• synonyms

slide rule

  1. a device for performing mathematical calculations, consisting essentially of a ruler having a sliding piece moving along it, both marked with graduated, usually logarithmic, scales: now largely replaced by the electronic calculator.
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Origin of slide rule

1655–65 for earlier sense; 1875–80 for current sense
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for slide-rule

Historical Examples

  • Hoskins, there, he's going to be a slide-rule, jus' you wait and see.

    Breaking Point

    James E. Gunn

  • Seaton threw down the papers and picked up his slide-rule, a twenty-inch trigonometrical duplex.

    Skylark Three

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • I watched him copy the indicated figures, surround them with formulas, and solve mysterious problems with a slide-rule.

  • The slide-rule (see Calculating Machines) is a simple apparatus for the mechanical application of the methods of logarithms.

  • This was a little rocket canister which had just enough poof, the slide-rule boys had said, to stop the rotation of the bird.

British Dictionary definitions for slide-rule

slide rule

noun obsolete
  1. a mechanical calculating device consisting of two strips, one sliding along a central groove in the other, each strip graduated in two or more logarithmic scales of numbers, trigonometric functions, etc. It employs the same principles as logarithm tables
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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 slide-rule


also slide rule, mathematical calculating tool, 1838, from slide (v.) + rule (n.). So called for its method of operation. Earlier sliding-rule (1660s).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper