abacus(redirected from abacuses)
Also found in: Thesaurus, Financial, Encyclopedia.
n. pl. ab·a·cus·es or ab·a·ci (ăb′ə-sī′, ə-băk′ī′)
1. A manual computing device consisting of a frame holding parallel rods strung with movable counters.
2. Architecture A slab on the top of the capital of a column.
[Middle English, from Latin, from Greek abax, abak-, counting board, perhaps from a Semitic source akin to Hebrew 'ābāq, dust; see ʔbq in Semitic roots.]
Word History: The source of our word abacus, the Greek word abax, may have originated in one of the Semitic languages spoken in the ancient Near East. The Semitic word that was the source of Greek abax was probably akin to the Hebrew word 'ābāq, "dust," which in postbiblical usage could also mean "sand used as a writing surface." The Greek word abax has as one of its senses "a board sprinkled with sand or dust for drawing geometric diagrams." Boards like this were also used for performing arithmetic calculations by moving pebbles around the board, and these early abacuses eventually developed into the abacuses with movable counters strung on rods familiar to us today. Greek abax was borrowed into Latin as abacus, and then the Latin word was borrowed into Middle English. The first known use of the word abacus in English, found in a Middle English work written before 1387, refers to a kind of sand-board abacus that was used according to techniques that European mathematicians adopted from the Muslim world.
n, pl -ci (-ˌsaɪ) or -cuses
1. (Mathematics) 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. (Architecture) architect the flat upper part of the capital of a column
[C16: from Latin, from Greek abax board covered with sand for tracing calculations, from Hebrew ābhāq dust]
ab•a•cus(ˈæb ə kəs, əˈbæk əs)
n., pl. ab•a•cus•es, ab•a•ci (ˈæb əˌsaɪ, -ˌkaɪ, əˈbæk aɪ)
1. a device for making arithmetical calculations, consisting of a frame set with rods on which balls or beads are moved.
2. a slab forming the top of the capital of a column.
[1350–1400; Middle English < Latin: board, counting board, re-formed < Greek ábax]
On a Chinese abacus, the columns of beads go from right to left and represent ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, and so on. The beads above the crossbar have a value of five; the beads below the crossbar have a value of one. The beads are totaled when moved down or up toward the crossbar.
Plural abacuses or abaci (ăb′ə-sī′)
A computing device consisting of a frame holding parallel rods with sliding beads.
Switch to new thesaurus
|Noun||1.||abacus - a tablet placed horizontally on top of the capital of a column as an aid in supporting the architrave|
tablet - a slab of stone or wood suitable for bearing an inscription
|2.||abacus - a calculator that performs arithmetic functions by manually sliding counters on rods or in grooves|
abacus[ˈæbəkəs] N (abacuses (abaci (pl))) [ˈæbəsaɪ] → ábaco m
abacus[ˈæbəkəs] [abaci] [ˈæbəsaɪ] (pl) n (= counting frame) → boulier m
n pl <abaci> → Abakus m