cal·​a·​mus | \ ˈka-lə-məs How to pronounce calamus (audio) \
plural calami\ ˈka-​lə-​ˌmī How to pronounce calamus (audio) , -​ˌmē \

Definition of calamus

1a : sweet flag
b : the aromatic peeled and dried rhizome of the sweet flag that is the source of a carcinogenic essential oil
2 : the hollow basal portion of a feather below the vane : quill

Examples of calamus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Though the calamus was visible in the 1860s and included in drawings of the fossil at the time, wear on the specimen caused the feature to fade from view. Ryan Carney, National Geographic, 30 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calamus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of calamus

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for calamus

Latin, reed, reed pen, from Greek kalamos — more at haulm

Learn More About calamus

Time Traveler for calamus

Time Traveler

The first known use of calamus was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near calamus



calamus oil

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for calamus

Cite this Entry

“Calamus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for calamus


cal·​a·​mus | \ ˈkal-ə-məs How to pronounce calamus (audio) \
plural calami\ -​ˌmī, -​ˌmē How to pronounce calamus (audio) \

Medical Definition of calamus

2 : the aromatic peeled and dried rhizome of the sweet flag that is the source of a carcinogenic essential oil

More from Merriam-Webster on calamus Encyclopedia article about calamus


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!