Archaic Definition of the Week – Hornbook

hornbook: A primer which was popular in England between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Consisting of a single sheet of paper or vellum mounted on wood, on which were printed the alphabet, the Lord’s Prayer, and Roman numerals, the hornbook derived its name from the protective covering of horn over the sheet.

The term is used by Thomas Dekker in his Gull’s Hornbook, a witty pamphlet for the young men-about-town of early-seventeenth-century London.

Literary Terms: A Dictionary by Karl Beckson and Arthur Ganz.

You may also like...