Word of the Day : January 15, 2012


noun zye-LAH-gruh-fee


: the art of making engravings on wood especially for printing

Did You Know?

"Xylography" didn't appear in print in English until 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.


Francine uses a rubber-stamping technique in her art that is reminiscent of Chinese xylography.

"Also known as wood block printing, xylography proved to be cheaper and more efficient for printing Chinese, with its thousands of characters, so movable type did not supplant it there until modern times." -- From Christopher I. Beckwith's 2011 book Empires of the Silk Road

Word Family Quiz

What offspring of "-graphie" refers to the science or art of making maps? The answer is ...


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