Definition of abacus in English:


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nounplural noun abacuses

  • 1An oblong frame with rows of wires or grooves along which beads are slid, used for calculating.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘An older method was to use a counting frame such as the abacus.’
    • ‘At the same time, there has been a revival of interest in the ancient methods of calculation, especially the use of simple and unsophisticated gadgets such as the abacus.’
    • ‘Numbers are better manipulated as calculus stones or abacus beads than in human memory.’
    • ‘This time a simpleton working an abacus could probably project the winner.’
    • ‘If we could build a fully functioning quantum computer, it would represent an advance on the traditional electronic computer as big as the electronic computer represents over the abacus.’
    • ‘The Akkadians invented the abacus as a tool for counting and they developed somewhat clumsy methods of arithmetic.’
    • ‘Another contributor brought an abacus, to signal the impact the moneymen are having on the industry.’
    • ‘But for millions of people in the countryside, the abacus is still more common than a laptop.’
    • ‘In the end, a computer is nothing more than a complicated abacus.’
    • ‘Use a calculator, put pencil to paper, try an abacus.’
    • ‘The new system may be simpler but you still need an abacus to work it out.’
    • ‘They also had traditional toys such as an abacus, building bricks and fridge magnet numbers.’
    • ‘She gazed up at the sky while clutching a large abacus in her arms as if it were a musical instrument.’
    • ‘The imported toys on show at the ongoing exhibition range from fighters, space-ships and battle-ships and building-blocks to abacuses.’
    • ‘Dr Jones believes they may have counted using the horizontal abacuses prevalent in other European nations.’
    • ‘The abacus, as we know it today, first made its appearance in 1200 A.D. in China, where it was called ‘suan-pan’.’
    • ‘Using an abacus can stimulate the nerves in the fingers.’
  • 2Architecture
    The flat slab on top of a capital, supporting the architrave.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘The uppermost molding, or abacus, of this capital is 2.8 meters wide.’



/ˈabəkəs/ /ˈæbəkəs/


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’.