Latin, literally "harder reading," from phrase maxim difficilior lectio potior. In textual reconstruction (of the Bible, etc.) the rule that, of two alternative manuscript readings, the one whose meaning is less obvious is less likely to be a copyist's alteration, and therefore should be given precedence. From lectio, noun of action from past participle stem of legere "to read," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather," with derivatives meaning "to speak (to 'pick out words')."
updated on April 19, 2017