E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The first word on any page of a book or manuscript which is printed or written at the foot of the preceding page. In the early days of printing the catch-word was generally used, but for the last two hundred years the practice has been gradually dying out. Its purpose was, among other things, to enable the reader to avoid an awkward pause when turning over a leaf. The first book so printed was a Tactus, by John de Spira, 1469.