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[chap-boo k] /ˈtʃæpˌbʊk/
a small book or pamphlet of popular tales, ballads, etc., formerly hawked about by chapmen.
a small book or pamphlet, often of poetry.
1790-1800; chap (as in chapman) + book Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for chap book


a book of popular ballads, stories, etc, formerly sold by chapmen or pedlars
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for chap book



also chap-book, 1824, shortened from chap(man) book, so called because chapmen (see cheap) once sold such books on the street. A modern word for a type of old book.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for chap book


small, inexpensive stitched tract formerly sold by itinerant dealers, or chapmen, in western Europe and in North America. Most chapbooks were 5 12 by 4 14 inches (14 by 11 cm) in size and were made up of four pages (or multiples of four), illustrated with woodcuts. They contained tales of popular heroes, legend and folklore, jests, reports of notorious crimes, ballads, almanacs, nursery rhymes, school lessons, farces, biblical tales, dream lore, and other popular matter. The texts were mostly crude and anonymous, but they formed the major part of secular reading and now serve as a guide to the manners and morals of their times.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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