A cycle of sixty years used in the calendar of China and some other countries of the Far East, based on the combination of two basic cycles of ten and twelve.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Richard Brookes (fl. 1721–1763), physician and author. After French cycle sexagénaire, itself apparently used to translate Chinese gānzhī from the second element of tiāngān, lit. ‘heaven stem’ (of which there are a set of ten) + the second element of dìzhī, lit. ‘earth branch’ (of which there are a set of twelve), the two systems which, used in combination to count units of time, produce a cycle of sixty.