tittle

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See also: Tittle

English[edit]

Lowercase i and j, with tittles in red
Assorted tittles illustrated in red
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Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈtɪt.əl/
  • (file)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English tytle, titel, titele, from Anglo-Norman titil, titule and Medieval Latin titulus (small stroke, diacritical mark, accent), from Latin titulus (title). Doublet of tilde, titer/titre, title, titlo, and titulus.

Noun[edit]

tittle (plural tittles)

  1. (typography) Any small dot, stroke, or diacritical mark, especially if part of a letter, or if a letter-like abbreviation; in particular, the dots over the Latin letters i and j.
    • 1590, Bales, The Arte of Brachygraphie (quoted in Daid King's 2001 'The Ciphers of the Monks'):
      The foure pricks or tittles are these. The first is a full prick or period. The second is a comma or crooked tittle.
    • 1965, P. A. Marijnen, The Encyclopedia of the Bible:
      The words "jot" and "tittle" in this passage refer to diacritic marks, that is, dashes, dots, or commas added to a letter to accentuate the pronunciation.
    • 1987, Andrea van Arkel-De Leeuw van Weenen, Möðruvallabók, AM 132 Fol: Index and concordance, page xii:
      (the page calls both "a superscript sign (hooklike)" and also a diacritical abbreviation of "er" (er#Icelandic) "tittles")
    • 2008, Roy Blount, Alphabet juice: the energies, gists, and spirits of letters:
      A tittle is more or less the same thing (the dot over an i, for instance), except that it can be traced back to Medieval Latin for a little mark over or under a letter, such as an accent ague or a cedilla. I don't know whether an umlaut is one or two tittles. Maybe it's a jot and a tittle side by side.
  2. (by extension) A small, insignificant amount (of something); a modicum or speck.
    • 1704, Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub:
      I am living fast to see the time when a book that misses its tide shall be neglected, as the moon by day, or like mackerel a week after the season. No man has more nicely observed our climate than the bookseller who bought the copy of this work; he knows to a tittle what subjects will best go off in a dry year, and which it is proper to expose foremost when the weather-glass is fallen to much rain.
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Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English titillen, tytyllen, perhaps variants of Middle English tutelen (to whisper, chatter), from tutel (mouth), from Old English *tūtel, *tȳtel, related to Old Frisian tūte (mouth). Compare Middle English touten (to jut out, project, protrude), Middle English toute (projection, mound, hill), Middle Dutch tûte (whence modern Dutch tuit (spout, nozzle, nose, point, peak, summit)), Old Norse túta (a teat-like prominence), Danish tude (spout).

Verb[edit]

tittle (third-person singular simple present tittles, present participle tittling, simple past and past participle tittled)

  1. (Scotland) To chatter.
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