28 February 2007

Literocracy

Because why be a dork when you can be twice as much of a dork, I get two word of the day emails. Dictionary.com sends out words like surreptitious and telephone. Wordsmith, on the other hand, is easily my favorite - as they say, "The magic of words - that's what A.Word.A.Day is all about." I almost never know the words - obscure, archaic, and organized around a weekly theme like words related to archery or loanwords from Sanskrit. This week's theme is there's a word for it, and today's word was just too lovely not to share:

incunabulum (in-kyoo-NAB-yuh-luhm) noun

A book printed during the infancy of printing, especially one produced before 1501.

[From Latin incunabula (swaddling clothes, cradle), from cunae (cradle, infancy). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kei- (to lie, bed, dear) that is also the source of such words as city, cemetery, and Sanskrit shiva.]

Incunabulum. Mmm. We even get this little rumination on the word from Wordsmith's Anu Garg:
Imagine a newly-born book, swaddled in clothes. Etymology often shows the poetry of words. Gutenberg operated his pioneering printing press during the 1450s. Books printed during that time are known as incunabula though the term can be applied to any work of art or industry from its early period.

So there's your word of the day. Try to use it in a sentence. Or just say quietly it to yourself a few times. That feels pretty good, too.

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