The Quote Garden
 Est. 1998


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Quotations & Literary Glossary

Related Quotes      Quotations      Writing      Poetry      Books      Language

Hi y'all. Welcome to my glossary of words related to quotations, quote collecting, books, libraries, literature, language, reading, writing, &c. Feel free to browse what's here, but some of it is missing at the moment while I do a major update. This is approximately 30 years of pieced-together useful (and not so useful) awesomeness, so it's due time! I hope to have it finished soon. If you are a book lover, I think you will love this list! Some of the words and phrases I found in 19th century books that I haven't seen anywhere in modern sources. Thanks for visiting. Learn on, live on! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g

Abridged: (revision in progress)

AC: (revision in progress)

Acrostic: (revision in progress)

Adage: an old saying that has been popularly accepted as a truth; a saying often in metaphorical form that embodies a common observation. Example: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Addendum: (revision in progress)

Adversaria: Books in which all matters are temporarily entered as they occur; a miscellaneous collection of notes, remarks, or selections; a common-place book. (Latin)

Adytum: The most secret and sacred place in a temple; hence applied to the interiors of the human mind. ~From the glossary to the 1811 translation of Emanuel Swedenborg's Delights of Wisdom concerning Conjugial Love

Æ, æ (ash): (revision in progress)

Aesopian language: (revision in progress)

Air quotes: the action of using one's fingers to make quotation marks in the air during speech; often used to express some degree of satire, sarcasm, irony, or euphemism. According to Willis Goth Regier in Quotology, 2010, "An exchange in Science in 1926 led to familiar suggestions — use 'quote' and 'unquote,' or flex fingers in the air as 'clothespins,' kinetic quotation marks." The 9th season Friends episode "The One Where Emma Cries" has some funny scenes in which Joey uses air quotes incorrectly; it's quite hilarious IMHO.

A.k.a.: also known as

Allusion: (revision in progress)

Almanac: [revision in progress] alt sp.: almanack

Amanuensis: a literary or artistic assistant, in particular one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts

Amphibology: (revision in progress) amphiboly, syntactic ambiguity

Ana: A suffix to names of persons or places, used to denote a collection of anecdotes or memorable sayings. Thus Byroniana signifies books concerning Lord Byron. Also used as a word in itself, e.g.: "Permit me to digress for a moment, to observe how superior Selden's Table Talk is to all the other Ana; and how exalted an idea it gives one of the conversation of this great man, whose colloquial powers, if he had had a Boswell to record them, would have appeared as much to exceed those of the late Dr. Johnson..."

Anachronism: A chronological error.

Analecta: a collection of excerpts from a literary work.

Anecdote: (revision in progress)

Annotated: (revision in progress)

Annotation: (revision in progress)

Annual: (revision in progress)

Anonym: synonym for pseudonym, so that an author can be published pseudo-anonymously; anonyms (pl.)

Anonymous: unknown or unacknowledged authorship; sometimes abbreviated "anon." for anonymous or anonymously; "anon" without the period means "at another time" or "again"

Antanaclasis: repeating a single word but with a different meaning each time. This is a common type of pun and is often found in slogans. Example: "If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm." ~Vince Lombardi

Anthimeria: Also, antimeria. Using one part of speech as another part of speech.

Anthologist: (revision in progress)

Anthology: a collection of selected literary pieces or passages or works of art or music. Example sentence: The Quote Garden is the best online quotation anthology.

Antimetabole: figure of emphasis in which the words in one phrase or clause are replicated, exactly or closely, in reverse grammatical order in the next phrase or clause. It is similar to chiasmus although chiasmus does not use repetition of the same words or phrases. Example: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." ~John F. Kennedy

Anti-proverb: the transformation of a standard proverb for humorous effect. Coined 1982 by paremiologist Wolfgang Mieder: "parodied, twisted, or fractured proverbs that reveal humorous or satirical speech play with traditional proverbial wisdom." Also, perverb.

Antiquam obtinens: Latin. "Possessing antiquity." Motto of Lord Bagot. (Michelsen, 1856)

Antiquary: One who studies or enquires into the history of ancient things, as statues, coins, medals, paintings, inscriptions, books, manuscripts, &c. One who makes the manners and customs of past times a special subject of inquiry.

Antithesis: An opposition of words or sentiments occurring in the same sentence; contrast; as, "When our vices leave us, we flatter ourselves we leave them. (Pl.), antitheses.

Antonomasia: Change of a noun proper into an improper, e.g., Crœsus, for a rich man. Alt, Gr.: antonomasie. (Michelsen, 1856) The substitution of an epithet or title for a proper name, e.g., the Bard for Shakespeare. The use of a proper name to express a general idea, e.g. a Scrooge for a miser.

Aperçu: (revision in progress)

Apeirokalie: (Gr.) tasteless adornments in language (Michelsen, 1856)

Aphorism: a short, concise statement of a principle or a short, pointed sentence expressing a wise or clever observation or a general truth; a terse formulation of a truth or sentiment. According to James Geary in The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism, the five laws of aphorisms are: it must be brief, it must be definitive, it must be personal, it must have a twist, and it must be philosophical. Example: "Believe nothing you hear, and only half of what you see." ~Mark Twain [add: aphoristic style]

Aphorist: someone who formulates aphorisms.

Apocrypha: (revision in progress)

Apocryphal: (revision in progress)

Apologue: (revision in progress)

Apophasis: the raising of an issue by claiming not to mention it (e.g., But we won't talk about the terrible way he dog-ears books!). "Apophasis is a sly debater's trick, a way of sneaking an issue into the discussion while maintaining plausible deniability.... This particular rhetorical stunt is also known by the labels preterition and paraleipsis." (Merriam Webster)

Apothegm: a short, pithy, and instructive saying or formulation; apothegms are more purposeful philosophical opinions than epithets. Example: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." ~Lord Acton

Appendix: (revision in progress)

À quatre épingles: (Fr. prov.) "Much adorned (language)" (Michelsen, 1856)

Archaic, Archaism: (revision in progress)

Archetype: (revision in progress)

Archives: (revision in progress)

Assumed name: (revision in progress)

Asterism: (revision in progress) ⁂

Atavism: In biology, an atavism is an evolutionary throwback, a recurrence in an organism of a trait or character typical of its ancestral form, usually due to genetic recombination. But in reference to The Quote Garden, I provide it here because it also means recurrence of or reversion to a past style, manner, outlook, approach, or activity; a throwback. The quotations I harvest definitely make my website a throwback to the 19th century (a person or thing that is similar to someone or something from the past, or that is suited to an earlier time; one that is suggestive of or suited to an earlier time or style). Adjective: atavistic. Now, I do realize that atavism's connotation can sometimes read negatively, as in a relapse or regression, or reversion to the primitive, and that its antonym is progress. However, I take no heed — for me, my literary atavism is a good thing! And really, I tend to use "vintage" when describing beautiful centuries-past writings and "old soul" for my suitedness to an earlier time and style. I only provide this definition because it's an interesting word relating to past things.

Attributed: when used following the author's name in the citation of a quotation, it means regarded as belonging to, written or said by, etc.; to regard as characteristic of a person or thing. A quotation cited with an author's name followed by the word attributed was not necessarily said or written by that person but is commonly regarded as the author anyway because it seems to be in their style, something they would or could have said. The main point in cases of this type of attribution is that the citation of the author is either not certain or admittedly incorrect.

Attribution: the ascribing of a work (as of literature or art) to a particular author or artist.

Authoress: (revision in progress)

Autography: an autobiography; the act of writing by one's own hand; a person's own signature or handwriting

Avocation: [revision in progress] an activity that one engages in as a hobby outside one's main occupation (vocation); There are many examples of people whose professions are the ways that they make their livings, but for whom their activities outside of their workplaces are their true passions in life. [E.g. me & quotes!]

Axiom: a statement universally accepted as true; a maxim widely accepted on its intrinsic merit; an established rule or principle or a self-evident truth. Example: "Goods and services can be paid for only with goods and services."

Banned books: (revision in progress)

Bard: (revision in progress)

Bas-bleu: a literary lady (French)

Bathos: the sudden appearance of the commonplace in otherwise elevated matter or style; anticlimax; exceptional commonplaceness, triteness; insincere or overdone pathos, sentimentalism; the sudden appearance of a silly idea or event in a book, movie discussion, etc., that is serious in tone; a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; triteness or triviality in style; amusingly failed attempts at pathos; bathetic

BC: (revision in progress)

BCE: (revision in progress)

Bibliobibuli: (revision in progress)

Biblioclasm: extreme criticism or destruction of books, especially the Bible; destroying books; book burning; biblioclast: a person who mutilates or destroys books; see also libricide

Bibliognost: one that has comprehensive knowledge of books and bibliography; one versed in bibliography or the history of books; adj., bibliognostic

Bibliogony: the art of producing and publishing books; bibliogenesis

Bibliographer: One who is versed in literary history, having a knowledge of books, their authors, subjects, editions, &c.

Bibliography: (revision in progress)

Biblioholism: n. "book, of books: the habitual longing to purchase, read, store, admire, and consume books in excess" (Tom Raabe)

Biblioklept: stealer of books, book thief; and possibly, one who borrows but does not return!

Bibliolatry: worship or homage paid to books; Although it can generally describe an extreme love of books, bibliolatry typically refers to an "excessive adherence to the literal letter of the Bible." (

Bibliomania: Book madness; a rage for possessing (not necessarily for reading) rare and curious books. "A mild form of insanity... A bibliomaniac must be carefully distinguished from a bibliophile. The latter has not yet freed himself from the idea that books are meant to be read. The bibliomaniac has other uses for books: he carries them about with him as talismans, he passes his time in the contemplation of their bindings, illustrations, and title-pages. Some say he even prostrates himself before them in silent adoration in that joss-house which he calls his library." (W.S. Walsh)

Bibliopegy: the art of binding books

Bibliophagist: (revision in progress)

Bibliophile: one who loves books; "The classic bibliophile is one who loves to read, admire, and collect books" (Carter). "Bibliophilia is not to be confused with bibliomania, an obsessive-compulsive disorder involving the collecting of books... Some use the term 'bibliomania' interchangeably with 'bibliophily,' and in fact, the Library of Congress does not use the term 'bibliophily,' but rather refers to its readers as either book collectors or bibliomaniacs. The New York Public Library follows the same practice" (Wikipedia).

Bibliophilia: the love of books; bibliophilism (book-loving); bibliophilistic

Bibliophobia: a loathing, or horror/fear of books

Bibliopole: A bookseller. (bibliopolist)

Bibliosmia: (revision in progress)

Bibliotheca: (revision in progress)

Bibliotheca: (revision in progress)

Bibliothecary: librarian; also, bibliothecar

Bibliothèque: French word for 'library'

Bildungsroman: a novel dealing with one person's formative years or spiritual education; a type of novel concerned with the education, development, and maturing of a young protagonist; coming-of-age story or subset of same; a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, in which character change is extremely important

Blackout poetry: (revision in progress) word art, altered book pages, found poetry, collage poetry, bookpage poetry, book spine poetry, writing within writing, remix quotations, remixed words, poetry in prose, altered prose, book art, artsy words, deliberate fragmentation, erasures, newspaper blackouts, cut-up poetry, street poetry, &c... (Caleb Whitefoord, Tristan Tzara, Brion Gysin, Tom Phillips' A Humument: history in progress)

Blessing: (revision in progress)

Block quotation: (revision in progress)

Bluestocking: generally (derogatory) a scholarly or intellectual woman; a woman with considerable scholarly, literary, or intellectual ability or interest; a member of a mid-18th-century London literary circle; so called from the informal attire, especially blue woolen instead of black silk stockings, worn by some women of the group (there is actually some debate on whether this is true or if it was more metaphorical); also blue-stocking, 1790, derisive word for a woman considered too learned; n., bluestockingism

Bon mot: a witticism, a clever or witty turn of phrase; a bon mot is a particularly well-turned phrase, distinguished more by wittiness than by profundity. Example: "Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do." ~Oscar Wilde

Bookaholic: "a habitual and prolific reader; a compulsive book-buyer" (; lover of books, book addict

Book-bosomed: (revision in progress)

Book burning: (revision in progress)

Book collecting: [revision in progress] "the collecting of books, including seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining whatever books are of interest to a given individual collector. Bibliophile book collecting is distinct from casual book ownership and the accumulation of books for reading." (Wikipedia)

Bookman: [revision in progress] one who loves books, and especially reading; more generally, a bookman is one who participates in writing, publishing, or selling books; first known use 1583 (Merriam Webster)

Bookmark: [revision in progress] A.k.a. bookmarker, marker. See also: register.

Bookworm: (revision in progress)

Borrowings: (revision in progress)

Bookplate: (revision in progress)

Bouquiniste: A dealer in second-hand books (French)

Bowdlerize: (revision in progress)

Bromide: informal term for a platitude that is especially dull, tiresome, or annoying; so often repeated it has lost its meaning.

Byline: (revision in progress)

Byname: a sobriquet or nickname, especially one given to distinguish people with the same given name; a secondary name

Byword: a proverbial expression; proverb; often-used word or phrase.

&c.: The old-timey way of abbreviating "et cetera," or as most Americans know it, "etc." Meaning: and so on, and so forth. In publications from previous centuries we find it used frequently in book titles. Used as a way to avoid writing out an entire list of words, or to say "you get the drift." Example: The Book of Beauty: Comprising a Collection of Tales, Poems, &c. by L.E. Landon, 1833

Cacoethes scribendi: An itch for scribbling (Latin)

Cacography: incorrect spelling or writing; or, bad handwriting

Cadence: (revision in progress)

Cæsura: (revision in progress) A stop or pause in a metrical line, often marked by punctuation or by a grammatical boundary, such as a phrase or clause. A pause marking a rhythmic point of division in a melody. A break in the flow of sound in the middle of a line of verse. A medial cæsura splits the line in equal parts, as was common in Old English poetry. Cæsurae, pl. Caesura, (modernized American spelling). [poetry or music]

Call number: (revision in progress)

Canon: (revision in progress)

Canto: (revision in progress)

Card catalog: (revision in progress)

Cataloger: a person who catalogs; also, cataloguer

Catalogue raisonné: A catalogue of books arranged according to subject (French)

Catchphrase: (revision in progress)

Catchword: The first word of each page when printed at the foot of the next preceding page, as was formerly a frequent practice.

Causerie: (revision in progress)

CE: (revision in progress)

Censored: (revision in progress)

Cento: a literary work made up of quotations from other works; a piece of writing, especially a poem, composed wholly of quotations from the works of other authors; a patchwork; a literary work pieced together from the works of several authors; a literary work made up of parts from other works; poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets. Specifically speaking of poems made up of quotations, I've also seen this referred to as mosaic poetry, collage poems, and Franklin C. Baer of Creative Quotations calls it quotational poetry. "A mosaic means an arrangement of small vari-colored glass, stones, marbles, etc., in patterns and figures. By extension the name is also applied to a sort of literary patchwork consisting of lines selected from various works or authors and rearranged into a new logical order. The art was practised both by the Greeks and the Romans during the decay of the true poetic spirit. From the former we have inherited the 'Homero-centones,' a patchwork of lines taken from Homer (edited by Teucher at Leipsic, 1793)." (Virgil was also popular for cento creators.) Many later sloppily patched literary works to create Christian or Biblical poems. "The cento did not take very vigorous root in British soil." Alexander Ross (1590–1654) was "the only enthusiast who devoted a lifetime to the work. Nevertheless a few stray trifles of this sort have occasionally been composed." Even the best of the best, it will be seen, however, "if you want to make sense out of them you have to make-believe a good deal." (W.S. Walsh) Cento: "applied to poems composed of selected verses or passages from an author, or from different authors, strung together in such a way as to present an entirely new reading. This trick of verse-manufacture was a favourite pastime in the Middle Ages, and popular among the Romans during the declining years of the Empire.... Those desirous of further information regarding the work of those who 'wrote' poems of this class in Latin, may consult a French work entitled 'Tableau de la Litterature du Centon' by Octave Delepierre, 1875." (Dobson, 1880) "Why, if you separate texts from their contexts, you may make the Bible mean anything. We never do so with other literature, except in the way of scissors and paste manipulation." (Wright, 1884, preface to reading of Jas Monk's cento) "A poetical crazy quilt" (J.W. Dean, 1889) Sometimes, I've seen "cento" refer to an anthology, e.g. essays from multiple authors compiled in a single book. Also: centones. Poetry examples: Deming's Cento on Life and Monk's Cento on Man. See also "mash-up quotations."

Chiasmus: figure of speech in which two clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; the two clauses display inverted parallelism. The elements of a simple chiasmus are often labeled in the form A B B A, where the letters correspond to grammar, words, or meaning. In modern day, chiasmus is often used synonymously with antimetabole but in the classical sense of the word, chiasmus does not repeat the same words. Example: "By day the frolic, and the dance by night." ~Samuel Johnson

Chiastic quotation: see Chiasmus.

Chirography: handwriting, penmanship; calligraphy (noun: chirographer; adjective: chirographic, chirographical) "Some might argue that handwriting is a dying art in this age of electronic communication. Nevertheless, we have a fancy word for it. The root graph means 'writing' and appears in many common English words such as 'autograph' and 'graphite.' The lesser-known root 'chir,' or 'chiro-,' comes from a Greek word meaning 'hand' and occurs in words such as 'chiromancy' (the art of palm reading) and 'enchiridion' (a handbook or manual). 'Chirography' first appeared in English in the 17th century and probably derived from 'chirograph,' a now rare word referring to a legal document or indenture." ~Merriam-Webster

Chrestomathy: a selection of passages used to help learn a language; a volume of selected passages or stories of an author; a collection of choice literary passages, used especially as an aid in learning a subject; a selection of literary passages, usually by one author; a collection of selected literary passages, often by one author and especially from a foreign language, as an aid to learning. Examples: A Mencken Chrestomathy: His Own Selection of His Choicest Writing, by H.L. Mencken, or Chrestomathy of Classical Arabic Prose Literature, or Mummy: A Chrestomathy of Cryptology

Chronogram: (revision in progress)

Circa: Latin, literally meaning about; used to describe various dates that are uncertain; often abbreviated c. or ca.

Cite: (revision in progress)

Citation: the attribution of an author and source; a short note recognizing a source of information or of a quoted passage.

Classical: (revision in progress)

Cliché: an expression or idea that has become trite. Examples: "raining cats and dogs," "the pot calling the kettle black," "that's the way the cookie crumbles."

Codex: an ancient manuscript text in book form; a quire of manuscript pages held together by stitching: the earliest form of book, replacing the scrolls and wax tablets of earlier times; a manuscript book especially of scripture, classics, or ancient annals; a book constructed of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar materials, with hand-written content; pl., codices

Cognomen: name, especially, a distinguishing nickname or epithet; surname, especially, the third of usually three names borne by a male citizen of ancient Rome (the first is 'praenomen,' and the second is 'nomen'); (plural: cognomens, cognomina; adj: cognominal

Collectanea: Passages selected from various authors; miscellany; collections.

Colophon: (revision in progress)

Colporteur: A travelling bookseller

Common-place book: (revision in progress)

Compendium: (revision in progress)

Compilation: a collection of pre-existing materials and data so arranged to form a new original work under the law of copyright. The Quote Garden is an example of a compilation of quotations. [compiler, compiled]

Compound words: {revision in progress} "The custom of using compound words was very prevalent in Ben Jonson's time, and he called them 'un-in-one-breath-utterable.' This practice was also common among the Sophists, and Scaliger has an epigram satirising them as—" (Dobson)
Youth-cheaters, word-catchers, vain-glory-osophers,
Such are your seekers-of-virtue philosophers."

Concordance: (revision in progress)

Context: the part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning; the circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting; the language, time, and place from which a quotation comes.

Contextomy: quoting out of context. This is a type of false attribution in which a passage is removed from its surrounding matter in such a way as to distort its intended meaning. The issue is not the removal of a quote from its original context (as all quotes are) per se but the quoter's decision to exclude from the excerpt certain nearby phrases or sentences that serve to clarify the intention. Editor's note:  I have not intentionally quoted out of context on this site; however, due to the use of visitor submissions, some of the quotes are likely used out of context. If you come across this type of error, please let me know and I'll correct the problem as soon as I can. Thank you!

Copia verborum: An abundance of words; a rich or full vocabulary.

Copyright: the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, and sell the matter and form (as of a literary, musical, or artistic work).

Copyright symbol: (revision in progress)

Corner-pieces: Brasses protecting corners of books

Corpus: (revision in progress)

Corrigenda: Corrections necessary to be made in a printed work.

Counterquote: (revision in progress)

Coup de plume: "stroke of the pen" or "dash of a pen," a witty or masterful turn of phrase, a master-stroke; literary attack, attack by pen

Credo: (revision in progress)

Curator: a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection; the administrative head of a museum, art gallery, or similar institution; someone who manages an art collection or exhibit, the person who gives the overall shape and feel to an art exhibit; a person responsible for maintaining and managing a museum or a collection in a library; a person who selects content for presentation, as on a website

Curmudgeon: My favorite definition is, "anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner." (Source: Portable Curmudgeon Redux by Jon Winokur) I've called myself a "curmudgeonesque optimist" for many years, although lately I more say "optimistic worrywart" because I'm actually not (mostly not) ill-tempered as many definitions have it. Merriam-Webster puts the first known use at 1568. See my Curmudgeonesque page for quotes of that type and also old quotes using the word "curmudgeon" (which used to mean "miser"), including a funny story about the word as used in a couple of 1700s dictionaries.

Deckle edge: the irregular, untrimmed edge of handmade paper; the rough uncut edge of a sheet of paper. Often called uncut or untrimmed edges, deckle edges are a topic of some confusion and debate in the book world. Once largely unavoidable and probably annoying, the pages are now a conscious design choice. The deckle edge was unavoidable until the 19th century, a byproduct of the papermaking process. ( Also called featheredge. Deckle-edged.

Desiderata: (revision in progress)

Dewey Decimal System: (revision in progress)

Dialect: (revision in progress)

Dictum: a statement or saying, especially a formal statement of fact, opinion, principle, etc., or of one's will or judgment; a pronouncement; a noteworthy statement, as a formal pronouncement of a principle, proposition, or opinion, or an observation intended or regarded as authoritative.

Didactic literature: (revision in progress)

Dilettante: An amateur of the fine arts but not a proficient; a dabbler in literature or the arts.

Dinkus: (revision in progress) section break; "the flatlining of an asterism" (Alioto); fleuron; "the novelist blocks his reader’s path with a zareba of stars" (Wodehouse); asterisks

Dog ears: folding the corner of a page to mark where you left off reading, instead of using a bookmark, or to mark any section you want to save or go back to later; an abomination to bibliophiles everywhere! (although I've been guilty of it myself); dog-earing, dog-ear, dog-ear'd, dog's-eared pages; Now I don't know if anyone else calls it this, but if you dog-ear an old cheap book with brittle pages and then you unfold your dog-eared corner later and it breaks off leaving a triangle-shaped piece of page missing, I call that a vanGogh'd page of my book. «tεᖇᖇ¡·g»

Doggerel: comic verse composed in irregular rhythm; verse or words that are badly written or expressed; loosely styled and irregular in measure especially for burlesque or comic effect; a low, or trivial, form of verse, loosely constructed and often irregular, but effective because of its simple mnemonic rhyme and loping metre

Double entendre: (revision in progress) Also, triple entendre.

Dropcap: a letter at the beginning of a word, a chapter, or a paragraph that is larger than the rest of the text; often it is several lines in height and in older books or manuscripts, sometimes ornately decorated. More commonly called an 'initial.' See also 'illumination.'

Dust jacket: (revision in progress)

Dysphemism: (revision in progress)

Edition: (revision in progress)

Editio princeps: The first, principal, or original edition.

Elegy: (revision in progress)

Elision: the omission of a sound or syllable when speaking (example: "o'er" for "over"); the omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable in a verse to achieve a uniform metrical pattern; an omission of a passage in a book, speech, or film; the process of joining together or merging things, especially abstract ideas; a.k.a. deletion (omission of a word from a phrase or sentence is ellipsis, or elliptical construction)

Ellipsis: the omission from a sentence of a word or words that would be required for complete clarity but which can usually be understood from the context. The sequence of three dots (...) used to indicate the omission of some matter in a text.

Em dash: (revision in progress)

Enchiridion: (revision in progress)

En dash: (revision in progress)

End quote: (revision in progress)

English: Did you know it's a verb‽ To translate into English, to adopt into English, or to anglicize. Example: "Englished from the Spanish of Fernando de Rojas by James Mabbe, anno 1631."

Enjambment: (revision in progress) alt: enjambement; poetry term; meaning runs over from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation. lines without enjambment are end-stopped; the continuation of a sentence or clause over a line-break

Epeolatry: (revision in progress)

Ephemera: (revision in progress)

Ephemeris, Ephemerides: A journal or account of daily transactions; a diary; an astronomical almanack.

Epic, epic poetry: (revision in progress)

Epigram: a terse, witty, pointed statement, often with a clever twist in thought, or a short poem with a witty or satirical point.

Epigraph: a quotation or motto at the beginning of a book, chapter, or poem as an indication of its theme; an inscription on a monument or coin

Epilogue: A speech or short poem following the conclusion of a play.

Epistle: a letter; a poem or other literary work in the form of a letter or series of letters; a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic letter

Epistolary: relating to or denoting the writing of letters or literary works in the form of letters

Epitaph: an inscription on a tombstone in memory of the one buried there; a brief literary piece commemorating a deceased person.

Epithet: (revision in progress)

Eponymous: (revision in progress)

Erasure: (revision in progress)

Erratum: an act or thought that unintentionally deviates from what is correct, right, or true; an error in printing or writing, especially such an error noted in a list of corrections and bound into a book; plural is errata.

Essay: (revision in progress)

Et al: (1) used as an abbreviation of et alii (masculine plural) or et aliae (feminine plural) or et alia (neutral plural) when referring to a number of people, et al., and others;  (2) used as an abbreviation of et alibi when referring to other occurrences in a text, et al., and elsewhere.

Etymology: (revision in progress)

Eucatastrophe: A sudden and favorable resolution of events in a story; a happy ending. "The sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argue is the highest function of fairy-stories)." ~J.R.R. Tolkien, 1944 | "But the 'consolation' of fairy-tales has another aspect than the imaginative satisfaction of ancient desires. Far more important is the Consolation of the Happy Ending. Almost I would venture to assert that all complete fairy-stories must have it. At least I would say that Tragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function; but the opposite is true of Fairystory. Since we do not appear to possess a word that expresses this opposite—I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function. The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous 'turn' (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale)..." ~J.R.R. Tolkien, "Fairy-Stories," 1939–1947

Euphemism: (revision in progress)

Excerpt: a passage (as from a book or musical composition) selected, performed, or copied.

Exclamation comma: (revision in progress)

Ex libris: "from the library of" (revision in progress)

Expression: (revision in progress)

Extract: a passage from a literary work.

Eye dialect: (revision in progress) a.k.a. literary dialect. Related: (eccentric, or not) phonetic spellings. E.g. Affurisms for aphorisms (Billings)

Fabulist: a creator or writer of fables; liar, fibber, storyteller

Facetia, facetiæ: Witty or humorous writings or sayings; amorous literature.

Fair dealing: a doctrine of limitations and exceptions to copyright which is found in many of the common law jurisdictions of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Fair use: in the USA, a use of copyrighted material that does not constitute an infringement of the copyright provided the use is fair and reasonable and does not substantially impair the value of the work or the profits expected from it by its owner; among the factors determining if use of a copyrighted work is a fair use are the purpose of the use, the character of the use (commercial vs educational), the nature of the copyrighted work, and the amount of the work used.

Famous non-quotation: a well-known phrase attributed to someone who, in fact, did not say it; this may be due to (1) parody or satire of the original, (2) a corruption or mistranslation of the original phrase, possibly accidental, which became better known than the original, (3) a deliberate misquoting or made-up quote intended to discredit the alleged speaker, or (4)  attribution to a well-known person to improve the appearance of the phrase or the person.

Fascicle: a part or a number in a work published in installments; Today, this word is synonymous with describing a volume, or one of a number of books forming a related set or series. (

Figurate: {revision in progress} shaped poems

Fils: used to distinguish a son from his father when they have the same given name.

Flyleaf: an empty page at the beginning or end of a book; one of the free endpapers of a book; plural: flyleaves; The flyleaf that is pasted down to the cover is called an endpaper, or endsheet. The paper pasted to the inside cover is the most common place to find the owner's name inscribed.

Florilegia: (revision in progress)

Folio: (revision in progress)

Folklore: (revision in progress)

Font: Sometimes you'll hear about the controversy of people mixing up the terms 'font' and 'typeface.' The best article I've found to clear things up is by John Brownlee — Click here to read it at "Typestyle refers to variations in the thickness and stroke, such as light, bold, italic, that lend flexibility and emphasis in the appearance of characters constituting a typeface." (Source: See my page of Font Quotes for some quotes on fonts, typeface, and typography. "I'm a sucker for a good font." ~The Middle, "The 100th," 2013, written by David S. Rosenthal, spoken by the character Brick Heck

Footnotes: (revision in progress)

Freudian slip: (revision in progress) Also, parapraxis, Fehlleistungen. "A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother." ~Author unknown. At one point, when I was about eighty pounds overweight and at the height of my sweet tooth food addiction, I was writing in my journal about how the extra body weight was affecting the way I walk and I later saw that I had written, "I waffle when I walk," instead of "waddle!"

Garden path sentence: (revision in progress)

Gender-neutral language: (revision in progress)

Gender-neutral language: (revision in progress)

Genre: (revision in progress)

Ghostwriter: (revision in progress)

Gnome: a pithy saying that expresses a general truth or fundamental principle.

Gnomology: (revision in progress)

Grangerite: One who mutilates books by cutting out the frontispieces, plates, and title-pages, for the purpose of enriching his scrap-album, or to "extra illustrate" another book. This term owes its origin to the idea of the Rev. Joseph Granger, who so enlarged a certain History of England, by adding portraits and autographs of every single person mentioned, that from its previous moderate size and value it swelled to the prodigious size of seventeen volumes, which, at his death, was priced at many hundred pounds. Grangerize.

Graphomania: an obsessive impulse or compulsive urge to write; a passion to write; a.k.a. scribomania; graphomaniac: one who is constantly writing. "A woman who writes her lover four letters a day is not a graphomaniac, she is simply a woman in love." ~Milan Kundera

Grawlix: [revision in progress] a.k.a. profanitype, symbol swearing, depletives, grawlixes, obscenicons. Cool page:

Grotesque: (revision in progress)

Hapax legomenon: a word for which only one use is recorded, or that appears only once in a particular area of literature; "a thing once said;" plural: hapax legomena

Helluo librorum: A devourer of books; a book-worm.

Holograph letter: A letter entirely in the handwriting of its author, used in contradistinction to an autograph letter, which may be only signed by the author.

Homily: a sermon or religious speech offering encouragement or moral correction; a short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a moral theme; a religious discourse that is intended primarily for spiritual edification rather than doctrinal instruction; a sermon; a tedious moralizing discourse

Homograph: (revision in progress)

Horology: the art/science of measuring time (revision in progress)

Hypernym: (revision in progress)

Hyponym: (revision in progress)

Ibid (ibidem): an abbreviation for ibidem, a Latin word meaning in the same place; it is used in footnotes and bibliographies to refer to a source cited in a previous entry.

Id (idem): (revision in progress)

Idiom: an expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up, i.e. cannot be translated literally. Examples: "under the weather," "kick the bucket."

Illumination: Initial letters highly ornamented, often in gold and colors, as used in old manuscripts and early-printed books. Initials with images inside them are known as historiated initials. See also 'dropcap.'

Imprint: The name of the printer or publisher, with the time and place of publication, as on a title-page or at the end of a book.

Incunabulum: an early printed (not hand-written) book, especially one printed before 1501, produced in the earliest stages of printing from movable type; the earliest stages or first traces of anything; a work of art or of industry of an early period; pl., incunabula; also, incunable

Index expurgatorius: (Lat.) "A purging or purifying index." A list formerly published under the authority of the Roman pontiffs, specifying the books which ought not to be read. This was continued until it was found, that the wayward wishes of those who could read, were almost uniformly directed to the treatises thus forbidden. (Michelsen, 1856)

Index verborum: (Lat.) an index of words or terms, as those discussed in a book

Ineffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words; not to be spoken because of its sacredness

Inkhorn: {revision in progress} A small portable container for carrying ink; denoting pedantic words or expressions used only in academic writing; an inkwell made out of horn. It was an important item for many scholars and soon became symbolic of writers in general. Later it became a byword for fussy or pedantic writers. Inkhorn term: word or phrase derived from old books or Latin rather than from the living English language.

Inkpot: (revision in progress)

Intellectual property: (revision in progress) ["This question is new and interesting: Till very lately, it never received a judgment in any Court of Europe." ~Lord Auchinleck «/» "I am of opinion, that Literary Property is not in the law of Scotland. It is not in the law of nature, which is one great fountain of our law." ~Lord Kennet «/» "All, therefore, that we have heard about the absurdity of a property in ideas, appears to me to be nothing to the purpose. Ideas, or bon mots, as my brother said, are not by their nature a subject of property. For property, though it be an incorporeal right, it must have for its subject some corporeal thing: But, supposing they were capable of property, I allow every man who purchases a book to appropriate the ideas of it to himself as much as he can, and the words too, if his memory be good enough. I think I could go farther without hurting my argument, and admit that he may carry those ideas in his mind, and those words in his memory, to a printing press, and get them thrown off. Such a man I would call a plagiary, but not the pirate of a book...." ~Lord Monboddo (The Decision of the Court of Session, Upon the Question of Literary Property; in the Cause Hinton against Donaldson, &c., 1773]

International Association of Paremiology: (revision in progress) Associação Internacional de Paremiologia is a non-profit cultural institution based in Tavira (Algarve, Portugal), and dedicated to the scientific study of proverbs (AIP/IAP).

Interrobang: (revision in progress)

Inverted commas: (revision in progress)

Ipsedixitism: the authoritative, dogmatic assertion of something as if it were fact; something asserted dogmatically and without proof; dogmatic assertion or assertiveness; a declaration that is made emphatically (as if no supporting evidence were necessary). Ipse dixit, n.: a dogmatic and unproven statement.

Jesuitical verses: (revision in progress)

Jeu d'esprit: a lighthearted display of wit and cleverness, especially in a work of literature; a witty comment or composition; literally, "play of the mind" or "game of the mind"; lighthearted witticisms and epigrams; any clever piece of writing dashed off in a spirit of fun; a flight of fancy; pl., jeux d'esprit

Journal: (revision in progress)

Laconic: using very few words; expressing much in few words; concise, or concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious

Laconism: A short, pithy, sententious saying, after the manner of the Lacedemonians.

Lapsus calami: A slip of the pen; typo, grammatical error, etc.

Lapsus linguæ: A slip of the tongue.

Latin: (revision in progress)

Laughorisms: humorous aphorisms, a term coined by Ambrose Bierce.

Lay: a simple narrative poem; ballad; melody, song [m-w]. Lay, also spelled lai, in medieval French literature, a short romance, usually written in octosyllabic verse, that dealt with subjects thought to be of Celtic origin (12th century). The term lay may refer to a medieval lyric poem. These lays had nonuniform stanzas of about 6 to 16 or more lines of 4 to 8 syllables. One or two rhymes were maintained throughout each stanza (13th century). A lay may also be a song, a melody, a simple narrative poem, or a ballad (early 19th century). [Britannica]

Leaf: a sheet of paper in a book; commonly referred to as a "page," but a page is only one side of a leaf. Plural: leaves. (

Lebensweisheit: German. Worldly wisdom, the wisdom of life, wisdom, wise saying, maxim, life lesson, etc. Pl., Lebensweisheiten.

Lecture: (revision in progress)

Lexicon: (revision in progress)

Lexicographer: a person who compiles dictionaries; "A writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge" (Samuel Johnson)

Library of Congress: (revision in progress)

Libricide: the destruction of books; causing irreparable damage to a book; see also biblioclasm

Librocubicultarist: Librocubicultarist hasn't made its way into Oxford Dictionaries just yet, but it's a common piece of slang in literary circles used to describe people who read in bed. This word is a product of the Latin liber 'book' and cubiculum 'sleeping chamber.' (

Light verse: (revision in progress)

Limerick: {revision in progress} example:
            There was an Old Man of Vesuvius,
            who studied the works of Vitruvius;
            When the flames burnt his book,
            to drinking he took,
            That morbid Old Man of Vesuvius.
            ~Edward Lear, A Book of Nonsense

Lipogram: {revision in progress} species of verse in which a certain letter is altogether omitted; the author will avoid the use of one letter in particular; began as early as 538 BC by Greek poet Lasus

Literae scriptae: Litera scripta, or literæ scriptæ: the written word. Literae scriptae manent: Written words last, the written letter endures, the written letter abides. Littera scripta manet, volat irrevocabile verbum: The written word remains, the spoken word flies away. Litera scripta, as distinct from the litera dicta. Litterae curiosius scriptae: letters written with special care. Literae mortuae: dead letter, superfluous words.

Literary: of, relating to, or dealing with literature.

Literati: people who profess literature; persons interested in literature or the arts; singular: literato

Literature: (revision in progress)

Littérateur: a person who is interested in and knowledgeable about literature; a literary person; one who is devoted to the study or writing of literature; alt spell: litterateur

Loco citato: at the place quoted, from the same place; abbreviated loc. cit. Although really it sounds like a person who's crazy about quoting, like me, but it's not lol

Locus classicus: (revision in progress)

Logogram: a letter, symbol, or sign used to represent an entire word, e.g. ampersand

Logography: symbolic writing, e.g. Chinese (revision in progress)

Logophile: lover of words

Long S: In older literature, you may see what looks like the letter 'f' where you would expect to see an 's.' This is known as a 'long s' or 'medial s.' It was used at the start of or in the middle of a word and looks like this:  ſ or ƒ or ∫ or ഽ. The modern 's' (also called a terminal, short, or round 's') was used at the end of a word and sometimes as the second 's' in the case of a double. A few even used the long 's' in all placements because it was prettier. It fell out of use in English around the early 1800s. It can definitely make reading an old text take longer than normal as your brain adjusts. Or as Brian from Melbourne says, "forry I am more confufed than ever." And from Cecil Adams: "Can't say I'm sad to see it go. Spelling is enough of a crapshoot these days as it is."

Longueur: any tediously prolonged passage or scene in a literary work

Lyric, lyric poetry: (revision in progress)

Maladicta, maledictology, maledicere: (revision in progress)

Malapropism: (revision in progress)

Manuscript (MS, pl. MSS): Any written work, not printed. Literally, written by hand.

Marginalia: (revision in progress)

Margins: (revision in progress)

Mash-up quotations: I'm not sure what the official term is, or if there even is one, but this it what I call it when prose quotations or slivers of quotations are pieced together to make a new quote. (See also "cento" above, which is quotations put together to make a new literary work.) What I'm talking about, however, is just a sentence or two, perhaps a few — a "little prose cento" maybe, but not necessarily done with artistic intent or effect. It can be done with different authors to quilt together a piece of the same theme, or the same author but bringing together quotes from multiple works. What's really fun is when the pieces are from different eras. You will find several examples throughout The Quote Garden, as I've been doing this for years — for convenience, for fun, or to say something quotatious when I can't find a whole, single quote to do the job. (I always note that it's a mash-up; there are no surprises.) There's a 1906 book, A Century of Misquotations, by Mary B. Dimond, in which she makes a game for readers out of pieced-together quotes. We're supposed to guess the authors of the pieces, and there's an answer legend at the back. I think I've seen other puzzle-style mash-ups or centos like that as well, in various publications.

Maxim: a concisely expressed principle or rule of conduct, or a statement of a general truth; a saying of proverbial nature.

Media: (revision in progress)

Meditations: (revision in progress)

Memorabilia: Things remarkable and worthy of remembrance or record. (Latin)

Metonymy: (revision in progress)

Misattributed: incorrect attribution of a source.

Miscellany, Miscellania: Miscellanies, jottings, newspaper clippings, &c.

Misquotation: an accidental or intentional misrepresentation of a person's speech or writing; this usually involves omission of important context, omission of important parts of the quote, insertion of allegedly implied words or partial sentences, incorrect rephrasing, misattribution, or misspelling; misquotation can be due to imperfect reproduction, misunderstanding, malice, deliberate deceit, humor, or satire.

Mondegreen: (revision in progress) word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of another word or phrase

Mot: (revision in progress)

Motto: a short expression of a guiding principle or ideal of behavior; a sentence, phrase, or word inscribed on something as appropriate to or indicative of its character or use. Example: "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time." ~Motto of the Baltimore Grotto, a caving society

Mousai: The Mousai (Muses) were the goddesses of music, song and dance, and the source of inspiration to poets. They were also goddesses of knowledge, who remembered all things that had come to pass. Later the Mousai were assigned specific artistic spheres: Kalliope, epic poetry; Kleio, history; Ourania, astronomy; Thaleia, comedy; Melpomene, tragedy; Polyhymnia, religious hymns; Erato, erotic poetry; Euterpe, lyric poetry; and Terpsikhore, choral song and dance. (, Theoi Greek Mythology: Exploring Mythology in Classical Literature & Art, created and edited by Aaron J. Atsma)

Natural philosophy: the practice of studying nature; the philosophical study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science; the precursor of natural science, which is any of the sciences (as physics, chemistry, or biology) that deal with matter, energy, and their interrelations and transformations or with objectively measurable phenomena; a wide range of subjects, including the physical sciences, as distinguished from metaphysics and mathematics; a.k.a. philosophy of nature; natural philosopher

Necrology: an obituary notice; a list of recent deaths; a list of persons who have died within a certain time.

Née: born, indicates the maiden name of a married woman; formerly known as.

No date (nd): No publication date is printed in the book

Neologism: a newly coined word or expression; a new word, usage, or expression

Nom de plume, nom-de-plume: (revision in progress)

Nonsense verse: Ridiculous rhymes. "The French had at one time a favourite and ingenious kind of versification called Amphigourie, or Nonsense Verse. The word is derived from two Greek words signifying about and circle, and the object was to give verses the appearance of good sense and fine poetry, while in reality meaning nothing whatever!" "Some authors, however, write Nonsense Verses without intending it—as, for instance, Stonihurst, in his translation of Virgil, rendered a really sublime passage into the following extraordinary lines:" (Dobson)
      "Then did he make Heaven's vault to rebound
      With rounce robble bobble,
      Of ruffee raffe roaring,
      With thicke thwacke thurly bouncing."
Also, more broadly: literary nonsense, or nonsense literature.

Non sequitur: {revision in progress} a statement that is not connected in a logical or clear way to anything said before it

Nosegay: (revision in progress)

Nostrum: (revision in progress)

Obiter dicta: (revision in progress)

Octavo: (revision in progress)

Ode: (revision in progress)

Oeuvre: a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer; the works of a painter, composer, or author regarded collectively

Opera: Works. Opera omnia: whole works. Opera carmina, poetical works. (Latin)

Opere citato: from the work already quoted; used to provide an endnote or footnote citation to refer the reader to an earlier citation; abbreviated op. cit.; also known as opus citatum.

Oratio directa: Latin, the language of anyone quoted without change in its form, i.e. a direct quote.

Orthography: the art of writing words with the proper letters according to standard usage; a part of language study that deals with letters and spelling

Out of print: (revision in progress)

Oxford comma: (revision in progress)

Paleography: the study of ancient writing

Palilogy: (revision in progress) emphatic repetition of a word or phrase; immediate repetition of a word for rhetorical effect; the technique of repeating a word or phrase for emphasis; palillogy, palilogia, pl., palilogies

Panegyric, panegyrical: (revision in progress)

Pantoum: a Malay verse form consisting of an indefinite number of quatrains with the second and fourth lines of each quatrain repeated as the first and third lines of the following one; a.k.a. pantun

Paragrapher: a writer of paragraphs or quips, especially for the editorial page of a newspaper. Used: 1800s, early 1900s.

Paremiography: (revision in progress) the study of the collection and writing of proverbs. Also, paræmiography, parœmiography.

Paremiology: (revision in progress) the study of proverbs. Also, paræmiology, parœmiology.

Paraphrase: a restating of something in other, especially simpler, words.

Paraprosdokian: figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe the first part. Example: "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana." ~Author unknown, combination of two phrases used by Anthony Oettinger, commonly attributed to Groucho Marx

Paratext: (revision in progress)

Parody: (revision in progress)

Paronomasia: (revision in progress)

Parts: (revision in progress)

Passage: a usually brief portion of a written work or speech that is relevant to a point under discussion or noteworthy for content or style.

Passim: notation for everywhere, in many places; indicates that there are so many references that the list would be too long.

Pathos: (revision in progress)

Penman: author; a person with a specified quality or kind of handwriting; calligrapher; copyist, scribe, a person skilled or professionally engaged in writing by hand, typically, as a clerk, on behalf of others; an expert in penmanship. "Before the typewriter, this was a booming career path, as nearly every major business needed a competent and proficient penman on hand.... during the golden age of penmanship (roughly 1860 to 1930)." ~Master Penman Jake Weidmann

Pen name: (revision in progress)

Penscript: matter written with a pen; written by hand as opposed to typewritten, or typescript

Periodical: (revision in progress)

Phenomenology: (revision in progress)

Philology: the study of literature and of disciplines relevant to literature or to language as used in literature; historical and comparative linguistics; the study of human speech especially as the vehicle of literature and as a field of study that sheds light on cultural history; philological (adj.), philologist (n.)

Philomath: a lover of learning, desiring study of multiple fields in the pursuit of knowledge; a student or scholar, especially of the natural sciences, mathematics, etc.; someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines; (obsolete) an astrologer or prognosticator; a pen name of Benjamin Franklin

Phrase: a brief, apt, and cogent expression; a word or group of words forming a unit and conveying meaning.

Phrasedick: (revision in progress)

Phraseology: the way that a particular person or group uses words; the study of set or fixed expressions, such as idioms

Pithy: (revision in progress)

Plagiarism: literary theft; when a writer duplicates another writer's language or ideas and then calls the work his own; to avoid the charge of plagiarism, writers take care to credit those from whom they borrow and quote.

Platitude: a banal or stale remark; a commonplace or trite remark or idea, especially one uttered as if it were original or momentous.

Play on words: (revision in progress)

Pleonasm: (revision in progress)

Poesy: (revision in progress)

Poet: (revision in progress)

Poetaster: a person who writes inferior poetry; a writer of insignificant, meretricious, or shoddy poetry; poetaster has implications of unwarranted pretentions to artistic value; and don't forget about the poetaster's cousin, the philosophaster; see also rhymester and versifier

Poète maudit: {revision in progress} accursed poet; a writer dogged by misfortune and lack of recognition

Poetic diction: (revision in progress)

Poetic license: (revision in progress)

Poetize: to write poetry; to express poetically; to make or treat as poetic; poeticize; poetized

Poetizer: a writer who composes rhymes; a maker of poor verses

Political correctness: (revision in progress)

Polygraphy: a device for producing copies of a drawing or of writing (polygrapher, polygraphist, polygraphic); cryptography; literary productiveness or versatility

Polyptoton: the rhetorical repetition of a word in a different case, inflection, or voice in the same sentence

Portfolio: A case in the form of a book cover for the preservation of loose papers, prints, sheet music, &c.

Portmanteau: a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms; or, a frankenword

Posthumously, posthumous works: not published until after the author's death

Precept: (revision in progress)

Preface: (revision in progress)

Primary source: (revision in progress)

Princeps: first edition or printing of a book

Prologue: (revision in progress)

Prose: ordinary speech or writing, without metrical structure. Basically, regular writing, not poetry.

Prosody: (revision in progress)

Proverb: a short, traditional saying that expresses some obvious truth or familiar experience; a piece of practical wisdom expressed in homely, concrete terms; a short pithy saying in general use, usually of unknown and ancient origin, containing words of advice, warning, or wisdom. Example: "If you kick a stone in anger, you'll hurt your own foot." ~Korean Proverb

Proverbium: (revision in progress) Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship, an academic journal about the study of proverbs, published annually by the University of Vermont, established 1985, succeeding the Finnish Literature Society's Proverbium, published occasionally between 1965 and 1975.

Prud'homme: A man of good moral intentions but without either genius or originality. One who affects a love of virtue.

Pseudonym: a fictitious name assumed by an author; pen-name (revision in progress) pseudonymous

Publication: (revision in progress)

Public domain: the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright. One of the most awesome examples of the use of public domain is what Google Books has done to bring ancient gems back to life! They have made it exceptionally easy to research old quotations and find "new" old quotes as well, from the original books of centuries past. A fantastic public service to make available this free and extensive online digital library, and I am eternally grateful!

Pun: the humorous use of words, playing on similarities in sound or differences in meaning. Example: "Beginning gardeners work by trowel and error."

Quarto: (revision in progress)

Question comma: (revision in progress)

Quip: (revision in progress)

Quodes: for quothest, or saidest. Quoth was the Saxon preterite of "to speak." In Chaucer, and other old authors, it was often written quod. Quodest, quoðest. (Nares, 1825)

Quotable: suitable for or worthy of quoting.

Quotation: a reproduction or repeating of any passage or statement; a passage referred to, repeated, or adduced; direct citation of the exact phraseology of a person or of a text.

Quotation anthologist: (revision in progress)

Quotation mark (quote marks): either of a pair of punctuation marks used primarily to mark the beginning and end of a passage attributed to another and repeated word for word, but also to indicate meanings or glosses and to indicate the unusual or dubious status of a word.

Quotatious: (revision in progress)

Quote: v., to repeat or copy the words of, usually with acknowledgment of the source; n., shortened and informal version of the word quotation. To quote used to mean to "note, mark, or distinguish," and not necessarily to directly repeat someone's words. (Nares, 1825)

"Quote, unquote": (revision in progress)

Quotee: n., person to whom a quotation is attributed.

Quotemeister: (revision in progress)

Quotemistress: me!

Quoter: n., person who quotes.

Quotesmith: (revision in progress)

Quoth: (archaic or literary) "said," used chiefly in the first and third persons with a postpositive subject (Quoth the raven, "Nevermore." —Poe) past tense of obsolete "quethe," meaning say or declare; The decline in quoth coincides generally with the spread of quotation marks as a convention for marking reporting speech as well as with the rise in the occurrence of the word "quote." (Colette Moore, "Histories of Talking about Talk: Quethen, Quoth, Quote," in The Pragmatics of Quoting Now and Then, 2015)

Quotha: interjection used especially to express surprise or contempt. Beginning in the early 16th century, you might employ the word "quotha" to express surprise or anger and disapproval at something someone has said by repeating the offending words and then throwing a hearty "quotha!" on for good measure. The word is an alteration of "quoth he," making it an archaic interjection from an archaic phrase. ( I'm thinking the modern equivalents would be the repeated word or phrase followed by: As if! Yah, right! Whatever. Are you kidding me‽ What‽

Quotographer: (revision in progress)

Quotologist: (revision in progress)

Quotology: (revision in progress)

Quyller: Or, quiller. A young bird that has yet only quills, or pen-feathers. Not thoroughly fledged. (Nares, 1825)

Rebus: Rare, exquisite, extremely nice. (French)

Recherché: Rare, exquisite, extremely nice. (French)

Recto: The right-hand page of a book, which is always the odd-numbered page. (Latin)

Reference: (revision in progress)

Refrain: (revision in progress)

Register: a bound bookmark, i.e. ribbon, thread, or cord build directly into the spine of a book, to be used as a placemarker; this was the original type of bookmark, the detached kind didn't come along until the mid 1800s; a.k.a. bookmarker, marker. "The term 'register' is the binder's name for a bookmark. Consisting of very thin and narrow ribbons of silk, one end of which is fastened at the headband in the process of binding, they can do the book no possible harm and can never be lost. They serve their purpose most admirably to note the place reached by the reader, provided his memory be strong enough to enable him to tell which of two pages was read the last. Books are not made for weak minded people, and the man (or woman) who finds it necessary to 'check off' on the margin the place stopped at ought to confine himself (or herself) pretty closely to penny dreadfuls and shilling shockers." (W.E. Benjamin, Ben: Bookman's Budget, The Book Lover, 1889) See also: bookmark.

Re-issue: (revision in progress)

Rerum memorandarum libri: (revision in progress)

Rhymester: a person who composes rhymes, especially simple ones; an inferior poet; a maker of poor verses; also, rhymer

Romanticism: (revision in progress)

Rumination: (revision in progress)

Salmagundi: A collection of light miscellaneous reading; literally, a mixture of chopped meat and pickled herring, with oil, vinegar, pepper, and onions, the invention of the Countess Salmagondi, lady of honour to Marie de Medici.

Satire: (revision in progress)

Saw: an old, homely saying that is well worn by repetition.

Saying: a usually pithy and familiar statement expressing an observation or principle generally accepted as wise or true.

Sciolist: One who has a smattering of many things.

Screed: a lengthy discourse; an informal piece of writing (as a personal letter); a ranting piece of writing; a long speech or piece of writing, typically one regarded as tedious; a diatribe

Scribe: a copier of manuscripts; writer, specifically a journalist

Scripturient: an author; someone who has a passion for writing; having a strong urge to write

Scriptorium: a room set apart for writing — often found in monasteries where manuscripts were copied; a room, as in a monastery, library, or other institution, where manuscripts are stored, read, or copied; a writing room; literally, "a place for writing"

Scrivener: a professional or public copyist or writer; scribe

Secondary source: (revision in progress)

Selected: I've seen this used as an attribution in old quotation books, and I can only assume that it means the compiler copied the quote from somewhere such as a newspaper clipping and the author was unknown, or perhaps they picked it out from somewhere but don't recall where they got it. I've also seen it in the form of "select," for example: "A Collection of Poetry, Original and Select." (Select, adj.: of a group of people or things, carefully chosen from a larger number as being the best or most valuable.) In that case, however, the authors were cited by name so obviously used in that context it means they are quoting a known author or source. Also, quotations are sometimes referred to as "selections."

Sempiternal: eternal and unchanging; everlasting; an earthbound connotation for something that had a beginning but no end, timeless, perhaps, like the classic, neverending applicability of ancient philosophers' or Shakespeare's writings to present times; it is derived from a word for "always;" eternal, on the other hand, is more far-reaching, no beginning and no end, beyond time and space, e.g. love, God, goodness, evil (revision in progress)

Sensational spelling: (revision in progress)

Sententia: (revision in progress)

Serial: (revision in progress)

Serial comma: (revision in progress)

Sermon: (revision in progress)

Sesquipedalian: given to using long words

Shibboleth: (revision in progress)

Sic: Thus! (Latin) Used when quoting a mis-spelt or mis-used word, to indicate that it is thus in the authority quoted and not a mis-quotation. Used to indicate that a quoted passage, especially one containing an error or unconventional spelling, has been retained in its original form or written intentionally.

Silva rerum: (revision in progress)

Soliloquy: (revision in progress)

Similitude: [revision in progress] a simile, more or less — "a comparison by an image conveyed in more than one term.... The simile is a matter of thought; the similitude, a feature of style" (C.J. Smith, 1871). There was a book, Similitudes, of nothing but simile quotations compiled and published by an author initialed B.S. in 1881. Later, Frank Jenners Wilstach started compiling his dictionary of similes in 1894 and published it in 1916 (he actually thought he was the first, but I guess hadn't come across the previous). "The simile is one of the most ancient forms of speech. It is the handmaid of all early word records.... Since the very beginning of English literature, the simile has been a favorite figure of speech." (busy as a bee, proud as a peacock, "The light of friendship is like the light of phosphorus, seen when all around is dark." Crowell) Earlier publications contain many references to similitudes, but most are religious dissertations.

Slogan: (revision in progress)

Sobriquet: a person's nickname; a name or phrase that describes the character of someone or something; a descriptive name or epithet; an affectionate or humorous nickname; an assumed name; a familiar name for a person, often a shortened version of the given name; sobriquets are often but not always humorous. "If people start calling you 'Mac' because you like to eat macaroni and cheese for every meal, then you not only have a strange diet, but you also have a sobriquet — in other words, a nickname."

Song (lyric poem): (revision in progress)

Soundbite: (revision in progress)

Source: a firsthand document or primary reference work; place in which a quotation can be verified, or where a quotation came from — e.g. an author, a book or a speech.

Spanglish: (revision in progress) Espanglish or Inglañol. Semilingualism. A form of speech that results from an interaction between Spanish and English used by people who speak both languages or parts of both languages. Pretty much what a lot of us speak here in AZ. It's fun because there really aren't any rules. Related: mixed languages, lexical borrowing, hybrid language, contact language, fusion language, macaronic language, bilingual pun.

Spine: (revision in progress)

Spoonerism: (revision in progress)

Spurious: (revision in progress)

Stanza: (revision in progress)

Stave: A verse or stanza of a poem, a metrical portion. A set of lines in a song. A set of five parallel lines on any one or between any adjacent two of which a note is written to indicate its pitch; a staff. In Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol, the story is set out in five staves, mimicking a piece of music.

Stubengelehrte: German. professional bookworm; book-scholar, bookman (Peter Hanns Reill, Nathan Bailey)

Style: (revision in progress)

Subtitle: (revision in progress)

Sui generis: (revision in progress)

Supposititious: (revision in progress)

Syncopate: (revision in progress)

Syntax: (revision in progress)

Tag: a brief quotation used for rhetorical emphasis or sententious effect; a recurrent or characteristic verbal expression.

Tag line: an ornamental, instructive, or strikingly effective ending for a speech, story, etc.; sometimes a short, familiar quotation used as such an ending; a final line (as in a play or joke), especially one that serves to clarify a point or create a dramatic effect; a reiterated phrase identified with an individual, group, or product.

Tertiary source: (revision in progress)

Text: (revision in progress)

Thesaurus: [revision in progress] treasury, storehouse; a book of words or information about a particular field or set of concepts; especially, a book of words and their synonyms; a list of subject headings or descriptors usually with a cross-reference system for use in the organization of a collection of documents for reference and retrieval; from Latin: treasure, collection; thesaural, adj.

Title page: (revision in progress)

Toast: (revision in progress)

Toast: (revision in progress)

Tom Swifty: (revision in progress) a phrase in which a quoted sentence is linked by a pun to the manner in which it is attributed. E.g. "Go to the back of the ship," she said sternly.

Translated: rendered from another language and therefore not the original words. It is nice to note when a quotation has been translated from another language, as it almost always changes the meaning even in a minor way. It is even better to indicate the original language and translator name as well.

Treasury: (revision in progress)

Tricks of phrase: (revision in progress)

Trope: (revision in progress) a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression; a word, phrase, or image used in a new and different way in order to create an artistic effect; a word or expression used in a figurative sense; any literary or rhetorical device, as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony, that consists in the use of words in other than their literal sense; a figure of speech using words in nonliteral ways; a common or overused theme or device, cliché

Truism: a statement the truth of which is obvious or well known and whose utterance, therefore, seems superfluous; an undoubted or self-evident truth, especially one too obvious for mention.

Trumpery: of no value in relation to what is had, or what is said, or written; worthless nonsense; showy but worthless; attractive articles of little value or use; practices or beliefs that are superficially or visually appealing but have little real value or worth; delusive or shallow. "Trumpery" first appeared in English in the mid-1400s meaning "deceit or fraud" and "worthless nonsense." By the 1500s, it was being used to mean material objects of little or no value. The verb phrase "trump up" means "to concoct with the intent to deceive," but there is most likely no etymological connection between this phrase and "trumpery." (Sources: John Bellenden Ker,,

Tsundoku: Japanese word that has no direct synonym in English. It means, ‘the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling it up together with other such unread books.’ This may be similar to being buried under a pile of unread books, which is every book lover’s reality. (

Typeface: see Font

Typescript: (revision in progress)

Typewriter: (revision in progress)

Unabridged: (revision in progress)

Unexpurgated: (revision in progress)

Unpaginated (unpag): (revision in progress)

Vade mecum: Lat., literally, "Go with me." A book that a person carries as a constant companion; a manual; a handbook or guide that is kept constantly at hand for consultation; "In English, "vade mecum" has been used (since at least 1629) of manuals or guidebooks sufficiently compact to be carried in a deep pocket. But from the beginning, it has also been used for such constant companions as gold, medications, and memorized gems of wisdom." (Merriam Webster)

Variorum: (revision in progress)

Verbicide: (revision in progress)

Verbification: (revision in progress) the creation of a verb from a noun, adjective or other word, a.k.a. verbing, verb conversion. "Google it." "Beer me!"

Verbum dicendi: in a sentence, a word that expresses speech, introduces a quotation, or marks a transition to non-standard or non-grammatical speech; also known as declaratory word or quotative.

Verse: (revision in progress)

Versifier: a writer of light or inferior verse; Versifier is often used to refer to someone who produces work in verse with the implication that while technically able to make lines rhyme they have no real talent for poetry.

Verso: The pages of a book on the reverse or left-hand side, in contradistinction to recto; the even-numbered pages.

Vers libre: {revision in progress} free verse

Victorian: (revision in progress)

Vignette: (revision in progress)

Vintage: (revision in progress)

Volume: (revision in progress)

Wellerism: (revision in progress)

Wit: (revision in progress)

Witling: (revision in progress)

Witticism: a smart saying, notable for its form rather than content.

Wordplay: (revision in progress) word play, play-on-words

Works: (revision in progress)

Zeugma: a figure of speech in which a word, usually a verb or an adjective, applies to more than one noun, blending together grammatically and logically different ideas; example: John lost his coat and his temper. ( grammatical syllepsis, syllepsis, semantic syllepsis


  • American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,
  • Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms,
  • The Directory of Second-hand Booksellers, and List of Public Libraries, British and Foreign, edited by James Clegg, 1891 (Glossary of Terms, Foreign and Technical, Used in Literature and the Book and Printing Trades)
  • Encyclopædia Britannica,
  • A Glossary; or, Collection of Words, Phrases, Names, and Allusions to Customs, Proverbs, &c. Which Have Been Thought to Require Illustration in the Works of English Authors, particularly Shakespeare, and His Contemporaries by Robert Nares, 1825
  • Handy-book of Literary Curiosities by William S. Walsh, 1892
  • Literary Frivolities, Fancies, Follies, and Frolics by William T. Dobson, 1880
  • Literary Vocabulary by Dr L. Kip Wheeler,
  • A Manual of Quotations, from the Ancient, Modern, and Oriental Languages, including Law Phrases, Maxims, Proverbs, and Family Mottoes, forming a new and considerably enlarged edition of MacDonnel's Dictionary of Quotations, by E.H. Michelsen, Ph.D., 1856
  • Merriam-Webster Online,
  • North West Learning Grid Know-It-All,
  • Oxford Dictionaries
  • Quotology by Willis Goth Regier,,674650.aspx
  • Wikipedia
  • WordNet by Princeton University Cognitive Science Laboratory,
  • Or as otherwise noted, with commentary by yours truly. «tεᖇᖇ¡·g»

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Last modified 2019 Jul 04 Thu 22:41 PDT

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