Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



DIFFER, v.i. [L., to bear or move apart. See Bear.]

1. Literally, to be separate. Hence, to be unlike, dissimilar, distinct or various, in nature, condition, form or qualities; followed by from. Men differ from brutes; a statue differs from a picture; wisdom differs from folly.

One star differeth from another star in glory. 1 Corinthians 15:41.

2. To disagree; not to accord; to be of a contrary opinion. We are all free to differ in opinion, and sometimes our sentiments differ less than we at first suppose.

3. To contend; to be at variance; to strive or debate in words; to dispute; to quarrel.

Well never differ with a crowded pit.

DIFFER, v.t. To cause to be different or various. A different dialect and pronunciation differs persons of divers countries. [This transitive use of the verb is not common, nor to be commended.]


1. The state of being unlike or distinct; distinction; disagreement; want of sameness; variation; dissimilarity. Difference may be total or partial, and exist in the nature and essence of things, in the form, the qualities or degrees. There is a difference in nature between animals and plants; a difference in form between the genera and species of animals; a difference of quality in paper; and a difference in degrees of heat, or of light.

2. The quality which distinguishes one thing from another.

3. Dispute; debate; contention; quarrel; controversy.

What was the difference? It was a contention in public.

4. The point in dispute; ground of controversy.

5. A logical distinction.

6. Evidences or marks of distinction.

The marks and differences of sovereignty.

7. Distinction.

There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek. Romans 10:12.

8. In mathematics, the remainder of a sum or quantity, after a lesser sum or quantity is subtracted.

9. In logic, an essential attribute, belonging to some species, and not found in the genus; being the idea that defines the species.

10. In heraldry, a certain figure added to a coat of arms, serving to distinguish one family from another, or to show how distant a younger branch is from the elder or principal branch.

DIFFERENCE, v.t. To cause a difference or distinction. A regular administration of justice according to fixed laws differences a civilized from a savage state.


1. Distinct; separate; not the same; as, we belong to different churches or nations.

2. Various or contrary; of various or contrary natures, forms or qualities; unlike; dissimilar; as different kinds of food or drink; different states of health; different shapes; different degrees of excellence.

DIFFERENTIAL, a. An epithet applied to an infinitely small quantity, so small as to be less than any assignable quantity. This is called a differential quantity. The differential method is applied to the doctrine of infinitesimals, or infinitely small quantities, called the arithmetic of fluxions. It consists in descending from whole quantities to their infinitely small differences, and comparing them. Hence it is called the differential calculus, or analysis of infinitesimals.

DIFFERENTLY, adv. In a different manner; variously. Men are differently affected with the same eloquence.

DIFFERING, ppr. Being unlike or distinct; disagreeing; contending.

DIFFICILE, a. [L.] Difficult; hard; scrupulous. [Not used.]

DIFFICILENESS, n. Difficulty to be persuaded. [Not used.]

DIFFICULT, a. [L., easy to be made or done; to make or do.]

1. Hard to be made, done or performed; not easy; attended with labor and pains; as, our task is difficult. It is difficult to persuade men to abandon vice. It is difficult to ascend a steep hill, or travel a bad road.

2. Hard to be pleased; not easily wrought upon; not readily yielding; not compliant; unaccommodating; rigid; austere; not easily managed or persuaded; as a difficult man; a person of a difficult temper.

3. Hard to be ascended as a hill, traveled as a road, or crossed as a river, etc. We say, a difficult ascent; a difficult road; a difficult river to cross; etc.


1. Hardness to be done or accomplished; the state of any thing which renders its performance laborious or perplexing; opposed to easiness or facility; as the difficulty of a task or enterprise; a work of labor and difficulty.

2. That which is hard to be performed or surmounted. We often mistake difficulties for impossibilities. To overcome difficulties is an evidence of a great mind.

3. Perplexity; embarrassment of affairs; trouble; whatever renders progress or execution of designs laborious. We lie under many difficulties, by reason of bad markets, or a low state of trade.

4. Objection; obstacle to belief; that which cannot be easily understood, explained or believed, Men often raise difficulties concerning miracles and mysteries in religion, which candid research will remove.

5. In a popular sense, bodily complaints; indisposition.

DIFFIDE, v.i. [L., to trust.] To distrust; to have no confidence in. [Little used.]

DIFFIDENCE, n. [L., to trust. See Faith.]

1. Distrust; want of confidence; any doubt of the power, ability or disposition of others. It is said there was a general diffidence of the strength and resources of the nation, and of the sincerity of the king.

2. More generally, distrust of ones self; want of confidence in our own power, competency, correctness or wisdom; a doubt respecting some personal qualification. We speak or write with diffidence, when we doubt our ability to speak or write correctly or to the satisfaction of others. The effect of diffidence is some degree of reserve, modesty, timidity or bashfulness. Hence,

3. Modest reserve; a moderate degree of timidity or bashfulness; as, he addressed the audience or the prince with diffidence.


1. Distrustful; wanting confidence; doubting of anothers power, disposition, sincerity or intention.

Be not diffident of wisdom.

Be diffident in dealing with strangers.

2. Distrustful of ones self; not confident; doubtful of ones own power or competency.

Distress makes the humble heart diffident.

3. Reserved; modest; timid; as a diffident youth.

DIFFIDENTLY, adv. With distrust; in a distrusting manner; modestly.

DIFFLUENCE, DIFFLUENCY, n. [L.] A flowing or falling away on all sides.

DIFFLUENT, a. Flowing away on all sides; not fixed.

DIFFORM, a. [L.]

1. Irregular in form; not uniform; anomalous; as a difform flower or corol, the parts of which do not correspond in size or proportion; so difform leaves.

2. Unlike; dissimilar.

The unequal refractions of difform rays.

DIFFORMITY, n. Irregularity of form; want of uniformity.

DIFFRANCHISE, DIFFRANCHISEMENT, [See Disfranchise, which is the word in use.]

DIFFUSE, v.t. diffuze. [L., to pour, to spread.]

1. To pour out and spread, as a fluid; to cause to flow and spread.

The river rose and diffused its waters over the adjacent plain.

2. To spread; to send out or extend in all directions; to disperse. Flowers diffuse their odors. The fame of Washington is diffused over Europe. The knowledge of the true God will be diffused over the earth.


1. Widely spread; dispersed.

2. Copious; prolix; using many words; giving full descriptions; as, Livy is a diffuse writer.

3. Copious; verbose; containing full or particular accounts; concise; as a diffuse style.

DIFFUSED, pp. Diffuzed.

1. Spread; dispersed.

2. Loose; flowing; wild.

DIFFUSEDLY, adv. Diffuzedly. In a diffused manner; with wide dispersion.

DIFFUSEDNESS, n. Diffuzedness. The state of being widely spread.


1. Widely; extensively.

2. Copiously; with many words; fully.

DIFFUSIBILITY, n. Diffuzibility. The quality of being diffusible, or capable of being spread; as the diffusibility of clay in water.

DIFFUSIBLE, a. Diffuzible. That may flow or be spread in all directions; that may be dispersed; as diffusible stimuli.

DIFFUSIBLENESS, n. s as z. Diffusibility.

DIFFUSION, n. s as z.

1. A spreading or flowing of a liquid substance or fluid, in a lateral as well as a lineal direction; as the diffusion of water; the diffusion of air or light.

2. A spreading or scattering; dispersion; as a diffusion of dust or of seeds.

3. A spreading; extension; propagation; as the diffusion of knowledge, or of good principles.

4. Copiousness; exuberance, as of style. [Little used.]

DIFFUSIVE, a. Having the quality of diffusing, or spreading by flowing, as liquid substances or fluids; or of dispersing, as minute particles. Water, air and light; dust, smoke and odors, are diffusive substances.

2. Extended; spread widely; extending in all directions; extensive; as diffusive charity or benevolence.

DIFFUSIVELY, adv. Widely; extensively; every way.


1. The power of diffusing, or state of being diffused; dispersion.

2. Extension, or extensiveness; as the diffusiveness of benevolence.

3. The quality or state of being diffuse, as an author or his style; verboseness; copisousness of words or expression.

DIG, v.t. pret. Digger or dug; pp. Digged or dug. [G.]

1. To open and break or turn up the earth with a spade or other sharp instrument.

Be first to dig the ground.

2. To excavate; to form an opening in the earth by digging and removing the loose earth; as, to dig a well, a pit or a mine.

3. To pierce or open with a snout or by other means, as swine or moles.

4. To pierce with a pointed instrument; to thrust in.

Still for the growing liver digged his breast.

To dig down, is to undermine and cause to fall by digging; as, to dig down a wall.

To dig out, or to dig from, is to obtain by digging; as, to dig coals from a mine; to dig out fossils. But the preposition is often omitted, and it is said, the men are digging coals, or digging iron ore. In such phrases, some word is understood; They are digging out ore, or digging for coals, or digging ore from the earth.

To dig up, is to obtain something from the earth by opening it, or uncovering the thing with a spade or other instrument, or to force out from the earth by a bar; as, to dig up a stone.

DIG, v.i.

1. To work with a spade or other piercing instrument; to do servile work.

I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. Luke 16:3.

2. To work in search of; to search.

They dig for it, more than for hid treasures. Job 3:21.

To dig in, is to pierce with a spade or other pointed instrument.

Son of man, dig now in the wall. Ezekiel 8:8.

To dig through, to open a passage through; to make an opening from one side to the other.

DIGAMMA, n. [Gr., double gamma.] The name of F, most absurdly given to that letter, when first invented or used by the Eolians, on account of its figure. A letter should be named from its sound, and not from its shape. The letter is ef.

DIGAMY, n. Second marriage. [Not in use.]

DIGASTRIC, a. [Gr., belly.] Having a double belly; an epithet given to a muscle of the lower jaw.

DIGERENT, a. [L.] Digesting. [Not in use.]

DIGEST, n. [L., put in order.]

1. A collection or body of Roman laws, digested or arranged under proper titles by order of the Emperor Justinian. A pandect.

2. Any collection, compilation, abridgment or summary of laws, disposed under proper heads or titles; as the digest of Comyns.

DIGEST, v.t. [L., to distribute, or to dissolve; to bear, carry, or wear.]

1. To distribute into suitable classes, or under proper heads or titles; to arrange in convenient order; to dispose in due method; as, to digest the Roman laws or the common law.

2. To arrange methodically in the mind; to form with due arrangement of parts; as, to digest a plan or scheme.

3. To separate or dissolve in the stomach, as food; to reduce to minute parts fit to enter the lacteals and circulate; to concoct; to covert into chyme.

4. In chemistry, to soften and prepare by heat; to expose to a gentle heat in a boiler or matrass, as a preparation for chemical operations.

5. To bear with patience; to brook; to receive without resentment; not to reject; as, say what you will, he will digest it.

6. To prepare in the mind; to dispose in a manner that shall improve the understanding and heart; to prepare for nourishing practical duties; as, to digest a discourse or sermon.

7. To dispose an ulcer or wound to suppurate.

8. To dissolve and prepare for manure, as plants and other substances.

DIGEST, v.i.

1. To be prepared by heat.

2. To suppurate; to generate laudable pus; as an ulcer or wound.

3. To dissolve and be prepared for manure, as substances in compost.

DIGESTED, pp. Reduced to method; arranged in due order; concocted or prepared in the stomach or by a gentle heat; received without rejection; borne; disposed for use.


1. He that digests or disposes in order.

2. One who digests his food.

3. A medicine or article of food that aids digestion, or strengthens the digestive power of the stomach.

4. A strong vessel contrived by Papin, in which to boil bony substances with a strong heat, and reduce them to a fluid state, or in general, to increase the solvent power of water.

DIGESTIBILITY, n. The quality of being digestible.

DIGESTIBLE, a. Capable of being digested.

DIGESTING, ppr. Arranging in due order, or under proper heads; dissolving and preparing for circulation in the stomach; softening and preparing by heat; disposing for practice; disposing to generate pus; brooking; reducing by heat to a fluid state.


1. The conversion of food into chyme, or the process of dissolving aliment in the stomach and preparing it for circulation and nourishment. A good digestion is essential to health.

2. In chemistry, the operation of exposing bodies to a gentle heat, to prepare them for some action on each other; or the slow action of a solvent on any substance.

3. The act of methodizing and reducing to order; the maturation of a design.

4. The process of maturing an ulcer or wound, and disposing it to generate pus; or the generation of matter.

5. The process of dissolution and preparation of substances for manure, as in compost.


1. Having the power to cause digestion in the stomach; as a digestive preparation or medicine.

2. Capable of softening and preparing by heat.

3. Methodizing; reducing to order; as digestive thought.

4. Causing maturation in wounds or ulcers.

5. Dissolving.


1. In medicine, any preparation or medicine which increases the tone of the stomach, and aids digestion; a stomachic; a corroborant.

2. In surgery, an application which ripens an ulcer or wound, or disposes it to suppurate.

Digestive salt, the muriate of potash.

DIGESTURE, n. Concoction; digestion. [Little used.]

DIGGED, pret. and pp. of dig.

DIGGER, n. One who digs; one who opens, throws up and breaks the earth; one who opens a well, pit, trench or ditch.

DIGHT, v.t. dite. [L.] To prepare; to put in order; hence, to dress, or put on; to array; to adorn. [Obsolete, or used only in poetry.]

DIGIT, n. [L., a finger, that is, a shoot; Gr.]

1. The measure of a fingers breadth, or three fourths of an inch.

2. The twelfth part of the diameter of the sun or moon; a term used to express the quantity of an eclipse; as, an eclipse of six digits is one which hides one half of the disk.

3. In arithmetic, any integer under 10; so called from counting on the fingers. Thus 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, are called digits.

DIGITAL, a. [L.] Pertaining to the fingers, or to digits.

DIGITATE, DIGITATED, a. In botany, a digitate leaf is one which branches into several distinct leaflets like fingers; or when a simple, undivided petiole connects several leaflets at the end of it.

DIGLADIATE, v.t. [L.] To fence; to quarrel. [Little used.]

DIGLADIATION, n. A combat with swords; a quarrel.

DIGNIFICATION, n. [See Dignify.] The act of dignifying; exaltation; promotion.

DIGNIFIED, pp. [See Dignify.]

1. Exalted; honored; invested with dignity; as the dignified clergy.

2. a. Marked with dignity; noble; as dignified conduct, or manner.

To the great astonishment of the Jews, the manners of Jesus are familiar, yet dignified.

DIGNIFY, v.t. [L., worthy; to make.]

1. To invest with honor or dignity; to exalt in rank; to promote; to elevate to a high office.

2. To honor; to make illustrious; to distinguish by some excellence, or that which gives celebrity.

Your worth will dignify our feast.

DIGNITARY, n. An ecclesiastic who holds a dignity, or a benefice which gives him some pre-eminence over mere priests and canons, as a bishop, dean, archdeacon, prebendary, etc.

DIGNITY, n. [L., worthy.]

1. True honor; nobleness or elevation of mind, consisting in a high sense of propriety, truth and justice, with an abhorrence of mean and sinful actions; opposed to meanness. In this sense, we speak of the dignity of mind, and dignity of sentiments. This dignity is based on moral rectitude; all vice is incompatible with true dignity of mind. The man who deliberately injures another, whether male or female, has no true dignity of soul.

2. Elevation; honorable place or rank of elevation; degree of excellence, either in estimation, or in the order of nature. Man is superior in dignity to brutes.

3. Elevation of aspect; grandeur of mein; as a man of native dignity.

4. Elevation of deportment; as dignity of manners or behavior.

5. An elevated office, civil or ecclesiastical, giving a high rank in society; advancement; preferment, or the rank attached to it. We say, a man enjoys his dignity with moderation, or without haughtiness. Among ecclesiastics, dignity is office or preferment joined with power or jurisdiction.

6. The rank or title of a nobleman.

7. In oratory, one of the three parts of elocution, consisting in the right use of tropes and figures.

8. In astrology, an advantage which a planet has on account of its being in some particular place of the zodiac, or in a particular station in respect to other planets.

9. A general maxim, or principle. [Not used.]

DIGNOTION, n. [L.] Distinguishing mark; distinction. [Not in use.]

DIGONOUS, a. [Gr., an angle.] In botany, having two angles, as a stem.

DIGRAPH, n. [Gr., to write.] A union of two vowels, of which one only is pronounced, as in head, breath.

DIGRESS, v.i. [L., to step. See Grade.]

1. Literally, to step or go from the way or road; hence, to depart or wander from the main subject, design or tenor of a discourse, argument or narration; used only of speaking or writing.

In the pursuit of an argument there is hardly room to digress into a particular definition, as often as a man varies the signification of any term.

2. To go out of the right way or common track; to deviate; in a literal sense. [Not now in use.]

DIGRESSING, ppr. Departing from the main subject.


1. The act of digressing; a departure from the main subject under consideration; an excursion of speech or writing.

2. The part or passage of a discourse, argument or narration, which deviates from the main subject, tenor or design, but which may have some relation to it, or be of use to it.

3. Diviation from a regular course; as, the digression of the sun is not equal. [Little used.]

DIGRESSIONAL, a. Pertaining to or consisting in digression; departing from the main purpose or subject.

DIGRESSIVE, a. Departing from the main subject; partaking of the nature of digression.

DIGRESSIVELY, adv. By way of digression.

DIGYN, n. [Gr., two; a female.] In botany, a plant having two pistils.

DIGYNIAN, a. Having two pistils.

DIHEDRAL, a. [Gr., supra; a seat or face.] Having two sides, as a figure.

DIHEDRON, n. [Supra.] A figure with two sides or surfaces.

DIHEXAHEDRAL, a. [di and hexahedral.] In crystalography, having the form of a hexahedral prism with trihedral summits.

DIJUDICATE, v.t. [L.] To judge or determine by censure.

DIJUDICATION, n. Judicial distinction.

DIKE, n. [G. See Dig. It is radically the same word as ditch, and this is its primary sense; but by an easy transition, it came to signify also the bank formed by digging and throwing up earth. Intrenchment is sometimes used both for a ditch and a rampart.]

1. A ditch; an excavation made in the earth by digging, of greater length than breadth, intended as a reservoir of water, a drain, or for other purpose.

2. A mound of earth, of stones, or of other materials, intended to prevent low lands, from being inundated by the sea or a river. The low countries of Holland are thus defended by dikes.

3. A vein of basalt, greenstone or other stony substance.

DIKE, v.t. To surround with a dike; to secure by a bank.
DIKE, v.i. To dig. [Not in use.]

DILACERATE, v.t. [L., to tear.] To tear; to rend asunder; to separate by force.

DILACERATED, pp. Torn; rent asunder.

DILACERATING, ppr. Tearing; rending in two.

DILACERATION, n. The act of rending asunder; a tearing, or rending. [In lieu of these words, lacerate, laceration, are generally used.]

DILANIATE, v.t. [L., to rend in pieces.] To tear; to rend in pieces; to mangle. [Little used.]

DILANIATION, n. A tearing in pieces.

DILAPIDATE, v.i. [L., to stone; a stone. It seems originally to have signified to pull down stone-work, or to suffer such work to fall to pieces.] To go to ruin; to fall by decay.


1. To pull down; to waste or destroy; to suffer to go to ruin.

If the bishop, parson, or vicar, etc., dilapidates the buildings, or cuts down the timber of the patrimony of the church--

2. To waste; to squander.

DILAPIDATED, pp. Wasted; ruined; pulled down; suffered to go to ruin.

DILAPIDATING, ppr. Wasting; pulling down; suffering to go to ruin.


1. Ecclesiastical waste; a voluntary wasting or suffering to go to decay any building in possession of an incumbent. Dilapidation is voluntary or active, when an incumbent pulls down a building; permissive or passive, when he suffers it to decay and neglects to repair it. Dilapidation extends to the waste or destruction of wood, and other property of the church.

2. Destruction; demolition; decay; ruin.

3. Peculation.

DILAPIDATOR, n. One who causes dilapidation.

DILATABILITY, n. [See Dilate.] The quality of admitting expansion by the elastic force of the body itself, or of another elastic substance acting upon it; opposed to contractibility.

DILATABLE, a. Capable of expansion; possessing elasticity; elastic. A bladder is dilatable by the force of air; air is dilatable by heat. It is opposed to contractible.

DILATATION, n. The act of expanding; expansion; a spreading or extending in all directions; the state of being expanded; opposed to contraction. Dilatation differs from extension, as the latter is applied to lines and surfaces; the former to bodies that spread, open or enlarge in all directions. A line or a plain is extended; a bladder, an artery, a balloon is dilated.

DILATE, v.t. [L. See Delay.]

1. To expand; to distend; to enlarge or extend in all directions; opposed to contract. The air dilates the lungs; air is dilated by rarefaction.

2. To enlarge; to relate at large; to tell copiously or diffusely; as, to dilate upon the policy of a measure. In this sense, it is generally used intransitively. Spenser and Shakespeare have used it in a transitive sense; as, to dilate a theme.

DILATE, a. Expanded; expansive.

DILATED, pp. Expanded; distended; enlarge so as to occupy a greater space.

DILATER, n. One who enlarges; that which expands.

DILATING, ppr. Expanding; enlarging; speaking largely.

DILATOR, n. That which widens or expands; a muscle that dilates.

DILATORILY, adv. With delay; tardily.

DILATORINESS, n. [from dilatory.] The quality of being dilatory or late; lateness; slowness in motion; delay in proceeding; tardiness.

DILATORY, a. [L. See Delay and Dilate.]

1. Literally, drawing out or extending in time; hence, slow; late; tardy; applied to things; as dilatory councils or measures.

2. Given to procrastination; not proceeding with diligence; making delay; slow; late; applied to persons; as a dilatory messenger. A man is dilatory, when he delays attendance, or performance of business, beyond the proper time.

3. In law, intended to make delay; tending to delay; as a dilatory plea, which is designed or which tends to delay the trial of a cause.

DILECTION, n. [L.] A loving.

DILEMMA, n. [Gr., a syllogism which strikes on each side; an assumption; to take.]

1. In logic, an argument equally conclusive by contrary suppositions. A young rhetorician said to an old sophist; Instruct me in pleading, and I will pay you, when I gain a cause. The master sued for the reward, and the scholar endeavored to elude the claim by a dilemma. If I gain my cause, I shall withhold your pay, because the award of the judge will be against you. It I lose it, I may withhold it, because I shall not yet have gained a cause. The master replied: If you gain your cause, you must pay me, because you are to pay me, when you gain a cause; if you lose it, you must pay me, because you are to pay me, when you gain a cause; if you lose it, you must pay me, because the judge will award it.

2. A difficult or doubtful choice; a state of things in which evils or obstacles present themselves on every side, and it is difficult to determine what course to pursue.

A strong dilemma in a desperate case!

To act with infamy, or quit the place.

DILETTANTE, n. One who delights in promoting science or the fine arts.

DILIGENCE, n. [L., to love earnestly; to choose.]

1. Steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention; industry; assiduity.

Diligence is the philosophers stone that turns every thing to gold.

Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure. 2 Peter 1:10.

2. Care; heed; heedfulness.

Keep thy heart with all diligence. Proverbs 4:23.

3. The name of a stage-coach, used in France.