Adventures in Etymology 16 – Book

Today we are looking at the word book [bʊk].


– a handwritten or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers
– a work of fiction or nonfiction in an electronic format [source]

It comes from the Middle English word booke [boːk] (book), from the Old English bōc [boːk] (book, writing. document), from the Proto-Germanic *bōks [bɔːks] (letter, written message, inscriptions carved into a flat object pressed together) [source].

In Middle English another word for book was livret, from the Old French livret (book, booklet) from livre (book), from the Latin liber (book, the inner bark of a tree, paper, parchment), from the PIE *lewbʰ- (to peel, cut off, harm).

English words from the same root include leaf, lobby, lodge, libel, library, which in Middle and Old English was bōchūs [ˈboːkˌhuːs] or “bookhouse” [source] or bōchord (“bookhoard”) [source]. Incidentally, there’s a post on the Omniglot blog about words for library in various languages.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog.

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