Nota bene

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This article is about the Italian and Latin phrase. For the suite of applications for scholars, see Nota Bene (word processor).
This article is about the phrase meaning in literature. For the Wikipedia formatting, see Template:Markup#Examples.

Nota bene (/ˈntɑːˈbɛnɛ/; plural form notate bene) is an Italian and Latin phrase meaning "note well".[1] The phrase first appeared in writing circa 1721.[2]

Often abbreviated as "N.B.", "N.b." or "n.b.", nota bene comes from the Latin roots notāre ("to note") and bene ("well").[1] It is in the singular imperative mood, instructing one individual to note well the matter at hand. In present-day English, it is used, particularly in legal papers,[3] to draw the attention of the reader to a certain (side) aspect or detail of the subject on hand, translating it as "pay attention" or "take notice". While "N.B." is often used in academic writing, "note" is a common substitute.

The markings used to draw readers' attention in the medieval manuscripts are also called nota bene marks. The common medieval markings do not, however, include the abbreviation N.B.. The usual medieval equivalents are (1) anagrams from the four letters in the word nota, (2) the abbreviation D.M. from Dignum memoria (Worth remembering), or (3) a sketch of a little hand, called a manicule, with the index finger pointing towards the beginning of the significant passage.[4]

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  1. ^ a b "nota bene". Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas (Historian) (2010). "nota bene". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  3. ^ "nota bene". HM Courts & Tribunals Service - Glossary of terms - Latin. Her Majesty's Courts Service, United Kingdom. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  4. ^ Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007), 44.