, əˈbæk aɪ/.
  1. a device for making arithmetic calculations, consisting of a frame set with rods on which balls or beads are moved.
  2. Architecture. a slab forming the top of the capital of a column.

Origin of abacus

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin: board, counting board, re-formed < Greek ábax
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for abaci

abacus

noun plural -ci (-ˌsaɪ) or -cuses
  1. a counting device that consists of a frame holding rods on which a specific number of beads are free to move. Each rod designates a given denomination, such as units, tens, hundreds, etc, in the decimal system, and each bead represents a digit or a specific number of digits
  2. architect the flat upper part of the capital of a column

Word Origin for abacus

C16: from Latin, from Greek abax board covered with sand for tracing calculations, from Hebrew ābhāq dust
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abaci

abacus

n.

late 14c., "sand table for drawing, calculating, etc.," from Latin abacus, from Greek abax (genitive abakos) "counting table," from Hebrew abaq "dust," from root a-b-q "to fly off." Originally a drawing board covered with dust or sand that could be written on to do mathematical equations. Specific reference to a counting frame is 17c. or later.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper