Can someone tell me what the meaning if INCUNABULUM IS? Referring to the earliest printed books, from last half of 1400s. I thought it means cradle, but I just saw a translation as 'swaddling clothes'. Thanks for your help!
In classical Latin, that word was always used in the plural (incunabula) and meant literally the swaddling clothes or bands that held a baby in its cradle. It's often loosely translated as "cradle" because that's more natural in English (and being in those swaddling clothes implies being in a cradle anyway). Like English "cradle", the word is used figuratively as a symbol of infancy, origin, etc.
And for that we can use the singular form incunabulum. When an incunable is in the original binding - usually leather over wooden boards - we can refer to that binding as swaddling clothes. The symbolism is fitting