Where does the word “pamphlet” come from and What does pamphlet mean in French?

In the thirteenth century there appeared in France a few leaves containing a poem of love with the title Pamphilus, seu de Amore.

The story became very popular, so popular that the small work became familiarly known as Pamphilet, just like the small book of Aesop’s Fables had been familiarly named Esopet.

Hence, the English, because French was still the court language, also referred to the poem as Pamphilet, although later spelling it Pamflet, Pamfilet, or eventually Pamphlet.

Because of the few pages which were required to hold this old poem, any other treatise that occupied approximately the same few pages came also to be known as a pamphlet even by the fourteenth century.

It became an extremely popular term during the period of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, when numerous religious tracts were circulated as pamphlets, their writers designated as pamphleteers.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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