Definition of colophon in US English:



  • 1A publisher's emblem or imprint, especially one on the title page or spine of a book.

    • ‘Caxton learned to print in Bruges, using Burgundian styles, texts, and machines, so the earliest English books have a Burgundian feel, most evident in typefaces, layouts, and colophons.’
    • ‘In his long commentary on that adage, Erasmus described the genesis and significance of the anchor and dolphin in the Aldine colophon.’
    • ‘Baskin redesigned Blake for the Rainbow Press's colophon.’
    • ‘Old colophons on school books sport two sorts of logo: oblong whorls, rococo scrolls - both in worn morocco.’
    • ‘Expect a new banner this week and changes to the colophon.’
    • ‘The jacket also serves as the cover of the book and once that is taken off, what you usually get is a volume bound in plain rexine, with the title, author and publisher's colophon embossed on the spine.’
    caption, inscription, dedication, motto, slogan, device, heading, head, title, wording, subtitle, subheading, rubric
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    1. 1.1historical A statement at the end of a book, typically with a printer's emblem, giving information about its authorship and printing.
      • ‘The names of some of his patrons are known through his colophons, and it is probable that he primarily earned his living by being a teacher in the richer circles, rather than as a scribe.’
      • ‘The provenance is no longer legible in the colophon.’
      • ‘A note in the colophon material states that this comes from a collaborative text-sound installation.’
      • ‘Many books have colophons at the end giving the name of one or more scribes, and sometimes giving the names of patrons.’
      • ‘It is hoped that the author's creation will ultimately be wrapped in the appropriate robes of ritual: a stiff hardcover binding with a glossy dust jacket, acid-free paper and perhaps a colophon page.’
      • ‘He is named in the colophon as one of the publishers and Isaac is named on the title page as the printer.’
      • ‘Caxton's prefaces, colophons, and epilogues in particular are self-conscious about authorship, purpose, genre, sources, patronage, medium, and technique.’
      • ‘This page, the colophon, contains the name of the artist, the date of completion, and the name of the person who commissioned the book.’


Early 17th century (denoting a finishing touch): via late Latin from Greek kolophōn ‘summit or finishing touch’.