Word of the Week for the week of February 24, 2019


[in-kyoo-nuh-buh l]

Meaning & Usage

noun An incunable, or sometimes incunabulum (plural incunables or incunabula, respectively), is a book, pamphlet, or broadside (such as the Almanach cracoviense ad annum 1474) that was printed—not handwritten—before the year 1501 in Europe. As of 2014, there were about 30,000 distinct incunable editions known to be in existence.

I saw this awesome display of incunabula at the Library of Congress last year, including Galileo’s original printed illustrations of the moon as he observed it through his telescope.


Mid-15th century: from Latin, incunabulum, incunabula (pl.), referring to "swaddling clothes" or "cradle" and eventually referring to the origin or birth of something new, like the printed book.

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