Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A book printed before 1501; an incunable.
  • n. An artifact of an early period.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A book, single sheet, or image that was printed — not handwritten — before the year 1501 in Europe.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A work of art or of human industry, of an early epoch; especially, a book printed before a. d. 1500.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A book printed in the infancy of the art of printing. See incunabula, 3.
  • n. In entomology, a cocoon.

Etymologies

New Latin incūnābulum, from sing. of Latin incūnābula, swaddling clothes, cradle : in-, in; see in-2 + cūnābula, cradle, infancy (from cūnae, cradle; see kei-1 in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin incūnābula ("cradle, origin"), from in- + cūnābula ("cradle"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Obviously the Guamans are not bitter or have heard of Rev. Wrong – do they have TV in Guam?? incunabulum

    Obama wins Guam by 7 votes

  • May 9th, 2008 4: 10 pm ET even the terorist believe that obama is a man of peace, love, honesty, unlike war monger macain, who believe that you have to bomb to make people agree incunabulum

    McCain defends his 'bearings'

  • Atreideshawk in reply to a comment from incunabulum

    McCain Calls On United Nations To Condemn Russia's "Unacceptable" Aggression

  • It is an incunabulum- a book printed in Europe before 1501.

    When WMAM is not a WMAM

  • He took a small box out of his satchel, and, opening it, carefully produced a book of exquisite make, an incunabulum which had been carefully illuminated to look as if it had been hand-produced.

    Hanique, Part I

  • Although, as some may remember, my partner's late mother used to walk off with everything including the cream pitcher and the butter dish, insisting "they want you to - they charge for it!" incunabulum (love the name, btw!) -- I'm guessing you have never waited tables.

    Blog updates

  • The show will revolve around Caravaggio's famous Lute Player, an incunabulum of Baroque portraiture of musicians.

    Art Knowledge News

  • With his famous Lute Player, one of the highlights of the Städel's exhibition, Caravaggio had created the incunabulum of Baroque portraiture of musicians, a work enthusiastically received by his successors.

    Art Knowledge News

  • Some good club news (2) incunabulum wrote: I haven't been yet, but I have hear ...

    Blog updates

  • Which one should I actually go to? "incunabulum, I'm eaten with people who did number 5.

    Blog updates

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Comments

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  • Merriam-Webster says it comes from the Latin term for "bands holding a baby in the cradle."

    May 17, 2010

  • Also see incunabula.

    December 8, 2008

  • A book printed before the 16th century; artwork from an early period

    "'It's a long story, Sergeant. A few months ago we had a rare book stolen from this room. A beautiful old Tier Buch -- a book of animals -- an incunabulum.'"
    --Carey Magoon, I Smell the Devil

    I attended an antiques fair a few months ago in upstate New York. There were many old books there -- though not as old as incunabula. The aroma of musty, falling-apart books invokes the past like nothing else, I think. Nostalgia stinks?

    December 8, 2008

  • Early printed book; early version of a thing. (from Phrontistery)

    May 25, 2008