1. something you put inside a book so that you can find the page you want
2. an electronic way of marking an internet website so that you can easily find it again
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.
Origin and usage
Bookmark is a compound noun and verb formed from the nouns ‘book’ and ‘mark’. The noun was first recorded in 1833, while the verb use came much later, in the mid 20th century. The use of the terms in computing dates from 1982 for the noun and 1985 for the verb, both in reference to finding your place within a computer document or program.
For a century and a half, a bookmark was simply something you used to mark the place where you stopped reading a book, so you could easily find it again. It might be made of card, leather, ribbon, or some other material, even a handy scrap of paper. Some hardback books have integral bookmarks attached to the spine, thus avoiding the problem of having the bookmark fall out when you pick the book up. Bookmark is also a verb, meaning to place a bookmark in a book. The use of the term in relation to finding a place in computer data again dates from 1982, but it really took off in the mid 90s with the spread of web browsers. In a modern corpus, out of a sample of 25 lines only three refer to the physical object, while the remainder are split more or less evenly between noun and verb uses of the computer meanings. As the quotation below shows, there is some evidence of figurative uses creeping in.
“I used to bookmark relationships, hoping to pick up where I left off when I returned.”
bookend, bookrest, hardback, paperback
Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.
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