Paper dictionaries often have cut-outs in the pages that make it easier to turn to (words beginning with) each letter. Here's a picture:

Dictionary with notched edge

I know there's a name for these things but I can't remember what it is and it's remarkably hard to search for information about dictionaries — the search engines insist on bringing up dictionary definitions of the keywords you try. Anyone know the word?


Index Notches.

How to make Index Notches

And here's a patent for a device to cut index notches.

  • 9
    The book you linked to is full of gems! – Francesco Jun 16 '17 at 18:28
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    I selected this answer over the other one, even though "thumb index" is much more frequently used, because I wanted the term for an individual notch, not for the whole set. – zwol Jun 19 '17 at 15:26
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    It never occurred to me that I could do this myself with my own notebooks. (There must be a word for this mental state...) – Beta Jun 19 '17 at 15:56

Wikipedia calls this a thumb index. It is also frequently used with bibles for quickly finding each book.

EDIT: To clarify, this refers to the whole set of notches. The individual notches can be called thumb tabs (as given by Chris H in the comments), index notches (as given in Davo's answer), or thumb notches.

  • 1
    Also "thumb tabs" for the notches themselves. – Chris H Jun 16 '17 at 13:41
  • @ChrisH Wouldn't "thumb tabs" be something that sticks out? Those exist too, but ... – zwol Jun 16 '17 at 13:47
  • @zwol I know what you mean, but I confirmed my recollection (Bibles in Sunday School) with a quick google search (you have to exclude "guitar"). – Chris H Jun 16 '17 at 13:53
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    Minor quibble, but in a Bible the notches/tabs mark the start of each book, not each chapter - there are nearly 1200 chapters, that'd be a lot of notches! – talrnu Jun 16 '17 at 18:03
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    @TulainsCórdova I wanted the term for an individual notch, not the whole set. – zwol Jun 19 '17 at 15:26

For the want of a special word I would call them "tabs'. To distinguish them from the tabs on files perhaps we could name them as "index tabs".

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