Today’s Word: vade mecum

Word : vade mecum


(VAY/VAH-dee MEE/MAY-kuhm)


noun: A book for ready reference, such as a manual or guidebook.


From Latin vade mecum (go with me), from vadere (to go) + me (me) + cum (with). Earliest documented use: 1629.


An iPad may serve as the modern vade mecum, but in earlier times there was no Wi-Fi with easy access to reference material. A moneylender may have had to carry a book of interest tables, a doctor a book of treatments, and so on. A vade mecum was often folded like an accordion or a map and suspended from the belt or girdle.


“The U.S. Senate, over which Dallas presided, ordered twelve thousand copies of Hickey’s pro-slavery vade mecum.”

Jill Lepore; The Commandments; The New Yorker; Jan 17, 2011.

Explore “vade mecum” in the Visual Thesaurus.



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