Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



ESPOUSE, v.t. espouz’. [L. spondeo, sponsus, the letter n, in the latter, must be casual, or the modern languages have lost the letter. The former is most probable; in which case, spondeo was primarily spodeo, sposus.]

1. To betroth.

When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph. Matthew 1:18.

2. To betroth; to promise or engage in marriage, by contract in writing, or by some pledge; as, the king espoused his daughter to a foreign prince. Usually and properly followed by to, rather than with.

3. To marry; to wed.

4. To unite intimately or indissolubly.

I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2.

5. To embrace; to take to one’s self, with a view to maintain; as, to espouse the quarrel of another; to espouse a cause.

ESPOUSED, pp. Betrothed; affianced; promised in marriage by contract; married; united intimately; embraced.

ESPOUSER, n. One who espouses; one who defends the cause of another.

ESPOUSING, ppr. Betrothing; promising in marriage by covenant; marrying; uniting indissolubly; taking part in.

ESPY, v.t. [L. specio.]

1. To see at a distance; to have the first sight of a thing remove. Seamen espy land as they approach it.

2. To see or discover something intended to be hid, or in a degree concealed and not very visible; as, to espy a man in a crowd, or a thief in a wood.

3. To discover unexpectedly.

As one of them opened his sack, he espied his money. Genesis 42:27.

4. To inspect narrowly; to examine and make discoveries.

Moses sent me to espy out the land, and I brought him word again. Joshua 14:7.

ESPY, v.i. To look narrowly; to look about; to watch.

Stand by the way and espy. Jeremiah 48:19.

[This word is often pronounced spy, which see.]

ESPY, n. A spy; a scout.

ESQUIRE, n. [L. scutum, a shield; Gr. a hide, of which shields were anciently made.], a shield-bearer or armor-bearer, scutifer; an attendant on a knight. Hence in modern times, a title of dignity next in degree below a knight. In England, this title is given to the younger sons of noblemen, to officers of the king’s courts and of the household, to counselors at law, justices of the peace, while in commission, sheriffs, and other gentlemen. In the United States, the title is given to public officers of all degrees, from governors down to justices and attorneys. Indeed the title, in addressing letters, is bestowed on any person at pleasure, and contains no definite description. It is merely an expression or respect.

ESQUIRE, v.t. To attend; to wait on.

ESSAY, v.t. [L. sequor. See Seek. The radical sense is to press, drive, urge, strain, strive.]

1. To try; to attempt; to endeavor; to exert one’s power or faculties, or to make an effort to perform any thing.

While I this unexampled task essay.

2. To make experiment of.

3. To try the value and purity of metals. In this application, the word is now more generally written assay, which see.

ESSAY, n. A trial; attempt; endeavor; an effort made, or exertion of body or mind, for the performance of any thing. We say, to make an essay.

Fruitless our hopes, though pious our essays.

1. In literature, a composition intended to prove or illustrate a particular subject; usually shorter and less methodical and finished than a system; as an essay on the life and writings of Homer; an essay on fossils; an essay on commerce.

2. A trial or experiment; as, this is the first essay.

3. Trial or experiment to prove the qualities of a metal.

[In this sense, see Assay.]

4. First taste of any thing.

ESSAYED, pp. Attempted; tried.

ESSAYER, n. One who writes essays.

ESSAYING, ppr. Trying; making an effort; attempting.

ESSAYIST, n. A writer of an essay, or of essays.

ESSENCE, n. [L. essentia, esse, to be.]

1. That which constitutes the particular nature of a being or substance, or of a genus, and which distinguishes it from all others.

Mr. Locke makes a distinction between nominal essence and real essence. The nominal essence, for example, of gold, is that complex idea expressed by gold; the real essence is the constitution of its insensible parts, on which its properties depend, which is unknown to us.

The essence of God bears no relation to place.

2. Formal existence; that which makes any thing to be what it is; or rather, the peculiar nature of a thing; the very substance; as the essence of christianity.

3. Existence; the quality of being.

I could have resigned my very essence.

4. A being; an existent person; as heavenly essences.

5. Species of being.

6. Constituent substance; as the pure essence of a spirit. [Locke’s real essence, supra.]

7. The predominant qualities or virtues of any plant or drug, extracted, refined or rectified from grosser matter; or more strictly, a volatile essential oil; as the essence of mint.

8. Perfume, odor, scent; or the volatile matter constituting perfume.

Nor let th’ imprisoned essences exhale.

ESSENCE, v.t. To perfume; to scent.

ESSENCED, pp. Perfumed; as essenced fops.

ESSENES, n. Among the Jews, a sect remarkable for their strictness and abstinence.

ESSENTIAL, a. [L. essentialis.] Necessary to the constitution or existence of a thing. Piety and good works are essential to the christian character. Figure and extension are essential properties of bodies.

And if each system in gradation roll,

Alike essential to the amazing whole--

1. Important in the highest degree.

Judgment is more essential to a general than courage.

2. Pure; highly rectified. Essential oils are such as are drawn from plants by distillation in an alembic with water, as distinguished from empyreumatic oils, which are raised by a naked fire without water.

ESSENTIAL, n. Existence; being. [Little used.]

1. First or constituent principles; as the essentials of religion.

2. The chief point; that which is most important.

ESSENTIALITY, n. The quality of being essential; first or constituent principles.

ESSENTIALLY, adv. By the constitution of nature; in essence; as, minerals and plants are essentially different.

1. In an important degree; in effect. The two statements differ, but not essentially.

ESSENTIATE, v.i. To become of the same essence.

ESSENTIATE, v.t. To form or constitute the essence or being of.

ESSOIN, n. [Law L. exonia, sonium.]

1. An excuse; the alleging of an excuse for him who is summoned to appear in court and answer, and who neglects to appear at the day. In England, the three first days of a term are called essoin-days, as three days are allowed for the appearance of suitors.

2. Excuse; exemption.

3. He that is excused for non-appearance in court, at the day appointed.

ESSOIN, v.t. To allow an excuse for non-appearance in court; to excuse for absence.

ESSOINER, n. An attorney who sufficiently excuses the absence of another.

ESTABLISH, v.t. [L. stabilio; Heb. to set, fix, establish.]

1. To set and fix firmly or unalterably; to settle permanently.

I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant. Genesis 17:19.

2. To found permanently; to erect and fix or settle; as, to establish a colony or an empire.

3. To enact or decree by authority and for permanence; to ordain; to appoint; as, to establish laws, regulations, institutions, rules, ordinances, etc.

4. To settle or fix; to confirm; as, to establish a person, society or corporation, in possessions or privileges.

5. To make firm; to confirm; to ratify what has been previously set or made.

Do we then make void the law through faith?

God forbid; yea, we establish the law. Romans 3:31.

6. To settle or fix what is wavering, doubtful or weak; to confirm.

So were the churches established in the faith. Acts 16:5.

To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness. 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

7. To confirm; to fulfill; to make good.

Establish thy word to thy servant. Psalm 119:38.

8. To set up in the place of another and confirm.

Who go about to establish their own righteousness. Romans 10:3.

ESTABLISHED, pp. Set; fixed firmly; founded; ordained; enacted; ratified; confirmed.

ESTABLISHER, n. He who establishes, ordains or confirms.

ESTABLISHING, ppr. Fixing; settling permanently; founding; ratifying; confirming; ordaining.

ESTABLISHMENT, n. The act of establishing, founding, ratifying or ordaining.

1. Settlement;; fixed state.

2. Confirmation; ratification of what has been settled or made.

3. Settled regulation; form; ordinance; system of laws; constitution of government.

Bring in that establishment by which all men should be contained in duty.

4. Fixed or stated allowance for subsistence; income; salary.

His excellency--might gradually lessen your establishment.

5. That which is fixed or established; as a permanent military force, a fixed garrison, a local government, an agency, a factory, etc. The king has establishments to support, in the four quarters of the globe.

6. The episcopal form of religion, so called in England.

7. Settlement or final rest.

We set up our hopes and establishment here.

ESTAFET, n. A military courier. [See Staff.]

ESTATE, n. [L. status, from sto, to stand. The roots stb, std, and stg, have nearly the same signification, to set, to fix. It is probable that the L. sto is contracted from stad, as it forms steti.]

1. In a general sense, fixedness; a fixed condition; now generally written and pronounced state.

She cast us headlong from our high estate.

2. Condition or circumstances of any person or thing, whether high or low. Luke 1:48.

3. Rank; quality.

Who hath not heard of the greatness of your estate?

4. In law, the interest, or quantity of interest, a man has in lands, tenements, or other effects. Estates are real or personal. Real estate consists in lands or freeholds, which descent to heirs; personal estate consists in chattels or movables, which go to executors and administrators. There are also estates for life, for years, at will, etc.

5. Fortune; possessions; property in general. He is a man of a great estate. He left his estate unincumbered.

6. The general business or interest of government; hence, a political body; a commonwealth; a republic. But in this sense, we now use State.

Estates, in the plural, dominions; possessions of a prince.

1. Orders or classes of men in society or government. Herod made a supper for his chief estates. Mark 6:21.

In Great Britain, the estates of the realm are the king, lords and commons; or rather the lords and commons.

ESTATE, v.t. To settle as a fortune. [Little used.]

1. To establish. [Little used.]

ESTATED, pp. or a. Possessing an estate.

ESTEEM, v.t. [L. estimo; Gr. to honor or esteem.]

1. To set a value on, whether high or low; to estimate; to value.

Then he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation. Deuteronomy 32:15.

They that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 1 Samuel 2:30.

2. To prize; to set a high value on; to regard with reverence, respect or friendship. When our minds are not biased, we always esteem the industrious, the generous, the brave, the virtuous, and the learned.

Will he esteem thy riches? Job 36:19.

3. To hold in opinion; to repute; to think.

One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Romans 14:5.

4. To compare in value; to estimate by proportion. [Little used.]

ESTEEM, n. Estimation; opinion or judgment of merit or demerit. This man is of no worth in my esteem.

1. High value or estimation; great regard; favorable opinion, founded on supposed worth.

Both those poets lived in much esteem with good and holy men in orders.

ESTEEMABLE, a. Worthy of esteem; estimable.

ESTEEMED, pp. Valued; estimated; highly valued or prized on account of worth; thought; held in opinion.

ESTEEMER, n. One who esteems; one who sets a high value on any thing.

A proud esteemer of his own parts.

ESTEEMING, ppr. Valuing; estimating; valuing highly; prizing; thinking; deeming.


1. That is capable of being estimated or valued; as estimable damage.

2. Valuable; worth a great price.

A pound of man’s flesh, taken from a man,

Is not so estimable or profitable.

3. Worthy of esteem or respect; deserving our good opinion or regard.

A lady said of her two companions, that one was more amiable, the other more estimable.

ESTIMABLE, n. That which is worthy of regard.

ESTIMABLENESS, n. The quality of deserving esteem or regard.

ESTIMATE, v.t. [L. oestimo. See Esteem.]

1. To judge and form an opinion of the value of; to rate by judgment or opinion, without weighing or measuring either value, degree, extent or quantity. We estimate the value of cloth by inspection, or the extend of a piece of land, or the distance of a mountain. We estimate the worth of a friend by his known qualities. We estimate the merits or talents of two different men by judgment. We estimate profits, loss and damage. Hence,

2. To compute; to calculate; to reckon.

ESTIMATE, n. A valuing or rating in the mind; a judgment or opinion of the value, degree, extent or quantity of any thing, without ascertaining it. We form estimates of the expenses of a war, of the probable outfits of a voyage, of the comparative strength or merits of two men, of the extent of a kingdom or its population. Hence estimate may be equivalent to calculation, computation, without measuring or weighing.

1. Value.

ESTIMATED, pp. Valued; rated in opinion or judgment.

ESTIMATING, ppr. Valuing; rating; forming an opinion or judgment of the value, extent, quantity, or degree of worth of any object; calculating; computing.

ESTIMATION, n. [L. oestimatio.] The act of estimating.

1. Calculation; computation; an opinion or judgment of the worth, extent or quantity of any thing, formed without using precise data. We may differ in our estimations of distance, magnitude or amount, and no less in our estimation of moral qualities.

1. Esteem; regard; favorable opinion; honor.

I shall have estimation among the multitude, and honor with the elders.

ESTIMATIVE, a. Having the power of comparing and adjusting the worth or preference. [Little used.]

1. Imaginative.

ESTIMATOR, n. One who estimates or values.

ESTIVAL, a. [L. oestivus, from oestas, summer. See Heat.]

Pertaining to summer, or continuing for the summer.

ESTIVATE, v.i. To pass the summer.

ESTIVATION, n. [L. oestivatio, from oestas, summer, oestivo, to pass the summer.]

1. The act of passing the summer.

2. In botany, the disposition of the petals within the floral gem or bud; l. convolute, when the petals are rolled together like a scroll; 2. imbricate, when they lie over each other like tiles on a roof; 3. conduplicate, when they are doubled together at the midrib; 4. valvate, when as they are about to expand they are placed like the glumes in grasses.

ESTOP, v.t. In law, to impede or bar, by one’s own act.

A man shall always be estopped by his own deed, or not permitted to aver or prove any thing in contradiction to what he has once solemnly avowed.

ESTOPPED, pp. Hindered; barred; precluded by one’s own act.

ESTOPPING, ppr. Impeding; barring by one’s own act.

ESTOPPEL, n. In law, a stop; a plea in bar, grounded on a man’s own act or deed, which estops or precludes him from averring any thing to the contrary.

If a tenant for years levies a fine to another person, it shall work as an estoppel to the cognizor.

ESTOVERS, n. In law, necessaries, or supplies; a reasonable allowance out of lands or goods for the use of a tenant; such as sustenance of a felon in prison, and for his family, during his imprisonment; alimony for a woman divorced, out of her husband’s estate.

Common of estovers is the liberty of taking the necessary wood for the use or furniture of a house or farm, from another’s estate. In Saxon, it is expressed by bote, which signifies more or supply, as house-bote, plow-bote, fire-bote, cart-bote, etc.

ESTRADE, n. An even or level place.


1. To keep at a distance; to withdraw; to cease to frequent and be familiar with.

Had we estranged ourselves form them in things indifferent.

I thus estrange my person from her bed.

2. To alienate; to divert from its original use or possessor; to apply to a purpose foreign from its original or customary one.

They have estranged this place, and burnt incense in it to other gods. Jeremiah 19:4.

3. To alienate, as the affections; to turn from kindness to indifference or malevolence.

I do not know, to this hour, what it is that has estranged him from me.

4. To withdraw; to withhold.

We must estrange our belief from what is not clearly evidenced.

ESTRANGED, pp. Withdrawn; withheld; alienated.

ESTRANGEMENT, n. Alienation; a keeping at a distance; removal; voluntary abstraction; as an estrangement of affection.

An estrangement of desires from better things.

ESTRANGING, ppr. Alienating; withdrawing; keeping at or removing to a distance.

ESTRAPADE, n. The defense of a horse that will not obey, and which, to get rid of his rider, rises before and yerks furiously with his hind legs.

ESTRAY, v.i. To stray. [See Stray.]

ESTRAY, n. A tame beast, as a horse, ox or sheep, which is found wandering or without an owner; a beast supposed to have strayed from the power or inclosure of its owner. It is usually written stray.

ESTREAT, n. [L. extractum, extraho, to draw out.]

In law, a true copy or duplicate of an original writing, especially of amercements or penalties set down in the rolls of court to be levied by the bailiff or other officer, on every offender.

ESTREAT, v.i. To extract; to copy.

ESTREATED, pp. Extracted; copied.

ESTREPEMENT, n. [Eng. to strip.] In law, spoil; waste; a stripping of land by a tenant, to the prejudice of the owner.

ESTRICH, n. The ostrich, which see.

ESTUANCE, n. [L. oestus.] Heat. [Not in use.]

ESTUARY, n. [L. oestuarium, from oestuo, to boil or foam, oestus, heat, fury, storm.]

1. An arm of the sea; a frith; a narrow passage, or the mouth of a river or lake, where the tide meets the current, or flows and ebbs.

2. A vapor-bath.

ESTUATE, v.i. [L. oestuo, to boil.] To boil; to swell and rage; to be agitated.

ESTUATION, n. A boiling; agitation; commotion of a fluid.

ESTURE, n. [L. oestuo.] Violence; commotion. [Not used.]

ESURIENT, a. [L. esuriens, esurio.] Inclined to eat; hungry.

ESURINE, a. Eating; corroding. [Little used.]

ET CAETERA, and the contraction etc., denote the rest, or others of the kind; and so on; and so forth.

ETCH, v.t.

1. To make prints on copper-plate by means of lines or strokes first drawn, and then eaten or corroded by nitric acid. The plate is first covered with a proper varnish or ground, which is capable of resisting the acid, and the ground is then scored or scratched by a needle or similar instrument, in the places where the hatchings or engravings are intended to be; the plate is then covered with nitric acid, which corrodes or eats the metal in the lines thus laid bare.

2. To sketch; to delineate. [Not in use.]

ETCHED, pp. Marked and corroded by nitric acid.

ETCHING, ppr. Marking or making prints with nitric acid.

ETCHING, n. The impression taken from an etched copper-plate.

ETEOSTIC, n. [Gr. true, and a verse.]

A chronogrammatical composition.

ETERN, a. Eternal; perpetual; endless. [Not used.]

ETERNAL, a. [L. oeternus, composed of oevum and ternus, oeviternus, Varro. The origin of the last component part of the word is not obvious. It occurs in diuturnus, and seems to denote continuance.]

1. Without beginning or end of existence.

The eternal God is thy refuge. Deuteronomy 33:27.

2. Without beginning of existence.

To know whether there is any real being, whose duration has been eternal.

3. Without end of existence or duration; everlasting; endless; immortal.

That they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 2 Timothy 2:10.

What shall I do, that I may have eternal life? Matthew 19:16.

Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 7.

4. Perpetual; ceaseless; continued without intermission.

And fires eternal in thy temple shine.

5. Unchangeable; existing at all times without change; as eternal truth.

ETERNAL, n. An appellation of God.

ETERNALIST, n. One who holds the past existence of the world to be infinite.

ETERNALIZE, v.t. To make eternal; to give endless duration to. [We now use eternize.]

ETERNALLY, adv. Without beginning or end of duration, or without end only.

1. Unchangeably; invariably; at all times.

That which is morally good must be eternally and unchangeably so.

2. Perpetually; without intermission; at all times.

Where western gales eternally reside.

ETERNITY, n. [L. oeternitas.] Duration or continuance without beginning or end.

By repeating the idea of any length of duration, with the endless addition of number, we come by the idea of eternity.

The high and lofty one who inhabiteth eternity. Isaiah 57:15.

We speak of eternal duration preceding the present time. God has existed from eternity. We also speak of endless or everlasting duration in future, and dating from present time or the present state of things. Some men doubt the eternity of future punishment, though they have less difficulty in admitting the eternity of future rewards.

ETERNIZE, v.t. [Low L. oeterno.]

1. To make endless.

2. To continue the existence or duration of indefinitely; to perpetuate; as, to eternize woe.

So we say, to eternize fame or glory.

3. To make forever famous; to immortalize; as, to eternize a name; to eternize exploits.

ETERNIZED, pp. Made endless; immortalized.

ETERNIZING, ppr. Giving endless duration to; immortalizing.

ETESIAN, a. ete’zhan. [L. etesius; Gr. a year.]

Stated; blowing at stated times of the year; periodical. Etesian winds are yearly or anniversary winds, answering to the monsoons of the East Indies. The wind is applied, in Greek and Roman writers, to the periodical winds in the Mediterranean, from whatever quarter they blow.

ETHE, a. Easy.

ETHEL, a. Noble.

ETHER, n. [L. oether; Gr. to burn, to shine; Eng. weather.]

1. A thin, subtil matter, much finer and rarer than air, which, some philosophers suppose, begins from the limits of the atmosphere and occupies the heavenly space.

There fields of light and liquid ether flow.

2. In chimistry, a very light, volatile and inflammable fluid, produced by the distillation of alcohol or rectified spirit of wine, with an acid. It is lighter than alcohol, of a strong sweet smell, susceptible of great expansion, and of a pungent taste. It is so volatile, that when shaken it is dissipated in an instant.

ETHEREAL, a. Formed of ether; containing or filled with ether; as ethereal space; ethereal regions.

1. Heavenly; celestial; as ethereal messenger.

2. Consisting of ether or spirit.

Vast chain of being, which from God began,

Natures ethereal, human, angel, man.

ETHEREOUS, a. Formed of ether; heavenly.

ETHERIALIZE, v.t. To convert into ether, or into a very subtil fluid.

ETHERIALIZED, pp. Converted into ether or a very subtil fluid; as an etherialized and incorporeal substrate.

ETHERIZE, v.t. To convert into ether.

ETHERIZED, pp. Converted into ether.

ETHERIZING, ppr. Converting into ether.

ETHIC, ETHICAL, a. [L. ethicus; Gr. manners.]

Relating to manners or morals; treating of morality; delivering precepts of morality; as ethic discourses or epistles.

ETHICALLY, adv. According to the doctrines of morality.

ETHICS, n. The doctrines of morality or social manners; the science of moral philosophy, which teaches men their duty and the reasons of it.

1. A system of moral principles; a system of rules for regulating the actions and manners of men in society.

Ethiops martial, black oxyd of iron; iron in the form of a very fine powder, and in the first state of calcination.

Ethiops mineral, a combination of mercury and sulphur, of a black color; black sulphuret of mercury.

ETHMOID, ETHMOIDAL, a. [Gr. a sieve, and form.] Resembling a sieve.

ETHMOID, n. A bone at the top of the root of the nose.

ETHNIC, ETHNICAL, a. [L. ethnicus; Gr. from nation from the root of G. heide, heath, woods, whence heathen. See Heathen.]

Heathen; pagan; pertaining to the gentiles or nations not converted to christianity; opposed to Jewish and Christian.

ETHNIC, n. A heathen; a pagan.

ETHNICISM, n. Heathenism; paganism; idolatry.

ETHNOLOGY, n. [Gr. nation, and discourse.] A treatise on nations.

ETHOLOGICAL, a. [See Ethology.] Treating of ethics or morality.

ETHOLOGIST, n. One who writes on the subject of manners and morality.