The noun is derived from Late Middle English pamflet, pamphilet (“short written text; small book; tract”) [and other forms], from Middle French Pamphilet (compare Late Latin (Anglo-Latin) pamfletus, panfletus, paunflettus (“short written text”), Old French Panfilès), a popular shorthand for the 12th-century Latin love poem Pamphilus, seu de amore (Pamphilus, or On Love), which was so widely circulated in pamphlets as to give its name to the whole phenomenon. Pamphilet is derived from Latin Pamphilus, the name of a protagonist of the poem + Middle French -et (suffix forming diminutive masculine nouns); while Pamphilus is from Ancient Greek Πάμφιλος (Pámphilos, literally “beloved by all”), from παν- (pan-, prefix meaning ‘all; every’) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *peh₂- (“to protect; to shepherd”)) + φῐ́λος (phílos, “beloved, dear”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰil- (“decent; friendly; good; harmonious”)).
For the Middle French and Old French use of the suffix -et to form shorthands for the titles of works, compare Middle French Avionet (“the fables of Avianus”) from Avianus; Middle French Catonet, Old French Chatonnet, Chatonez (“the Distichs of Cato”) from Caton (they were formerly believed to be by Cato); and Old French Esopet, Isopet (“Aesop’s Fables”) from Ésope (Aesop).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈpæmflɪt/, /-flət/, /ˈpænflɪt/, /-flət/
Audio (Southern England) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈpænflət/
- Hyphenation: panph‧let
pamphlet (plural pamphlets)
- A small, brief printed work, consisting either of a folded sheet of paper, or several sheets bound together into a booklet with only a paper cover, formerly containing literary compositions, newsletters, and newspapers, but now chiefly informational matter.
- 1593, Gabriel Harvey, Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse, London: […] Iohn Wolfe, →OCLC; republished as John Payne Collier, editor, Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse. A Preparative to Certaine Larger Discourses, Intituled Nashes S. Fame (Miscellaneous Tracts. Temp. Eliz. & Jac. I; no. 8), [London: [s.n.], 1870], →OCLC, page 66:
- 1791, James Boswell, “”, in The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. […], volume II, London: […] Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly, […], →OCLC, page 243:
- I happened, I know not how, to ſay that a pamphlet meant a proſe piece. [Samuel] Johnson. "No, Sir. A few ſheets of poetry unbound are a pamphlet, as much as a few ſheets of proſe." [Samuel] Musgrave. "A pamphlet may be underſtood to mean a poetical piece, in Weſtminſter-Hall, that is in formal language; but in common language it is underſtood to mean proſe." Johnson. (and here was one of the many inſtances of his knowing clearly and telling exactly how a thing is) "A pamphlet is underſtood in common language to mean proſe, only from this, that there is ſo much more proſe written than poetry; as when we ſay a book, proſe is underſtood for the ſame reaſon, though a book may as well be in poetry as in proſe. We underſtand what is moſt general, and we name what is leſs frequent."
- 1832 June, “Agricultural and Horticultural Society”, in The Calcutta Magazine and Monthly Register, number XXX, Calcutta, West Bengal: Samuel Smith and Co. […], →OCLC, page 192, column 1:
- The brewing of beer from malt instead of sugar is strongly recommended, and a scale of rewards in grants of land, had been proposed; which however had not been adopted by the Colonial Council, and seems to be objected to by the Governor: but this interesting pamphlet requires to be read to appreciate its value.
- 1980 fall, Gail M. Martin, “A Guide to Setting Up a Career Resource Information Center”, in Melvin C. Fountain, editor, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, volume 24, number 3, Washington, D.C.: Occupational Outlook Service, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 15, column 1:
- The librarian should consider the value of the publication compared to its cost. How far will one resource stretch compared with another of the same price? For example, a pamphlet or booklet series is accessible to more people at one time than a bound volume.
- (specifically) Such a work containing political material or discussing matters of controversy.
- 1642 (indicated as 1641), John Milton, “That Church-governement is Prescrib’d in the Gospell, and that to Say Otherwise is Unsound”, in The Reason of Church-governement Urg’d against Prelaty […], London: […] E[dward] G[riffin] for Iohn Rothwell, […], →OCLC, 1st book, page 4:
- So far is it from the kenne of theſe wretched projectors of ours that beſcraull their Pamflets every day with new formes of government for our Church.
- 1714 (date written), [Jonathan Swift], Some Free Thoughts upon the Present State of Affairs. […], Dublin, London: […] T. Cooper, […], published 1741, →OCLC, page 3:
- […] Miniſters are ſo wiſe to leave their Proceedings to be accounted for by Reaſoners at a Diſtance, who often mould them into Syſtems, that do not only go down very well in the Coffee-Houſe, but are Supplies for Pamphlets in the preſent Age, and may probably furniſh Materials for Memoirs and Hiſtories in the next.
- (obsolete) A brief handwritten work.
- [c. 1385, Thomas Usk, chapter IX, in R. Allen Shoaf, editor, The Testament of Love (Middle English Texts) (in Middle English), Kalamazoo, Mich.: […] [F]or TEAMS (The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages) in association with the University of Rochester by Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, published 1998, →ISBN, book III, page 302, lines 1088–1091:
- Christ now to Thee I crye of mercy and of grace and graunt of Thy goodnes to every maner reder ful understandyng in this leude pamflet to have, and let no man wene other cause in this werke that is verily the soth.
- [a. 1410?, John Lydgate, “The Churl and the Bird”, in Henry Noble MacCracken, editor, The Minor Poems of John Lydgate […] (Original Series; 192), part II (Secular Poems) (in Middle English), London: […] [F]or the Early English Text Society, by Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press […], published 1934, →OCLC, stanza 5, lines 33–35, page 469:
- And heere I cast vnto my purpoos / Out of Frenssh a tale to translate, / Which in a paunflet I radde & sauh but late.
- And here I cast unto my purpose / Out of French a tale to translate, / Which in a pamphlet I read and saw but late.]
- → French: pamphlet
- → German: Pamphlet
- → Italian: pamphlet
- → Japanese: パンフレット
- → Korean: 팸플릿 (paempeullit)
- → Portuguese: panfleto
- → Spanish: panfleto
- To distribute pamphlets (to someone or some place).
- 1682 July 15 (Gregorian calendar), Roger L’Estrange, The Observator, number 165, London: […] Joanna Brome […], →OCLC, page , column 1:
- Is not This a Seaſonable and Wholeſome Doctrine, d'ye think, to publiſh to the Multitude at this time of day, when they are Preacht and Pamphletted into Tinder already; And the Leaſt ſpark hazzards the Putting of 'em All in a flame?
- 1886 June, “Touch and Technic. A Few Stray Thoughts.”, in Theodore Presser, editor, The Etude: A Monthly Publication for Teachers and Students of the Piano-forte, volume IV, number 6, Philadelphia, Pa.: Theodore Presser, →OCLC, page 133, column 1:
- We are pamphleted on the subject until we are weary.
- 2015, Jessa Crispin, “Jersey Island/Claude Cahun”, in The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats & Ex-countries, Chicago, Ill., London: University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 207:
- Being skilled pickpockets and socially invisible, they slip the propaganda into the pockets of the occupiers. They write letters as the ghosts of dead soldiers. They particularly like pamphletting the funerals of dead German soldiers, writing in the voice of the recently deceased.
- (archaic) To write about (someone or something) in a pamphlet; to issue (some material) in the form of a pamphlet.
- 1683 October 27 (Gregorian calendar), Roger L’Estrange, The Observator, number 422, London: […] Joanna Brome […], →OCLC, page , column 1:
- How many Honourable, and Loyall Gentlemen; Nay the Flower of the Nobility, have been Pamphleted up and down the Nation like ſo many Shrewing-Cocks, for every Cur to lift up his Leg and Piſs againſt; as the Betrayers of the Liberties of the Nation, when, Effectually, they were next under God himſelf, the Preſervers of 'em: […]
- 1716, Myles Davies, “Of the Pamphlets Writ by and about the Learned Courtiers and Favourites in King Henry the 8th’s Court and Camp, that Deceas’d in His Reign, not Spoken of in the First Part”, in Athenæ Britannicæ: Or, A Critical History of the Oxford and Cambridge Writers and Writings, […], part II, London: […] [F]or the author, and sold by his appointment, […], →OCLC, page 42:
- This Diſcourse being Pamphleted about, to Court, City and Country, open'd a door to the Reformation intended, and ſhut out all thoſe prejudices it might lie under from the State, and Religion of Fore-fathers, &c.
- 1779 January, Madame d’Arblay [i.e., Frances Burney], “Miss F. Burney to Mr. Crisp”, in Charlotte Barrett, editor, Diary and Letters of Madame d’Arblay, new edition, volume I (1778 to 1784), London: Bickers and Son, […], published [1870s], →OCLC, page 103:
- […] I never knew how much in earnest and in sincerity she was my friend till she heard of my infinite frettation upon occasion of being pamphleted; and then she took the trouble to write me a long scolding letter and Dr. [Samuel] Johnson himself came to talk to me about it, and to reason with me; […]
- 1801 March 25, “History of Jack Smith”, in [J. B. Colvin], editor, The Baltimore Weekly Magazine, Baltimore, Md.: […] J. B. Colvin, at Pechin’s Printing-Office, […], →OCLC, chapter XXVII, page 238, column 2:
- You are not exhibiting yourſelves here to become the heroes of a newſpaper; and the converſation that is about to take place between us, is not intended to be pamphleted into the world.
- 1844 February 3, “The Late Prince Tallyrand”, in A. D. Paterson, editor, The Anglo American, a Journal of Literature, News, Politics, the Drama, Fine Arts, etc., volume 2, number 15, New York, N.Y.: E. L. Garvin & Co., […], →OCLC, page 340, column 1:
- The story got abroad, and created great laughter throughout the whole country, and, as might be expected, the little Mayor of C., was ere long caricatured, pamphleted, and paragraphed into resigning, and it was only then that he was allowed to live in peace, and to forget his fatal visit to Valengay.
- 1895 December 27, Eugene Foster, “[Eighteenth Annual Report of the Board of Health, of Augusta, Georgia, for the Year 1895.] Report of City Engineer.”, in The Mayor’s Message, Department Reports and Accompanying Documents with Report of Board of Health, for the Year 1895. […], Augusta, Ga.: John M. Weigle, published 1896, →OCLC, page 159:
- These agreements are matters of record, and I suggest that copies of these agreements be pamphletted so as to be available to city officials.
- 1896 July 28, Joseph George Ward, “Adjournment”, in New Zealand. Parliamentary Debates. Third Session of the Twelfth Parliament. […] (House of Representatives), volume XCIII, Wellington: John Mackay, government printer, →OCLC, page 503, column 1:
- The honourable member was apparently the friend of a solicitor who was one of the Council of Foreign Bondholders which sent the communication to the colony, which was published in the Press of this colony, and then subsequently pamphleted and disseminated broadcast among certain circles in England, with the idea of leading the people there to the belief that he (Mr. Ward) had in this matter acted with duplicity in not acquainting the members of the Council of Foreign Bondholders with a decision of the Government in regard to this matter—which decision had never been given or sent to him.
- 1987, Daniel Berrigan, “Cornell: Poison in the Ivy”, in To Dwell in Peace: An Autobiography, San Francisco, Calif.: Harper & Row, →ISBN, page 189:
- The authors were students and ex-students and nonstudents, those who had arrived at the university not to study in any traditional sense (grab the goodies and run); but had come to sit in the harder school of scant survival and pamphleting and writing and demonstrating and resisting the war.
- To distribute pamphlets (to someone or some place).
- To distribute pamphlets.
- (obsolete, rare) To write or produce pamphlets.
- 1592, J[ohn] Payne Collier, “Introduction”, in Thomas Nash[e], edited by J[ohn] Payne Collier, Pierce Penniless’s Supplication to the Devil. […], London: […] [Frederic Shoberl, Jun.] for the Shakespeare Society, published 1842, →OCLC, page xiv:
- A private Epistle of the Author to the Printer. Wherein his full meaning and purpose (in publishing this booke) is set foorth. […] Had you not beene so forward in the republishing of it, you shold haue had certayne epistles to orators and poets, to insert to the later end: as, namely, […] to the ghost of Robert Greene, telling him what a coyle [tumult] there is with pamph[l]eting on him after his death.
- 1609, Thomas Dekker, “Lanthorne and Candle-light. Or, The Bell-man’s Second Nights-walke. […] The Second Edition, […]: To the Verry Worthy Gentleman Maister Francis Mustian of Peckham”, in Alexander B[alloch] Grosart, editor, The Non-dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker. […] (The Huth Library), volume III, London, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire: […] [Hazell, Watson, & Viney] for private circulation only, published 1885, →OCLC, page 178:
- Two ſorts of mad-men trouble the ſtationers ſhops in Paules Church-yard: they that out of a Meere and Idle vaine-glory will euer be Pamphleting (tho their bookes beeing printed are ſcarſe worth ſo much Browne paper), and this is a very poore, and fooliſh ambition: […]
- 1989, Stuart Housden, “Bird Conservation in Britain”, in L. A. Batten, C. J. Bibby, P. Clement, G. D. Elliott, R. F. Porter, editors, Red Data Birds in Britain, London: T[revor] & A[nna] D. Poyser, published 2010, →ISBN, page 317:
- The advent of legislation to protect wild birds owes a considerable debt to those pioneering individuals who pamphletted and lobbied tirelessly at the turn of the century, many of whom were motivated by welfare considerations rather than the conservation of species per se.
- To distribute pamphlets.
- pamphleting (adjective, noun)
- ^ “pamflet, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- “pamphlet, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “pamphlet, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
- ^ “pamphlet, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “pamphlet, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
pamphlet m (plural pamphlets)
- → German: Pamphlet
- “pamphlet”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012.
pamphlet m (invariable)
- pamphlet (essay on a current topic)