Definition of library in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlīˌbrerē/
Pronunciation: /ˈlīb(ə)rē/

noun (plural libraries)

1A building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for people to read, borrow, or refer to: a school library [as modifier]: a library book
More example sentences
  • I researched sailboat building at our town library and Boston Public Library.
  • So a university gets a new library building but no funds for new books.
  • It's easier to borrow the book from a public library or buy it from a second-hand bookshop.
1.1A collection of books and periodicals held in a library: the Institute houses an outstanding library of 35,000 volumes on the fine arts
More example sentences
  • The museum houses a library with about 60,000 books related to Gandhi and the various causes he espoused.
  • A few Italian book collectors began to amass libraries of unprecedented proportions: one cardinal is said to have had as many as 15,000 books.
  • They visited the stables, admiring the horses, and settled in to read from the extensive library Geoff had collected.
1.2A collection of films, recorded music, genetic material, etc., organized systematically and kept for research or borrowing: a record library
More example sentences
  • This includes photo libraries, research databases and detailed archives.
  • The archive functions as a dance library and research center, much like the New York City Public Library's Dance Collection.
  • Start your library by researching other denominational hymnals.
1.3A series of books, recordings, etc., issued by the same company and similar in appearance.
Example sentences
  • A Dutch publisher plans to release the complete series in a library of 12 hardcovers.
1.4A room in a private house where books are kept.
Example sentences
  • The bedrooms are linked to the bathrooms, dressing rooms, libraries and anterooms.
  • Along the cool corridors are private dining rooms, libraries, a gymnasium, and Turkish baths.
  • Dominic's room was more like a hotel luxury suite complete with a living room and a private library.
1.5 (also software library) Computing A collection of programs and software packages made generally available, often loaded and stored on disk for immediate use.
Example sentences
  • He reckons it will take 18 months to get the 4,000 programs in the software library built, and has taken the CD off the market.
  • That said, backward-compatibility is a relatively new feature for consoles - for a long time, buying a next-generation machine meant leaving your software library behind.
  • Update the software library to get rid of old software versions, beta versions and out of date service packs.


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin libraria 'bookshop', feminine (used as a noun) of librarius 'relating to books', from liber, libr- 'book'.

  • libel from Middle English:

    When first used a libel was ‘a document, a written statement’: it came via Old French from Latin libellus, a diminutive of liber ‘book’, source of library (Late Middle English). Now used as a legal term referring to a published false statement damaging to someone's reputation, it dates from the early 17th century. Libel contrasts with slander ( see scandal) which is spoken.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: li·brar·y

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