One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A book of financial accounts, a ledger.
2Specifically. A ledger containing a list of the creditors of some continental European states, originally that instituted in France in 1793. Usually more fully "great book of (the) public debt".
3US. In plural (usually with capital initials). The body of literary works traditionally regarded as the most important or significant in (especially Western) literature; the canon; frequently attributive, designating a curriculum, etc., emphasizing the study of these works.
Early 17th century. From great + book.
great book/ˌɡreɪt ˈbʊk/
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