First page of the Codex Boernerianus with lacuna in Romans 1:1–4

A lacuna[Note 1] (pl. lacunae or lacunas) is a gap in a manuscript, inscription, text, painting, or musical work. A manuscript, text, or section suffering from gaps is said to be "lacunose" or "lacunulose".

Weathering, decay, and other damage to old manuscripts or inscriptions are often responsible for lacunae - words, sentences, or whole passages that are missing or illegible. Palimpsests are particularly vulnerable. To reconstruct the original text, the context must be considered. In papyrology and textual criticism, this may lead to competing reconstructions and interpretations. Published texts that contain lacunae often mark the section where text is missing with a bracketed ellipsis. For example, "This sentence contains 20 words, and [...] nouns," or, "Finally, the army arrived at [...] and made camp."

Notable examples

See also


  1. ^ From Latin lacūna ("ditch, gap"), literally "little lacus" ("lake, basin").[1][2]


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "lacuna". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ lacuna, lacus. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.
  3. ^ G. Jack, "Beowulf: A Student Edition", Oxford University Press, Oxford: 1994. Pp.31–32, footnote 62.
  4. ^ Smith, Colin; Smith, Colin J. (24 March 1983). The Making of the Poema de Mio Cid. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521249928 – via Google Books.