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[lahy-brer-ee, -bruh-ree, -bree] /ˈlaɪˌbrɛr i, -brə ri, -bri/
noun, plural libraries.
a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read or borrowed.
a public body organizing and maintaining such an establishment.
a collection of manuscripts, publications, and other materials for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference.
a collection of any materials for study and enjoyment, as films, musical recordings, or maps.
a commercial establishment lending books for a fixed charge; a lending library.
a series of books of similar character or alike in size, binding, etc., issued by a single publishing house.
Biology. a collection of standard materials or formulations by which specimens are identified.
canon1 (def 9).
Computers. a collection of software or data usually reflecting a specific theme or application.
Origin of library
1300-50; Middle English libraire < Middle French librairie < Medieval Latin librāria, noun use of feminine of Latin librārius (adj.) of books, equivalent to lib(e)r book + -ārius -ary
Related forms
interlibrary, adjective
Pronunciation note
Library, with one r -sound following close upon another, is particularly vulnerable to the process of dissimilation—the tendency for neighboring like sounds to become unlike, or for one of them to disappear altogether. The pronunciation
[lahy-brer-ee] /ˈlaɪ brɛr i/ (Show IPA)
therefore, while still the most common, is frequently reduced by educated speakers, both in the U.S. and in England, to the dissimilated
[lahy-buh-ree] /ˈlaɪ bə ri/
[lahy-bree] /ˈlaɪ bri/ .
A third dissimilated form
[lahy-ber-ee] /ˈlaɪ bɛr i/
is more likely to be heard from less educated or very young speakers, and is often criticized. See colonel, February, governor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for libraries
  • libraries cut off access to the scientific literature.
  • From archaeologists determining cultural practices to chemists studying embalming, mummies have revealed libraries of information.
  • Not to be left out, thousands of libraries are likewise offering e-books on loan and are rapidly expanding their catalogs.
  • Terminals in libraries and cybercafes would have to have verified sign-in rosters.
  • However, code libraries for basic algorithms are shared.
  • There should still be a few copies of it around and in libraries.
  • These papers also contain references to libraries of supporting materials.
  • The digital libraries of mankind can be wiped clean in the next big war.
  • libraries are full of these kinds of books, open your eyes.
  • He is hunting it through swimming through libraries and trying to reckon what it means.
British Dictionary definitions for libraries


noun (pl) -braries
a room or set of rooms where books and other literary materials are kept
a collection of literary materials, films, CDs, children's toys, etc, kept for borrowing or reference
the building or institution that houses such a collection: a public library
a set of books published as a series, often in a similar format
(computing) a collection of standard programs and subroutines for immediate use, usually stored on disk or some other storage device
a collection of specific items for reference or checking against: a library of genetic material
Word Origin
C14: from Old French librairie, from Medieval Latin librāris, n use of Latin librārius relating to books, from liber book
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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Word Origin and History for libraries



place for books, late 14c., from Anglo-French librarie, Old French librairie "collection of books" (14c.), noun use of adj. librarius "concerning books," from Latin librarium "chest for books," from liber (genitive libri) "book, paper, parchment," originally "the inner bark of trees," probably a derivative of PIE root *leub(h)- "to strip, to peel" (see leaf). The equivalent word in most Romance languages now means "bookseller's shop." Old English had bochord, literally "book hord."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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