Italic

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Italic is essentially the same word as Italian - that is, it is an adjective which means 'connected with Italy'. Over time, italic (or Italic, with an upper case first letter) has become the more restricted word, and should never be used in the general sense of 'of or from Italy'. Some of the senses of italic are:

  • in Language study, the Italic languages form a language family to which Latin belongs
  • in handwriting, the italic hand is one which slopes from (bottom) left to (top) right and is written with a square-cut pen so that down strokes are thick and up strokes are very thin. It is widely regarded as elegant and legible: it was developed during the Italian Renaissance (see a brief note under humanism), and Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and their contemporaries wrote versions of it. Examples of italic hands can be found widely in such books of calligraphy as Johnston, 1906 and other teachers of writing such as Blunt (1952) and Fairbank (1947).
  • in printing, italic (with a lower case initial letter) is the name for fonts which resemble italic handwriting, sloping from low left to high right, with letter forms that seek to imitate the freer forms of hand-written letters. It is widely used for:
    • emphasis
    • titles of books
    • decoration
The convention has been for printers to realise as italic what handwriters have marked with an underline: This is because many people cannot distinguish clearly enough in their own handwriting between sloping and upright text.
  • in Philosophy, the Italic school was founded by Pythagoras in the 6th century BCE in Italy.
  • in Architecture, it is the name of one of the classical orders, that is one of the regular styles of setting up columns and the like.
  • in Theology, the italic Bible was the translation of the Christian scriptures into Latin that was used before St Jerome produced the Vulgate. It is known as vetus Itala in Latin, literally '[the] old Italian [one]'.