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1. An early primer consisting of a single page protected by a transparent sheet of horn, formerly used in teaching children to read.
2. A text that instructs in the basic skills or rudiments of a subject.


1. (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) a page bearing a religious text or the alphabet, held in a frame with a thin window of flattened cattle horn over it
2. (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) any elementary primer



1. a leaf or page containing the alphabet, religious materials, etc., covered with a sheet of transparent horn and fixed in a frame with a handle, formerly used in teaching children to read.
2. a primer or book of rudiments.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.hornbook - a primer that provides instruction in the rudiments or basic skills of a branch of knowledge
primer - an introductory textbook
References in periodicals archive ?
The checklist of Tuer's own writing mentions his works like Luxurious Bathing (1879), his biography of Bartolozzi (1882), London Cries (1883), The Kaukneigh Awlminek (1882), Follies and Fashions of our Grandfathers (1886), and History of the Horn-book (1896), as well as The Book of Delightful and Strange Designs, being 100 facsimile illustrations of the art of the Japanese stencil-cutter to which the gentle reader is introduced by one Andrew W.
The path to literacy in western society begins with the alphabet, and the earliest form of alphabet book used in English-speaking countries is the horn-book. Facsimiles of hornbooks (1) and their successor, the battledore, are examined here within the context of a selection of contemporaneous English language alphabet books from the Library's rare Children's Literature Collection.
The 'horn-books' that Juliet O'Conor, Children's Research Librarian at the State Library, writes about were not what we think of as books.