Printable Version
Pronunciation: bib-li-ah-pê-li Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: The business of trading in secondhand books, especially rare or decorative ones.

Notes: Today's Good Word was very popular in the 19th century, but is not listed as archaic or obsolete in any dictionary. It is derived from the personal noun bibliopole "secondhand or rare book dealer". It has a rather large family, including two adjectives: bibliopolar (from bibliopole), and bibliopolic (from today's word). We also have another activity noun, a slightly jocular alternative to today's word, bibliopolery, should your conversation lead you to poke fun at the business.

In Play: We can employ today's Good Word in a limited number of contexts: "Will Doolittle engages in bibliopoly at the local flea market on weekends." However, if you are a book collector, it might come in handy from time to time: "Gene Poole was such a bibliomaniacal collector all his life, it was a simple matter for him to go into bibliopoly."

Word History: Today's Good Word came to us via Latin from Greek bibliopoles "bookseller", made up of the root of biblion "book" + poles "seller". Biblion was borrowed by Greek from Egyptian byblos "papyrus". This word may have been a commonization of Byblos, the Phoenecian port from which Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece. Poles "seller" is the personal noun from polein "to sell". We can trace the root of this word to Sanskrit panate "barters, purchases", Lithuanian pelnas "gain", Dutch veil "venal, purchasable", German feil "for sale". The original Greek word is found in the English borrowing monopoly, implying a single seller. (Today's Good Word is due Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, a staunch bibliophile and excellent editor of the Good Word series.)

Dr. Goodword,

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