philately

noun

phi·​lat·​e·​ly fə-ˈla-tə-lē How to pronounce philately (audio)
: the collection and study of postage and imprinted stamps : stamp collecting
philatelic adjective
philatelically adverb

Did you know?

Who wouldn't love something tax free? George Herpin did. He was a French stamp fancier back in the 1860s, when stamps were a fairly new invention. Before stamps, the recipient of a letter—not the sender—had to pay the postage. Stamps forced the sender to foot the bill, and created a lot of stamp lovers among folks on the receiving end of the mail—and a mania for stamp collecting. Timbromania was toyed with as a term to affix to this new hobby—from the French word for stamp, timbre. But when Herpin suggested philatélie (anglicized to philately), combining the Greek root phil-, meaning "loving," with Greek ateleia, meaning "tax-exemption," stamp lovers everywhere took a fancy to it and the name stuck.

Word History

Etymology

French philatélie, from phil- + Greek ateleia tax exemption, from atelēs free from tax, from a- + telos tax; perhaps akin to Greek tlēnai to bear; from the fact that a stamped letter frees the recipient from paying the mailing charges — more at tolerate

First Known Use

circa 1865, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of philately was circa 1865

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Cite this Entry

“Philately.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/philately. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

philately

noun
phi·​lat·​e·​ly fə-ˈlat-ᵊl-ē How to pronounce philately (audio)
: the collection and study of postage stamps
philatelic adjective

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