xy·​log·​ra·​phy zī-ˈlä-grə-fē How to pronounce xylography (audio)
: the art of making engravings on wood especially for printing
xylograph noun
xylographer noun
xylographic adjective
or less commonly xylographical

Did you know?

Current evidence dates the word xylography to 1816, but it is linked to printing practices that are much older. In fact, the oldest known printed works (from Japan and China in the 8th and 9th centuries) were made by xylography, a printing technique that involves carving text in relief upon a wooden block, which is then inked and applied to paper. This method of wood-block printing appeared in Europe in the 14th century, and eventually inspired Johannes Gutenberg to create individual and reusable pieces of type out of metal. These days, xylography can also describe the technique of engraving wood for purely artistic purposes. English speakers picked up the word from French, where it was formed as a combination of xyl-, meaning "wood," and -graphie, which denotes writing in a specified manner.

Word History


French xylographie, from xyl- + -graphie -graphy

First Known Use

1816, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of xylography was in 1816


Dictionary Entries Near xylography

Cite this Entry

“Xylography.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xylography. Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

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