The word "Font"

Ok, this came up at work today, and after many google searches, and several checks or regular and online dictionaries, we’re still stumped.

What are the origins of the word font (as in letters and type faces, not a baptismal bucket…hehe). Where did the word come from, and how long has it been around.

If you can answer these questions, there’s a box of smarties in it for ya :wink:


did you try

It looks like it’s from a 17th century French word for casting. Before the advent of computer fonts, typefaces were cast in metal.


Apparently one of the advantages of being a Manduck is the ability to post faster than me…

Yes, I checked, but didn’t get the importance of the “casting” reference. Thanks guys, that makes perfect sense, about the typefaces being cast in metal. One of my google searches ended with me reading a page about the history of the various types (no pun intended) of printing presses, but again, didn’t match that up with the French “Casting” reference in the dictionary.

Love your work :wink:


ps… now all we need to find out is who coined the term “font”, and in what year…hehe.

Thanks again.

With the coming of computer word processing, the defintion of font has changed. Previously, it meant one aspect of a typeface: regular, italic, bold, small caps, etc.

Times, Times italic, Times bold, Times bold extended, Times small caps — these were all separate fonts.

Now, font means a typeface with all its variations.

1683 is the first one recorded in the OED, but the usage suggests that it was already a common term amongst printers.