Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small container made of horn or a similar material, formerly used to hold ink for writing.
  • adj. Affectedly or ostentatiously learned; pedantic: inkhorn words.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small portable container, often made of horn, used to carry ink.
  • n. Pedantic, obscurely scholarly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small bottle of horn or other material formerly used for holding ink; an inkstand; a portable case for writing materials.
  • adj. Learned; pedantic; affected.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A portable case for ink and writing-instruments, made of a horn, or (usually) of wood or metal, formerly in common use in Europe, and still in some parts of the East. See kalamdan.
  • n. In heraldry See penner.
  • Pertaining to an inkhorn, or to a writer or pedant; bookish; pedantic.

Etymologies

From Middle English inkhorn ("small portable vessel, originally made of horn, used to hold ink"), equivalent to ink +‎ horn. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word "inkhorn" was used by the translators, because in former times in this country horns were used for containing ink.

    Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Salvation is peculiarly assigned to Him, and so He bears the "inkhorn" in order to "mark" His elect (Eze 9: 4; compare Ex 12: 7; Re 7: 3; 9: 4; 13: 16, 17; 20: 4), and to write their names in His book of life (Re 13: 8).

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

  • He rejected "inkhorn" terms, arguing that "... for devising of newe termes, and compounding of wordes, our tongue hath a speciall grace, wherein it excelleth many other, and is comparable with the best."

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol IX No 1

  • Go, good partner, go, get you to Francis Seacole; bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol: we are now to examination these men.

    Much Ado About Nothing

  • Therefore as the Greek hath fewer words to express this thing than the Hebrew, so hath the Latin fewer than the Greek, and the English fewest of all, as will appear if you would undertake to give us English words for the thirteen Hebrew words: except you would coin such ridiculous inkhorn terms, as you do in the

    Early Theories of Translation

  • Grimald in his preface to his translation of Cicero's De Officiis, protests against the translation that is "uttered with inkhorn terms and not with usual words.

    Early Theories of Translation

  • Once, indeed, he guides her hand to transcribe in a book the words of her exaltation, the Ave, and the Magnificat, and the Gaude Maria, and the young angels, glad to rouse her for a moment from her dejection, are eager to hold the inkhorn and to support the book.

    English literary criticism

  • 'Yes,' answered he; and she gave him inkhorn and pen and paper and said to him, 'Write somewhat, that I may see it.'

    The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Volume III

  • We cannot imagine an officer with pen, inkhorn, and paper, at a period when few could write, 'booking' the dead.

    Literary Blunders

  • Wilson claimed to deplore the use of “inkhorn terms,” those wrought words that sounded pretentious, unnatural—un-English.

    The English Is Coming!

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