Did You Know?
Probably of Babylonian origin, an abacus is a calculating instrument that uses beads that slide along a series of wires or rods set in a frame to represent the decimal places. 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 century, it is still used in the Middle East, China, and Japan.
Origin and Etymology of abacus
Latin, from Greek abak-, abax, literally, slab
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
ABACUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of abacus for English Language Learners
: a device used for counting and calculating by sliding small balls or beads along rods or in grooves
ABACUS Defined for Kids
Definition of abacus for Students
: an instrument for doing arithmetic by sliding counters along rods or in grooves
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