One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounPlural clepsydrae, Plural clepsydras
An ancient time-measuring device worked by a flow of water.
- ‘He did this with a clepsydra, a vessel with a hole in the bottom and one in the top.’
- ‘The device they used to ensure fairness was the clepsydra - ‘captured water’ - and was a simple jar with a hole.’
- ‘Further back, the Chinese and the Romans used clepsydras (water clocks) at about the same time, although Egyptian sundials go further back.’
- ‘He designed a lotus clepsydra, that is a water clock which had a bowl shaped like a lotus flower on the top into which water dripped.’
- ‘Of course the sun could not be used to tell the time at night and clepsydras or water clocks were in use in Egypt by 1500 BC.’
Late Middle English: via Latin from Greek klepsudra, based on kleptein ‘steal’ + hudōr ‘water’.
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