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June 26, 2020

Word of the Day: Marginalia

1 CQ

Word of the Day : September 14, 2017

marginalia \mahr-juh-NAY-lee-uh\ noun


1 : marginal notes or embellishments (such as in a book)

2 : nonessential items


"Over the next nine days, [John Hughes] completed the first draft of Home Alone, capped by an eight-hour, 44-page dash to the finale. Before finishing, he'd expressed concerns in the marginalia of his journal that he was working too slowly." — James Hughes, The Chicago Magazine, 10 Nov. 2015

"In Arderne's texts the marginalia has a clear purpose, but in other manuscripts the meaning of the drawings can be indecipherable. There are countless examples of unusual marginalia—monkeys playing the bagpipes, centaurs, knights in combat with snails, naked bishops, and strange human-animal hybrids that seem to defy categorization." — Anika Burgess, Atlas Obscura, 9 May 2017

Did You Know?

We don't consider a word's etymology to be marginalia, so we'll start off by telling you the etymology of this one. Marginalia is a New Latin word that borrows from the Medieval Latin adjective marginalis ("marginal") and ultimately from the noun  margo, meaning "border." Marginalia is a relatively new word; it dates from the 19th century despite describing something—notes in the margin of a text—that had existed as far back as the 11th century. An older word, apostille (or apostil) once referred to a single annotation made in a margin, but that word is rare today.

Aired September 14, 2017

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