Word of the Day : January 21, 2017


noun zye-LAH-gruh-fee


: the art of making engravings on wood especially for printing

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.


Xylography attracted the attention of early modernists, including Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky.

"[Angelo] Aversa relished the way that xylography moved from inspiration to wood selection to pencil drawing to ink drawing to carving and cutting to ink and paper selection to hand rubbing the Japanese paper that absorbs the ink." — Ron Fletcher, The Boston Globe, 30 Nov. 2008

Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete the name for the art of making engravings in hard material so that the impression from the design yields a raised image: _ nt _ g _ _ o



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