1 : a book for ready reference : manual
2 : something regularly carried about by a person
"Well into the 20th century, John Barlow's Ideal Handbook, the vade mecum of the rifleman, carried instructions for molding the Keene bullet." — Jim Foral, Gun Digest 2012, 2011
"How to Do Biography is not a prescriptive, do-it-by-the-numbers volume. It's more a vade mecum, a guidebook filled with general advice on issues that face all biographers." — James L. W. West III, The Centre Daily Times (State College, Pennsylvania), 26 Apr. 2009
Did You Know?
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).
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