Lectio singularis

Last modified by 14zunde on 2024/02/13 07:41

A reading (lectio) transmitted in a single (singularis) witness, generally due to either scribal inattention or arbitrary innovation. In the majority of cases, lectiones singulares are late, secondary readings (see reading, secondary) that do not find place in the reconstructed text (cf. also eliminatio lectionum singularium). One possible exception is represented by lectiones singulares difficiliores (Contini 1986, 101) which may be primary (see Reading, primary).

Some lectiones singulares can be prticularly important for the history of transmission, and therefore the editor may decide to record them in the critical apparatus. Several examples of this practice can be found in Michael Lapidge’s edition of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History (Lapidge, Chiesa 2008-10): e.g. ms. M’s isolated reading Iustinianus (vs. Iustinus) in HE III, iiii, 1.3, considered by the editor as secondary but endowed with historical value (vol. I, p. C), is recorded in the apparatus (vol. II, p. 24).

Eigenfehler and Sonderfehler are German synonyms to lectio singularis.


– Beccaria, Gian Luigi, ed. 2004. Dizionario di linguistica, e di filologia, metrica, retorica. Nuova edizione. Torino: Einaudi. || See pp. 436–37, s.v. lectio.
 Contini, Gianfranco. 1986. Breviario di ecdotica, Ricciardi: Milano-Napoli.
– Lapidge, Michael, ed., and Paolo Chiesa, transl. 2008-10. Beda. Storia degli Inglesi. 2 vols. Milano: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla / Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.
– Maas, Paul. 1960. Textkritik. 4th ed. Leipzig: Teubner. – 1st ed. 1927.
– Most, Glenn, ed. and trans. 2005. Sebastiano TimpanaroThe Genesis of the Lachmann’s Method. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. || See Ch. VI, n. 18.  

In other languages

Latin term used throughout. Besides are used:

DE: Eigenfehler, Sonderfehler
FR: leçon propre
IT: lezione singolare