[kee-poo, kwip-oo]


a device consisting of a cord with knotted strings of various colors attached, used by the ancient Peruvians for recording events, keeping accounts, etc.

Origin of quipu

1695–1705; < Spanish < Quechua khipu
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quipu

Historical Examples of quipu

  • After these words he sat down, and threw in his quipu—a movement which was imitated by the other chiefs.

    The Insurgent Chief

    Gustave Aimard

  • The first material book was doubtless a series of knots well represented by the quipu (Fig. 2) of the ancient Peruvians.

    Stories of Useful Inventions

    Samuel Eagle Foreman

  • The quipu, or knotted reckoning cord was in use in Peru, as in China.

  • The quipu has been sent round, and the chiefs who will be present at the meeting are twenty in number.

    Last of the Incas

    Gustave Aimard

  • Which are the nations that accepted the quipu, and sent their warriors to the gathering place?

    Last of the Incas

    Gustave Aimard

British Dictionary definitions for quipu




a device of the Incas of Peru used to record information, consisting of an arrangement of variously coloured and knotted cords attached to a base cord

Word Origin for quipu

C17: from Spanish quipo, from Quechua quipu, literally: knot
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 quipu

ancient Inca recording device using knotted cords, 1704, from Quechua quipu "knot."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper