Noun: Vellichor from the Latin Vell (paper) and ichor (essence).
An ethereal perfume that is extruded from the earth and infuses old book stores with mystery, wistfulness and nostalgia.
Books are worlds unto themselves that reveal tiny and huge universes all co-existing side-by-side. The aroma of books is the smell of the passage of time.
Old books smell of dust and the literary smoke of history, of writer-soul and the ink of eternity. ~Terri Guillemets, “Treasures in dark corners,” 2004
He found himself in a room not unlike the shop. All books again, packed tight on shelves or laying in piles on every surface. It was a cozy room, for all that; it smelled of warm, rich words and very deep thoughts. ~Jenny Nimmo, Midnight for Charlie Bone, 2002
Due to the different materials used to make books throughout history, there is no one characteristic odour of old books. Professional perfumers has evaluated seventy aromas emanating from books. They chaacterise the smells are being dusty, musty, mouldy, paper-like or dry.
The pleasant aromatics from the paper come from ground wood from different parts of the world and different eras. Pleasing notes such as sweetly fragrant vanillin, aromatic anisol and benzaldehyde fruity almond-like odours are often experienced. On the other hand, terpene compounds, deriving from rosin, which is used to make paper more impermeable to inks, contribute to the camphorous, oily and woody smell of books. A mushroom odour is caused by some other, intensely fragrant aliphatic alcohols.
~ Jana, Head of Laboratory for Cultural Heritage at the University Library of Slovenia. The Naked Scientists
Although Vellichor sounds old, this word was invented relatively recently by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
10 thoughts on “Ancient Word of the Day: Vellichor”
I love the smell of my Kindle, said nobody ever.
Try a careful drop of lavender oil on the outer casing Terry…ahhhh
Yeah exactly hehehe. I love the smell of Twitter in the morning said nobody ever hehe
Whereas the whiff of old books is beyond description…I hope people still think this in 2050, 2100, 2150 and so on.
Me too Kev! 😊🤗
Crikey! Look at those library collections!
Yeah looks so great eh. I have a bit of library envy for sure
I’d like to make a pilgrimage to some of these libraries….just to stand there would be rather special I think
Yes me too Jeremy! would be amazing!!