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Abacus harmonicus
Abaft the beam

Abacus definitions

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

AB'ACUS, n. [L. anything flat, as a cupboard, a bench, a slate, a table or board for games; Gr. Usually deduced from the Oriental, abak, dust, because the ancients used tables covered with dust for making figures and diagrams.]
1. Among the Romans, a cupboard or buffet.
2. An instrument to facilitate operations in arithmetic; on this are drawn lines; a counter on the lowest line, is one; on the next, ten; on the third, a hundred, _e. On the spaces, counters denote half the number of the line above. Other schemes are called by the same name. The name is also given to a table of numbers, cast up as an abacus of addition; and by analogy, to the art of numbering, as in Knighton's Chronicon.
3. In architecture, a table constituting the upper member or crowning of a column and its capital. It is usually square, but sometimes its sides are arched inwards. The name is also given to a concave molding on the capital of the Tuscan pedestal; and to the plinth above the boultin in the Tuscan and Doric orders.
AB'ACUS PYTHAGORICUS, The multiplication table, invented by Pythagoras.
ABACUS HARMONICUS, The structure and disposition of the keys of a musical instrument.
ABACUS MAJOR, A trough used in mines, to wash ore in.

WordNet (r) 3.0 (2005)

1: a tablet placed horizontally on top of the capital of a column as an aid in supporting the architrave
2: a calculator that performs arithmetic functions by manually sliding counters on rods or in grooves

Merriam Webster's

noun (plural abaci or abacuses) Etymology: Latin, from Greek abak-, abax, literally, slab Date: 14th century 1. an instrument for performing calculations by sliding counters along rods or in grooves 2. a slab that forms the uppermost member or division of the capital of a column

Britannica Concise

Calculating instrument that uses beads that slide along a series of wires or rods set in a frame to represent the decimal places. Probably of Babylonian origin, it is the ancestor of the modern digital calculator. Used by merchants in the Middle Ages throughout Europe and the Arabic world, it was gradually replaced by arithmetic based on Hindu-Arabic numerals. Though rarely used in Europe past the 18th cent., it is still used in the Middle East, China, and Japan.

Oxford Reference Dictionary

n. (pl. abacuses) 1 an oblong frame with rows of wires or grooves along which beads are slid, used for calculating. 2 Archit. the flat slab on top of a capital, supporting the architrave. Etymology: L f. Gk abax abakos slab, drawing-board, f. Heb. ' abak dust

Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Abacus Ab"a*cus ([a^]b"[.a]*k[u^]s), n.; E. pl. Abacuses; L. pl. Abaci (-s[imac]). [L. abacus, abax, Gr. 'a`bax] 1. A table or tray strewn with sand, anciently used for drawing, calculating, etc. [Obs.] 2. A calculating table or frame; an instrument for performing arithmetical calculations by balls sliding on wires, or counters in grooves, the lowest line representing units, the second line, tens, etc. It is still employed in China. 3. (Arch.) (a) The uppermost member or division of the capital of a column, immediately under the architrave. See Column. (b) A tablet, panel, or compartment in ornamented or mosaic work. 4. A board, tray, or table, divided into perforated compartments, for holding cups, bottles, or the like; a kind of cupboard, buffet, or sideboard. Abacus harmonicus (Mus.), an ancient diagram showing the structure and disposition of the keys of an instrument. --Crabb.

Collin's Cobuild Dictionary

(abacuses) An abacus is a frame used for counting. It has rods with sliding beads on them. N-COUNT


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