Definition of incunabulum in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌɪnkjʊˈnabjʊləm/

noun (plural incunabula /ɪnˈkjuːnabjʊlə/)

An early printed book, especially one printed before 1501.
Example sentences
  • Books printed before 1501 are called incunabula; the word is derived from Latin for swaddling clothes and used to indicate that these books are the work of a technology still in its infancy.
  • A preliminary exhibition of one hundred incunabula from the collection was held before World War II, in 1937, and another after it in 1957, as well as a preliminary exhibition of masterpieces from it in 1954.
  • A pair of small drawings by Burne-Jones in a sketchbook from about this time depicts similar vessels nestled in stylized seas, surrounded by frames such as those used in illustrated incunabula.


Early 19th century: from Latin incunabula (neuter plural) 'swaddling clothes, cradle', from in- 'into' + cunae 'cradle'.

Words that rhyme with incunabulum

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.