- Palimpsest is defined as a parchment manuscript that has been modified or changed but that still has traces of its original writing.
A heavily-edited version of an old manuscript is an example of palimpsest.
Origin: L palimpsestus from Glassical Greek palimpsēstos, literally , rubbed again from palin, again (see palindrome) plush psēn, to rub smooth from Indo-European base an unverified form bhes-, to rub off, pulverize from source Classical Latin sabulum, sand
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- A manuscript, typically of papyrus or parchment, that has been written on more than once, with the earlier writing incompletely erased and often legible.
- An object, place, or area that reflects its history: “Spaniards in the sixteenth century . . . saw an ocean moving south . . . through a palimpsest of bayous and distributary streams in forested paludal basins” (John McPhee).
Origin: Latin palimpsēstum, from Greek palimpsēston, neuter of palimpsēstos, scraped again : palin, again; see kwel-1 in Indo-European roots + psēn, to scrape.