from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A military trumpet.
  • n. A curve with polar equation , where a is a constant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. A curved staff used by the augurs in quartering the heavens.
  • n. An instrument of martial music; a kind of trumpet of a somewhat curved form and shrill note.
  • n. A spiral whose polar equation is r2θ = a; that is, a curve the square of whose radius vector varies inversely as the angle which the radius vector makes with a given line.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Roman antiquity: A staff with a recurved or crooked top, used by the augurs in quartering the heavens; an augural wand.
  • n. An instrument of martial music; a kind of trumpet curved at the outer extremity, and having a shrill tone.
  • n. A spiral of which the characteristic property is that the squares of any two radii vectores are reciprocally proportional to the angles which they respectively make with a certain line which is given in position and which is an asymptote to the spiral. This name was given by Cotes (died 1716).
  • n. [capitalized] In zoology: A genus of cephalopods: same as Spirula.
  • n. A genus of gastropods: same as Cyclostoma.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin


  • This sort of staff is crooked at one end, and is called lituus; they make use of it in quartering out the regions of the heavens when engaged in divination from the flight of birds; Romulus, who was himself a great diviner, made use of it.

    The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans

  • Three hundred years after its last sounding, a long-lost instrument called the lituus -- one of Johann Sebastian Bach's go-to horns -- is back from the dead.

  • He wore the red-and-purple-striped toga, and carried a staff, the lituus, topped by a curlicue.

    Antony and Cleopatra

  • But the troopers were crafty, gathered every tender fern shoot they could find; to Ventidius they looked like the lituus of an augur, finished on top with a curlicue.

    Antony and Cleopatra

  • “Sive legas,” saith he, “sive scribas, sive vigiles, sive dormias, amor tibi semper buccina in auribus sonet, hic lituus excitet animam tuam, hoc amore furibundus; quære in lectulo tuo, quem desiderat anima tua:” Epist.lxvi. ad Pammach., cap.


  • A Roman lituus, or clarion, was found near Tattershall Ferry.

    Records of Woodhall Spa and Neighbourhood Historical, Anecdotal, Physiographical, and Archaeological, with Other Matter

  • He then fixed upon an object, as far as he could see, as a corresponding mark, and then transferring the lituus to his left hand, he laid his right upon Numa's head and offered this prayer: "Father Jupiter, if it be heaven's will that this Numa Pompilius, whose head I hold, should be king of Rome, do thou signify it to us by sure signs within those boundaries which I have traced."

    The History of Rome, Vol. I

  • The augur seated himself on his left hand, with his head covered, and holding in his right hand a curved staff without any knots, which they called a "lituus."

    The History of Rome, Vol. I

  • After this he goes up to the Capitol; is he not to be seen there with capis and lituus?

    The History of Rome, Vol. II

  • Trumpets have been found in the Dowris hoard, with socketed spear-heads, and other objects of the late Bronze Age, and they must be dated to that period; on this account the Etruscan lituus can hardly have been derived from Irish trumpets; so that it is probable that the Irish trumpets, like those of Gaul, were derived from the south.

    The Bronze Age in Ireland


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  • Wow.

    May 31, 2009

  • B.B.C. News: 'New software has enabled researchers to recreate a long forgotten musical instrument called the Lituus. The 2.4m (8ft) -long trumpet-like instrument was played in Ancient Rome but fell out of use some 300 years ago. '

    May 30, 2009