Friday, December 21, 2012
Word of the Day -- Incunabulum
Here's a word all lovers of books in general and fans of C&C in particular will love: Incunabulum. It is: simply, a book published before 1501. Which by itself is interesting enough but when you learn of the etymology of the word, it becomes so much better. The invention of the mechanized printing press in the 15th century revolutionized the way books were produced, dramatically increasing the number and variety of works to be published and distributed to awaiting readers. "Incunabulum" first appeared in English in the 19th century, referring retroactively to those books produced in the first decades of printing press technology — specifically those printed before the year 1501, a date that appears to have been determined only arbitrarily. In Latin "incunabulum" is singular of "incunabula," which translates literally to "swaddling clothes" or "bands holding the baby in a cradle." The "baby" in this case is a figurative one, referring to a book that was produced when the art of printing was still in its infancy. Isn't it a grand word? I love arcane words, especially those dealing with books.