Meaning of calamus in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkaləməs/

See synonyms for calamus on

nounplural noun calami/ˈkaləmʌɪ/

  • 1

    another term for sweet flag

    ‘The red pen, a calamus, was employed primarily for recording texts up until the 6th century, when the quill, the penna, the feather of a bird or a fowl, gradually replaced it.’
    • ‘The first to observe and name the calamus scriptorius (a cavity in the floor of the fourth cerebral ventrical), he called it kalamos because it resembles the carved out groove of a writing pen.’
    • ‘But calamus itself, the real thing, has a thick bulby root-stretches out-this way-like the fingers spread.’
    • ‘Acorus calamus plants originated from the Moossee, and were cultivated in a pond at the University of St Andrews.’
    1. 1.1mass noun A preparation of the aromatic root of the sweet flag.
      ‘The major herb in this category is calamus root (vacha).’
      • ‘The calamus root is, he continues, ‘most remarkable for its odor and for its medicinal properties.’’
      • ‘The speaker's psychological response to the calamus root closely resembles descriptions of hashish intoxication.’
      • ‘In accordance with Ludlow's idea that mutual drug use fosters a common understanding between the users, Whitman's poetic speaker leaves off singing about the effects of calamus and instead distributes the root to his friends.’
      • ‘As plainly described, the Biblical reference to calamus is merely as one of the ingredients in the Holy Anointing Oil.’
      • ‘Solomon included calamus among his listing of choice fruit and spices.’
      • ‘By contrast, the flowers of Acorus calamus from the family Aracea are relatively insignificant and its most appealing distinguishing feature is its foliage.’
      • ‘There is a report that indicates that amylase plays an important role in the anoxia-tolerant rhizome of Acorus calamus.’
      • ‘Some traditional herbal products display known toxicities (e.g., calamus, comfrey, and sassafras all have been shown to have carcinogenic actions).’
      • ‘Alcoholic extracts, tinctures and oils are made using herbs such as echinacea root, rosemary, nettles, birch leaves, burdock root, and seed together with a small amount of essential oils such as oils of, rosemary, lavender and calamus.’
  • 2Zoology
    The hollow lower part of the shaft of a feather, which lacks barbs; a quill.

    ‘A complex pattern of feather muscles connects the calami of neighboring feathers.’
    • ‘DNA for the two musophagids was obtained from the calamus of a single primary feather.’


Late Middle English (denoting a reed or an aromatic plant mentioned in the Bible): from Latin, from Greek kalamos. calamus (sense 1) dates from the mid 17th century.