palimpsest

[ pal-imp-sest ]
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noun
  1. a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.

  2. something that has a new layer, aspect, or appearance that builds on its past and allows us to see or perceive parts of this past: Most of what we actually see when we view any culture is a historical palimpsest, with traces of former times.Today's towering Romanesque-Gothic structure is a palimpsest, the result of numerous additions and reconstructions.Memory is a palimpsest that is continually being written over, but never perfectly so.

Origin of palimpsest

1
First recorded in 1655–65; from Latin palimpsēstus, from Greek palímpsēstos “rubbed again” (pálin “again” + psēstós “scraped, rubbed,” past participle of psân “to rub smooth”)

Other words from palimpsest

  • pal·imp·ses·tic [pal-imp-ses-tik] /ˌpæl ɪmpˈsɛs tɪk/ adjective

Words Nearby palimpsest

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use palimpsest in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for palimpsest

palimpsest

/ (ˈpælɪmpˌsɛst) /


noun
  1. a manuscript on which two or more successive texts have been written, each one being erased to make room for the next

adjective
  1. (of a text) written on a palimpsest

  2. (of a document) used as a palimpsest

Origin of palimpsest

1
C17: from Latin palimpsestus parchment cleaned for reuse, from Greek palimpsēstos, from palin again + psēstos rubbed smooth, from psēn to scrape

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