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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Clepsydra \Clep"sy*dra\ (?; 277), n. [L. from Gr. ?; ? to steal, conceal + ? water.] 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. [1913 Webster] ||

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"ancient Greek water clock," 1640s, from Latinized form of Greek klepsydra, from stem of kleptein "to steal, to hide" (see kleptomania) + hydor "water" (see water (n.1)).


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

  1. n. clock that measures time by the escape of water [syn: water clock, water glass]

  2. [also: clepsydrae (pl)]

Clepsydra (genus)

Clepsydra is a recently described genus of diatoms, including the species Clepsydra truganiniae. It was found in Tasmania.


Clepsydra may refer to:

  • Clepsydra. Swiss Music Band :nl:Clepsydra (band)
  • Clepsydra (literally "water thief"), the Greek word for water clock. Also, in ancient Greece, a device ( water thief) for drawing liquids from vats too large to pour, which utilized the principles of air pressure to transport the liquid from one container to another.
  • Clepsydra Geyser in the Lower Geyser Basin of Yellowstone
  • Clepsydra, a genus of protists

Usage examples of "clepsydra".

Obidhen promised three hours by the clepsydra in the courtyard, having his beasts within the pens to the north of the city, and his gear and his tents, he said, well-ordered and waiting in the warehouses by the northern gate.

The long days, and after them the nights, seemed measured out not by the clepsydra but by the brown drops which Hermogenes counted one by one into a cup of glass.

There were some brilliant examples -Eratosthenes's measurement of the Earth's diameter, say, or Empedocles's clepsydra experiment demonstrating the material nature of air.

Typical among them are marked, or calibrated, candles, sun dials, sand glasses, clepsydras and oil clocks.