Etymology
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cube (v.)

1580s in the mathematical sense "to raise to the third power" (in Middle English the verb was cubiken, mid-15c.); 1947 with the meaning "cut in cubes," from cube (n.). The Greek verbal derivatives from the noun all referred to dice-throwing and gambling. Related: Cubed; cubing.

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cube (n.)

1550s, "regular geometric body with six square faces," also "product obtained by multiplying the square of a quantity by the quantity itself," from French cube (13c.) and directly from Latin cubus, from Greek kybos "a six-sided die," used metaphorically of dice-like blocks of any sort, also "cake; piece of salted fish; vertebra," of uncertain origin. Beekes points out that "words for dice are often loans" and that "the Lydians claimed to have invented the game" of kybos.

The mathematical also was in the ancient Greek word: the Greeks threw with three dice; the highest possible roll was three sixes. The word was attested in English from late 14c. in Latin form. The 1960s slang sense of "extremely conventional person" (1959) is from the notion of a square squared. Cube-root is from 1550s (in Middle English this was simply a cubick).

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ice-cube (n.)

"ice cut in small blocks for cooling drinks, etc.," 1902, from ice (n.) + cube (n.).

One of the newest plans for the economical use of artificial ice has recently been patented by Van der Weyde, of Holland. The invention is based on the fact that two smooth surfaces of freshly cut ice when brought into contact at a temperature below thirty-two degrees will unite firmly. At a higher temperature the junction yields to a blow, and the ice breaks into the original parts. Van der Weyde casts blocks of ice into small cubes, which are stamped with a trade mark. These cubes are joined into a larger cube of any desired weight and sent out for use. The mark is a guarantee that the ice is pure, and the small cubes, weighing an ounce each, are easily separated into a shape convenient for use. ["Artificial Ice in Cubes," Lawrence Chieftain (Mount Vernon, Missouri), June 21, 1894]
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cuboid (adj.)

"cube-like, resembling a cube in form," 1829, a modern coinage; see cube (n.) + -oid. As a noun, short for cuboid bone, by 1839. Related: Cuboidal.

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Cubism (n.)

"early 20c. revolutionary movement in visual arts characterized (at first) by simple geometric forms," 1911, from French cubisme, from cube (see cube (n.) + -ism). Said to have been coined by French art critic Louis Vauxcelles at the 1908 Salon des Indépendants in reference to a work by Georges Braque. Related: Cubist (by 1914 as an adjective, 1920 as a noun).

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cubic (adj.)

mid-15c., "being of the third power;" 1550s, "having the form of a cube," from Old French cubique (14c.), from Latin cubicus, from Greek kybikos, from kybos "cube" (see cube (n.)). Meaning "solid, three-dimensional" is from 1650s.

Cubical is attested from 1590s with the meaning "of or pertaining to a cube," and according to OED it is "Now more usual than cubic in this sense." Related: Cubically.

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Rubik's Cube (n.)

1980, named for teacher Ernö Rubik (born 1944) who patented it in Hungary in 1975.

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tesseract (n.)
"four-dimensional 'cube,'" 1888, from tessera + Greek aktis "ray" (see actino-).
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Kaaba (n.)
1734, Caaba, cube-shaped building in the Great Mosque of Mecca, containing the Black Stone, the most sacred site of Islam, from Arabic ka'bah "square house," from ka'b "cube."
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Delian (adj.)

1620s, "of Delos," the tiny island in the Aegean that was the reputed birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Delian problem "find the length of the side of a cube having double the volume of a given cube," was set by the oracle at Delos when it answered (430 B.C.E.) that the plague in Athens would end when Apollo's (cube-shaped) altar was doubled. The Latin fem. form of the word became the proper name Delia.

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