There’s a Word for That: Bouquiniste

atkins-bookshelf-wordsIf you have visited a used bookstore or antiquarian book fair, you have have probably encountered a bouquiniste, a dealer in secondhand books. The word, pronounced “boo keen NEEST,” is derived from the French word bouquin, meaning “old book” or the Middle French boucquain, meaning “rare old book.”

The word first appeared in the dictionary of the  Academie franchise (the French Academy) published in 1789, referring to the booksellers of antiquarian books that set up shop along a three-kilometer segments on opposing banks of the Seine that runs through Paris, France. With a combined inventory of over 300,000 books, the 240 bouquinistes sell books out of 900 green boxes permanently installed on the walls. In 1991, the banks of the Seine, including the “bouquiniste row” was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The French have always known that nothing beats browsing and buying books al fresco.

Related words:
bouquin: a book
bouquiner: to read constantly

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