Sunday, 2 June 2013


Novels, Biblio, Bibliophile, Bibliomania,
Photo by Sheila Sund


Combining form.
[Greek stem & combining form of biblion book.]

Used in words adopted from Greek and in English formations modelled
on these, with the sense 'of or relating to books or a book'.

Discrete words, as fascinating and beautiful as they are, can only ever be of limited value. When they're brought together by a skilled and dexterous writer, however, those solitary words aggregate to a deeper life and power. One book can change the life of an individual or the fate of an entire nation. It can inspire love and hatred, celebration and grief. Books are of a beauty and power like no other human artefect.

While Lexicolatry is largely an expression of my love of words (my logophilia), I'm also an ardent bibliophile  and it's very exciting to cover the biblio- words. Their number and variety is indicative of the importance and status that books command in human life and culture. Therefore, I present some of the most interesting and useful biblio- words from the OED:

A book thief

Extravagant admiration of a book or for books

Divination by books, specifically divination by verses of the Bible

A passion for the collecting and possessing of books

(A person) affected with or given to bibliomania

Bookbinding as a fine art

The use of reading matter for therapeutic purposes

Relating to the placing and arrangement of books on the shelves of a library

Photo by Brenda Clarke

As always, though, there are gaps! Therefore, I would like to make some suggestions of my own regarding biblio- words that aren't but should be:

The combining of two of the greatest pleasures in life: the bath and the book. Aah! Bliss.

The wanton destruction of books;
Specifically, the complete destruction of one book in all its forms and therefore the killing of the characters that live within its pages.
Also, the dropping of a book during a bibliobalneum.

When someone lies outright about having read a book, perhaps using films as source
material for discussion or giving some other excuse as to why they can't discuss it at length:

"Oh yes, I read Jane Eyre, but I was very young as the time,"
"Jane Eyre? Well of course! But if I recall correctly that was shortly before my accident
 which caused amnesia which erased all memory of the book, its plot and contents."

The failure of parents to instill an appreciation of books in their children, or the failure to make books
and reading material readily available to them. I'm quite serious about this one. C'mon parents! Sort it out!

An irrational fear and distrust of books; the belief that reading, owning or
otherwise interacting with them will somehow make you a geek, nerd, brainiac, etc.

When someone doesn't want to admit that they haven't read a particular book and uses evasive manuevers such as
 "Hmm. Jane Eyre? Oh yes. That's the one about ... umm ... Jane? Yes that's it. A classic."

This is where it starts.
(photo by Hayden Judd)

Please share your thoughts on all things and all words biblio (as it rightfully has preferential treatment and an OED entry all of its own, bibliophile is covered here). Also, if you have suggestions for any other new biblio words, please do share. 


  1. That's a fun bit of biblioneologism.

    In the interest of strict biblioveracity, I present my initial reaction to the first picture in this article:

    "Read it. Saw the movie. Sherlock Holmes? Read most of that. Didn't read it; heard it was crap. Is that top one the Howard Pyle? No, it's...Reader's Digest? I ain't reading that!"

    This was followed by some squinting at the other titles and concluding that I can't quite make them out.

    1. I must admit to being momentarily horrified by this comment, Nick, as I thought you were saying you had heard Sherlock Holmes is crap ... *gasps with horror at the wanton vilification of one of his lifelong heroes* ... but no ... you're referring to The Da Vinci Code (I think).

      Your comment does make me think I should have suggested 'bibliosnobbery' though (something I know I'm guilty of). I know it's trashy, but The Da Vinci Code is actually a really good yarn and I can't deny that I enjoyed it cover to cover. As much as I always join in with Dan Brown's detractors, I know I'm going to end up reading Inferno and I know I'm probably going to thoroughly enjoy it - only to continue to tut and roll my eyes whenever the poor guy's name is mentioned. Yes, it's true - I'm a bibliosnob.

    2. Yes, that did refer to the Dan Brown, though I must admit I'm no great fan of Conan Doyle either. I mean, the man believed in fairies.

      The White Company was pretty good though.

  2. Oh to have the room, and money! to be a biliomaniac!
    One of my favourite 'biblio' words is bibliophagist - a devourer of books, an ardent reader.

    Bibliophobia can be found in most old dictionaries. Sounds like another word that has wrongly been discarded!

    We need more biblioariums. There is the obsolete word 'bibliothecary' for a library, but I like how biblioarium rolls off the tongue!
    And what about biblioesque! There are many writings that are book-like!
    And maybe biblioscribe for to write a book!

    1. Yes, I've seen bibliophobia before, but I was thinking of a slightly different application (which might exist too) as in distrusting books and thinking reading is rather uncool.

      I love biblioarium, and -esque words always do it for me. In fact, I've made the comment about several TV shows (the British version of The Office, for example), where the characterisation is so good and developed that it's more like a book. If only I had had 'biblioesque' in my vocab at the time ...