Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Acrobat

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ACROBAT (from [ Greek text ], to walk on tiptoe), a rope-dancer. Evidence exists that there were very skilful performers on the tight-rope (funanibuli) among the ancient Romans. Modern acrobats generally use a long pole, loaded at the ends, and by shifting this are enabled to maintain, or readily to recover, their equilibrium. By an extension of the meaning of the term, acrobatic feats now include trapeze leaping and similar performances.