/i tal"ik, uy tal"-/, adj.1. designating or pertaining to a style of printing types in which the letters usually slope to the right, patterned upon a compact manuscript hand, and used for emphasis, to separate different kinds of information, etc.: These words are in italic type.2. (cap.) of or pertaining to Italy, esp. ancient Italy or its tribes.n.3. Often, italics. italic type.4. (cap.) a branch of the Indo-European family of languages, including ancient Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, and modern Romance.[1555-65; < L Italicus < Gk Italikós, equiv. to Ital(ía) ITALY + -ikos -IC]
* * *▪ typefacein printing, a sloping, light-bodied, compact, and almost cursive letter form, which, with roman and black letter shapes, has been one of the three major typefaces in the history of Western printing. Used today almost exclusively as a special function adjunct of roman letters, italic types were used first as body texts in small volumes in which their space-saving, humanistic characteristics were desirable. Though originally designed in 1500 or earlier, the first notable use of italic was in an edition of Virgil (the “Aldine Virgil”), created in 1501 by Francesco Griffo, typecutter to the printer Aldus Manutius (Manutius, Aldus, the Elder), in Venice. He designed his type on models of an informal, handwritten letter used in the papal chanceries of the time, and he cut his new face in lowercase letters only. He combined these with a suitable roman capital. Still later, a simple, sloping uppercase face was introduced as an intermediate between roman and a fully developed uppercase italic letter shape.
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