vade mecum


plural vade mecums
: a book for ready reference : manual
: something regularly carried about by a person

Did you know?

Brush Up on Your Latin With Vade Mecum

Vade mecum (Latin for "go with me") has long been used of manuals or guidebooks sufficiently compact to be carried in a deep pocket, and it would sometimes appear in the title of such works, as with one of the earliest known uses of the phrase in the title of the 1629 volume Vade Mecum: A Manuall of Essayes Morrall, Theologicall. From the beginning, it has also been used for constant companions that are carried about by a person, such as gold, medications, and memorized gems of wisdom. But these days, vade mecum is primarily encountered in reference to works which are intended to serve as one-stop references or guides to a particular subject, whether or not such a work can actually be carried in one's pocket (a moot distinction, perhaps, in an age when such works can easily reside in a smartphone's memory).

Examples of vade mecum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web By the time the last of its five massive volumes appeared, in 1959, the Sowerby catalog had become the vade mecum of Jefferson scholarship. Jorge Dionis, Town & Country, 6 Dec. 2013

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vade mecum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin, "go with me"

First Known Use

1629, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of vade mecum was in 1629


Dictionary Entries Near vade mecum

Cite this Entry

“Vade mecum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on vade mecum

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!