Definition of abacus in English:


Line breaks: aba¦cus
Pronunciation: /ˈabəkəs

noun (plural abacuses)

  • 1A simple device for calculating, consisting of a frame with rows of wires or grooves along which beads are slid.
    More example sentences
    • An abacus with 5 beads per wire will do quite nicely.
    • Our eventual aim is to display the complete history of computing, from the abacus to the latest machines.
    • A young man sat against the wall doing calculation with an abacus and recording data onto paper.
  • 2 Architecture The flat slab on top of a capital, supporting the architrave.
    More example sentences
    • The abacus is between the architrave and the aechinus in the capital.
    • The capital displays on three of its faces a single naked male dancer, whose head is positioned on the central axis, midway between volutes, as if to form a console supporting the abacus.
    • The waterleaf is a broad, unribbed, tapering leaf curving up towards the angle of the abacus and turned in at the top.


late Middle English (denoting a board strewn with sand on which to draw figures): from Latin, from Greek abax, abak- 'slab, drawing board', of Semitic origin; probably related to Hebrew 'āḇāq 'dust'.

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