Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



BAILBOND, n. A bond or obligation given by a prisoner and his surety, to insure the prisoner’s appearance in court, at the return of the writ.

BAILED, pp. Released from custody on bonds for appearance in court.

2. Delivered in trust, to be carried and deposited, redelivered, or otherwise accounted for.

3. Freed from water, as a boat.

BAILEE, n. The person to whom goods are committed in trust, and who has a temporary possession and a qualified property in them, for the purposes of the trust.

BAILER, BAILOR, n. One who delivers goods to another in trust, for some particular purpose.

BAILIF, n. [Heb. lord, chief.] In England, an officer appointed by the sheriff. Bailiffs are either special, and appointed, for their adroitness, to arrest persons; or bailiffs of hundreds, who collect fines, summon juries, attend the assizes, and execute writs and process. The sheriff in England is the king’s bailiff.

There are also bailiffs of liberties, appointed by the lords in their respective jurisdictions, to execute process, and perform other duties; bailiffs of forests and manors, who direct the husbandry, collect rents, etc.; and water bailiffs in each port, to search vessels, gather toll for anchorage, arrest persons for debt on the water, etc.

The office of bailiff formerly was high and honorable in England, and officers under that title on the continent are still invested with important functions.

BAILIWICK, n. [bailli, an officer, see bailiff.]

The precincts in which a bailiff has jurisdiction; the limits of a bailiff’s authority; as a hundred, a liberty, a forest, over which a bailiff is appointed. In the liberties and franchises of lords, the bailiff has exclusive jurisdiction.

BAILMENT, n. [from bail.]

A delivery of goods, in trust, upon a contract, expressed or implied, that the trust shall be faithfully executed.

BAILPIECE, n. A slip of parchment or paper containing a recognizance of bail above or bail to the action.

BAIRN, BARN, n. [Eng. born.] A child. [Little used in English.]

BAIT, n.

1. Any substance for food, proper to be used or actually used, to catch fish, or other animals, by alluring them to swallow a hook, or to be caught in snares, or in an inclosure or net.

2. A portion of food and drink, or a refreshment taken on a journey.

3. An allurement; enticement; temptation.

BAIT, v.t. To put meat on a hook or line, or in an inclosure, or among snares, to allure fish, fowls and other animals into human power.

2. To give a portion of food and drink to man or beast upon the road; as, to bait horses.

BAIT, v.i. To take a portion of food and drink for refreshment on a journey; as, we stopped to bait.
BAIT, v.t.

1. To provoke and harass by dogs; to harass by the help of others; as, to bait a bull or a boar.

2. To attack with violence; to harass in the manner of small animals.

BAIT, v.i. To clap the wings; to flutter as if to fly; or to hover as a hawk, when she stoops to her prey.
BAIT, n. White Bait, a small fish of the Thames.

BAITED, pp. Furnished with bait; allured; tempted.

2. Fed, or refreshed, on the road.

3. Harassed by dogs or other small animals; attacked.

BAITING, ppr. Furnishing with bait; tempting; alluring.

2. Feeding; refreshing at an inn.

3. Harassing, with dogs; attacking.

BAIZE, n. A coarse woolen stuff, with a long nap, sometimes frized on one side, without wale, being wove with two treadles like flannel.

BAKE, v.t.

1. To heat, dry and harden, as in an oven or furnace, or under coals of fire; to dress and prepare for food, in a close place heated; as, to bake bread.

2. To dry and harden by heat, either in an oven, kiln or furnace, or by the solar rays; as, to bake bricks; to bake the ground.

BAKE, v.i. To do the work of baking; as, she brews, washes and bakes.

2. To be baked; to dry and harden in heat; as, the bread bakes, the ground bakes in a hot sun.

BAKED, pp. Dried and hardened by heat; dressed in heat; as baked meat.

BAKEHOUSE, n. [bake and house.] A house or building for baking.

BAKEMEATS, n. Meats prepared for food in an oven. Genesis 40:17.

BAKEN, pp. The same as baked, and nearly obsolete.

BAKER, n. One whose occupation is to bake bread, biscuit, etc.

BAKER-FOOT, n. An ill-shaped or distorted foot.

BAKER-LEGGED, a. One who has crooked legs, or legs that bend inward at the knees.

BAKERY, n. The trade of a baker.

2. A place occupied with the business of baking bread, etc.

BAKING, ppr. Drying and hardening in heat; dressing or cooking in a close place, or in heat.

BAKING, n. The quantity baked at once; as a baking of bread.

BALAN, n. A fish of a beautiful yellow, variegated with orange, a species of wrasse, caught on the shores of England.

BALANCE, n. [L. bilanx, bis, twice, and lanz, a dish, the double dish.]

1. A pair of scales, for weighing commodities. It consists of a beam or lever suspended exactly in the middle, with a scale or basin hung to each extremity, of precisely equal weight.

The Roman balance, our steel-yard, consists of a lever or beam, movable on a center, and suspended near one of its extremities. Hence,

2. One of the simple powers in mechanics, used for determining the equality or difference of weight in heavy bodies, and consequently their masses or quantity of matter.

3. Figuratively, an impartial state of the mind, in deliberating; or a just estimate of the reasons and arguments on both sides of a question, which gives to each its due weight, or force and importance.

4. As balance signifies equal weight, or equality, it is by custom used for the weight or sum necessary to make two unequal weights or sums equal; that which is necessary to bring them to a balance or equipoise. Hence, in accounts, balance is the difference of two sums; as upon an adjustment of accounts, a balance was found against A, in favor of B. Hence, to pay a balance, is to pay the difference and make the two accounts equal.

5. Balance of trade is an equal exportation of domestic productions, and importation of foreign. But, usually, the term is applied to the difference between the amount or value of the commodities exported and imported. Hence the common expression, the balance of trade is against or in favor of a country.

6. Equipoise, or an equal state of power between nations; as the “balance of power.”

7. Equipoise, or an equal state of the passions.

The balance of the mind.

8. That which renders weight or authority equal.

The only balance attempted against the ancient kings, was a body of nobles.

9. The part of a clock or watch which regulates the beats.

10. In astronomy, a sign in the zodiac, called in Latin Libra, which the sun enters at the equinox in September.

The hydrostatic balance is an instrument to determine the specific gravity of fluid and solid bodies.

The assay balance is one which is used in docimastic operations, to determine the weight of minute bodies.

BALANCE, v.t. To adjust the weights in the scales of a balance so as to bring them to an equipoise. Hence,

2. To weigh reasons; to compare, by estimating the relative force, importance, or value of different things; as, to balance good and evil.

3. To regulate different powers, so as to keep them in a state of just proportion; as, to balance Europe, or the powers of Europe.

4. To counterpoise; to make of equal weight or force; to make equipollent; as, one species of attraction balances another.

One expression in the letter check and balance another.

5. To settle and adjust, as an account; to find the difference of two accounts, and to pay the balance, or difference, and make them equal.

6. In seamanship, to contract a sail, by rolling up a small part of it at one corner.

BALANCE, v.i. To have on each side equal weight; to be on a poise.

2. To hesitate; to fluctuate between motives which appear of equal force, as a balance plays when poised by equal weights.

Between right and wrong, never balance a moment.

BALANCED, pp. Charged with equal weights; standing on an equipoise, regulated so as to be equal; settled; adjusted; made equal in weight or amount.

BALANCE FISH, n. The zygaena, or marteau; a fish of the genus squalus, or shark kind. It is 6 feet long, and weighs 500 lbs. It has three or four rows of broad pointed and serrated teeth; has a horrible aspect, and is very voracious.

BALANCER, n. The person who weighs, or who uses a balance.

2. A member of an insect useful in balancing the body.

3. One skilled in balancing.

BALANCE-REEF, n. A reef band that crosses a sail diagonally, used to contract it in a storm.

BALANCING, ppr. Charging with equal weights; being in a state of equipoise; bringing to a state of equality; regulating respective forces or sums to make them equal; settling; adjusting; paying a difference of accounts; hesitating; contracting a sail by rolling up one corner of it.

BALANCING, n. Equilibrium; poise.

BALANITE, n. A fossil shell of the genus Balanus.

BALASS, BALAS, n. A variety of spinel ruby, of a pale rose red, or inclining to orange. Its crystals are usually octahedrons, composed of two four-sided pyramids, applied base to base. [See Spinel.]

BALLAUSTINE, n. The wild pomegranate tree.

BALCONY, n. In architecture, a frame of wood, iron or stone, in front of a house or other building, supported by columns, pillars or consoles and encompassed with a balustrade. Balconies are common before windows.

BALD, a. bauld.

1. Destitute of hair, especially on the top and back of the head.

2. Destitute of the natural covering; as a bald oak.

3. Without feathers on the head; as a bald vulture.

4. Destitute of trees on the top; as a bald mountain.

5. Unadorned; inelegant; as a bald translation.

6. Mean; naked; base; without dignity or value.

7. In popular language, open, bold, audacious.

8. Without beard or awn; as bald wheat.

BALDA-CHIN, BALDAQUIN, n. In architecture, a building in form of a canopy, supported by columns, and often used as a covering to insulated altars; sometimes used for a shell over a door.

BALDERDASH, n. Mean, senseless prate; a jargon of words; ribaldry; anything jumbled together without judgment.

BALDERDASH, v.t. To mix or adulterate liquors.

BALDLLY, adv. Nakedly; meanly; inelegantly; openly.

BALDNESS, n. Want of hair on the top and back of the head; loss of hair; meanness or inelegance of writing; want of ornament.

BALDPATE, n. A pate without hair.

BALDPATED, a. Destitute of hair; shorn of hair.

BALDRICK, n. [L. balleus, a belt, and rick, rich. See these words.]

1. A girdle, or richly ornamented belt; a war girdle.

A radiant baldrick o’er his shoulders tied.

2. The zodiac.

BALE, n. [Heb. to bind, to pledge, and its derivative.]

1. A bundle or package of goods in a cloth cover, and corded for carriage or transportation.

2. Formerly, a pair of dice

BALE, v.t. To make up in a bale.
BALE, n. [Heb. to grieve or mourn, to be desolate, or to destroy.]

Misery; calamity.

BALEARIC, a. [Gr. to throw, because the inhabitants were good slingers.]

Pertaining to the isles of Majorca and Minorca, in the Mediterranean sea.

BALEFUL, a. [See Bale.] Woeful; sad; sorrowful; full of grief; producing misery; as, a baleful smart; baleful eyes.

2. Mischievous; destructive; pernicious; calamitous; deadly; as, baleful enemies; baleful war.

BALEFULLY, adv. Sorrowfully; perniciously; in a calamitous manner.

BALISTER, n. [L. balista, from Gr. to throw.] A cross bow.

BALIZE, n. A sea-mark; a pole raised on a bank.

BALK, n. bauk.

1. A ridge of land, left unplowed, between furrows, or at the end of a field.

2. A great beam, or rafter.

3. Any thing left untouched, like a ridge in plowing.

4. A frustration; disappointment.

BALK, v.t. bauk.

1. To disappoint; to frustrate.

2. To leave untouched; to miss or omit.

3. To pile, as in a heap or ridge.

4. To turn aside; to talk beside one’s meaning.

5. To plow, leaving balks.

BALKED, pp. Plowed in ridges between furrows, as in American husbandry.

2. Frustrated; disappointed.

BALKER, n. One who balks. In fishery, balkers are persons who stand on rocks and eminences to espy the sholes of herring, and to give notice to the men in boats, which way they pass.

BALKING, ppr. Plowing in ridges; frustrating.

BALL, n. [L. pila; A ball may signify a mass from collecting, or it may be that which is driven, from the root of L. pello; probably the former.]

1. A round body; a spherical substance, whether natural or artificial; or a body nearly round; as, a ball for play; a ball of thread; a ball of snow.

2. A bullet; a ball of iron or lead for cannon, muskets, etc.

3. A printer’s ball, consisting of hair or wool, covered with leather or skin, and fastened to a stock, called a ball-stock, and used to put ink on the types in the forms.

4. The globe or earth, from its figure.

5. A globe borne as an ensign of authority; as, to hold the ball of a kingdom.

6. Any part of the body that is round or protuberant; as, the eye ball; the ball of the thumb or foot.

7. The weight at the bottom of a pendulum.

8. Among the Cornish miners in England, a tin mine.

9. In pyrotechnics, a composition of combustible ingredients, which serve to burn, smoke or give light.

Ball-stock, among printers, a stock somewhat hollow at one end, to which balls of skin, stuffed with wool, are fastened, and which serves as a handle.

Ball-vein, among miners, a sort of iron ore, found in loose masses, of a circular form, containing sparkling particles.

Ball and socket, an instrument used in surveying and astronomy, made of brass, with a perpetual screw, to move horizontally, obliquely, or vertically.

Puff-ball, in botany, the Lycoperdon, a genus of fungeses.

Fire-ball, a meteor; a luminous globe darting through the atmosphere; also, a bag of canvas filled with gunpowder, sulphur, pitch, saltpeter, etc., to be thrown by the hand, or from mortars, to set fire to houses.

BALL, n. [Gr. to toss or throw; to leap.] An entertainment of dancing; originally and peculiarly, at the invitation and expense of an individual; but the word is used in America, for a dance at the expense of the attendants.
BALL, v.i. To form into a ball, as snow on horses’ hoofs, or on the feet. We say the horse balls, or the snow balls.

BALLAD, n. A song; originally, a solemn song of praise; but now a meaner kind of popular song.

BALLAD, v.i. To make or sing ballads.

BALLADER, n. A writer of ballads.

BALLAD-MAKER, n. A maker or composer of ballads.

BALLAD-MONGER, n. [See Monger.] A dealer in writing ballads.

BALLADRY, n. The subject or style of ballads.

BALLAD-SINGER, n. One whose employment is to sing ballads.

BALLAD-STYLE, n. The air or manner of a ballad.

BALLAD-TUNE, n. The tune of a ballad.

BALLAD-WRITER, n. A composer of ballads.

BALLARAG, v.t. To bully; to threaten. [Not in use.]


1. Heavy matter, as stone, sand or iron, laid on the bottom of a ship or other vessel, to sink it in the water, to such a depth, as to enable it to carry sufficient sail, without oversetting.

Shingle ballast is ballast of coarse gravel.

2. Figuratively, that which is used to make a thing steady.

BALLAST, v.t. To place heavy substances on the bottom of a ship or vessel, to keep it from oversetting.

2. To keep any thing steady, by counterbalancing its force.

BALLASTED, pp. Furnished with ballast; kept steady by a counterpoising force.

BALLASTING, ppr. Furnishing with ballast; keeping steady.

BALLASTING, n. Ballast; that which is used for ballast.

BALLATED, a. Sung in a ballad. [Little used.]

BALLATOON, n. A heavy luggage boat employed on the rivers about the Caspian Lake.

BALLATRY, n. A song; a jig.


1. A kind of dance; an interlude; a comic dance, consisting of a series of several airs, with different movements, representing some subject or action.

2. A kind of dramatic poem, representing some fabulous action or subject, in which several persons appear and recite things, under the name of some deity or personage.

In heraldry, ballets or balls, a bearing in coats of arms, denominated according to their color, bezants, plates, hurts, etc.

BALLIAGE, more correctly BAILAGE, n.

A small duty paid to the city of London by aliens, and even by denizens, for certain commodities exported by them.

BALLIARDS. [See Billiards.]

BALLISTER. [See Baluster.]

BALLISTIC, a. [L. balista, an engine to throw stones, or shoot darts, from Gr. to throw or shoot.] Pertaining to the balista, or to the art of shooting darts, and other missive weapons, by means of an engine.

BALLISTICS, n. The science or art of throwing missive weapons, by the use of an engine. The balista was a machine resembling a cross-bow.


1. In general, any spherical hollow body.

2. In chimistry, a round vessel with a short neck, to receive whatever is distilled; a glass receiver of a spherical form.

3. In architecture, a ball or globe, on the top of a pillar.

4. In fireworks, a ball of pasteboard, or kind of bomb, stuffed with combustibles, to be played off, when fired, either in the air, or in water, which, bursting like a bomb, exhibits sparks of fire like stars.

5. A game, somewhat resembling tennis, played in an open field, with a large ball of leather, inflated with wind.

6. A bag or hollow vessel, made of silk or other light material, and filled with hydrogen gas or heated air, so as to rise and float in the atmosphere, called for distinction, an air-balloon.

7. In France, a quantity of paper, containing 24 reams. [See Bale.]

8. In France, balloon, ballon or ballot, a quantity of glass plates; of white glass, 25 bundles of six plates each; of colored glass, 12 1-2 bundles of three plates each.

BALLOON, BALLOEN, n. A state barge of Siam, made of a single piece of timber, very long, and managed with oars.


1. A ball used in voting. Ballots are of different colors; those of one color give an affirmative; those of another, a negative. They are privately put into a box or urn.

2. A ticket or written vote, being given in lieu of a ballot, is now called by the same name.

3. The act of voting by balls or tickets.

BALLOT, v.i. To vote by ballot, that is, by putting little balls of different colors into a box, the greater number of one color or the other determining the result.

2. To vote by written papers or tickets.

BALLOTADE, BALOTADE, n. In the menage, a leap of pillars, or upon a strait line, so that when his fore feet are in the air, he shrews nothing but the shoes of his hind feet, without jerking out. In a capriole, the horse yerks out his hind legs.

BALLOTATION, n. A voting by ballot. [Little used.]

BALLOT-BOX, n. A box for receiving ballots.

BALM, n. bam.

1. The sap or juice of trees or shrubs remarkable odoriferous or aromatic.

2. Any fragrant or valuable ointment.

3. Anything which heals, or which soothes or mitigates pain.

4. In botany, the name of several plants, particularly of the genus Melissa. They are aromatic and used as corroborants.

Balm of Gilead. A plant of the genus Amyris. Its leaves yield, when bruised, a strong aromatic scent; and from this plant is obtained the balm of Gilead of the shops, or balsam of Mecca or of Syria. It has a yellowish or greenish color, a warm bitterish aromatic taste, and an acidulous fragrant smell. It is valued as an odoriferous unguent, and cosmetic, by the Turks, who possess the country of its growth, and hence it is adulterated for market.

BALM, v.t. To anoint with balm, or with any thing medicinal.

2. To soothe; to mitigate; to assuage.

BALMY, a. Having the qualities of balm; aromatic.

2. Producing balm; as the balmy tree.

3. Soothing; soft; mild; as balmy slumbers.

4. Fragrant; odoriferous; as balmy wings.

5. Mitigating; easing; assuaging; as balmy breath.

BALNEAL, a. [L. balneum.] Pertaining to a bath.

BALNEARY, n. [L. balnearium, from balneum.]

A bathing room.

BALNEATION, n. The act of bathing.

BALNEATORY, a. Belonging to a bath or stove.

BALSAM, n. [L. balsamum.] An oily, aromatic, resinous substance, flowing spontaneously or by incision, from certain plants. A great variety of substances pass under this denomination. But in modern chimistry, the term is confined to such vegetable juices, as are liquid or spontaneously become concrete, and consist of a resinous substance, combined with benzoic acid, or capable of affording it by decoction or sublimation. The balsams are either liquid or solid; of the former, are the balm of Gilead and the balsams of copaiba, Peru and tolu; of the latter, benzoin, dragon’s blood, and storax.

Balsam apple, an annual Indian plant; included under the genus Momordica. A water and a subtil oil are obtained from it, which are commended as deobstruents.

Balsam tree. This name is given to a genus of plants called Clusia; to another, called Copaifera, which produces the balsam of Copaiba; and to a third, called Pistacia, turpentine tree or mastich tree.

Balsam of Sulphur is a solution of sulphur in oil.

Balsam of Tolu is the produce of the Toluifera, or Tolu tree, of South America. It is of a reddish yellow color, transparent, thick and tenacious, but growing hard and brittle by age. It is very fragrant, and like the Balsam of Peru, is a stimulant, and used as a pectoral.

Balsam of Peru, the produce of a tree in Peru, possessing strong stimulant qualities.

BALSAMATION, n. The act of rendering balsamic.

BALSAMIC, BALSAMI-CAL, a. Having the qualities of balsam; stimulating; unctuous; soft; mitigating; mild.

BALSAMIC, n. A warm, stimulating, demulcent medicine, of a smooth and oily consistence.

BALSAMINE, n. touch-me-not, or Impatiens, a genus of plants.

BALSAM-SWEATING, a. Yielding balsam.

BALTIC, n. [From balte, belt, from certain straits or channels, surrounding its isles, called belts. See Belt.]

The sea which separates Norway and Sweden from Jutland, Holstein and Germany.

BALTIC, a. Pertaining to the sea of that name; situated on the Baltic sea.

Each Baltic state to join the righteous cause.

BALUSTER, n. [L. palus; Eng. pole, pale. This is corrupted into bannister, which I have rejected.]

A small column or pilaster, of various forms and dimension, often adorned with moldings, used for balustrades.

BALUSTERED, a. Having balusters.

BALUSTRADE, n. A row of balusters, joined by a rail, serving as a fence or inclosure, for altars, balconies, stair-cases, terraces. tops of buildings, etc.

BAM, BEAM, as an initial syllable in names of places, signifies wood; implying that the place took its name from a grove, or forest.

BAMBOO, n. A plant of the reed kind, or genus Arundo, growing in the East Indies, and in some other warm climates, and sometimes attaining to the height of 60 feet. From the main root, which is long, thick and jointed, spring several round, jointed stalks, which at 10 or 12 feet from the ground, send out from their joints several stalks which are united at their base. These are armed, at their joints, with one or two sharp rigid spines, and furnished with oblong, oval leaves, eight or nine inches long, on short footstalks. The flowers grow in large panicles, from the joints of the stalk, placed three in a parcel, close to their receptacles. Old stalks grow to five or six inches in diameter, and are so hard and durable, as to be used for building and for all sorts of furniture, for water pipes, and for poles to support palanquins. The smaller stalks are used for walking sticks, flutes, etc.

BAMBOOZLE, v.t. To confound; to deceiving; to play low tricks. [A low word.]

BAMBOOZLER, n. A cheat; one who plays low tricks.

BAN, n.

1. A public proclamation or edict; a public order or notice, mandatory or prohibitory.

In a more particular sense,

2. Notice of a marriage proposed, or of a matrimonial contract, proclaimed in a church, that any person may object, if he knows of any kindred between the parties, of any precontract or other just cause, why the marriage should not take place.

3. An edict of interdiction or proscription. Hence to put a prince under the ban of the empire, is to divest him of his dignities, and to interdict all intercourse and all offices of humanity with the offender. Sometimes whole cities have been put under the ban, that is, deprived of their rights and privileges.

4. Interdiction; prohibition.

5. Curse; excommunication; anathema.

6. A pecuniary mulct or penalty laid upon a delinquent for offending against a ban.

7. A mulct paid to the bishop by one guilty of sacrilege and other crimes.

8. In military affairs, a proclamation by beat of drum, requiring a strict observance of discipline, either for declaring a new officer, or for punishing an offender.

9. In commerce, a smooth fine muslin, imported from the E. Indies.

BAN, v.t. To curse; to execrate.
BAN, v.i. To curse.

BANANA, n. A species of the genus Musa, or plantain tree, and its fruit. It rises 15 or 20 feet high, with a soft stalk, marked with dark purple stripes and spots, with leaves six feet long, and a foot broad. The flowers grow in bunches, covered with a sheath of a fine purple color.

The fruit is four or five inches long, and an inch or more in diameter; the pulp soft and of a luscious taste. When ripe, it is eaten raw, or fried in slices. Bananas grow in large bunches weighing a dozen pounds or more. This tree is the native of tropical countries, and on many isles, constitutes an important article of food.