A really big book, often with a thick, heavy-duty binding. Often used in fantasy stories to refer to magic spellbooks, and metaphorically for any book larger than others of its kind. (See The Wheel of Time.)

The largest tome I own is Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition which is over 5 inches thick worth of 9-by-12 pages. This book also comes in an India paper edition which is thinner.

"the proximity of the gun to the radar set required that effective vibration dampers and noise/blast eliminators had to be designed..."

'Tome' is a particularly awful word, a weak word, one step away from parody. It is similar to the word 'arguably', in that it betrays the writer's pretentious aspirations; whereas 'arguably' is used by people who wish to appear smarter than they are, 'tome' is used by people who wish to appear cultured and well-read, people who are tired of the word 'book' but wary of the word 'grimoire', a synonym which is so archaic as to provoke laughter. People who use the word 'tome' do not want to be laughed at; they are serious, humourless, pompous people. Just as people want to speak truth to powerful liars, so I believe that the non-laughers should themselves be laughed at. The laughter will cause them to dispel, much as water from a hosepipe can disperse a cloud, thus causing it to emanate itself into a weaker state. Where once the birds flew straight through, now the cloud is in danger of inhalation. That is my desire.

Is there a word for a negative desire, a desire to hurt and cause pain? One usually associates desire with positive feelings, or with a predatory lust for someone or something, rather than a lust to see the person or object destroyed, whether by birds or by some other agency. I am desirous of honesty and beauty, because I have been betrayed so often. I can still sense goodness, but goodness so often lacks force. I am not a good man, but I will fight for goodness. And if by writing this I make the word a better place, if only by a tiny amount, if I improve the total of human happiness by falling into the fire myself, so be it. They can kill me - they have the right to do that - but they cannot kill My Word, they cannot kill my fellow travellers.

"...it was only a battery-powered electrically-driven hydraulic pump and was not a small turbine engine. It provided just enough control to allow time for ejection, and would not last long enough to allow a landing."

My objections to the word 'tome' are threefold. Firstly, I respect the word 'book', I like it. It is short and snappy. It has a 'b' in it, it is a curvaceous word, a word which puts me in mind of plump ladies in skirts, and it is of a pleasing colour; light yellow with a white filling and a red finish. It is short. 'Book' serves many purposes and, if one is unwilling to overuse it, the words 'novel', 'story', 'publication' or 'work' will suffice perfectly well, albeit that 'work' often seems lazy and self-consciously formal. This is my first objection. I could elaborate on this point but I am near collapse and there is much more to do.

My second objection is this. Use of the word 'tome' puts me in mind of my former self. I imagine a university student, one who is thrilled to bits at his or her new-found knowledge of the literary world and of the English language. It is a showy word, an awkward word, a virgin word which draws attention to its own insecurity. People who use the word 'tome' also use the word 'periodical' when they mean 'newspaper', these people use the word 'opus' as well, perhaps even 'cantos', although that is another kind of pretension which equally re-awakens my fascist urge. I do so hate them so.

Yes, 'tome' has a proper definition; it is a single volume of a multi-volume set of books. But this definition is no longer used organically. 'Tome' is instead a weak, lazy, masturbatory word of awkward teenage inexperience which sickens me, sickens me to the bone, from whence I vomit bone marrow, my nausea expressed as leukaemia of the tongue.

"At Block 31, a stall warning system was added."

And the fifth reason I despise 'tome' is that it is often used in an unfunny way, in reference to books which are neither part of a volume nor large nor old nor 'weighty', as irony. I cease. Your work is just beginning. If you can take the first step, you can take a second, and a third, and you can take a million steps, and never stop.

"Exactly how many F-4Es remain flying in Iran is uncertain":

Tome (?), n. [F. tome (cf. It., Sp., & Pg. tomo), L. tomus, fr. Gr. a piece cut off, a part of a book, a volume, akin to to cup, and perhaps to L. tondere to shear, E. tonsure. Cf. Anatomy, Atom, Entomology, Epitome. ]

As many writings as are bound in a volume, forming part of a larger work; a book; -- usually applied to a ponderous volume.

Tomes of fable and of dream. Cowper.

A more childish expedient than that to which he now resorted is not to be found in all the tomes of the casuists. Macaulay.


© Webster 1913.

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