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

  • n. A fine parchment made from calfskin, lambskin, or kidskin and used for the pages and binding of books.
  • n. A work written or printed on this parchment.
  • n. A heavy off-white fine-quality paper resembling this parchment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A type of parchment paper made from the skin of a lamb, baby goat, or calf.
  • n. A writing paper of very high quality.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fine kind of parchment, usually made from calfskin, and rendered clear and white, -- used as for writing upon, and for binding books.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The skin of calves prepared for writing, printing, or painting by long exposure in a bath of lime and by repeated rubbings with a burnisher; also, the skin of goats or kids similarly prepared.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. fine parchment prepared from the skin of a young animal e.g. a calf or lamb
  • n. a heavy creamy-colored paper resembling parchment


Middle English velim, from Old French velin, from veel, calf; see veal.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French velin (French vélin), from vel ("veal"). (Wiktionary)


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  • Adso used this word in "The Name Of The Rose" when he was talking about the materials that a monk needed for his work.

    June 12, 2012

  • I believe it. After all, EVERY page was vellum. You don't want to know about the process, either. Yuck.

    When I used to catalogue rare books, I always found it fascinating that you could sometimes still see the scars and blemishes from the skin of the unfortunate animal(s) used to make the vellum.

    February 13, 2007

  • I remember reading in college that, during the Middle Ages, it took forty sheep to make one Bible. Forty sheep! I still can't really believe that.

    February 13, 2007