In a written or published work, an initial is a letter at the beginning of a work, a chapter, or a paragraph that is larger than the rest of the text. The word is derived from the Latin initialis, which means standing at the beginning. An initial often is several lines in height and in older books or manuscripts, sometimes ornately decorated.
In illuminated manuscripts, initials with images inside them, such as those illustrated here, are known as historiated initials. They were an invention of the Insular art of the British Isles in the eighth century. Initials containing, typically, plant-form spirals with small figures of animals or humans that do not represent a specific person or scene are known as "inhabited" initials. Certain important initials, such as the B of Beatus vir ... at the opening of Psalm 1 at the start of a vulgate Latin psalter, could occupy a whole page of a manuscript.
These specific initials, in an illuminated manuscript, also were called Initiums.
Famous quotes containing the word initial:
“No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes. On the contrary, whatever the punishment, once a specific crime has appeared for the first time, its reappearance is more likely than its initial emergence could ever have been.”
—Hannah Arendt (19061975)
“Capital is a result of labor, and is used by labor to assist it in further production. Labor is the active and initial force, and labor is therefore the employer of capital.”
—Henry George (18391897)
“For those parents from lower-class and minority communities ... [who] have had minimal experience in negotiating dominant, external institutions or have had negative and hostile contact with social service agencies, their initial approaches to the school are often overwhelming and difficult. Not only does the school feel like an alien environment with incomprehensible norms and structures, but the families often do not feel entitled to make demands or force disagreements.”
—Sara Lawrence Lightfoot (20th century)