Definition of sexagesimal in English:


(also sexagesimal fraction)


  • 1Relating to or reckoning by sixtieths.

    ‘a decimal system like ours or a sexagesimal system like the Babylonian’
  • 2Relating to the number sixty.

    • ‘In ancient Babylon a sexagesimal system, that is a base of 60, was in use.’
    • ‘The Babylonian scale of enumeration is known as the sexagesimal system.’
    • ‘Writing developed and counting was based on a sexagesimal system, that is to say base 60.’
    • ‘No other culture of the ancient world developed a sexagesimal number system, although non-Sumerian groups adopted the Sumerian script to represent their languages and used their numerical system.’
    • ‘The most important of these was the sexagesimal place value system, widely associated with signs for the numbers 1, 10, 60, 600, and 3600.’


  • A fraction based on sixtieths (i.e. with a denominator equal to a power of sixty), as in the divisions of the degree and hour.

    • ‘The first deals with integers, the second with proper common fractions, the third with improper fractions, and finally the fourth with sexagesimals.’
    • ‘More fractions can therefore be represented as finite sexagesimal fractions than can as finite decimal fractions.’
    • ‘In fact there are fascinating glimpses of the Babylonians coming to terms with the fact that division by 7 would lead to an infinite sexagesimal fraction.’
    • ‘The necessary background mathematical tools are then introduced such as the arithmetical operations on sexagesimal fractions and the trigonometric functions.’
    • ‘It gave tables of sines with entries calculated to three sexagesimal places for each half degree of the argument.’


Late 17th century from Latin sexagesimus ‘sixtieth’ + -al.