• synonyms


[ in-kyoo-nab-yuh-luh, ing- ]
/ ˌɪn kyʊˈnæb yə lə, ˌɪŋ- /

plural noun, singular in·cu·nab·u·lum [in-kyoo-nab-yuh-luh m, ing-] /ˌɪn kyʊˈnæb yə ləm, ˌɪŋ-/.

extant copies of books produced in the earliest stages (before 1501) of printing from movable type.
the earliest stages or first traces of anything.

Nearby words

incumbent, incumbent on, incumber, incumbrance, incunable, incunabula, incunabulum, incur, incurable, incurious, incurrence

Origin of incunabula

1815–25; < Latin: straps holding a baby in a cradle, earliest home, birthplace, probably equivalent to *incūnā(re) to place in a cradle (in- in-2 + *-cūnāre, verbal derivative of cūnae cradle) + -bula, plural of -bulum suffix of instrument; def. 1 as translation of German Wiegendrucke
Related formsin·cu·nab·u·lar, adjectivepost·in·cu·nab·u·la, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for incunabular


/ (ˌɪnkjʊˈnæbjʊlə) /

pl n singular -lum (-ləm)

any book printed before 1501
the infancy or earliest stages of something; beginnings
Derived Formsincunabular, adjective

Word Origin for incunabula

C19: from Latin, originally: swaddling clothes, hence beginnings, from in- ² + cūnābula cradle
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 incunabular



"swaddling clothes," also, figuratively, "childhood, beginnings;" 1824, from Latin incunabula (neuter plural), ultimately from cunae "cradle," from PIE *koi-na-, from root *kei- "to lie; bed, couch."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper