/chap"book'/, n.
1. a small book or pamphlet of popular tales, ballads, etc., formerly hawked about by chapmen.
2. a small book or pamphlet, often of poetry.
[1790-1800; chap (as in CHAPMAN) + BOOK]

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      small, inexpensive stitched tract formerly sold by itinerant dealers, or chapmen, in western Europe and in North America. Most chapbooks were 5 1/2 by 4 1/4 inches (14 by 11 cm) in size and were made up of four pages (or multiples of four), illustrated with woodcuts. They contained tales of popular heroes, legend and folklore, jests, reports of notorious crimes, ballads, almanacs, nursery rhymes, school lessons, farces, biblical tales, dream lore, and other popular matter. The texts were mostly crude and anonymous, but they formed the major part of secular reading and now serve as a guide to the manners and morals of their times.

      Many of the earliest English and German chapbooks derived from French examples, which began to appear at the end of the 15th century. The Volksbücher (a type of chapbook) began to flourish in Germany in the mid-16th century. Some were prose versions of medieval German verse romances; others contained tales of foreign origin. Whatever their sources, they satisfied a need for light literature that persisted long after the 16th century. In colonial America they were imported from England and were produced locally. When religious and other more serious tracts appeared, and as publication of inexpensive magazines developed in the early 19th century, chapbooks lost popularity and were discontinued.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chapbook — Chap book , n. [See {Chap} to cheapen.] Any small book carried about for sale by chapmen or hawkers. Hence, any small book; a toy book. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chapbook — 1824, shortened from chap(man) book, so called because chapmen (see CHEAP (Cf. cheap)) sold such books on the street …   Etymology dictionary

  • chapbook — [chap′book΄] n. [ CHAP(MAN) + BOOK: chapmen sold such books in the streets] a small book or pamphlet of poems, ballads, religious tracts, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Chapbook — Chap Book redirects here. For the 19th century American magazine, see The Chap Book. Chapbook frontispiece of Voltaire s The Extraodinary Fate of Calas, showing a man being tortured, late 17th century. A chapbook is a pocket sized booklet. The… …   Wikipedia

  • Chapbook —  Ne doit pas être confondu avec The Chap Book. Frontispice d un chapbook : fin du XVIIIe siècle ou début du XIXe siècle …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Chapbook — Portada de un chapbook de finales del s. XVII o principios del s. XVIII. Chapbook es un término genérico para nombrar un tipo particular de folleto de tamaño de bolsillo muy popular desde el siglo XVI hasta finales del siglo XIX. No se le puede… …   Wikipedia Español

  • chapbook — noun A small book, usually made from a single sheet, folded several times, containing poems, ballads or religious tracts This was, till within the last few years, a favourite chapbook in the north of England …   Wiktionary

  • chapbook — /ˈtʃæpbʊk/ (say chapbook) noun 1. one of a type of small books or pamphlets of popular tales, ballads, etc., such as were formerly hawked about by chapmen. 2. a small publication, usually about 40 pages, often of poetry …   Australian English dictionary

  • chapbook — ˈchapˌbu̇k noun Etymology: chapman + book 1. : a small book or pamphlet of a kind formerly sold by chapmen containing popular tales, treatises, ballads, or nursery rhymes 2. : a small book or pamphlet resembling a chapbook …   Useful english dictionary

  • chapbook — noun Etymology: chapman + book Date: 1798 a small book containing ballads, poems, tales, or tracts …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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