From Middle English ynkhorn, inkehorn (“small portable vessel, originally made of horn, used to hold ink”), equivalent to ink + horn. Displaced Old English blæchorn, which had the same literal meaning but with the native term for "ink."
inkhorn (plural inkhorns)
- (archaic) A small portable container, often made of horn, used to carry ink.
- 1598–1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “Much Adoe about Nothing”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene v], page 113, column 2:
- Goe good partner, goe get you to Francis Seacole, bid him bring his pen and inkehorne to the Gaole: we are now to examine thoſe men.
- 1837, Thomas Carlyle, chapter V, in The French Revolution: A History […], volume I (The Bastille), London: Chapman and Hall, →OCLC, book III (The Parliament of Paris), page 85:
- Men in helmets have divided that, with swords; men in wigs, with quill and inkhorn, to divide it: and even more hateful these latter, if more peaceably; for the wig-method is at once irresistibler and baser.
- 1851 June – 1852 April, Harriet Beecher Stowe, chapter XIV, in Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly, volume I, Boston, Mass.: John P[unchard] Jewett & Company; Cleveland, Oh.: Jewett, Proctor & Worthington, published 20 March 1852, →OCLC, page 219:
- “All right,” said Haley, his face beaming with delight; and pulling out an old inkhorn, he proceeded to fill out a bill of sale, which, in a few moments, he handed to the young man.
- (used attributively, derogatory, of vocabulary) Pedantic, obscurely scholarly.
- 1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Sixt”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene i], page 106, column 2:
- And ere that we will ſuffer ſuch a Prince,
So kinde a Father of the Common-weale,
To be diſgraced by an Inke-horne Mate,
Wee and our Wiues and Children all will fight
And haue our bodyes ſlaughtred by thy foes.
- Alternative form of