Etymology: < post-classical Latin analecta literary gleanings, collections of fragments or extracts (1593 in a work title, or earlier) < ancient Greek ἀνάλεκτα , neuter plural of ἀνάλεκτος select, choice < ἀνά- ana- prefix + λεκτός chosen (see lectotype n.), after ἀναλέγειν to pick up, gather up. With sense 1 compare classical Latin analecta slave who collected the crumbs after a meal.
The form analecta is particularly frequent when referring to extracts from classical Greek and Latin writers.
With use with spec. reference to the Analects of Confucius (e.g. quot. 1861 at sense 2b) compare Chinese Lún Yǔ , the title of the book in Chinese < lún , apparently a variant of lùn discourses + yǔ saying, dialogue. The use of the word Analects to render the Chinese title apparently originated in the translation by James Legge in his The Chinese Classics (1861 ) I. 137, where he discusses the various possible translations of the title.
†1. In pl. Discarded fragments of food, esp. those gathered after a meal; morsels, scraps, crumbs. Obs.
1623 H. Cockeram Eng. Dict., Analects, crums which fall from the table.
a1643 W. Cartwright Ordinary iii. v. 49 in Comedies, Tragi-comedies & Poems (1651) , No gleanings James? no Trencher Analects?
1721 N. Bailey Universal Etymol. Eng. Dict., Analects, Analecta, fragments gathered from Tables.
1816 Scott Antiquary I. xiv. 312, I love the reversion of a feast better than the feast itself. I delight in the analecta, the collectanea, as I may call them, of the preceding day’s dinner.
2. In pl. a. Literary or philosophical fragments or extracts; (a name for) a collection of such extracts, an anthology. Also occas. in sing.: an extract, or a compilation of these. Now rare.
1641 (title) A manuall or analecta being a compendious collection out of such as have treated of the office of Justices of the Peace.
1651 N. Biggs Matæotechnia Medicinæ Praxeωs 213 The errors and ignorances‥have not bin sucked and elaborated (like the Bee) so much out of, either the poison of somes [sic] dotages and uncertain principles, or others Florilege and Analect.
1652 in J. Mede Diatribæ Pars IV To Rdr. sig. A3v, Those Analecta or learned notes found in scattered Papers under the Authours own hand.
1770 G. Carey (title) Analects in verse and prose.
1779 H. Thrale Thraliana 1 Sept. (1942) i. 403, I have forgotten whether I ever mentioned in this Analect Book that, [etc.].
1843 H. G. Liddell & R. Scott Greek Lex. Pref. xi, Antipater Sidonius: in Brunck’s Analecta.
1904 Washington Post 11 Dec. 2/1 (heading) The stage from various aspects, with analects from greater minds.
1982 Times Lit. Suppl. 12 Nov. 1253/1 For readers such as these even the slightest analect must be a thing of the very highest value.
1986 T. Mo Insular Possession xv. 149 Couched‥in a hortatory tone not dissimilar to the precepts and analects of the sages.