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[fi-lat-l-ee] /fɪˈlæt l i/

the collecting of stamps and other postal matter as a hobby or an investment.
the study of postage stamps, revenue stamps, stamped envelopes, postmarks, postal cards, covers, and similar material relating to postal or fiscal history.
the collection and study of postage stamps and all related material concerned with postal history

See timbrophily

“stamp-collecting,” 1865, from French philatélie, coined by French stamp collector Georges Herpin (in “Le Collectionneur de Timbres-poste,” Nov. 15, 1864), from Greek phil- “loving” (see philo-) + ateleia “exemption from tax,” the closest word Herpin could find in ancient Greek to the concept of “postage stamp” (from a- “without” + telos “tax;” see toll (n.)). A reminder of the original function of postage stamps, now often forgotten: the cost of letter-carrying formerly was paid by the recipient; stamps indicated it had been pre-paid by the sender, thus the letters were “carriage-free.”

It is a pity that for one of the most popular scientific pursuits one of the least popularly intelligible names should have been found. [Fowler]

Related: Philatelic; philatelism; philatelist.


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