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n. pl. ob·e·li (-lī′)
1. A mark (— or ÷) used in ancient manuscripts to indicate a doubtful or spurious passage.
2. Printing See obelisk.

[Middle English, from Late Latin obelus, from Greek obelos, a spit, obelus.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n, pl -li (-ˌlaɪ)
1. (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) a mark (— or ÷) used in editions of ancient documents to indicate spurious words or passages
2. (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) another name for dagger2
[C14: via Late Latin from Greek obelos spit]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈɒb ə ləs)

n., pl. -li (-ˌlaɪ)
a mark (− or ÷) used in ancient manuscripts to point out questionable words or passages.
[1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin < Greek obelós spit, pointed pillar]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Statistical differences between methods are indicated by an obelus ([dagger]).
In reference to Syriac Fox uses the term obelus, meaning an ancient sign that something is corrupted or spurious.
OBELUS A South American weapon B Mouthful of food C Mark in a manuscript who am I?
Pfeiffer 1968, 115: "Zenodotus did not suppress the lines of which he doubted the genuineness, but left them in the context, marking them, however, on the margin with the obelus; he disclosed his own opinion and enabled the reader to check it"; also Montanari 2011, 2-3 for a recent reiteration of these views.