in·​ci·​pit ˈin(t)-sə-pət How to pronounce incipit (audio) ˈiŋ-kə-ˌpit How to pronounce incipit (audio)
: the first part : beginning
specifically : the opening words of a text of a medieval manuscript or early printed book

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web There is an ineluctable emotional stamp on the incipit of just about all of Brahms’ mature chamber works — the opening seconds set an affective tone that can last the entire piece. Lukas Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Aug. 2022

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incipit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin, it begins, from incipere

First Known Use

1897, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of incipit was in 1897

Dictionary Entries Near incipit

Cite this Entry

“Incipit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

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