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See also: Scytale


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From Ancient Greek σκυτάλη (skutálē, baton).


  • IPA(key): /ˈsɪtəliː/, /ˈskɪt-/


scytale (plural scytales)

A scytale
  1. (historical) A cylinder with a strip of parchment wound around it on which a message is written, used for cryptography in ancient Greece.
    • 1753, unknown, transl., The Apophthegms of the Ancients, volume I, A. Millar, translation of Apophthegmatum opus by Desiderius Erasmus, pages 53–54:
      But, being perſwaded that they would not hear any propoſal to that effect, he delivered each of them a ſcytale, or ſtaff on which the Lacedemonians wrote their ſecret letters, and with theſe diſpatch’d them home to the Ephori.
    • 1764, William Guthrie; John Gray, A General History of the World from the Creation to the present Time, volume II, J. Newberry et al., page 408:
      This Perſian grandee reſolved, if poſſible, to humble the inſolence and haughtineſs of Lyſander, and for this purpoſe diſpatched ſome of his emiſſaries to Sparta, where they expoſed his ambitious views, charging him with an intention to render himſelf general for life, and independant of his conſtituents, and alleged ſuch probable reaſons for what they ſaid, that the ſenate and Ephori immediately diſpatched a ſcytale to recall him.
    • 1768, unknown, transl., The Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians, and Grecians, 5th edition, J. Rivington et al., translation of Histoire Ancienne by Charles Rollin, page 307:
      This was what the Spartans called a ſcytale, a thong of leather or parchment, which they twiſted round a ſtaff in ſuch a manner, that there was no vacancy or void ſpace left upon it.




From Ancient Greek σκυτάλη (skutálē, baton).


scytalē f (genitive scytalēs); first declension

  1. A cylinder with a strip of parchment wound around it on which a message is written, used for cryptography in ancient times.
  2. A type of snake


First-declension noun (Greek-type).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative scytalē scytalae
Genitive scytalēs scytalārum
Dative scytalae scytalīs
Accusative scytalēn scytalās
Ablative scytalē scytalīs
Vocative scytalē scytalae


  • scytale in Harry Thurston Peck, editor, Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1898
  • scytale in William Smith et al., editor, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin, 1890