Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

clepsydra

play
noun, clep·sy·dra \ˈklep-sə-drə\

Definition of clepsydra

plural clepsydras or clepsydraeplay \-ˌdrē, -ˌdrī\



Did You Know?

In ancient times the sun was used to measure time during the day, but sundials weren't much help after dark, so peoples around the world invented clocks that used dripping water to mark the hours. In one kind of water clock, possibly invented by the Chaldeans, a vessel was filled with water that was allowed to escape through a hole. The vessel's inside was marked with graduated lines, and the time was read by measuring the level of the remaining water. The ancient Greeks called their water clocks "klepsydra" ("water thief"), which comes from "kleptein" ("to steal") and "hydōr" ("water"). English speakers stole "clepsydra" from the Greeks in the 16th century, but actual water clocks have become increasingly rare.

Origin of clepsydra

Latin, from Greek klepsydra, from kleptein to steal + hydōr water — more at klept-, water


First Known Use: 1580


Learn More about clepsydra


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up clepsydra? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

deserving imitation because of excellence

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

disapprove perplex soothe reduce
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ