A method invented by Baron Napier, of Merchiston, for
shortening the labour of trignometrical calculations. Certain figures
are arranged on little slips of paper or ivory, and simply by shifting
these slips the result required is obtained. They are called bones because the baron used bone or ivory rods instead of cardboard.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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