Glossary for the Bibliophile

If you’ve been searching for that one descriptor for a phenomenon you are sure exists outside of your reading experience, I’m hopeful you will find it here.

Book Culture

After combing through dozens of blog posts in search of delightful denotations and recruiting my father for his wisdom (plus the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary), I’ve compiled a nifty list of words for all you book lovers out there. If you’ve been searching for that one descriptor for a phenomenon you are sure exists outside of your reading experience, I’m hopeful you will find it here.

Logophile: (n.) a lover of words


Anyone that reads at an exorbitant rate most definitely has had an orgasmic sensation from reading the perfect adjective. Syntax can be very powerful.


Bibliolatry: (n.) unadulterated admiration of a book or for books


Though often used as a Biblical term in reference to utter adherence to the literal interpretation of the Bible, which is unadulterated in a different way, the word also detonates the idolatry of many a book lover.


Librocubicularist: (n.) someone who reads in bed


A fanciful way of saying people whose partners made them buy a clip-on reading light so the lamp doesn’t have to keep “everyone” (their partner) up at such ungodly (reading) hours.



Bibliothetic: (adj.) relating to the placing and arrangements of books on the shelves of a library


Whether done alphabetically, chronologically, by genre, or by confusing numeric notation only the Circulation Desk understands, finding temporary living for books until they’re evicted (politely of course) is of crucial importance for organizing one’s carefully curated collection.


Bookling: (n.) a tiny book


I find this all too adorable not to include. I’m curious to know if it’s ever used pejoratively. For example: “It wasn’t a real book. It was a bookling– if you know what I mean.”


Booksy: (adj.) having literary or bookish pretensions


I felt personally attacked by this, but I’m sure it’s fully justifiable for any one of us who feels their literary knowledge and obsessions definitely merit conversation over their sister-in-law’s really amazing idea she has for an App.


Biblioklept: (n.) a book-thief


A bibliokleptomania would be an obsessive, compulsive book stealer.


Booklouse: (n.) a minute insect of the order Psocoptera, injurious to old books


The booklouse is a tiny winged creature that, with its fellow booklice, devours all things starchy and moldy. The booklouse thrives in a damp environment, often seeking refuge in moldy book-bindings; they and avid readers have that in common. However, they do not cause noticeable damage to your books because they only gnaw at the surface level molds that we mortals aren’t privy to.


Marginalia: (n.) marginal notes or embellishments in a book


“You don’t have to annotate anymore; there’s no teacher checking!”

I resent this– greatly. Annotate, doodle, embellish, write “WTF??!” The margins of a book are meant to be thoughtfully corrupted by their readers, so any evasion of this practice only means you miss out on the fun.



Epeolatry: (n) the worship of words


I suppose a sturdy bookshelf could serve as a shrine. Or a Word of the Day calendar.


Bibliopegy: (n.) bookbinding as a fine art


We often disregard the architecture of modern-made books, especially paperbacks. While a paperback does lack the intricacy and delicacy of a leather-bound, ornamental cover, it maintains its integrity in its durability, which does require an artistic commitment.


Etymon: (n.) the original form of a word; the word or combination of words from which a given word has been corrupted


I included this word because when I found its definition I felt so silly for saying “the noun form of a word” for all these years. Don’t act like you didn’t too.


Bibliosmia: (n.) smell or aroma of books

(For Reading Addicts)

Whether it’s the smell itself or the sensation the smell brings us, it is distinguishably glorious. Some have stretched this definition to express the enjoyment of the smell or aroma of books, but it seems obvious to most that the smell of books would foster enjoyment for anyone.


Fictophilia: (n.) romantic, sexual attraction to a fictional character

(urban dictionary)

Though this term hasn’t been officially printed in any dictionary yet, there is no denying that this phenomenon exists. Your childhood crush may have been Mark who wore light-up sneakers, but mine was Geronimo Stilton.


Bibliosnitch: (n.) one who doesn’t return books after borrowing them


This term was first coined in the 1930s by Dr. Henry Pelouze de Forest, a prominent medical man with a prominent book collection. He had custom-made plates inserted into his books to threaten his borrowers to return them. His friends, like any friends of a book-loving paranoid would (probably because they too were book-loving paranoids) eagerly requested some of their own. These bookplates now live with the New York Academy of Medicine’s.



Tsundoku: (n.) the phenomenon of acquiring books and letting them pile up without having reading them


The word first appeared in 1879 to describe someone who had a lot of unread literature. It was used sarcastically, describing a scholar who didn’t read anything that they preached. However, the term is not stigmatized; it shouldn’t be. Buying books for books’ sake is an affair that’ll render you weak in the knees with each purchase. You become so enamored with the potential of reading something that moves you that you begin to feel moved by the potential itself.


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featured image via The New Yorker//Bruce Eric Kaplan