Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



DESPICABLE, a. [Low L. To look down, to despise; to look.] That may be or deserves to be despised; contemptible; mean; vile; worthless; applicable equally to persons and things; as a despicable man; despicable company; a despicable gift.

DESPICABLENESS, n. The quality or state of being despicable; meanness; vileness; worthlessness.

DESPICABLY, adv. Meanly; vilely; contemptibly; as despicably poor.

DESPICIENCY, n. A looking down; a despising.

DESPISABLE, a. Despicable; contemptible.

DESPISAL, n. Contempt.

DESPISE, .v.t.

1. To contemn; to scorn; to disdain; to have the lowest opinion of.

Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7.

Else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Matthew 6:24.

2. To abhor.

DESPISED, pp. Contemned; disdained; abhorred.

DESPISEDNESS, n. The state of being despised.

DESPISER, n. A contemner; a scorner.

DESPISING, ppr. Contemning; scorning; disdaining.

DESPISING, n. Contempt.

DESPISINGLY, adv. With contempt.


1. Extreme malice; violent hatred; malignity; malice irritated or enraged; active malignity; angry hatred.

With all thy despite against the land of israel. Ezekiel 25:6.

2. Defiance with contempt, or contempt of opposition.

He will rise to fame in despite of his enemies.

3. An act of malice or contempt; as a despite to the Most High.

DESPITE, v.t. To vex; to offend; to tease.

DESPITEFUL, a. Full of spite; malicious; malignant; as a despiteful enemy.

Hater of God, despiteful, proud, boasters. Romans 1:30.

DESPITEFULLY, adv. With despite; maliciously; contemptuously.

Pray for them that despitefully use you. Matthew 5:44.

DESPITEFULNESS, n. Malice; extreme hatred; malignity.

DESPITEOUS, a. Malicious.

DESPITEOUSLY, adv. Furiously.

DESPOIL, v.t. [L. To spoil.]

1. To strip; to take from by force; to rob; to deprive; followed by of; as, to despoil one of arms; to despoil of honors; to despoil of innocence.

2. To strip or divest by any means.

DESPOILED, pp. Stripped; robbed; bereaved; deprived.

DESPOILER, n. One who strips by force; a plunderer.

DESPOILING, ppr. Depriving; stripping; robbing.

DESPOLIATION, n. The act of despoiling; a stripping.

DESPOND, v.i. [L. To promise; literally, to throw to or forward.]

1. To be cast down; to be depressed or dejected in mind; to fail in spirits.

I should despair, or at least despond.

2. To lose all courage, spirit or resolution; to sink by loss of hope.

Others depress their own mind, and despond at the first difficulty.

Note. The distinction between despair and despond is well marked in the foregoing passage from Scott. But although despair implies a total loss of hope, which despond does not, at least in every case, yet despondency is followed by the abandonment of effort, or cessation of action, and despair sometimes impelss to violent action, even to rage.

DESPONDENCY, n. A sinking or dejection of spirits at the loss of hope; loss of courage at the failure of hope, or in deep affliction, or at the prospect of insurmountable difficulties.

DESPONDENT, a. Losing courage at the loss of hope; sinking into dejection; depressed and inactive in despair.

DESPONDER, n. One destitute of hope.

DESPONDING, ppr. Losing courage to act, in consequence of loss of hope, or of deep calamity, or of difficulties deemed insurmountable; sinking into dejection; despairing, with depression of spirits; despairingly.

DESPONDINGLY, adv. In a desponding manner; with dejection of spirits; despairingly.

DESPONSATE, v.t. To betroth.

DESPONSATION, n. A betrothing.

DESPOT, n. An emperor, king or price invested with absolute power, or ruling without any control from men, constitution or laws. Hence in a general sense, a tyrant.


1. Absolute in power; independent of control from men, constitution or laws; arbitrary in the exercise of power; as a despotic prince.

2. Unlimited or unrestrained by constitution, laws or men; absolute; arbitrary; as despotic authority or power.

3. Tyrannical.

DESPOTICALLY, adv. With unlimited power; arbitrarily; in a despotic manner.

DESPOTICALNESS, n. Absolute or arbitrary authority.


1. Absolute power; authority unlimited and uncontrolled by men, constitution or laws, and depending alone on the will of the prince; as the despotism of a Turkish sultan.

2. An arbitrary government, as that of Turkey and Persia.

DESPUMATE, v.i. [L. Froth or scum.] To foam; to froth; to form froth or scum.

DESPUMATION, n. The act of throwing off excrementitious matter and forming a froth or scum on the surface of liquor; clarification; scumming.

DESQUAMATION, n. [L. A scale.] A scaling or exfoliation of bone; the separation of the cuticle in small scales.

DESS, for desk.

DESSERT, n. A service of fruits and sweetmeats, at the close of an entertainment; the last course at the table, after the meat is removed.

DESTINATE, v.t. To design or appoint.

DESTINATE, a. Appointed; destined; determined.


1. The act of destining, or appointing.

2. The purpose for which any thing is intended or appointed; end or ultimate design. Every animal is fitted for its destination.

3. The place to which a thing is appointed, as the ship left her destination; but it is more usual to say, the place of her destination.

DESTINE, v.t. [L.]

1. To set, ordain or appoint to a use, purpose, state or place. We destine a son to the ministerial office; a house for a place of worship; a ship for the London trade or to Lisbon; and we are all destined to a future state of happiness or misery.

2. To fix unalterable, as by a divine decree; as the destined hour of death.

3. To doom; to devote; to appoint unalterably.

DESTINED, pp. Ordained; appointed by previous determination; devoted; fixed unalterably.

DESTINING, ppr. Ordaining; appointing.


1. State or condition appointed or predetermined; ultimate fate; as, men are solicitous to know their future destiny, which is however happily concealed from them.

2. Invincible necessity; fate; a necessity or fixed order of things established by a divine decree, or by an indissoluble connection of causes and effects.

But who can turn the stream of destiny?

Destinies, the fates, or supposed powers which preside over himan life, spin it out, and determine it; called by the Latins, parcae.

DESTITUTE, a. [L. To set. Literally, set from or away.]

1. Not having or possessing; wanting; as destitute of virtue, or of peity; destitute of food and clothing. It differs from deprived, as it does not necessarily imply previous possession.

2. Needy; abject; comfortless; friendless.

He will regard the prayer of the destitute. Psalm 102:17.

DESTITUTE, n. One who is without friends or comfort.

1. To forsake.

2. To deprive.

DESTITUTION, n. Want; absence of a thing; a state in which something is wanted or not possessed; poverty.

DESTROY, v.t. [L. To pile, to build.]

1. To demolish; to pull down; to separate the parts of an edifice, the union of which is necessary to constitute the thing; as, to destroy a house or temple; to destroy a fortification.

2. To ruin; to annihilate a thing by demolishing or by burning; as, to destroy a city.

3. To ruin; to bring to naught; to annihilate; as, to destroy a theory or scheme; to destroy a government; to destroy influence.

4. To lay waste; to make desolate.

Go up against this land, and destroy it. Isaiah 36:10.

5. To kill; to slay; to extirpate; applied to men or other animals.

Ye shall destroy all this people. Numbers 32:15.

All the wicked will he destroy. Psalm 145:20.

6. To take away; to cause to cease; to put an end to; as, pain destroys happiness.

That the body of sin might be destroyed. Romans 6:6.

7. To kill; to eat; to devour; to consume. Birds destroy insects. Hawks destroy chickens.

8. In general, to put an end to; to annihilate a thing or the form in which it exists. An army is destroyed by slaughter, capture or dispersion; a forest, by the ax, or by fire; towns, by fire or inundation, etc.

9. In chimistry, to resolve a body into its parts or elements.

DESTROYABLE, a. That may be destroyed.

Plants scarcely destroyable by the weather.

DESTROYED, pp. Demolished; pulled down; ruined; annihilated; devoured; swept away; etc.

DESTROYER, n. One who destroys, or lays waste; one who kills a man, or an animal, or who ruins a country, cities, etc.

DESTROYING, ppr. Demolishing; laying waste; killing; annihilating; putting an end to.

DESTROYING, n. Destruction.

DESTRUCT, for destroy, is not used.

DESTRUCTIBILITY, n. The quality of being capable of destruction.

DESTRUCTIBLE, a. [L.] Liable to destruction; capable of being destroyed.


1. The act of destroying; demolition; a pulling down; subversion; ruin, by whatever means; as the destruction of buildings, or of towns. Destruction consists in the annihilation of the form of any theing; that form of parts which constitues it what it is; as the destruction of grass or herbage by eating; of a forest, by cutting down the trees; or it denotes a total annihilation; as the destruction of a particular government; the destruction of happiness.

2. Death; murder; slaughter; massacre.

There was a deadly destruction throughout all the city. 1 Samuel 5:11.

3. Ruin.

Destruction and misery are in their ways. Romans 3:16.

4. Eternal death.

Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction. Matthew 7:13.

5. Cause of destruction; a consuming plague; a destroyer.

The destruction that wasteth at noon-day. Psalm 91:6.

DESTRUCTIVE, a. Causing destruction; having the quality of destroying; ruinous; mischievous; pernicious; with of or to; as a destructive fire or famine. Intemperance is destructive of health; evil examples are destructive to the morals of youth.

DESTRUCTIVELY, adv. With destruction; ruinously; mischievously; with power to destroy; as destructively lewd or intemperate.

DESTRUCTIVENESS, n. The quality of destroying or ruining.

DESTRUCTOR, n. A destroyer; a consumer. [Not used.]

DESUDATION, n. [L., to sweat.] A sweating; a profuse or morbid sweating, succeeded by an eruption of pustles, called heat-pimples.

DESUETUDE, n. [L.] The cessation of use; disuse; discontinuance of practice, custom or fashion. Habit is contracted by practice, and lost by desuetude. Words in every language are lost by desuetude.

DESULPHURATE, v.t. To deprive of sulphur.

DESULPHURATED, pp. Deprived of sulphur.

DESULPHURATING, ppr. Depriving of sulphur.

DESULPHURATION, n. The act or operation of depriving of sulphur.

DESULTORILY, adv. [See Desultory.] In a desultory manner; without method; loosely.

DESULTORINESS, n. A desultory manner; unconnectedness; a passing from one thing to another without order or method.

DESULTORY, a. [L., to leap.]

1. Leaping; passing from one thing or subject to another, without order or natural connection; unconnected; immethodical; as a desultory conversation.

2. Coming suddenly; started at the moment; not proceeding from natural order or connection with what precedes; as a desultory thought.

DESUME, v.t. [L.] To take from; to borrow. [Not in use.]

DETACH, v.t. [See Attach.]

1. To separate or disunite; to disengage; to part from; as, to detach the coats of a bulbous root from each other; to detach a man from the interest of the minister, or from a party.

2. To separate men from their companies or regiments; to draw from companies or regiments, as a party of men, and send them on a particular service.

3. To select ships from a fleet and send them on a separate service.


1. Separated; parted from; disunited; drawn and sent on a separate service.

2. a. Separate; as detached parcels or portions.

DETACHING, ppr. Separating; parting from; drawing and sending on a separate employment.


1. The act of detaching.

2. A body of troops, selected or taken from the main army, and employed on some special service or expedition.

3. A number of ships, taken from a fleet, and sent on a separate service.

DETAIL, v.t.

1. To relate, report or narrate in particulars; to recite the particulars of; to particularize; to relate minutely and distinctly; as, he detailed all the facts in due order.

2. To select, as an officer or soldier from a division, brigade, regiment or battalion.


1. A narration or report of particulars; a minute and particular account. He related the story in detail. He gave a detail of all the transactions.

2. A selecting of officer or soldiers from the rosters.

DETAILED, pp. Related in particulars; minutely recited; selected.

DETAILER, n. One who details.


1. Relating minutely; telling the particulars.

2. Selecting from the rosters.

DETAIN, v.t. [L., to hold. See Tenant.]

1. To keep back or from; to withhold; to keep what belongs to another. Detain not the wages of the hireling.

2. To keep or restrain from proceeding, either going or coming; to stay or stop. We were detained by the rain.

Let us detain thee, till we have made ready a kid. Judges 13:15.

3. To hold in custody.

DETAINDER, n. A writ. [See Detinue.]

DETAINED, pp. Withheld; kept back; prevented from going or coming; held; restrained.


1. One who withholds what belongs to another; one who detains, stops or prevents from going.

2. In law, a holding or keeping possession of what belongs to another; detention of what is anothers, though the original taking may be lawful.

DETAINING, ppr. Withholding what belongs to another; holding back; restraining from going or coming; holding in custody.

DETAINMENT, n. The act of detaining; detention.

DETECT, v.t. [L., to cover.] Literally, to uncover; hence, to discover; to find out; to bring to light; as, to detect the ramifications and inosculations of the fine vessels. But this word is especially applied to the discovery of secret crimes and artifices. We detect a thief, or the crime of stealing. We detect the artifices of the man, or the man himself. We detect what is concealed, especially what is concealed by design.

DETECTED, pp. Discovered; found out; laid open; brought to light.

DETECTER, n. A discoverer; one who finds out what another attempts to conceal.

DETECTING, ppr. Discovering; finding out.

DETECTION, n. The act of detecting; discovery of a person or thing attempted to be concealed; as the detection of a thief or burglarian; the detection of fraud or forgery; the detection of artifice, device or a plot.

2. Discovery of any thing before hidden, or unknown.

The sea and rivers are instrumental to the detection of amber and other fossils, by washing away the earth that concealed them.

DETENEBRATE, v.t. [L.] To remove darkness. [Not in use.]

DETENT, n. [L.] A stop in a clock, which by being lifted up or let down, locks and unlocks the clock in striking.

DETENTION, n. [See Detain.]

1. The act of detaining; a withholding from another his right; a keeping what belongs to another, and ought to be restored.

2. Confinement; restraint; as detention in custody.

3. Delay from necessity; a detaining; as the detention of the mail by bad roads.

DETER, v.t. [L., to frighten.]

1. To discourage and stop by fear; to stop or prevent from acting or proceeding, by danger, difficulty or other consideration which disheartens, or countervails the motive for an act. We are often deterred from out duty by trivial difficulties. The state of the road or a cloudy sky may deter a man from undertaking a journey.

A million of frustrated hopes will not deter us from new experiments.

2. To prevent by prohibition or danger.

DETERGE, v.t. deterj. [L., to wipe or scour.] To cleanse; to purge away foul or offending matter, from the body, or from an ulcer.

DETERGED, pp. Cleansed; purged.

DETERGENT, a. Cleansing; purging.

DETERGENT, n. A medicine that has the power of cleansing the vessels or skin from offending matter.

DETERGING, ppr. Cleansing; carrying off obstructions or foul matter.

DETERIORATE, v.i. [L.] To grow worse; to be impaired in quality to degenerate; opposed to meliorate.

DETERIORATE, v.t. To make worse; to reduce in quality; as, to deteriorate a race of men of their condition.

DETERIORATED, pp. Made worse; impaired in quality.