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  1. a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.
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Origin of palimpsest

1655–65; < Latin palimpsēstus < Greek palímpsēstos rubbed again (pálin again + psēstós scraped, rubbed, verbid of psân to rub smooth)
Related formspal·imp·ses·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for palimpsest

text, document, article, composition, palimpsest, diploma, paper, scroll, vellum, papyrus, sheepskin, pell

Examples from the Web for palimpsest

Contemporary Examples of palimpsest

Historical Examples of palimpsest

British Dictionary definitions for palimpsest


  1. a manuscript on which two or more successive texts have been written, each one being erased to make room for the next
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  1. (of a text) written on a palimpsest
  2. (of a document) used as a palimpsest
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Word Origin for palimpsest

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

Word Origin and History for palimpsest


"parchment from which earlier writing has been removed to clear it for new writing," 1660s, from Latin palimpsestus, from Greek palimpsestos "scraped again," from palin "again" (see palindrome) + verbal adjective of psen "to rub smooth" (of uncertain origin).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper