[kol-uh-fon, -fuh n]


a publisher's or printer's distinctive emblem, used as an identifying device on its books and other works.
an inscription at the end of a book or manuscript, used especially in the 15th and 16th centuries, giving the title or subject of the work, its author, the name of the printer or publisher, and the date and place of publication.

Origin of colophon

1615–25; < Latin < Greek kolophṓn summit, finishing touch
Related formscol·o·phon·ic, adjective




an ancient city in Asia Minor: one of the 12 Ionian cities banded together in the 8th century b.c.: largely depopulated in 286 b.c. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for colophon

symbol, trademark, label, imprint, logo, mark

Examples from the Web for colophon

Historical Examples of colophon

  • Prophets and prophetesses fasted at Miletus, Colophon, and other places.

  • She was a nymph once, they say—the daughter of Idmon the dyer, of Colophon, a city of Lydia.

  • Must I be torn from hence and thrown With frontispiece and colophon!

    The Library

    Andrew Lang

  • The colophon is a real masterpiece and a witty criticism of the play as well.


    Oscar Wilde

  • Dionysios of Colophon and Pauson have already been spoken of.

    History of Ancient Art

    Franz von Reber

British Dictionary definitions for colophon



a publisher's emblem on a book
(formerly) an inscription at the end of a book showing the title, printer, date, etc

Word Origin for colophon

C17: via Late Latin, from Greek kolophōn a finishing stroke
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for colophon

1774, "publisher's inscription at the end of a book," from Latin colophon, from Greek kolophon "summit, final touch" (see hill).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper