Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



DESCENDANT, n. Any person proceeding from an ancestor in any degree; issue; offspring, in the line of generation, ad infinitum. We are all the descendants of Adam and Eve.


1. Descending; falling; sinking.

2. Proceeding from an original or ancestor.

DESCENDIBILITY, n. The quality of being descendible, or capable of being trnasmitted from ancestors; as the descendibility of an estate or of a crown.


1. That may be descended, or passed down; as, the hill is descendible.

2. That may descend from an ancestor to an heir; as a descendible estate.


1. The act of going downwards; descent; a falling or sinking; declension; degradation.

2. In astronomy, right descension is an arch of the equinoctial, intercepted between the next equinoctial point and the intersection of the meridian, passing through the center of the object, at its setting, in a right sphere.

Oblique descension, is an arch of the equinoctial, intercepted between the next equinoctial point and the horizon, passing through the center of the object, at its setting, in an oblique sphere.

Oblique descension, is an arch of the equator which descends with the sun below the horizon of an oblique sphere.

Descension of a sign, is an arch of the equator, which sets with such a sign or part of the zodiac, or any planet in it.

Right descension of a sign, is an arch of the equator, which descends with the sign below the horizon of a right sphere; or the time the sign is setting in a right sphere.

DESCENSIONAL, a. Pertaining to descent.

DESCENSIVE, a. Tending downwards; having power to descend.


1. The act of descending; the act of passing from a higher to a lower place, by any form of motion, as by walking, riding, rolling, sliding, sinking or falling.

2. Inclination downward; obliquity; slope; declivity; as the descent of a hill, or a roof.

3. Progress downward; as the descent from higher to lower orders of beings.

4. Fall from a higher to a lower state or station.

5. A landing from ships; invasion of troops from the sea; as, to make a descent on Cuba.

6. A passing from an ancestor to an heir; transmission by succession or inheritance, as the descent of an estate or a title from the father to the son. Descent is lineal, when it proceeds directly from the father to the son, and from the son to the grandson; collateral, when it proceeds from a man to his brother, nephew or other collateral representative.

7. A proceeding from an original or progenitor. The Jews boast of their descent from Abraham. Hence,

8. Birth; extraction; lineage; as a noble descent.

9. A generation; a single degree in the scale of genealogy; distance from the common ancestor.

No man is a thousand descents from Adam.

10. Offspring; issue; descendants.

The care of our descent perplexes most.

11. A rank in the scale of subordination.

12. Lowest place.

13. In music, a passing from a note or sound to one more grave or less acute.

DESCRIBABLE, a. That may be described; capable of description.

DESCRIBE, v.t. [L. To write.]

1. To delineate or mark the form or figure; as, to describe a circle by the compasses.

2. To make or exhibit a figure by motion; as, a star describes a circle or an ellipsis in the heavens.

3. To show or represent to others in words; to communicate the resemblance of a thing, by naming its nature, form or properties. The poet describes the Trojan horse. The historian describes the battle of Pharsalia. The moralist describes the effects of corrupt manners. The geographer describes countries and cities.

4. To represent by signs. A deaf and dumb man may describe a distant object. Our passions may be described by external motions.

5. To draw a plan; to represent by lines and other marks on paper, or other material; as, to describe the surface of the earth by a map or chart.

6. To define laxly.

DESCRIBED, pp. Represented in form by marks or figures; delineated; represented by words or signs.

DESCRIBER, n. One who describes by marks, words or signs.

DESCRIBING, ppr. Representing the form or figure of, by lines or marks; communicating a view of, by words or signs, or by naming the nature and properties.

DESCRIED, pp. Espied; discovered; seen.

DESCRIER, n. One who espies, or discovers; a discoverer; a detecter.


1. The act of delineating, or representing the figure of any thing by a plan, to be presented to the eye.

2. The figure or appearance of any thing delineated, or represented by visible lines, marks, colors, etc.; as the description of a country, or of Solomons temple.

3. The act of representing a thing by words or by signs, or the passage containing such representation; a representation of names, nature of properties, that gives to another a view of the thing. Homer abounds with beautiful and striking descriptions.

4. A definition. All definitions must be less perfect descriptions of a material thing, than a visible figure or delineation.

5. The qualities expressed in a representation; as, a man of this description. Hence,

6. The persons having the qualities expressed; a class of persons to whom a description is applicable, or who are in a similar condition.

The secretary proceeds to examine, whether a difference ought to be permitted to remain between them and another description of public creditors.

Persons of different descriptions.

DESCRIPTIVE, a. Containing description; tending to describe; having the quality of representing; as a descriptive figure; a descriptive narration; a story descriptive of the age.

DESCRY, v.t.

1. To espy; to explore; to examine by observation.

The house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. Judges 1:23.

2. To detect; to find out; to discover any thing concealed.

3. To see; to behold; to have a sight of from a distance; as, the seamen descried land.

4. To give notice of something suddenly discovered.

DESCRY, n. Discovery; thing descovered.

DESCRYING, ppr. Descovering; espying.

DESECRATE, v.t. [L. To consecrate, from sacred.]

1. To divert from a sacred purpose or appropriation; opposed to consecrate; as, to desecrate a donation to a church.

2. To divest of a sacred character or office.

The clergy-cannot suffer corporal punishment, without being previously desecrated.

DESECRATED, pp. Diverted from a sacred purpose or appropriation; divested of a sacred character or office.

DESECRATING, ppr. Diverting from a purpose to which a thing is consecrated; divested of a sacred character or office.

DESECRATION, n. The act of diverting from a sacred purpose or use to which a thing had been devoted; the act of diverting from a sacred character or office.

DESERT, a. s as z [L. To sow, plant or scatter.]

1. Literally, forsaken; hence, uninhabited; as a desert isle. Hence, wild; untilled; waste; uncultivated; as a desert land or country.

2. Void; emprty; unoccupied.

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.

DESERT, n. An uninhabited tract of land; a region in its natural state; a wilderness; a solitude; particularly, a vast sandy plain, as the deserts of Arabia and Africa. But the word may be applied to an uninhabited country covered with wood.
DESERT, v.t. [L. To forsake.]

1. To forsake; to leave utterly; to abandon; to quit with a view not to return to; as, to desert a friend; to desert our country; to desert a cause.

2. To leave, without permission, a military band, or a ship, in which one is enlisted; to forsake the service in which one is engaged, in violation of duty; as, to desert the army; to desert ones colors; to desert a ship.

DESERT, v.i. To run away; to quit a service without permission; as, to desert from the army.

1. A deserving; that which gives a right to reward or demands, or which renders liable to punishment; merit or demerit; that which entitles to a recompense of equal to the offense; good conferred, or evil done, which merits an equivalent return. A wise legislature will reward or punish men according to their deserts.

2. That which is deserved; reward or punishment merited. In a future life, every man will receive his desert.

DESERTED, pp. Wholly forsaken; abandoned; left.

DESERTER, n. A person who forsakes his cause, his post, or his party or friend; particularly, a soldier or seaman who quits the service without permission, and in violation of his engagement.

DESERTFUL, a. High in desert; meritorious.

DESERTING, ppr. Forsaking utterly; abandoning.


1. The act of forsaking or abandoning, as a party, a friend, a country, an army or military band, or a ship; the act of quitting, with an intention not to return.

2. The state of being forsaken by God; spiritual despondency.

The agonies of a soul under desertion.

DESERTLESS, a. Without merit or claim to favor or reward.

DESERTLESSLY, adv. Undeservedly.

DESERTRICE, DESERTRIX, n. A female who deserts.

DESERVE, v.t. [L. To serve.]

1. To merit; to be worthy of; applied to good or evil.

2. To merit by labor or services; to have a just claim to an equivalent for good conferred. The laborer deserves his wages; he deserves the value of his services.

3. To merit by good actions or qualities in general; to be worthy of, on account of excellence. The virtuous man deserves esteem and commendation. A work of value deserves praise.

4. To be worthy of, in a bad sense; to merit by an evil act; as, to deserve blame or punishment.

God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. Job 11:6.

DESERVE, v.i. To merit; to be worthy of or deserving; as, he deserves well or ill of his neighbor.

DESERVED, pp. Merited; worthy of.

DESERVEDLY, adv. Justly; according to desert, whether of good or evil. A man may be deservedly praised, blamed or punished.

DESERVER, n. He who deserves or merits; one who is worthy of; used generally in a good sense.


1. Meriting; having a just claim to reward; justly meriting punishment.

2. Worthy of reward or praise; meritorious; possessed of good qualities that entitle to approbation; as a deserving officer.

DESERVING, n. The act of meriting; desert; merit.

If ye have done to him according to the deserving of his hands. Judges 9:16.

DESERVINGLY, adv. Meritoriously; with just desert.

DESHABILLE or DESHABIL, n. An undress; a loose morning dress; hence, any home dress; as, the lady is in deshabille. [It would be well to anglicize the orthography.]

DESICCANT, a. Drying.

DESICCANT, n. A medicine or application that dries a sore.

DESICCATE, v.t. [L. To dry.] to dry; to exhaust of moisture; to exhale or remove moisture from.

DESICCATE, v.i. To become dry.

DESICCATED, pp. Dried.

DESICCATING, ppr. Drying; exhausting moisture.

DESICCATION, n. The act of making dry; the state of being dried.

DESICCATIVE, a. Drying; tending to dry; that has the power to dry.

DESIDERATE, v.t. [from the L.] To want; to miss.

DESIDERATUM, n. plu. Desiderata. [L. To desire.] That which is desired; that which is not possessed, but which is desirable; any perfection or improvement which is wanted. The longitude is a desideratum in navigation. A tribunal to settle national disputes without war is a great desideratum.

DESIGN, v.t. [L. To seal or stamp, that is, to set or throw.]

1. To delineate a form or figure by drawing the outline; to sketch; as in painting and other works of art.

2. To plan; to form an outline or representation of any thing. Hence,

3. To project; to form in idea, as a scheme. Hence,

4. To purpose or intend; as, a man designs to write an essay, or to study law.

5. To mark out by tokens.

6. To intend to apply or appropriate; with for; as, we design this ground for a garden, and that for a park. The word design may include an adapting or planning a thing for a purpose, or mere intention or scheme of the mind, which implies a plan. The father designs his son for the profession of the law, or for the ministry. It was formerly followed by to, but this use is now uncommon.


1. A plan or representation of a thing by an outline; sketch; general view; first idea represented by visible lines; as in painting or architecture.

2. A scheme or plan in the mind. A wise man is distinguished by the judiciousness of his designs.

3. Purpose; intention; aim; implying a scheme or plan in the mind. It is my design to educate my son for the bar.

4. The idea or scheme intended to be expressed by an artist; as the designs of medals.

5. In manufactories, the figures with which workmen enrich their stuffs, copied from painting or draughts.

6. In music, the invention and conduct of the subject; the disposition of every part, and the general order of the whole.


1. Capable of being designed or marked out.

2. Distinguishable.


1. To mark out or show, so as to make known; to indicate by bisible lines, marks, description or something known and determinate; as, to designate the limits of a country; the limits are designated on the map; designate the spot where a star appears in the heavens; designate the place where our ancestors first landed.

2. To point out; to distinguish from others by indication; as, to be able to designate every individual who was concerned in a riot.

3. To appoint; to select or distinguish for a particular purpose; to assign; with for, as to designate an officer for the command of a station; or with to, as this captain was designated to that station.

DESIGNATE, a. Appointed; marked out.

DESIGNATED, pp. Marked out; indicated; shown; pointed out appointed.

DESIGNATING, ppr. Marking out; indicating; pointing out; appointing.


1. The act of pointing or marking out by signs or objects; as the designation of an estate by boundaries.

2. Indication; a showing or pointing; a distinguishing from others.

3. Appointment; direction; as, a claim to a throne grounded on the designation of a predecessor.

4. Appointment; a selecting and appointing; assignment; as the designation of an officer to a particular command.

5. Import; distinct application.

Finite and infinite are primarily attributed in their first designation to things which have parts.

DESIGNATIVE, a. Serving to designate or indicate.

DESIGNATOR, n. A Roman officer who assigned to each person his rank and place in public shows and ceremonies.

DESIGNED, pp. Marked out; delineated; planned; intended.

DESIGNEDLY, adv. By design; purposely; intentionally; opposed to accidentally, ignorantly, or inadvertently.


1. One who designs, marks out or plans; one who frames a scheme or project; a contriver.

2. One who plots; one who lays a scheme; in an ill sense.

DESIGNFULNESS, n. Abundance of design.


1. Forming a design; plnning; delineating the outline; drawing figures on a plane.

2. a. In an ill sense, artful; insidious; intriguing; contriving schemes of mischief; hence, deceitful. Designing men are always liable to suspicion.

DESIGNING, n. The art of delineating objects.

DESIGNLESS, a. Without design or intention; inadvertent.

DESIGNLESSLY, adv. Without design; inadvertently; ignorantly.


1. Design; sketch; delineation.

2. Design; purpose; aim; intent; scheme.

DESINENCE, n. End; close.

DESINENT, a. Ending; extreme; lower-most.

DESIPIENT, a. [L. To dote; to be wise.] trifling; foolish; playful.


1. Worthy of desire; that is to be wished for with sincerity or earnestness. An easy address is a desirable accomplishment; real virtue is still more desirable.

2. Pleasing; agreeable.

All of them desirable young men. Ezekiel 23:12, 23.

DESIRABLENESS, n. The quality of being desirable.


1. An emotion or excitement of the mind, directed to the attainment or possession of an object from which pleasure, sensual, intellectual or spiritual, is expected; a passion excited by the love of an object, or uneasiness at the want of it, and directed to its attainment or possession. Desire is a wish to possess some gratification or source of happiness which is supposed to be obtainable. A wish may exist for something that is or is not abtainable. Desire, when directed solely to sensual enjoyment, differs little from appetite. In other languages, desire is expressed by longing or reaching toward, and when it is ardent or intense, it approaches to longing, but the word in English usually expresses less than longing.

We endeavored--to see your face with great desire. 1 Thessalonians 2:17.

Thou satisfiest the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:16.

Desire is that internal act, which, by influencing the will, makes us proceed to action.

2. A prayer or request to obtain:

He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him. Psalm 145:19.

3. The object of desire; that which is desired.

The desire of all nations shall come. Haggai 2:7.

4. Love; affection.

His desire is toward me. Song of Solomon 7:10.

5. Appetite; lust.

Fulfilling the desires of the flesh. Ephesians 2:3.

DESIRE, v.t.

1. To wish for the possession or enjoyment of, with a greater or less degree of earnestness; to covet. It expresses less strength of affection than longing.

Neither shall any man desire thy land. Exodus 34:24.

Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts. 1 Corinthians 14:1.

2. To express a wish to obtain; to ask; to request; to petition.

Then she said, did I desire a son of my Lord? 2 Kings 4:28.

3. To require.

DESIRED, pp. Wished for; coveted; requested; entreated.

DESIRELESS, a. Free from desire.

DESIRER, n. One who desires or asks; one who wishes.

DESIRING, ppr. Wishing for; coveting; asking; expressing a wish; soliciting.

DESIROUS, a. Wishing for; wishing to obtain; coveting; solicitous to possess and enjoy.

Be not desirous of his dainties. Proverbs 23:3.

Jesus knew they were desirous to ask him. John 16:19.

DESIROUSLY, adv. With desire; with earnest wishes.

DESIROUSNESS, n. The state or affection of being desirous.

DESIST, v.i. [L. To stand.] To stop; to cease to act or proceed; to forbear; with from; as, he desisted from his purpose; let us desist.

DESISTANCE, n. A ceasing to act or proceed; a stopping.

DESISTING, ppr. Ceasing to act or proceed.

DESITIVE, a. Final; conclusive.

DESK, n.

1. An inclining table for the use of writers and readers; usually made with a box or drawer underneath, and sometimes with a book-case above.

2. The pulpit in a church, and figuratively the clerical profession. The man appears well in the desk. He intends one son for the bar, and another for the desk.

DESK, v.t. To shut up in a desk; to treasure.

DESMINE, n. A mineral that crystalizes in little silken tufts, which accompany spinellane in the lava of extinct volcanoes on the banks of the Rhine.


1. Destitute or deprived of inhabitants; desert; uninhabited; denoting either stripped of inhabitants, or never having been inhabitated; as a desolate isle; a desolate wilderness.

I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant. Jeremiah 9:11.

2. Laid waste; in a ruinous condition; neglected; destroyed; as desolate altars; desolate towers. Ezek. Zeph.

3. Solitary; without a companion; afflicted.

Tamar remained desolate in Absaloms house. 2 Samuel 13:20.

4. Deserted of God; deprived of comfort.

My heart within me is desolate. Psalm 143:4.

DESOLATE, v.t. [L. To lay waste, alone.]

1. To deprive of inhabitants; to make desert. The earth was nearly desolated by the flood.

2. To lay waste; to ruin; to ravage; to destroy improvements or works of art. An inundation desolates fields. Whole countries have been desolated by armies.

DESOLATED, pp. Deprived of inhabitants; wasted; ruined.

DESOLATELY, adv. In a desolate manner.

DESOLATER, n. One who lays waste or desolates; that which desolates.

DESOLATING, ppr. Depriving of inhabitants; wasting; ravaging.


1. The act of desolating destruction or expulsion of inhabitants; destruction; ruin; waste.

Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. Matthew 12:25.

2. A place deprived of inhabitants, or otherwise wasted, ravaged and ruined.

How is Babylon become a desolation among the nations. Jeremiah 50:23.

3. A desolate state; gloominess; sadness; destitution.

The abomination of desolation, Roman armies which ravaged and destroyed Jerusalem. Matthew 24:15.

DESOLATORY, a. Causing desolation.


1. Hopelessness; a hopeless state; a destitution of hope or expectation.

We are perplexed, but not in despair. 2 Corinthians 4:8.

All safety in despair of safety placed.

2. That which causes despair; that of which there is no hope.

The mere despair of surgery, he cures.

3. Loss of hope in the mercy of God.

DESPAIR, v.i. [L. To hope.] To be without hope; to hive up all hope or expectation; followed by of.

We despaired even of life. 2 Corinthians 1:8.

Never despair of Gods blessings here, or of his reward hereafter.

DESPAIRER, n. One without hope.

DESPAIRFUL, a. Hopeless.

DESPAIRING, ppr. Giving up all hope or expectation.

DESPAIRINGLY, adv. In a despairing manner; in a manner indicating hopelessness; as, he speaks despairingly of the sick man’s recovery.

DESPATCH, [See Dispatch.]

DESPECTION, n. A looking down; a despising.

DESPERADO, n. A desperate fellow; a furious man; a madman; a person urged by furious passions; one fearless, or regardless of safety.

DESPERATE, a. [L. To despair.]

1. Without hope.

I am desperate of obtaining her.

2. Without care of safety; rash; fearless of danger; as a desperate man. Hence,

3. Furious, as a man in despair.

4. Hopeless; despaired of; lost beyond hope of recovery; irretrievable; irrecoverable; forlorn. We speak of a desperate case of disease, desperate fortunes, a desperate situation or condition.

5. In a popular sense, great in the extreme; as a desperate sot or fool.


1. In a desperate manner; as in despair; hence, furiously; with rage; madly; without regard to danger or safety; as, the troops fought desperately.

2. In a popular sense, greatly; extremely; violently.

She fell desperately in love with him.

DESPERATENESS, n. Madness; fury; rash precipitance.


1. A despairing; a giving up of hope; as desperation of success.

2. Hopelessness; despair; as, the men were in a state of desperation. Hence,

3. Fury; rage; disregard of safety or danger; as, the men fought with desperation; they were urged to desperation.