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

  • n. An ancient device that measured time by marking the regulated flow of water through a small opening. Also called water glass.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A water clock, especially as used in the ancient world.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A water clock; a contrivance for measuring time by the graduated flow of a liquid, as of water, through a small aperture. See Illust. in appendix.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A device for measuring time by the amount of water discharged from a vessel through a small aperture, the quantity discharged in a given unit of time, as an hour, being first determined.
  • n. A chemical vessel.
  • n. [capitalized] [NL.] In zoology, a genus of mollusks; the watering-pot shells: now called Aspergillum.

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

  • n. clock that measures time by the escape of water


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

Latin, from Greek klepsudra : kleptein, kleps-, to steal + hudōr, water; see wed-1 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin clepsydra.


  • -- The clepsydra was a kind of water-clock; the other vessel is compared to it, because of the liquid in it.

    The Eleven Comedies, Volume 2

  • Stationed beside the clepsydra was a special officer whose duty it was not only to fill it but to stop the flow whenever a speaker was interrupted, thereby making certain he was not cheated of any of the time due him. "

    Christopher and the Clockmakers

  • MN This instrument showed the time with more accuracy than the hourglass, the clepsydra or the water-clock.

    Sailing on and on

  • Christie's carried a detailed introduction of the two bronzes on its website, saying that the two formed part of the zodiacal clepsydra that decorated the Calm Sea Pavilion in the Old Summer Palace of Emperor Qianlong 1736-1795.

    China Tries to Stop Auction

  • "The clepsydra comprised the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac each of which, in their turn, spouted water to mark the various hours of the day with the exception of midday, when this elaborate hydraulic mechanism triggered all of the animals simultaneously," Courteault said.

    China Tries to Stop Auction

  • They were originally part of a rococco clepsydra, or water clock, that featured the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac and was affixed to a pavilion inspired by Versailles.

    The Affair of the Chinese Bronze Heads

  • But the lawyer is always in a hurry; there is the clepsydra limiting his time, and the brief limiting his topics, and his adversary is standing over him and exacting his rights.


  • Do you imagine that there are any teachers in the world so clever as to be able to convince others of the truth about acts of robbery or violence, of which they were not eye - witnesses, while a little water is flowing in the clepsydra?


  • But the lawyer is always in a hurry; there is the water of the clepsydra driving him on, and not allowing him to expatiate at will: and there is his adversary standing over him, enforcing his rights; the indictment, which in their phraseology is termed the affidavit, is recited at the time: and from this he must not deviate.


  • Babylonians develop the clepsydra, a clock that measures time using the flow of water.

    25 Great Moments In Robotics History


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  • In sifting sand the minutes slip

    To measure out this mortal trip.

    By gnomon's shade

    The account is paid

    Or in clepsydra's heartless drip.

    May 9, 2014

  • Funny that yarb didn't bracket "bishopric."

    May 9, 2011

  • JM consults his personal clepsydra to determine the time of the next flood

    August 7, 2009

  • Such a drought affected Hippo in the most productive months of Augustine's bishopric that clepsydras had to be replaced by sandglasses.

    - Nabokov, Ada, or Ardor

    June 5, 2008

  • "...they greeted him with a reserved severity, pursed lips and significant looks at their watches, or in default of watches, at a Chinese clepsydra by the dried medicinal serpents."

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Thirteen Gun Salute, 204

    March 4, 2008