Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



BIPED, n. [L. bipes, of bis, twice, and pes, pedis, a foot.]

An animal having two feet, as man.

BIPEDAL, a. Having two feet, or the length of two feet.

BIPENNATE, a. [L. bis, and penna, a wing or feather.] Having two wings.

1. In botany, having pinnate leaves on each side of the petiole, as a leaf or frond.

BIPETALOUS, a. [L. bis, twice, and Gr. a leaf.]

Consisting of two flower leaves; having two petals.

BIPINNATIFID, BIPENNATIFID, a. [L. bis, twice, pinna, a wing or feather, and findo, to divide.]

Doubly-pinnatifid; having pinnatifid leaves on each side of the petiole.

BIQUADRATE, n. [L. bis, twice, and quadratus, squared.]

In mathematics the fourth power, arising from the multiplication of a square number or quantity by itself. Thus 4x4=16, which is the square of 4, and 16x16=256, the biquadrate of that number.

BIQUADRATIC, n. The same as biquadrate.

BIQUADRATIC, a. Pertaining to the biquadratic or fourth power.

Biquadratic equation, in algebra, is an equation raised to the fourth power, or where the unknown quantity of one of the terms has four dimensions.

Biquadratic parabola, in geometry, is a curve line of the third order, having two infinite legs tending the same way.

Biquadratic root of a number, is the square root of the square root of that number. Thus the square root of 9 is 3, which is the biquadratic root of 81.

BIQUINTILE, n. [L. bis, twice, and quintus, fifth.]

An aspect of the planets, when they are distant from each other, by twice the fifth part of a great circle, that is 144 degrees or twice 72 degrees.

BIRADIATE, BIRADIATED, a. [L. bis, twice, and radiatus, set with rays.]

Having two rays; as a biradiate fin.

BIRCH, n. burch. A genus of trees, the Betula, of which there are several species; as the white or common birch, the dwarf birch, the Canada birch, of which there are several varieties, and the common black birch.

Birch of Jamaica, a species of the Pistacia or turpentine tree.

BIRCH, BIRCHEN, a. Made of birch; consisting of birch.

BIRD, n. burd.

1. Properly, a chicken, the young of fowls, and hence a small fowl.

2. In modern use, any fowl or flying animal.

It is remarkable that a nation should lay aside the use of the proper generic name of flying animals, and substitute the name of the young of those animals, as the generic term. The fact is precisely what it would be to make lamb, the generic name of sheep, or colt, that of the equine genus.

BIRD, v.t. To catch birds.

Bird of paradise, a genus of birds, found in the Oriental isles, and in New Guinea; some of them remarkable beautiful. The beak is covered with a belt or collar of downy feathers at the base, and the feathers on the sides are very long. The longest species is two feet four inches in length. The head and back part of the neck are lemon-colored; the neck of the brightest emerald green, soft like velvet; the breast is black; the wings of a chestnut color. The back part of the body is covered with long straight narrow feathers, of a pale brown color, similar to the plumes of the ostrich. These are spread when the bird flies, for which reason he cannot keep long on the wing. From the rump proceed two long stiff shafts, feathered at the extremities.

BIRDBOLT, n. [bird and bolt.] An arrow, broad at the end, for shooting birds.

BIRD-CAGE, n. [bird and cage.] A box or case with wires, small sticks, or wicker, forming open work, for keeping birds.

BIRD-CALL, n. [bird and call.] A little stick, cleft at one end, in which is put a leaf of some plant for imitating the cry of birds. A laurel leaf counterfeits the voice of lapwings; a leek, that of nightingales; etc.

BIRD-CATCHER, n. [bird and catch.] One whose employment is to catch birds; a fowler.

BIRD-CATCHING, n. [bird and catch.] The art of taking birds or wild fowls, either for food, for pleasure, or for their destruction, when pernicious to the husbandman.

BIRD-CHERRY, n. [bird and cherry.] A tree, a species of Prunus, called padus; there are other species called by the same name.

BIRDER, n. A bird-catcher.

BIRD-EYE, BIRD’S-EYE, a. [bird and eye.] Seen from above, as if by a flying bird; as a bird-eye landscape.

BIRDEYED, a. Of quick sight.

BIRDING-PIECE, n. [bird and piece.] A fowling-piece.

BIRD-LIKE, a. Resembling a bird.

BIRD-LIME, n. [bird and lime.] A viscous substance, usually made of the juice of holly-bark, extracted by boiling, mixed with a third-part of nut oil or thin grease, used to catch birds. For this purpose, the twigs of a bush are smeared over with this viscid substance.

BIRD-LIMED, a. Smeared with bird-lime; spread to ensnare.

BIRD-MAN, n. [bird and man.] A fowler or bird-catcher.

BIRD-PEPPER, n. [bird and pepper.] A species of Capsicum or Guinea-pepper; a shrubby plant, bearing a small oval fruit, more biting than the other sorts.

BIRDSEYE, n. [bird and eye.] A genus of plants, called also pheasant’s eye, known in botany by the generic term Adonis. There are several species, some of which produce beautiful flowers.

BIRDSFOOT, n. [bird and foot.] A plant, the Ornithopus, whose legumen is articulated, cylindrical, and bent in the form of a bow.

BIRDSFOOT-TREFOIL, n. A genus of plants, the Lotus, of several species.

BIRDSNEST, n. [bird and nest.] The nest in which a bird lays eggs and hatches her young.

1. A plant, a species of Ophrys or twyblade; also a species of Orchis.

2. In cookery, the nest of a small swallow, of China, and the neighboring countries, delicately tasted, and mixed with soups. This nest is found in the rocks; it is of a hemispherical figure, of the size of a goose egg, and in substance resembles isinglass. In the East, these nests are esteemed a great luxury, and sell at a very high price.

BIRDSTARES and BIRDSTONGUE; names of plants.

BIRD-WITTED, a. Not having the faculty of attention.

BIREME, n. [L. biremis, bis and remus, and oar.]

A vessel with two banks or tiers of oars.

BIRGANDER, n. The name of a wild goose.

BIRHOMBOIDAL, a. [bis and rhomboid.]

Having a surface composed of twelve rhombic faces, which, being taken six and six, and prolonged in idea, till they intercept each other, would form two different rhombs.

BIRKEN, v.t. [from birch.] To beat with a burch or rod.

BIROSTRATE, BIROSTRATED, a. [L. bis, twice, and rostrum, a beak.]

Having a double beak, or process resembling a beak.

The capsule is bilocular and birostrated.

BIRT, n. burt. A fish, called also turbot.

BIRTH, n. berth. [L. partus, the participle of pario, to bear.]

1. The act of coming into life, or of being born. Except in poetry, it is generally applied to human beings; as the birth of a son.

2. Lineage; extraction; descent; as, Grecian birth.

It is used of high or low extraction; but is often used by way of distinction for a descent from noble or honorable parents and ancestors; as a man of birth.

3. The condition in which a person is born.

A foe by birth to Troy.

4. That which is born; that which is produced, whether animal or vegetable.

5. The act of bringing forth; as, she had two children at a birth.

6. In a theological sense, regeneration is called the new birth.

7. Origin; beginning; as the birth of an empire.

BIRTH, BERTH, n. A station in which a ship rider. [See Berth.]

BIRTHDAY, n. [birth and day.] The day in which any person is born.

1. The same day of the month, in which a person was born, in every succeeding year; often celebrated as a joyful anniversary. It sometimes has the form of an attribute; as a birth-day ode.

BIRTHDOM, n. [birth and dom.] Privilege of birth. [Not used.]

BIRTHING, n. Any thing added to raise the sides of a ship.

BIRTHNIGHT, n. [birth and night.] The night in which a person is born; and the anniversary of that night in succeeding years.

BIRTHPLACE, n. [birth and place.] The town, city or country, where a person is born; more generally, the particular town, city, or other local district.

BIRTHRIGHT, n. [birth and right.] Any right or privilege, to which a person is entitled by birth, such as an estate descendible by law to an heir, or civil liberty under a free constitution.

Esau, for a morsel, sold his birthright. Hebrews 12:16.

It may be used in the sense of primogeniture, or the privilege of the first born, but is applicable to any right which results from descent.

BIRTH-SONG, n. A song sung at the birth of a person.

BIRTH-STRANGLED, a. [birth and strangle.] Strangled or suffocated in being born.

BIRTHWORT, n. [birth and wort.] A genus of plants, Aristolochia, of many species. Of these are the snake root of America, and the contrayerva of Jamaica.

BISA, BIZA, n. A coin of Pegu, of the value of half a ducat; also, a weight.

BISCOTIN, n. A confection, made of flour, sugar, marmalade and eggs.

BISCUIT, n. bis’kit. [L. bis, twice, and cuit, baked.]

1. A kind of bread, formed into cakes, and baked hard for seamen.

2. A cake, variously made, for the use of private families. The name, in England, is given to a composition of flour, eggs, and sugar. With us the name is given to a composition of flour and butter, made and baked in private families. But the compositions under this denomination are very various.

3. The body of an earthen vessel, in distinction from the glazing.

BISDIAPASON, [See Disdiapason.]

BISECT, v.t. [L. bis, twice, and seco, sectum, to cut. See Section.]

To cut or divide into two parts. In geometry, one line bisects another when it crosses it, leaving an equal part of the line on each side of the point where it is crossed.

BISECTED, pp. Divided into two equal parts.

BISECTING, ppr. Dividing into two equal parts.

BISECTION, n. The act of cutting into two equal parts; the division of any line or quantity into two equal parts.

BISEGMENT, n. [bis and segment.] One of the parts of a line, divided into two equal parts.

BISEXOUS, a. Consisting of both sexes.

BISHOP, n. [L. episcopus; Gr. of, over, and inspector, or visitor; to view, or inspect; whence, to visit; also, to view. This Greek and Latin word accompanied the introduction of christianity into the west and north of Europe.]

1. An overseer; a spiritual superintendent, ruler or director; applied to Christ.

Ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned to the shepherd and bishop of your souls. 1 Peter 2:25.

2. In the primitive church, a spiritual overseer; an elder or presbyter; one who had the pastoral care of a church.

The same persons are in this chapter called elders or presbyters, and overseers or bishops. Scott, Comm. Acts 20:28.

Till the churches were multiplied, the bishops and presbyters were the same. Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:7.

Both the Greek and Latin fathers do, with one consent, declare, that bishops were called presbyters, and presbyters bishops, in apostolic times, the name being then common.

3. In the Greek, Latin, and some Protestant churches, a prelate, or person consecrated for the spiritual government and direction of a diocese. In Great Britain, bishops are nominated by the king, who, upon request of the dean and chapter, for leave to elect a bishop, sends a conge d’elire, or license to elect, with a letter missive, nominating the person whom he would have chosen. The election, by the chapter, must be made within twelve days, or the king has a right to appoint whom he pleases. Bishops are consecrated by an archbishop, with two assistant bishops. A bishop must be thirty years of age; and all bishops, except the bishop of Man, are peers of the realm.

By the canons of the Protestant Episcopal church in the United States, no diocese or state shall proceed to the election of a bishop, unless there are at least six officiating presbyters residing therein, who shall be qualified, according to the canons, to vote for a bishop; a majority of whom at least must concur in the election. But the conventions of two or more dioceses, or states, having together nine or more such presbyters, may join in the election of a bishop. A convention is composed of the clergy, and a lay delegation, consisting of one or more members from each parish. In every state, the bishop is to be chosen according to such rules as the convention of that state shall ordain. The mode of election, in most or all of the states, is by a concurrent vote of the clergy and laity, in convention, each body voting separately. Before a bishop can be consecrated, he must receive a testimonial of approbation from the General Convention of the church; or if that is not in session, from a majority of the standing committee in the several dioceses. The mode of consecrating bishops and ordaining priests and deacons differs not essentially from the practice in England.

BISHOP, n. A cant word for a mixture of wine, oranges, and sugar.
BISHOP, v.t. to confirm; to admit solemnly into the church.

1. Among horse-dealers, to use arts to make an old horse look like a young one, or to give a good appearance to a bad horse.

BISHOPLIKE, a. Resembling a bishop; belonging to a bishop.

BISHOPRIC, n. [bishop and ric, jurisdiction.]

1. A diocese; the district over which the jurisdiction of bishop extends. in England, are twenty-four bishoprics, besides that of Sodor and Man; in Ireland, eighteen.

2. The charge of instructing and governing in spiritual concerns; office. Acts 1:20.

BISHOPSWEED, n. [bishop and used.] A genus of plants, with the generic name Ammi.

BISHOPSWORT, n. A plant.

BISK, n. Soup or broth, made by boiling several sorts of flesh together.

BISKET, a biscuit. This orthography is adopted by many respectable writers.

BISMUTH, n. s as z. A metal of a yellowish or reddish white color, and a lamellar texture. It is somewhat harder than lead, and scarcely, of at all, malleable, being so brittle as to break easily under the hammer, and it is reducible to powder. Its internal face or fractrue exhibits large shining plates, variously disposed. It melts at 476 degrees Fahr. and may be fused in the flame of a candle. It is often found in a native state, crystallized in rhombs or octahedrons, or in the form of dendrites, or thin lamens investing the ores of other metals, particularly cobalt.

BISMUTHAL, a. Consisting of bismuth, or containing it.

BISMUTHIC, a. Pertaining to bismuth; as bismuthic acid.

BISON, n. [L. A quadruped of the bovine genus, usually but improperly called the buffalo. The proper buffalo is a distinct species, peculiar to the warmer climates of the Eastern Continent. The bison is a wild animal, with short, black, rounded horns, with a great interval between their bases. On the shoulders is a large hunch, consisting of a fleshy substance. The head and hunch are covered with a long undulated fleece, of a rust-color, divided into locks. In winter, the whole body is covered in this manner; but in summer, the hind part of the body is naked, and wrinkled. The tail is about a foot long, naked, except a tuft of hairs at the end. The fore parts of the body are very thick and strong; the hind parts are slender and weak. These animals inhabit the interior parts of North America, and some of the mountainous parts of Europe and Asia.]

Pennant alleges that the bison of America is the same species of animal as the bison and aurochs of Europe, the bonasus of Aristotle, the urus of Caesar, the bos ferus or wild ox of Strabo, the bison of Pliny, and the biston of Oppian.

Cuvier has not separated the bison of America from that of Europe, He considers their identity as doubtful. The former has the legs and tail shorter, and the hairs of its head and neck longer than in the latter.

Cuvier has not separated the bison of America from that of Europe. He considers their identity as doubtful. The former has the legs and tail shorter, and the hairs of its head and neck longer than in the latter.

BISSEXTILE, n. [L. bissextilis, leap year, from bissextus, [bis and sextus] the sixth of the calends of March, or twenty-fourth day of February, which was reckoned twice every fourth year, by the interrelation of a day.]

Leap year; every fourth year, in which a day is added to the month of February, on account of the excess of 6 hours, which the civil year contains, above 365 days. This excess is 11 minutes 3 seconds too much; that is, it exceeds the real year, or annual revolution of the earth. Hence at the end of every century, divisible by 4, it is necessary to retain the bissextile day, and to suppress it at the end of those centuries which are not divisible by 4.

BISSEXTILE, a. Pertaining to the leap year.

BISSON, a. Blind. [Not used.]

BISTER, n. Among painters, the burnt oil extracted from the soot of wood; a brown pigment. To prepare it, soot [that of beach is the best] is put into water, in the proportion of two pounds to a gallon, and boiled half an hour; after standing to settle, and while hot, the clearer part of the fluid must be poured off from the sediment, and evaporated to dryness; the remainder is bister.

BISTORT, n. [L. bistorta, bis and tortus, twisted.]

A plant, a species of polygonum, or many-knotted or angled. In popular language, it is called snake-weed.

BISTOURY, n. bis’tury. A surgical instrument for making incisions. It is either straight and fixed in a handle like a knife, or its blade turns like a lancet, or it is crooked, with the sharp edge on the inside.

BISULCOUS, a. [L. bisulcus, of bis and sulcus, a furrow.]

Cloven footed, as swine or oxen.

BISULPHURET, n. [bis and sulphuret.] In chimistry, a sulphuret, with a double proportion of sulphur.

BIT, n. The iron part of a bridle which is inserted in the mouth of a horse, and its appendages, to which the reins are fastened. It includes the bit mouth, the branches, the curb, the sevel holes, the tranchefil and cross chains. Bits are of various kinds, as the musrol, snaffle, or watering bit; the canon mouth, jointed in the middle; the canon or fast mouth, all of a piece, kneed in the middle; the scatch-mouth; the masticador, or slavering bit; etc.

BIT, v.t. To put a bridle upon a horse; to put the bit in the mouth.
BIT, pret. and pp. of bite. Seized or wounded by the teeth.
BIT, n. A small piece; a mouthful, or morsel; a bite.

1. A small piece of any substance.

3. A small coin of the West Indies, a half pistareen, about ten cents, or five pence sterling.

4. The point of an auger, or other borer; the bite.

This word is used, like jot and whit, to express the smallest degree; as, he is not a bit wiser or better.


1. The female of the canine kind, as of the dog, wolf, and fox.

2. A name of reproach for a woman.

BITE, v.t. pret. bit; pp. bit, bitten.

1. To break or crush with the teeth, as in eating; to pierce with the teeth, as a serpent; to seize with the teeth, as a dog.

2. To pinch or pain, as with cold; as a biting north wind; the frost bites.

3. To reproach with sarcasm; to treat with severity by words or writing; as, one poet praises, another bites.

4. To pierce, cut, or wound; as a biting falchion.

5. To make to smart, as acids bite the mouth.

6. To cheat; to trick.

The rogue was bit.

[Not elegant, but common.]

7. To enter the ground and hold fast, as the bill and palm of an anchor.

8. To injure by angry contention.

If ye bite and devour one another. Galatians 5:15.

BITE, n. The seizure of any thing by the teeth of an animal, as the bite of a dog; or with the mouth, as of a fish.

1. The wound made by the teeth.

2. A morsel; as much as is taken at once by biting; a mouthful.

3. A cheat; a trick; a fraud. [A low word.]

4. A sharper; one who cheats.

BITER, n. One who bites; that which bites; a fish apt to take bait.

1. One who cheats or defrauds.

BITERNATE, a. [L. bis and ternus, three.] In botany, doubly ternate, as when a petiole has three ternate leaflets.

BITING, ppr. Seizing, wounding, or crushing with the teeth; pinching, paining, causing to smart with cold; reproaching with severity, or treating sarcastically; chesting.

BITING, a. Sharp; severe; sarcastic.

BITINGLY, adv. In a sarcastic or jeering manner.

BITLESS, a. Not having a bit or bridle.

BITMOUTH, n. [bit and mouth.] The bit, or that part of a bridle which is put in a horse’s mouth.

BITTACLE, n. The box for the compasses and lights on board a ship. [See Binnacle.]

BITTEN, pp. of bite. bit’tn. Seized or wounded by the teeth; cheated.


1. Sharp, or biting to the taste; acrid; like wormwood.

2. Sharp; cruel; severe; as bitter enmity. James 3:14.

3. Sharp, as words, reproachful; sarcastic.

4. Sharp to the feeling; piercing; painful; that makes to smart; as a bitter cold day, or a bitter blast.

5. Painful to the mind; calamitous; poignant; as a bitter fate.

6. Afflicted; distressed.

The Egyptians made their lives bitter. Exodus 1:14.

7. Hurtful; very sinful.

Is is an evil and bitter thing. Jeremiah 2:19.

8. Mournful; distressing; expressive of misory; as a bitter complaint or lamentation. Job 23:2; Jeremiah 6:26; Jeremiah 31:15.

BITTER, n. A substance that is bitter. [See Bitter.]
BITTER, n. [See Bitts.] In marine language, a turn of the cable which is round the bitts.

Bitter-end, that part of a cable which is abaft the bitts, and therefore within board, when the ship rides at anchor.

BITTER-GOURD, n. [bitter and gourd.] A plant, a species of Cucumis, called Colocynthis, Colocynth, Coloquintada. The fruit is of the gourd kind, having a shell inclosing a bitter pulp, which is a very drastic purgative. It is brought from the Levant, and is the bitter apple of the shops.

BITTERISH, a. Somewhat bitter; bitter in a moderate degree.

BITTERISHNESS, n. The quality of being moderately bitter.

BITTERLY, adv. With a bitter taste.

1. In a severe manner; in a manner expressing poignant grief; as, to weep bitterly.

2. In a manner severely reproachful; sharply; severely; angrily; as, to censure bitterly.

BITTERN, n. A fowl of the grallic order, the Ardea stellaris, a native of Europe. This fowl has long legs and neck, and stalks among reeds and sedge, feeding upon fish. It makes a singular noise, called by Dryden bumping, and by Goldsmith booming.

BITTERN, n. [from bitter.] In salt works, the brine remaining after the salt is concreted. This being laded off, and the salt taken out of the pan, is returned, and being again boiled, yields more salt. It is used in the preparation of Epsom salt, the sulphate of magnesia, and of Glauber’s salt, the sulphate of soda.

BITTERNESS, n. [from bitter.] A bitter taste; or rather a quality in things which excites a biting disagreeable sensation in the tongue.

1. In a figurative sense, extreme enmity, grudge, hatred; or rather an excessive degree or implacableness of passions and emotions; as the bitterness of anger. Ephesians 4:31.

2. Sharpness; severity of temper.

3. Keenness of reproach; piquancy; biting sarcasm.

4. Keen sorrow; painful affliction; vexation; deep distress of mind.

Hannah was in bitterness of soul. 1 Samuel 1:10; Job 7:11.

In the gall of bitterness, in a state of extreme impiety or enmity to God. Acts 8:23.

Root of bitterness, a dangerous error, or schism, tending to draw persons to apostasy. Hebrews 12:15.

BITTERS, n. A liquor in which bitter herbs or roots are steeped; generally a spirituous liquor, the bitter cause of intemperance, of disease, and of premature death!

BITTER-SALT, n. Epsom salt.

BITTER-SPAR, n. Rhombspar, a mineral that crystallizes in rhomboids. It is the crystallized variety of magnesian limestone.

BITTER-SWEET, n. [bitter and sweet.] A species of Solanum, a slender climbing plant, whose root, when chewed, produces first a bitter, then a sweet taste.

BITTERVETCH, n. [bitter and vetch.] A species of Ervum, or lentil, cultivated for fodder.

1. A genus of plants, known by the generic name Orobus, remarkable for their beautiful papilionaceous flowers. The tubercles of one species are in great esteem among the Highlanders of Scotland, who chew them, when dry, to give a better relish to their liquors.

BITTER-WORT, n. [bitter and wort.] The plant called gentian, Gentiana, which has a remarkable bitter taste.

BITTOUR, BITTOR, n. The bittern.