[hawrn-boo k]


a leaf or page containing the alphabet, religious materials, etc., covered with a sheet of transparent horn and fixed in a frame with a handle, formerly used in teaching children to read.
a primer or book of rudiments.

Origin of hornbook

First recorded in 1580–90; horn + book
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hornbook

Contemporary Examples of hornbook

Historical Examples of hornbook

  • But not to nod over a hornbook at the petty school—not John Shakespeare's son!

    A Warwickshire Lad

    George Madden Martin

  • For hornbook and primmer for Jenkins' girle to learn to read, 6d.

  • The printed cardboard battledore was a successor of the hornbook.

  • And, Captain Borroughcliffe, as you appear to be forgetting the use of your own language, here is even a hornbook for you!

    The Pilot

    J. Fenimore Cooper

  • This like the criss-cross row in the hornbook was originally Christ's cross.

British Dictionary definitions for hornbook



a page bearing a religious text or the alphabet, held in a frame with a thin window of flattened cattle horn over it
any elementary primer
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