• synonyms


[in-si-pit; Latin ing-ki-pit]
  1. the introductory words or opening phrases in the text of a medieval manuscript or an early printed book.
  2. Music. the first words of a chanted liturgical text, as that of a Gregorian chant or certain medieval motets.
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Origin of incipit

1895–1900; < Latin: (here) begins, 3rd singular present indicative of incipere
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for incipit

Historical Examples

  • The title runs thus: Incipit liber qui vocatur Speculum Xpristiani.

    Notes and Queries, Number 139, June 26, 1852


  • Begins: Incipit prohemium de proprietatibus rerum fratris bartholomei anglici de ordine fratrum minorum.

  • She got up early the next morning, and wrote in her diary, "Incipit vita nova!"

    The Devourers

    Annie Vivanti Chartres

  • The second contains forty-one chapters: Incipit accessus ad tractatum de corpore Christi.

  • Incipit tamen plebs paulatim illorum ignaviam et tyrannidem verbo Dei agnoscere.

British Dictionary definitions for incipit


  1. here begins: used as an introductory word at the beginning of some medieval manuscripts
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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 incipit

opening word of a Latin book or manuscript, Latin, literally "(here) begins," third person singular present indicative of incipere (see incipient).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper