Definition of duodecimo in English:


(also 12mo)


  • 1A size of book page that results from the folding of each printed sheet into 12 leaves (24 pages)

    Also called twelvemo
    • ‘A rough guide: modern unabridged dictionaries are usually the size of quartos; most textbooks are octavos; popular paperbacks are often duodecimos.’
    • ‘There were huge, ponderous folios, and quartos, and little duodecimos, in English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic, and all other languages that either originated at the confusion of Babel or have since come into use.’
    • ‘He treats all the octavos in twelves as duodecimos, when these accounts make it clear that they are octavos imposed in sheet and a half.’
    • ‘This sometimes causes mistaken identification - but ignore anybody suggesting the books are duodecimos or even sextodecimos - they are small octavos.’
    • ‘On the pages of the first quire, Thomas listed the smallest of the books, the octavos, duodecimos, and 32 mos; on the second, he listed the larger books, folios and quartos, and the family's manuscripts; and on the third quire, the contents of twenty-five volumes of bound tracts.’
    • ‘A total of 9 post-1800 novels appear in the list of octavos, and 127 in the duodecimos.’
    • ‘One could have a thin delicate duodecimo of a few dozen leaves of poetry, or a thick chunky volume of several hundred pages: both were duodecimos.’
    • ‘His estimation of the capacities of youth was generous in comparison; this more aggressive abridger turned the nineteen volumes of the three novels into a 232-page duodecimo.’
    • ‘It is a bunched, busy duodecimo, and in it, the reader can find stock poetic eloquence, like his, tailored to suit his circumstances.’
    • ‘Smaller formats could make printing less expensive, and text from a quarto edition could be squeezed into a duodecimo with considerable savings in paper - still a precious commodity in the age before wood pulp.’
    1. 1.1A duodecimo book.
      • ‘The Elzevirian duodecimos achieved great contemporary popularity, and many authors thought it an honor to have their writings included in the series.’
      • ‘Beware, too, of the vulgar error of fancying that little duodecimos with the mark of the fox and the bee's nest, and the motto ‘Quaerendo,’ come from the press of the Elzevirs.’
      • ‘The book-table had been hastily cleared for a cloth, not over white, and, in consequence, the sole remaining table, which acted as sideboard, displayed a relay of plates and knives and forks, in the midst of octavos and duodecimos, bound and unbound, piled up and thrown about in great variety of shapes.’
      • ‘To those, who are fond of relations of love and courtship, of the hopes and fears of the tender passion, of warm declarations, agitated hesitations, and timid acceptations, the volumes before us will afford a treat; for this regular routine of interesting detail, occurs about eight times, we believe, in the four thin duodecimos in question.’
      • ‘Around the walls stood several oaken bookcases, the lower shelves of which were filled with rows of gigantic folios and black-letter quartos, and the upper with little parchment-covered duodecimos.’
      • ‘Such was this shameful war of Bibles - folios, quartos, and duodecimos, even in the days of Charles the First.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin (in) duodecimo in a twelfth from duodecimus twelfth.