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Borrowed from Latin calamus (reed, cane), from Ancient Greek κάλαμος (kálamos). Doublet of shawm.


calamus (usually uncountable, plural calamuses or calami)

  1. The sweet flag, Acorus calamus.
    • Song of Solomon 4:12-14, KJV
      A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices
  2. (ornithology) A quill; the hard, horny, hollow, and more or less transparent part of the stem or scape of a feather.
    • 1956, Advisory Board on Quartermaster Research and Development, The Utilization of Chicken Feathers as Filling Materials, page 9:
      Thus, the four distinct feather parts that have been compared as to amino acid content to note whether or not the composition is uniform are rachis, barbs, calamus and medulla.
    • 1969, RIC Spearman, “The epidermis and feather follicles of the king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonica) (aves)”, in Zeitschrift für Morphologie der Tiere:
      In follicles late in feather growth, after rupture of the feather sheath, this canal contained the upper part of the calamus.
    • 1969, CH Fry, “Structural and functional adaptation to display in the Standard‐winged nightjar Macrodipteryx longipennis”, in Journal of Zoology:
      Chapin asserted that the calamus is firmly fixed in the wing
  3. (Christianity, historical) Synonym of fistula (tube for sucking Eucharist wine)



  • calamus at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • calamus in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911



From Ancient Greek κάλαμος (kálamos).



calamus m (genitive calamī); second declension

  1. a reed, cane
  2. (by extension) an object made from a reed, such as a pen, arrow, or fishing rod
    • Motto of Keio University:
      Calamus gladio fortior
      The pen is mightier than the sword.
  3. (of plants) a stalk, straw, blade
  4. the hollow arm of a candelabrum


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative calamus calamī
Genitive calamī calamōrum
Dative calamō calamīs
Accusative calamum calamōs
Ablative calamō calamīs
Vocative calame calamī

Derived termsEdit


  • Albanian: kallam
  • English: calamus
  • French: calame, chaume, chalumeau
  • Galician: cálamo