General English

Information & Library Science

  • noun a collection in book form of short literary or musical pieces or pictures

Media Studies

  • noun a recording of music that is issued and marketed as a single product
  • noun the sleeves for several gramophone records, bound together like a book

Origin & History of “album”

Latin albus ‘white’ has been the source of a variety of English words: alb ‘ecclesiastical tunic’ (OE), albedo ‘reflective power’ (19th c.), Albion (13th c.), an old word for Britain, probably with reference to its white cliffs, albumen ‘white of egg’ (16th c.), and auburn, as well as albino. Album is a nominalization of the neuter form of the adjective, which was used in classical times for a blank, or white, tablet on which public notices were inscribed. Its original adoption in the modern era seems to have been in Germany, where scholars kept an album amicorum ‘album of friends’ in which to collect colleagues’ signatures. this notion of an autograph book continues in Dr Johnson’s definition of album in his Dictionary 1755: ‘a book in which foreigners have long been accustomed to insert the autographs of celebrated people’, but gradually it became a repository for all sorts of souvenirs, including in due course photographs.