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Feb 28, 2007
This week's theme
There is a word for it

This week's words
misology
virga
incunabulum
omphaloskepsis
paraph

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

incunabulum

(in-kyoo-NAB-yuh-luhm) Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

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.

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.

"The last public sale of a more or less complete copy of 'The Canterbury Tales' went to J. Paul Getty's Wormsley Library in 1998 for $4.2 million. We are thus assured that a strong financial incentive remains to preserve intact incunabula."
Joel Henning; Taking a Leaf From Celebrated Books; The Wall Street Journal (New York); May 12, 2005.

X-Bonus

A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

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