from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. See sweet flag.
  • n. The aromatic underground stem of the sweet flag, yielding an oil used in perfumery.
  • n. Any of various chiefly tropical Asian climbing palms of the genus Calamus, having strong flexible stems used as a source of rattan.
  • n. See quill.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The sweet flag, Acorus calamus.
  • n. A quill.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The indian cane, a plant of the Palm family. It furnishes the common rattan. See rattan, and dragon's blood.
  • n. A species of Acorus (Acorus calamus), commonly called calamus, or sweet flag. The root has a pungent, aromatic taste, and is used in medicine as a stomachic; the leaves have an aromatic odor, and were formerly used instead of rushes to strew on floors.
  • n. The horny basal portion of a feather; the barrel or quill.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A reed; cane.
  • n. A kind of fragrant plant mentioned in the Bible (Ex. xxx. 23, etc.), and supposed to be the sweet-flag, Acorus Calamus, or the fragrant lemon-grass of India, Andropogon Schœnanthus; the sweet-flag.
  • n. [capitalized] A very large genus of slender, leafy, climbing palms, natives chiefly of eastern Asia and the adjacent islands.
  • n. A tube, usually of gold or silver, through which it was customary in the ancient church to receive the wine in communicating.
  • n. In music, a flute or pipe made of reed.
  • n. In ornithology, the hard, horny, hollow, and more or less transparent part of the stem or scape of a feather; the barrel, tube, or quill proper, which bears no vexilla, and extends from the end of the feather inserted in the skin to the beginning of the rachis where the web or vane commences. See cut under aftershaft.
  • n. An ancient Greek measure of length of 10 feet.
  • n. [capitalized] A genus of fishes, the porgies, belonging to the family Sparidæ.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. perennial marsh plant having swordlike leaves and aromatic roots
  • n. a genus of Sparidae
  • n. the aromatic root of the sweet flag used medicinally
  • n. the hollow spine of a feather
  • n. any tropical Asian palm of the genus Calamus; light tough stems are a source of rattan canes


Latin, reed, from Greek kalamos.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin calamus ("reed, cane"). (Wiktionary)


  • Herophilus, after whom the torcular herophili within the skull is named, and who invented the term calamus scriptorius for certain appearances in the fourth ventricle.

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  • For writing upon paper or parchment, the Romans employed a reed, sharpened and split in the point like our pens, called calamus, arundo, or canna.

    The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 01: Julius Caesar

  • The "calamus" followed the "brush," just as phonographic writing which denotes arbitrary sounds or the language of symbols, came after the picture or ideographic writing.

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  • In the garden grow "an orchard of pomegranates . . . spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense".

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  • Centering herself with a deep breath, she drizzled the oil over her hands and fingers, releasing the sharp scents of cinnamon and cassia, myrrh and calamus into the air.

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  • Jean-Julien pulled out and uncorked the vial, releasing the pungent odor of bergamot, licorice, and calamus root into the still air—a potent bend-over blend—and carefully tapped a portion of the black powder into the palm of his hand.

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  • In 1936 a Polish Anthropologist named Sula Benet discovered that in the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament the word "kaneh bosm" had been translated as calamus by the Greeks when they first rendered the Books in the 3rd century B.C., and then propagated as such in all future translations from the Greek as Hebrew ceased to be a spoken language, not again revived until the 1800's.

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  • Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:

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  • In 1936 a Polish Anthropologist named Sula Benet discovered that in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament the word "kaneh bosm" had been translated as calamus or fragrant cane by the Greeks when they first rendered the Books in the 3rd century BC.

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  • It turns out that a calamus is this beautiful, exotic flower, much beloved by the New England Transcendentalist writers Emerson, Thoreau, et al. for its erotic, phallic shape.

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  • "Long before the invention of television or the romantic novelist there was the Song of Songs, with its lyrical evocation of the loved one as 'an orchard of pomegranates with all the choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, with all chief spices.'"
    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation _ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), xiii.

    November 26, 2016

  • hollow spine of feather

    August 25, 2009