Tuesday, 16 June 2015


I saw something about the origin of the word "hornbook" on a TV program the other day and found it quite interesting, as I had never come across the word before.

In childhood education from the mid 16th century to the late 19th century, a hornbook was a primer for children consisting of a sheet containing the letters of the alphabet, mounted on wood, bone, leather, or stone and protected by a thin sheet of transparent horn or mica. Sometimes the sheet was simply pasted against the slice of horn. The wooden frame often had a handle, and it was usually hung at the child's girdle. 

primer is a textbook for teaching of reading, such as an alphabet book. The word also is used more broadly to refer to any book that presents the most basic elements of any subject.
In United States legal education, hornbooks are one-volume legal treatises, written primarily for law students on subjects typically covered by law school courses.
The term derives from the hornbook, an early children's educational tool, implying that the material is basic. The term hornbook law is sometimes used to describe basic, settled legal principles.
Hornbooks summarize and explain the law in a specific area. They are distinct from casebooks, which are collections of cases (or parts of cases) chosen to help illustrate and stimulate discussion about legal issues.