1. A manuscript, typically of papyrus or parchment, that has been written on more than once, with the earlier writing incompletely scraped off or erased and often legible.
2. An object or area that has extensive evidence of or layers showing activity or use: "My skin had become a palimpsest of fleeting sensations, and each layer bore the imprint of who I was" (Paul Auster).
[Latin palimpsēstum, from Greek palimpsēston, neuter of palimpsēstos, scraped again : palin, again; see kwel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + psēn, to scrape.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.