Definition of incipit in US English:



  • The opening words of a text, manuscript, early printed book, or chanted liturgical text.

    Compare with explicit
    • ‘Manual and printed collections of incipits permit only one type of inquiry: by the first word.’
    • ‘It would have the theme incipits, song title, composer, and copyright dales, and any or all of these fields could be searched for.’
    • ‘Each folio has the incipits of the hours of the Virgin on the recto, and the lessons, responsories and versicles from the office of the dead on the verso.’
    • ‘The scripts are accessed through forms which allow you to specify the manuscripts, feasts or incipits which interest you.’
    • ‘The resolution of the facsimile at high magnification is not clear enough to see the detail of the incipits, but it is fascinating to discover more about this shadowy publication.’


Latin, literally ‘(here) begins’.