10 Literary Terms You’ve Definitely Never Heard!

Earlier this month, Jer Thorp, the Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress, asked his Twitter followers if they had any favorite obscure and/or delightful library or archival words. Of the twenty-eight words or phrases Thorp selected, here are our ten favorites:


1. Tête-bêche: From philately, meaning printed upside down or sideways relative to another. (Tara Robertson)


2. Incunabula: Early printed books, especially ones printed before 1501. (Jessamyn West)


3. Wimmelbilderbuch: A kind of large-format picture book, characterized by full-spread drawings depicting scenes richly detailed with numerous humans, animals, and objects. (Jessamyn West)


4. Sammelband: A book comprising of a number of separately printed or manuscript works that are subsequently bound together (John Overholt)


5. Verso / Recto: Refering to the text written on the “front” and “back” sides of a leaf of paper in a bound item such as a codex, book, broadsheet, or pamphlet. (@glitters_not)


6. Caoutchouc bindings: A particular (and probably first) form of adhesive binding, invented by William Hancock, and patented in 1836, in which the single sheets were secured with a rubber solution obtained from the latex of certain tropical plants, especially of the genera Hevea and Ficus. (@CourtneyEJacobs)


7. Xylotheque: A wood library — a special form of herbarium that consists of a collection of authenticated wood specimens. (Shannon Mattern)


8. Temoin: A little bit of paper left on the edge of the page by the binder to show they didn’t over-crop when binding. (@book_historia)


9. Manicule: The ‘little hand’ — a punctuation mark created by or for readers to assist in marking noteworthy passages. (@HannahJane85)


10. Deaccession: To officially remove an item from the listed holdings of a library, museum, or art gallery, typically in order to sell it to raise funds. (Leslie Johnston)


Check out the rest of the words here, and let us know which are your favorites!


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