AskDefine | Define bibliophile

Dictionary Definition

bibliophile n : someone who loves (and usually collects) books [syn: booklover, book lover]

User Contributed Dictionary



First attested in 1824. From etyl fr bibliophile from etyl grc βιβλιο- + φίλος.


  1. One who loves books.

Related terms

See also

Extensive Definition

Bibliophilia is the love of books. Accordingly a bibliophile loves books, but especially "for qualities of format." A bookworm loves books for their content, or otherwise loves reading in general. Bibliophilia is generally considered to be incorrect, but some would say it is a new, recent, usage. The practice of loving or collecting books is dubbed bibliophilism, and the adjective form of the term is bibliophilic. Also, a bibliophile may be a book collector.


The classic bibliophile is one who loves to read, admire and collect books, often nurturing a large and specialised collection. Bibliophiles do not necessarily want to possess the books they love; an alternative would be to admire them in old libraries. However, the bibliophile is usually an avid book collector, sometimes pursuing scholarship in the collection, sometimes putting form above content with an emphasis on old, rare, and expensive books, first editions, books with special or unusual bindings, autographed copies, etc.


Bibliophilia is not to be confused with bibliomania, an obsessive-compulsive disorder involving the collecting of books to the point where social relations or health are damaged, and in which the mere fact that an object is a book is sufficient for it to be collected or loved. Most bibliomaniacs, then, are compulsive hoarders, identifiable by the fact that the number of unread books in their possession is continually increasing relative to the total number of books they possess and read. Extreme bibliophilia may amount to a diagnosed psychological condition.
Some use the term "bibliomania" interchangeably with "bibliophily" and in fact, the Library of Congress does not use the term "bibliophily," but rather refers its readers to either book collecting or bibliomania. The New York Public Library follows the same practice.


According to Arthur H. Minters the "private collecting of books was a fashion indulged in by many Romans, including Cicero and Atticus." The term entered the English language in 1824, according to the Merriam-Webster's reference below. It is to be distinguished from the much older notion of a bookman (which dates back to 1583), which is one who loves books, and especially reading; more generally, a bookman is one who participates in writing, publishing, or selling books.



Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 10th ed.

Futher Reading

Basbanes, Nicholas A. (1995) A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books. Henry Holt and Company, Inc.

See also

bibliophile in German: Bibliophilie
bibliophile in Estonian: Bibliofiilia
bibliophile in Spanish: Bibliofilia
bibliophile in Esperanto: Bibliofilo
bibliophile in French: Bibliophilie
bibliophile in Dutch: Bibliofilie
bibliophile in Norwegian Nynorsk: Bokorm
bibliophile in Polish: Bibliofil
bibliophile in Portuguese: Bibliofilia
bibliophile in Russian: Библиофильство
bibliophile in Finnish: Bibliofilia
bibliophile in Swedish: Bibliofil
bibliophile in Thai: หนอนหนังสือ

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bibliognost, bibliographer, biblioklept, bibliolater, bibliolatrist, bibliomane, bibliomaniac, bibliopegist, bibliophage, bibliophilist, bibliopole, bibliopolist, bibliotaph, bibliothec, bibliothecaire, bibliothecary, book agent, book collector, book printer, book publisher, book salesman, book-stealer, bookbinder, bookdealer, booklover, bookmaker, bookman, bookseller, bookworm, cataloger, chief librarian, college editor, copy editor, curator, dictionary editor, editor, editor-in-chief, executive editor, greasy grind, grind, juvenile editor, librarian, library director, managing editor, permissions editor, philobiblist, printer, production editor, publisher, reference editor, reference librarian, textbook editor, trade editor
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