Library / literary words

Assorted favorites

Chrestomathy
“…a collection of selected literary passages (usually from a single author); a selection of literary passages from a foreign language assembled for studying the language; or a text in various languages, used especially as an aid in learning a subject. In philology or in the study of literature, it is a type of reader which presents a sequence of example texts, selected to demonstrate the development of language or literary style. It is different from an anthology because of its didactic purpose.”

Analects
“a collection of short literary or philosophical extracts”

Bottega
“a workshop or studio of a master artist”

Delectus
a book with a selection of elementary passages for learning Latin or Greek…

Oeuvre
a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer


Weird literary words

hapax legomenon
A word that occurs only once within a context, either in the written record of an entire language, in the works of an author, or in a single text.

nonce word
A lexeme created for a single occasion to solve an immediate problem of communication.

hypocoristic
A nickname but: not shorter — often longer, in fact! From the Greek hupokorizomai: “I speak in the language of children”.

cryptophasia
A secret language shared by twins. From the Greek “kryptós”, meaning hidden, and “phánai”, to speak. See also: “idioglossia” (secret language), “Eigensprache” (twin talk), and “autonomous language”.

amphigory
A nonsense verse. Specifically, a poem designed to look and sound good, but which has no meaning upon closer reading. The term ‘amphigory’ could be applied to large segments of modern poetry, except that its authors probably actually believe that what they are writing is something other than a meaningless trifle.

boustrophedon
Of writing, alternating left to right then right to left. Not a word with a great deal of utility, unless you study ancient inscriptions, but very descriptive. I like the metaphor of an ox ploughing the field back and forth from one direction to the other.

enchiridion
A book carried in the hand for reference, especially one used for music or theology. Etymologically, it’s a book that is meant to be able to be carried in one’s hand, which today probably encompasses most books, but, ironically enough, not all ‘handbooks’. What a strange language we have …

incunabulum
An early printed book; an early version or stage; the cradle or birthplace of something. While initially (and still occasionally) used today to refer to the books printed at the dawn of the printing press (prior to 1500), it can also be used in other, more general senses, with great usefulness today. For instance, we might call Project Gutenberg an incunabulum of the Internet.


Library jargon

Circulation
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Citation
Indexes
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OPAC
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Library synonyms / spaces

athenaeum
library
museum
office
registry
repository
storage
treasury
vault

atelier
bottega
den
library
office
salon
shop
study
workshop

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