All Words > Inkhorn

illustration Inkhorn



Part of speech: noun

Origin: Middle English, 15th century


A small portable container for ink.


(As modifier) Denoting pedantic words or expressions used only in academic writing.

Examples of Inkhorn in a sentence

"The accountant insisted on explaining even the most basic aspects of the tax code using inkhorn language."

"I used to write with inkhorn specificity in all instances, but I found that people thought even my basic emails sounded snooty."

About Inkhorn

“Inkhorn” dates back to the Middle English “ynkhorn” and “inkehorn,” both of which capture the modern English combination of “ink” and “horn” (a container made of horn used to hold ink). The metaphorical usage dates back to the mid-16th century, while the ink pot usage dates to the 1420s.

Did you Know?

Originally, an inkhorn was a portable container for ink made out of animal horn, but over time, “inkhorn” came to refer to the scribes and other professional writers who carried their writing utensils around. Because the people who used inkhorns were often involved in weighty industries such as law or accounting, the inkhorn itself became symbolic of extreme seriousness. That led to one modern definition of “inkhorn” as a synonym for “pedantic.”

illustration Inkhorn

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