Appendix B: Glossary of Terms

I list here some English and Latin terms which are frequently used in textual criticism. [1]
The first three terms describe peculiarities which may occur within a passage of text; they are not themselves errors (although the terms are sometimes mistakenly used as if they were). The subsequent terms indicate types of error which may result from these first three, or from some other cause.
homoeoteleuton “same ending”—two words/sentences/lines/paragraphs of the text which end in the same letters. This appears to be the commonest of the three.
homoearcton “same beginning”—two words/sentences/lines/paragraphs of the text which begin with the same letters.
homoeomeson “same middle”—two words/sentences/lines/paragraphs of the text which have the same letters in the middle.
dittography the writing twice of something that occurs once.
haplography the writing once of something that occurs twice or more.
itacism, iotacism an error resulting from the confusion of the letters and diphthongs η, ι, υ, ει, οι, υι, and ῃ, the pronunciation of which converged to the same sound in Koine Greek. [2]
lipography an alternative name for haplography.
parablepsis an occurrence in which the scribe’s eye wanders from its proper place in the text; often facilitated by homoeoteleuton (or -arcton/-meson), and resulting in haplography.
These next terms, some Latin and some English, are used to describe aspects of the process of textual criticism. Several of these terms were mentioned in Chapters One and Two.
recensio a careful analysis of the available manuscript evi-dence, including establishing if possible the affiliations of mss.—i.e. stemmatics.
examinatio the reconstruction of the text from the surviving manuscript evidence.
emendatio the use of correction (and sometimes conjecture) when necessary to restore the original text.
divinatio an older term for emendatio.
contaminatio horizontal influence between mss.—when one ms. is used to “check” and alter another (conflation).
recentiores, non deteriores “Later, not inferior”—later manuscripts may quite possibly contain old and hence good readings.
codex optimus the best available manuscript, used by some editors virtually exclusively except when it is patently in error.
codices descripti manuscripts which can be shown to be copies of another extant manuscript, and hence carry little or no independent weight.
eliminatio codicum descriptorum The removal from consideration of codices descripti, i.e. the principle that manuscript evidence must be weighed, not counted.
lectiones singulares readings which are unique to a particular manuscript, against the majority of other independent manuscripts.
eliminatio lectionum singularium the removal of “singular” readings—i.e. when the majority of independent manuscripts are in agreement against one manuscript, the assumption that that manuscript’s reading can be assumed to be incorrect.
utrum in alterum abiturum erat? Which was liable to turn into the other? I.e. which variant can (best) explain the existence of the others?
lectio difficilior potior (or melior). The harder reading is preferable (or better).
closed recension variants only move “vertically,” from exemplar to copy (Pasquali).
open recension readings also move “horizontally,” due to conflation.
internal evidence a) the factors supporting a given reading such as style, grammar, orthography, logic (sometimes collectively labeled as “intrinsic” evidence, which relates to the author’s most likely choice of words); b) the likelihood of this reading having arisen from another by scribal alteration, accidental or otherwise (“transcriptional” evidence, relating to what a scribe is most likely to have written).
external evidence the number, age, and quality (including independence) of manuscripts in support of a reading.autographthe supposed document which the author himself wrote.
archetype the (non-extant) document from which all our extant manuscripts are eventually derived.
hyparchetype one or more non-extant documents deriving from the archetype, and from which a family of surviving manuscripts is derived.


[ back ] 1. See esp. Maas 1958, Metzger 1971, Pasquali 1952, Renehan 1969, Reynolds and Wilson 1991, Tarrant 1995, and West 1973.
[ back ] 2. See Horrocks 1997:67–70 and 102–105.