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[hawrn-boo k] /ˈhɔrnˌbʊk/
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.
a primer or book of rudiments.
1580-90; horn + book Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hornbook
  • It is hornbook law that a contract is an agreement between two or more parties.
  • Indeed, hornbook law stresses the necessity of including the alleged defamatory statement in the complaint.
  • It is hornbook law that limitations periods are customarily subject to equitable tolling.
British Dictionary definitions for hornbook


a page bearing a religious text or the alphabet, held in a frame with a thin window of flattened cattle horn over it
any elementary primer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Encyclopedia Article for hornbook

form of children's primer common in both England and America from the late 16th to the late 18th century. A sheet containing the letters of the alphabet was mounted on a wooden frame and protected with thin, transparent plates of horn. The frame was shaped like a table-tennis paddle, had a handle, and was usually hung at the child's belt. The earliest sheets were of vellum; later they were of paper. They contained first a large cross, from which the hornbook was called the Christ's Cross row, or crisscross row. The alphabet in large and small letters followed. The vowels then formed a line, and their combinations with the consonants were given in a tabular form. The usual blessing-"In the name of the Father and of the Sonne and of the Holy Ghost, Amen"-followed, then the Lord's Prayer, the whole concluding with the Roman numerals

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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