Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary


Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



A is the first letter of the Alphabet in most of the known languages of the earth; in the Ethiopic, however it is the thirteenth, and in the Runic the tenth. It is naturally the first letter, because it represents the first vocal sound naturally formed by the human organs; being the sound uttered with a mere opening of the mouth without constraint, and without any effort to alter the natural position or configuration of the lips. The A has been proven to be the first natural vocal sound, and entitled to the first place in alphabets.

A has in English, three sounds; the long or slender, as in place, fate; the broad, as in wall, fall, which is shortened in salt, what; and the open, as in father, glass, which is shortened in rather, fancy. Its primitive sound was probably aw. A is also an abbreviation used before words beginning with an articulation; as a table, instead of an table, or one table. This is a modern change.

This letter serves as a prefix to many English words, as in asleep; awake; afoot; aground; agoing. In some cases, this is a contraction of Teutonic ge, as in asleep, aware, from the Saxon geslapan, to sleep, to beware. Sometimes it is a corruption of the Saxon on, as again from ongean, awake from onwacian to watch or wake. Before participles, it may be a contraction of the Celtic ag, the sign of the participle of the present tense; as, ag-radh, saying; a saying, a going. Or this may be a contraction of on, or what is equally probable, it may have proceeded from a mere accidental sound produced by negligent utterance. In some words, a may be a contraction of at, of, in, to, or an. In some words of Greek original, a is privative, giving to them a negative sense, as in anonymous.

Among the ancients, A was a numeral denoting 500, and with a dash A 5000. In the Julian Calendar, A is the first of the seven dominical letters.

Among logicians, A, as an abbreviation, stands for a universal affirmative proposition. A asserts; E denies. Thus in barbara, a thrice repeated denotes so many of the propositions to be universal.

The Romans used A to signify a negative or dissent in giving their votes; A standing for antiquo, I oppose or object to the proposed law. Opposed to this letter were U R, uti rogas, be it as you desire - the words used to express assent to a proposition. These letters were marked on wooden ballots, and each voter had an affirmative and a negative put into his hands, one of which at pleasure he gave as his vote, - In criminal trials, A stood for absolvo, I acquit, C for condemno, I condemn; and N L for non liquet, it is not evident; and the judges voted by ballots this marked. In inscriptions, A stands for Augustus; or for ager, aiunt, aurum, argentum, etc.

A is also used for anno, or ante; as in Anno Domini, the year of our Lord; anno mundi, the year of the world; ante meridiem, before noon, and for arts, in artium magister, master of arts.

In algebra, A and first letters of the alphabet represent known quantities - the last letters are sometimes used to represent unknown quantities.

In music, A is the nominal of the sixth note in the natural diatonic scale - called by Guido la. It is also the name of one of the two natural moods; and it is the open note of the 2d string of the violin, by which the other strings are tuned and regulated.

In pharmacy, A or AA, abbreviations of the Greek ana, signify of each separately, or that the things mentioned should be taken in quantities of the same weight or measure.

In chimistry, A A A stand for amalgama, or amalgamation.

In commerce, A stands for accepted, as in case of a bill of exchange. Merchants also number their books by the letters - A, B, C, instead of figures. Public officers number their exhibits in the same manner; as the document A, or B.

Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet, are used in Scripture for the beginning and end - representative of Christ.

In mathematics, letters are used as representatives of numbers, lines, angles and quantities. In arguments, letters are substituted for persons, in cases supposed, or stated for illustration, as A contracts with B to deliver property to D. - In the English phraseology “a landlord as a hundred a year,” “the sum amounted to ten dollars a man,” a is merely the adjective one, and this mode of expression is idiomatic; a hundred in a year; ten dollars to a man.

AAM, n. A measure of liquids among the Dutch equal to 288 English pints.

AARONIC, a. Pertaining to Aaron, the Jewish High Priest, or to the priesthood of which he was the head.

AB, In English names, is an abbreviation of Abbey or Abbot.

AB, a prefix to words of Latin origin, and a Latin preposition, as in abscond, written in ancient Latin af. It denotes from, separating or departure.
AB, The Hebrew name of Father.
AB, The eleventh month of the Jewish civil year, and fifth of the ecclesiastical year, answering to a part of July, and a part of August.

ABACIST, n. One that casts accounts; a calculator.

ABACK, adv. [At, on or towards the back. See Back.]

Towards the back; on the back part; backward. In seamen’s language it signifies the situation of the sails, when pressed back against the mast by the wind.

Taken aback, is when the sails are carried back suddenly by the wind.

Laid aback, is when the sails are purposely placed in that situation to give the ship sternway.

ABACOT, n. The cap of State, formerly used by English Kings, wrought into the figure of two crowns.

ABACTOR, n. [Latin from abigo, ab and ago, to drive.]

In law, one that feloniously drives away or steals a herd or numbers of cattle at once, in distinction from one that steals a sheep or two.

ABACUS, n. [L. anything flat, as a cupboard, a bench, a slate, a table or board for games; Gr. Usually deduced from the Oriental, abak, dust, because the ancients used tables covered with dust for making figures and diagrams.]

1. Among the Romans, a cupboard or buffet.

2. An instrument to facilitate operations in arithmetic; on this are drawn lines; a counter on the lowest line, is one; on the next, ten; on the third, a hundred, etc. On the spaces, counters denote half the number of the line above. Other schemes are called by the same name. The name is also given to a table of numbers, cast up as an abacus of addition; and by analogy, to the art of numbering, as in Knighton’s Chronicon.

3. In architecture, a table constituting the upper member or crowning of a column and its capital. It is usually square, but sometimes its sides are arched inwards. The name is also given to a concave molding on the capital of the Tuscan pedestal; and to the plinth above the boultin in the Tuscan and Doric orders.

ABACUS PYTHAGORICUS, The multiplication table, invented by Pythagoras.

ABACUS HARMONICUS, The structure and disposition of the keys of a musical instrument.

ABACUS MAJOR, A trough used in mines, to wash ore in.

ABADA, n. A wild animal of Africa, of the size of a steer, or half grown colt, having two horns on its forehead and a third on the nape of the neck. Its head and tail resemble those of an ox, but it has cloven feet, like the stag.

ABADDON, n. [Heb. Ch. Syr. Sam. to be lost, or destroyed, to perish.]

1. The destroyer, or angel of the bottomless pit. Revelation 9:11.

2. The bottomless pit.

ABAFT, adv. or prep. [Sax. eft or aeft, again. Hence efter or aefter, after, subsequent; Sax. aeftan, behind in place; to which word be is prefixed - beaeftan, behind, and this word is corrupted into abaft.]

A sea-term signifying in or at the hinder part of a ship, or the parts which lie towards the stern; opposed to afore. Relatively it denotes further aft or towards the stern; as abaft the mainmast. Abaft the beam, is in that arch of the horizon which is between a line drawn at right angles with the keel, and the point to which the stern is directed. It is often contracted into aft.

ABAGUN, n. The name of a fowl in Ethiopia, remarkable for its beauty and for a sort of horn, growing on its head. The word signifies stately Abbot.

ABAISANCE, [See Obeisance.]

ABALIENATE, n.t. [See Alienate, Aliene.] To transfer the title of property from one to another - a term of the civil law - rarely or never used in common law proceedings.

ABALIENATION, n. The transferring of title to property. [See Alienation.]

ABANDON, v.t. [Fr. abandonner; Sp. and Port. abandonar; It. abbandonare; said to be from ban, and donner, to give over to the ban or proscription; or from a or ab and bandum, a flag or ensign.]

1. To forsake entirely; as to abandon a hopeless enterprize.

Wo to that generation by which the testimony of God shall be abandoned.

2. To renounce and forsake; to leave with a view never to return; to desert as lost or desperate; as to abandon a country; to abandon a cause or party.

3. To give up or resign without control, as when a person yields himself, without restraint, to a propensity; as to abandon one’s self to intemperance. Abandoned over and abandoned of are obsolete.

4. To resign; to yield, relinquish, or give over entirely.

Verus abandoned the cares of empire to his wiser colleague.

5. In commerce, to relinquish to insurers all claim to a ship or goods insured, as a preliminary towards recovering for a total loss.

ABANDON, n. One who totally forsakes or deserts.

2. A relinquishment. [not used.]

ABANDONED, pp. Wholly forsaken or deserted.

2. Given up, as to a vice; hence, extremely wicked, or sinning without restraint; irreclaimably wicked.

ABANDONER, n. One who abandons.

ABANDONING, ppr. Forsaking or deserting wholly; renouncing; yielding one’s self without restraint.

ABANDONING, n. A forsaking; total desertion.

He hoped his past meritorious actions might outweigh his present abandoning the thought of future actions.


1. A total desertion; a state of being forsaken.

2. In commerce, the relinquishing to underwriters all the property saved from loss by shipwreck, capture or other peril stated in the policy. This abandonment must be made before the insured can demand indemnification for a total loss.

ABANGA, n. The ady; a species of Palmtree. [See Ady.]

ABANNITION, n. [Low Lat.]

A banishment for one or two years for manslaughter. [Not used.]

ABAPTISTON, n. The perforating part of the trephine, an instrument used in trepanning.

ABARE, v.t. [Sax. abarian. See Bare.]

To make bare; to uncover. [Not in use.]

ABARTICULATION, n. [See Articulate.]

In anatomy, that species of articulation or structure of joints, which admits of manifest or extensive motion; called also diarthrosis and dearticulation.

ABAS, n. A weight in Persia used in weighing pearls, one eighth less than the European carat.

ABASE, v.t. [Fr abaisser, from bas, low, or the bottom; W. bais; Latin and Gr. basis; Eng. base; It. Abbassare; Sp. bare, low. See Abash.]

1. The literal sense of abase is to lower or depress, to throw or cast down, as used by Bacon, “to abase the eye.” But the word is seldom used in reference to material things.

2. To cast down; to reduce low; to depress; to humble; to degrade; applied to the passions, rank, office, and condition in life.

Those that walk in pride he is able to abase. Daniel 4:37.

Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, Matthew 23:12; Job 40:11; 2 Corinthians 11:7.

ABASED, pp. Reduced to a low state, humbled, degraded.

In heraldry, it is used of the wings of eagles, when the tops are turned downwards towards the point of the shield; or when the wings are shut, the natural way of bearing them being spread, with the top pointing to the chief of the angle.

ABASEMENT, n. The act of humbling or bringing low; also a state of depression, degradation, or humiliation.

ABASH, v.t. [Heb. and Ch. bosh, to be confounded, or ashamed.]

To make the spirits to fall; to cast down the countenance; to make ashamed; to confuse or confound, as by exciting suddenly a consciousness of guilt, error, inferiority, etc.

They heard and were abashed.

ABASHED, pp. Confused with shame; confounded; put to silence; followed by at.

ABASHING, ppr. Putting to shame or confusion.

ABASHMENT, n. Confusion from shame. [Little used.]

ABASING, ppr. Humbling, depressing, bringing low.

ABASSI, ABASSIS, n. A silver coin of Persia, of the value of twenty cents, about ten pence sterling.

ABATABLE, a. That may or can be abated; as an abatable writ or nuisance.

ABATE, v.t. [Heb. Ch., to beat. The Saxon has the participle gebatod, abated. The prefix is sunk to a in abate, and lost in beat. See Class Bd. No. 23, 33.]

1. To beat down; to pull down; to destroy in any manner; as to abate a nuisance.

2. To lessen; to diminish; to moderate; as to abate zeal; to abate pride; to abate a demand; to abate courage.

3. To lessen; to mitigate; as to abate pain or sorrow.

4. To overthrow; to cause to fail; to frustrate by judicial sentence; as to abate a writ.

5. To deject; to depress; as to abate the soul. Obs.

6. To deduct;

Nothing to add and nothing to abate.

7. To cause to fail; to annul. By the English law, a legacy to a charity is abated by a deficiency of assets.

8. In Conneticut, to remit, as to abate a tax.

ABATE, v.i. To decrease, or become less in strength or violence; as pain abates; a storm abates.

2. To fail; to be defeated, or come to naught; as a writ abates. By the civil law a legacy to a charity does not abate by deficiency of assets.

3. In law, to enter into a freehold after the death of the last occupant, and before the heir or devisee takes possession.

4. In horsemanship, to perform well a downward motion. A horse is said to abate, or take down his curvets, when, working upon curvets, he puts both his hind legs to the ground at once, and observes the same exactness in all the times.

ABATED, pp. Lessened; decreased; destroyed; mitigated; defeated; remitted; overthrown.


1. The act of abating; the state of being abated.

2. A reduction, removing, or pulling down as of a nuisance.

3. Diminution, decrease, or mitigation, as of grief or pain.

4. Deduction, sum withdraw, as from an account.

5. Overthrow, failure or defeat, as of a writ.

6. The entry of a stranger into a freehold after the death of the tenant, before the heir or devisee.

7. In heraldry, a mark of dishonor in a coat of arms, by which its dignity is debased for some stain on the character of the wearer.

ABATER, n. The person or thing that abates.

ABATING, ppr. Pulling down, diminishing, defeating, remitting.

ABATOR, n. A person who enters into a freehold on the death of the last possessor, before the heir or devisee.

ABATTIS, n. [from beating or pulling down.]

ABATIS, Rubbish. In fortification, piles of trees, or branches of trees sharpened, and laid with the points outward, in front of ramparts, to prevent assailants from mounting the walls.

ABATURE, n. [from abate.] Grass beaten or trampled down by a stag in passing.

ABB, n. Among weavers, yarn for the warp. Hence abb-wool is wool for the abb.

ABBA, n. In the Chaldee and Syriac, a father, and figuratively a superior. appen.

In the Syriac, Coptic and Ethiopic churches, it is a title given to the Bishops, and the Bishops bestow the title, by way of distinction, on the Bishop of Alexandria. Hence the title Baba, or Papa, Pope or great father, which the Bishop of Alexandria bore, before the Bishop of Rome.

ABBACY, n. [from abba, Low Lat, abbatia.] The dignity, rights and privileges of an abbot. It comprehends the government and revenues.

ABBATICAL, a. Belonging to an abbey.


ABBE, n. Ab’by, [from abba.]

In a monastic sense, the same as an abbot; but more generally, a title, in Catholic countries, without any determinate rang, office or rights. The abbes are numerous, and generally have some literary attainments; they dress as academics or scholars, and act as instructors, in colleges and private families; or as tutors to young gentlemen on their travels; and many of them become authors.

ABBESS, n. [from abba.]

A female superior or governess of a nunnery, or convent of nuns, having the authority over the nuns which the abbots have over the Monks. [See Abbey.]

ABBEY, n. plu. abbeys, [from abba.]

A monastery or society of persons of either sex, secluded from the world and devoted to religion. The males are called monks, and governed by an abbot; the females are called nuns, and governed by an abbess. These institutions were suppressed in England by Henry VIII.; but they still exist in Catholic countries.

ABBEY-LUBBER, n. A name given to monks, in contempt for their idleness.

ABBOT, n. [formerly abbat, from abba, latinized abbas, or from Heb. plural.]

The superior or governor of an abbey or monastery. Originally monasteries were founded in retired places, and the religious had no concern with secular affairs, being entirely subject to the prelates. But the abbots possessing most of the learning, in ages of ignorance, were called from their seclusion to aid the churches in opposing heresies; monasteries were founded in the vicinity of cities; the abbots became ambitious and set themselves to acquire wealth and honors; some of them assumed the miter, threw off their dependence on the bishops, and obtained seats in parliament. For many centuries, princes and noblemen bore the title of abbots. At present, in catholic countries, abbots are regular, or such as take the vow, and wear the habit of the order; and commendatory, such as are seculars, but obliged, when of suitable age, to take orders. The title is borne also by some persons, who have not the government of a monastery; as bishops, whose sees were formerly abbeys.

ABBOTSHIP, n. The state of an abbot.

ABBREUVOIR, n. [Fr. from abreuver, to water.]

Among masons, the joint between stones in a wall, to be filled with mortar. [I know not whether it is now used.]

ABBREVIATE, v.t. [from Latin abbrevio, brevio, from brevis, short]

1. To shorten; to make shorter by contracting the parts. [In this sense, not much used, nor often applied to material substances.]

2. To shorten; to abridge by the omission or defalcation of a part; to reduce to a smaller compass; as to abbreviate a writing.

3. In mathematics, to reduce fractions to the lowest terms.


1. Shortened; reduced in length; abridged.

2. In botany an abbreviated perianth is shorter than the rube of the corol.

ABBREVIATING, ppr. Shortening; contracting in length or into a smaller compass.


1. The act of shortening or contracting.

2. A letter or a few letters used for a word; as Gen. for Genesis; U.S.A. for United States of America.

3. The reduction of fractions to the lowest terms.

ABBREVIATOR, n. One who abridges or reduces to a smaller compass.

ABBREVIATORS, a college of seventy-two persons in the chancery of Rome, whose duty is to draw up the Pope’s briefs, and reduce petitions, when granted, to a due form for bulls.

ABBREVIATORY, n. Shortening, contracting.

ABBREVIATURE, n. A letter or character for shortening; an abridgment, a compend.

A.B.C. The three first letters of the alphabet, used for the whole alphabet. Also a little book for teaching the elements of reading.

ABDALS, n. The name of certain fanatics in Persia, who, in excess of zeal, sometimes run into the streets, and attempt to kill all they meet who are of a different religion; and if they are slain for their madness, they think it meritorious to die, and by the vulgar are deemed martyrs.

ABDERITE, n. An inhabitant of Abdera, a maritime town in Thrace. Democritus is so called, from being a native of the place. As he was given to laughter, foolish or incessant laughter, is call abderian.

ABDICANT, a. [See Abdicate.] Abdicating; renouncing.

ABDICATE, v.t. [L. abdica; ab and dico, to dedicate, to bestow, but the literal primary sense of dico is to send or thrust.]

1. In a general sense, to relinquish, renounce, or abandon.

2. To abandon an office or trust, without a formal resignation to those who conferred it, or without their consent; also to abandon a throne, without a formal surrender of the crown.

3. To relinquish an office before the expiration of the time of service.

4. To reject; to renounce; to abandon as a right.

5. To cast away; to renounce; as to abdicate our mental faculties [Unusual.]

6. In the civil law, to disclaim a son and expel him from the family, as a father; to disinherit during the life of the father.

ABDICATE, v.i. To renounce; to abandon; to cast off; to relinquish, as a right, power, or trust.

Though a King may abdicate for his own person, he cannot abdicate for the monarchy.

ABDICATED, pp. Renounced; relinquished without a formal resignation; abandoned.

ABDICATING, ppr. Relinquishing without a formal resignation; abandoning.


1. The act of abdicating; the abandoning of an office or trust, without a formal surrender, or before the usual or stated time of expiration.

2. A casting off; rejection.

ABDICATIVE, a. Causing or implying abdication. [Little used.]

ABDITIVE, a. [L. abdo, to hide; ab and do.] Having the power or quality of hiding. [Little used.]

ABDITORY, n. A place for secreting or preserving goods.

ABDOMEN, n. [L. perhaps abdo and omentum.]

1. The lower belly or that part of the body which lies between the thorax and the bottom of the pelvis. It is lined with a membrane called peritoneum, and contains the stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, bladder and guts. It is separated from the breast internally by the diaphragm, and externally, by the extremities of the ribs. On its outer surface it is divided into four regions - the epigastric, the umbilical, the hypogastric and lumbar.

2. In insects, the lower part of the animal, united to the corslet by a thread. In some species, it is covered with wings, and a case. It is divided into segments and rings, on the sides of which are small spiracles by which the insect respires.

ABDOMINAL, a. Pertaining to the lower belly.

ABDOMINAL, n. plu. abdominals. In ichthyology the abdominals are a class of fish whose ventral fins are placed behind the pectoral, and which belong to the division of bony fish. The class contains nine genera - the loche, salmon, pike, argentine, atherine, mullet, flying fish, herring and carp.

ABDOMINAL RING, INGUINAL RING, an oblong tendinous ring in both groins through which pass the spermatic cord in men, and the round ligaments of the uterus in women.

ABDOMINOUS, a. Pertaining to the abdomen; having a large belly.

ABDUCE, v.t. [L. adduco, to lead away, of ab and duco, to lead. See Duke.]

To draw from; to withdraw, or draw to a different part; used chiefly in anatomy.

ABDUCENT, a. Drawing from, pulling back; used of those muscles which pull back certain parts of the body, for separating, opening, or bending them. The abducent muscles, called abductors, are opposed to the adducent muscles or adductors.


1. In a general sense, the act of drawing apart, or carrying away.

2. In surgery, a species of fracture, in which the broken parts recede from each other.

3. In logic, a kind of argumentation, called by the Greeks apagoge, in which the major is evident, but the minor is not so clear, as not to require farther proof. As in this syllogism, “all whom God absolves are free from sin; God absolves all who are in Christ; therefore all who are in Christ are free from sin.”

4. In law, the taking and carrying away of a child, a ward, a wife, etc. either by fraud, persuasion, or open violence.

ABDUCTOR, n. In anatomy, a muscle which serves to withdraw, or pull back a certain part of the body; as the abductor oculi, which pulls the eye outwards.

ABEAR, v.t. abare, To bear; to behave. Obs.

ABEARANCE, n. [from abear, now disused from bear, to carry.] Behavior, demeanor. [Little used.]

ABECEDARIAN, n. [a word formed from the first four letters of the alphabet.] One who teaches the letters of the alphabet, or a learner of the letters.

ABECEDARY, a. Pertaining to, or formed by the letters of the alphabet.

ABED, adv. [See Bed.] On or in bed.

ABELE, ABEL-TREE, n. An obsolete name of the while poplar. [See Poplar.]

ABELIANS, ABELONIANS, or ABELITES, in Church history, a sect in Africa which arose in the reign of Areadius; they married, but lived in continence after the manner, as they pretended, of Abel, and attempted to maintain the sect by adopting the children of others.

ABELMOSK, n. A trivial name of a species of hibiscus, or Syrian mallow. The plant rises on a herbacceous stalk, three or four feet, sending out two or three side branches. The seeds have a musky odor, for which reason the Arabians mix them with coffee.

ABERRANCE, ABERRANCY, [L. aberrans, aberro, to wander from; of ab and erro, to wander.]

A wandering or deviating from the right way, but rarely used in a literal sense. In a figurative sense, a deviation from truth, error, mistake; and in morals, a fault, a deviation from rectitude.

ABERRANT, a. Wandering, straying from the right way. [Rarely used.]

ABERRATION, n. [L. aberratio.]

1. The act of wandering from the right way; deviation from truth or moral rectitude; deviation from a strait line.

2. In astronomy, a small apparent motion of the fixed stars, occasioned by the progressive motion of light and the earth’s annual motion in its orbit. By this, they sometimes appear twenty seconds distant from their true situation.

3. In optics, a deviation in the rays of light when inflected by a lens or speculum, by which they are prevented from uniting in the same point. It is occasioned by the figure of the glass, or by the unequal refrangibility of the rays of light.

Crown of aberration, a luminous circle surrounding the disk of the sun, depending on the aberration of its rays, by which its apparent diameter is enlarged.

ABERRING, part, a. Wandering; going astray.

ABERRUNCATE, v.t. [L. averrunco.] To pull up by the roots; to extirpate utterly. [Not used.]