I'm trying to find a humorous term for someone who still has an overdue library book after a number of years. I first came up with "delinquent lendee", but I'm sure there's something more apropos or alliterative.

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    Why beat around the bush? Call them what they are; a petty thief. – Tom O'Connor Jan 13 '12 at 9:16
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    Personally I'd call them a "dead-tree deadbeat." – Zeke Jan 13 '12 at 19:52
  • @TomO'Connor: such, uh, long-term borrowings are rarely intentional in my experience, so thief doesn't seem to apply. Plus, overdue fines are a good source of library income if/when they are collected, so such people are really benefactors-in-waiting. – Marthaª Jan 13 '12 at 23:27
  • Taserian, you could improve your question by giving us some more criteria to choose the best answer. Do you want to imply mild or severe disapproval? Is humor the most important consideration, or is transparency (i.e. the ability to convey the intended meaning without extensive context)? Etc. etc. Right now, this question is in danger of being closed as "not constructive", because there is really no objective way to choose a best answer. – Marthaª Jan 13 '12 at 23:32
  • This cartoon seemed appropriate: smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=396#comic – Pitarou Jan 14 '12 at 4:37

11 Answers 11


Here are a few I came up with, choose one that suits you:

  • Book-Bandit
  • Book-Clip
  • Book-Plunderer
  • Book-Pocket
  • Book-Lifter
  • Library-Climber
  • Library-Breaker
  • Book-Breaker
  • Biblio-Bandit
  • Lendup-Artist
  • Biblio-Bezzler
  • Biblio-Prowler
  • Book-Prowler
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    • Lol -- none of them accounts for a simpleton who just failed to show up. Too bad. :) – Kris Jan 13 '12 at 8:01
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      I like Bilbo-Bandit. (Biblio Baggins?) – Mateen Ulhaq Jan 14 '12 at 1:38
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      @muntoo lol. also, Biblio-Hobbit. :D – ApprenticeHacker Jan 14 '12 at 4:17

    How about ... tome raider?

    Or book keeper (not to be confused with bookkeeper)

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    • 13
      I like tome raider a lot, I'll be using it. – Rob Jan 12 '12 at 20:12
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      "There is one thing you should learn/When there is no one else to turn to/Call...for English Chicken! (cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck)/Call...for English Chicken! (cluck, awk!)" (with apologies to Super Chicken ) – Gnawme Jan 12 '12 at 20:28
    • Haha, thanks, @Gnawme... I know what my avatar is going to be now. – The English Chicken Jan 12 '12 at 21:51
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      I'd like to chime in that while I do also like tome raider, my upvote is mainly for book keeper, which I find deliciously wry. – John Y Jan 13 '12 at 18:14

    Assuming they have no intention of actually returning the books, you might call them biblioklepts.

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    • Biblioklepts! I like the word, myself, but I'm not sure if my audience would get the idea directly. – taserian Jan 12 '12 at 20:24
    • @taserian You work at a library no? A library should encourage learning. If you've got it in you, encourage them to look it up. Use this one – Lee Louviere Jan 13 '12 at 16:07
    • I don't work at a library; this was used in a Toastmasters speech. . . – taserian Jan 13 '12 at 21:14
    • tome hoarder
    • book miser
    • deadbeat borrower
    • literary liberator
    • slow reader
    • library annex (particularly if they have a number of books)
    • library benefactor (due to overdue charges)
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      I literally (dare I say it?) laughed out loud at slow reader. – Peter Rowell Jan 13 '12 at 8:06
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      Yes, slow reader is excellent!... if provided sufficient context. The other (also very good) choices on this list are less dependent on knowing beforehand that we're talking about severely overdue library books. Indeed, for many of them we can figure out the context from the term itself. – John Y Jan 13 '12 at 17:57
    • reference renegade

    • dewey decimal delinquent

    • archive absconder

    • folio fugitive

    • overdue outlaw

    • circumforaneous card catalog crook

    • hard cover criminal

    • "his library card was his mugshot"

    • the unshushable

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    • That's a lot of alliteration. – Caleb Jan 13 '12 at 0:28
    • @Caleb - Alliteration is mentioned by the OP, but yes, it is. – psr Jan 13 '12 at 0:30
    • I loved this, but "Dewey decimal delinquent" and "archive absconder" ruined my ability to breathe, since I was laughing so loud! – taserian Jan 13 '12 at 21:17

    Perhaps scofflaw could be appropriated for this use. It's probably what I would say in the same situation, off the top of my head.

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    I believe the accepted term is "delinquent borrower", but that's not very colorful.

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    Someone who has borrowed and kept a library book for such a long time that the book is now ancient history could be called a biblionecrophile.

    If they haven't returned the book because they suffer from an obsession with hoarding books, then they're a bibliomaniac.

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    • perhaps you meant lignonecrophile or necrolignophile for someone obsessed with dead treas? – Dima Tisnek May 12 '14 at 9:32

    How about using "The Loan Ranger"

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    AWOR: Absent WithOut Renewal.
    Easy to remember.

    [a la AWOL: Absent WithOut Leave].

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    (Just checked to make sure you're an American over 30)

    How about Costanza or even "Can't Stands Ya".

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