Roy   Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 06:23 GMT
Does anyone know what the origin of the word 'library' is? From my limited knowledge of Western European languages, most seem to use some variation of the french 'bibliotheque'. Why does english use such a different word and where does it come from?
Roy   Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 06:32 GMT
Dutch - bibliotheek
Swedish/Norwegian/Danish - bibliotek
Italian - biblioteca
Portuguese - biblioteca
French - bibliotheque
Roy   Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 06:52 GMT
German - bibliothek
Brennus   Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 07:05 GMT


The source of English "library" is the Latin word LIBRARIUM meaning "an array or collection of books" derived from LIBRUM "book". A variation of librarium survives also in Spanish, librería which means "bookstore". In fact, not too far from where I live there is a Librería cristiana (Christian bookstore) for Spanish speaking residents (Mostly Mexican) in my region.

In most languages, the word for "library" is derived from a word for book: e.g. Arabic Máktaba from kitab "book" and Hebrew Sefriya from Sefer "book" etc. French was a dominant language in Europe and even Czarist Russia at one time (most of the nobility spoke it) which explains the popularity of bibliotheque.
Roy   Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 07:08 GMT
Pons   Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 07:50 GMT
"Middle English librarie, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin librrium, bookcase, from neuter of librrius, of books, from liber, libr-, book." (

The Latin root "librarium" or "librrium" survives in all the major Romance languages in various forms, but their English equivalent is "bookstore" rather than "library".

French - librairie
Spanish - librería
Portuguese - livraria
Italian - libreria
Romanian - librărie ('a' with breve)
Catalan - llibreria
Occitan - librariá
Ved   Friday, December 24, 2004, 04:31 GMT
The Spanish word means "a bookstore".

A library is "una biblioteca".

Serbian: biblioteka

Croatian: knjižnica