Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



METALLURGIC, a. [See Metallurgy.] Pertaining to metallurgy, or the art of working metals.

METALLURGIST, n. One whose occupation is to work metals, or to purify, refine and prepare metals for use.

METALLURGY, n. [Gr. metal, and work.] The art of working metals, comprehending the whole process of separating them from other matters in the ore, smelting, refining and parting them. Gilding is also a branch of metallurgy. But in a more limited and usual sense, metallurgy is the operation of separating metals from their ores.

The French include in metallurgy the art of drawing metals from the earth.

METALMAN, n. A worker in metals; a coppersmith or tinman.


Changing the form; transforming.

METAMORPHOSE, v.t. [Gr. over, beyond, and form.] To change into a different form; to transform; particularly, to change the form of insects, as from the larva to a winged animal. The ancients pretended that Jupiter was metamorphosed into a bull, and Lycaon into a wolf.

And earth was metamorphosed into man.

METAMORPHOSER, n. One that transforms or changes the shape.

METAMORPHOSING, ppr. Changing the shape.

METAMORPHOSIS, n. Change of form or shape; transformation; particularly, a change in the form of being; as the metamorphosis of an insect from the aurelia or chrysalis state into a winged animal.

1. Any change of form or shape.

METAMORPHOSTICAL, a. Pertaining to or effected by metamorphosis.

METAPHOR, n. [Gr. to transfer, over, to carry.] A short similitude; a similitude reduced to a single word; or a word expressing similitude without the signs of comparison. Thus “that man is a fox,” is a metaphor; but “that man is like a fox,” is a similitude or comparison. So when I say, “the soldiers fought like lions,” I use a similitude. In metaphor, the similitude is contained in the name; a man is a fox, means, a man is as crafty as a fox. So we say, a man bridles his anger, that is, restrains it as a bridle restrains a horse. Beauty awakens love or tender passions; opposition fires courage.

METAPHORIC, METAPHORICAL, a. Pertaining to metaphor; comprising a metaphor; not literal; as a metaphorical use of words; a metaphorical expression; a metaphorical sense.

METAPHORICALLY, adv. In a metaphorical manner; not literally.

METAPHORIST, n. One that makes metaphors.

METAPHRASE, n. [Gr. over, according to or with, and phrase.]

A verbal translation; a version or translation or one language into another, word for word.

METAPHRAST, n. A person who translates from one language into another, word for word.

METAPHRASTIC, a. Close or literal in translation.

METAPHYSIC, METAPHYSICAL, a. s as z. [See Metaphysics.]

1. Pertaining or relating to metaphysics.

2. According to rules or principles of metaphysics; as metaphysical reasoning.

3. Preternatural or supernatural. [Not used.]

METAPHYSICALLY, adv. In the manner of metaphysical science.

METAPHYSICIAN, n. s as z. One who is versed in the science of metaphysics.

METAPHYSICS, n. s as z. [Gr. after, and physics. It is said that this name was given to the science by Aristotle or his followers, who considered the science of natural bodies, physics, as the first in the order of studies, and the science of mind or intelligence to be the second.]

The science of the principles and causes of all things existing; hence, the science of mind or intelligence. This science comprehends ontology, or the science which treats of the nature, essence, and qualities or attributes of being; cosmology, the science of the world, which treats of the nature and laws of matter and of motion; anthroposophy, which treats of the power of man, and the motions by which life is produced; psychology, which treats of the intellectual soul; pneumatology, or the science of spirits or angels, etc. Metaphysical theology, called by Leibnitz and others theodicy, treats of the existence of God, his essence and attributes. These divisions of the science of metaphysics, which prevailed in the ancient schools, are now not much regarded. The natural division of things that exist is into body and mind, things material and immaterial. The former belong to physics, and the latter to the science of metaphysics.

METAPLASM, n. [Gr. transformation; over, and to form.]

In grammar, a transmutation or change made in a word by transposing or retrenching a syllable or letter.

METASTASIS, n. [Gr. mutation; over, and to place.] A translation or removal of a disease form one part to another, or such an alteration as is succeeded by a solution.

METATARSAL, a. [from metatarsus.] Belonging to the metatarsus.

METATARSUS, n. [Gr. beyond, and tarsus.] The middle of the foot, or part between the ankle and the toes.

METATHESIS, n. [Gr. over, and to set.]

1. Transposition; a figure by which the letters or syllables of a word are transposed; as pistris for pristis.

2. In medicine, a change or removal of a morbid cause, without expulsion.

METE, v.t. [L. metior; Heb. to measure.] To measure; to ascertain quantity, dimensions or capacity by any rule or standard. [Obsolescent.]

METE, n. Measure; limit; boundary; used chiefly in the plural, in the phrase, metes and bounds.

METEMPSYCHOSE, v.t. To translate from one body to another, as the soul.

METEMPSYCHOSIS, n. [Gr. beyond, and animation, life; to animate.]

Transmigration; the passing of the soul of a man after death into some other animal body. Pythagoras and his followers held that after death the soul of men pass into other bodies, and this doctrine still prevails in some parts of Asia, particularly in India and China.

METEMPTOSIS, n. [Gr. after, and to fall.] In chronology, the solar equation necessary to prevent the new moon from happening a day too late, or the suppression of the bissextile once in 134 years. The opposite to this is the proemptosis, or the addition of a day every 300 years, and another every 2400 years.

METEOR, n. [Gr. sublime, lofty.]

1. In a general sense, a body that flies or floats in the air, and in this sense it includes rain, hail, snow, etc. But in a restricted sense, in which it is commonly understood.

2. A fiery or luminous body or appearance flying or floating in the atmosphere, or in a more elevated region. We give this name to the brilliant globes or masses of matter which are occasionally seen moving rapidly through our atmosphere, and which throw off, with loud explosions, fragments that reach the earth, and are called falling stones. We call by the same name those fire balls which are usually denominated falling stars, supposed to be owning to gelatinous matter inflated by phosphureted hydrogen gas; also, the lights which appear over moist grounds and grave yards, called ignes fatui, which are ascribed to the same cause.

And meteor-like flame lawless through the sky.

METEORIC, a. Pertaining to meteors; consisting of meteors.

1. Proceeding from a meteor; as meteoric stones.

METEORIZE, v.i. To ascend in vapors. [Not used.]

METEOROLITE, METEROLITE, n. A meteoric stone; a stone or solid compound of earthy and metallic matter which falls to the earth after the displosion of a luminous meteor or fire ball; called also aerolite.

METEOROLOGIC, METEOROLOGICAL, a. Pertaining to the atmosphere and its phenomena. A meteorological table or register is an account of the state of the air and its temperature, weight, dryness or moisture, winds, etc. ascertained by the barometer, thermometer, hygrometer, anemometer and other meteorological instruments.

METEOROLOGIST, METEROLOGIST, n. A person skilled in meteors; one who studies the phenomena of meteors, or keeps a register of them.

METEOROLOGY, n. [Gr. lofty, and discourse.] The science which treats of the atmosphere and its phenomena, particularly in its relation to heat and moisture.

METEOROMANCY, METEROMANCY, n. [Gr. a meteor, and divination.] A species of divination by meteors, chiefly by thunder and lightning; held in high estimation by the Romans.

METEOROSCOPY, n. [Gr. lofty, and to view.] That part of astronomy which treats of sublime heavenly bodies, distance of stars, etc.

METEOROUS, a. Having the nature of a meteor.

METER, n. [from mete.] One who measures; used in compounds, as in coal-meter, land-meter.

METER, n. [L. metrum.]

1. Measure; verse; arrangement of poetical feet, or of long and short syllables in verse. Hexameter is a meter of six feet. This word is most improperly written metre. How very absurd to write the simple word in this manner, but in all its numerous compounds, meter, as in diameter, hexameter, thermometer, etc.

2. A French measure of length, equal to 39 37/100 English inches, the standard of linear measure, being the ten millionth part of the distance from the equator to the North Pole, as ascertained by actual measurement of an arc of the meridian.

METEWAND, n. [mete and wand.] A staff or rod of a certain length, used as a measure.

METEYARD, n. A yard, staff or rod, used as a measure. [We now use yard.]

METHEGLIN, n. A liquor made of honey and water boiled and fermented, often enriched with spices.

METHINKS, v. impers. pp. methought. [me and think.] It seems to me; it appears to me; I think. Me is here in the dative. The word is not antiquated, but is not elegant.

METHOD, n. [L. methodus; Gr. with, and way.]

1. A suitable and convenient arrangement of things, proceedings or ideas; the natural or regular disposition of separate things or parts; convenient order for transacting business, or for comprehending any complicated subject. Without method, business of any kind will fall into confusion. To carry on farming to advantage, to keep accounts correctly, method is indispensable.

2. Way; manner. Let us know the nature of the disease, and the method of cure.

3. Classification; arrangement of natural bodies according to their common characteristics; as the method of Theophrast; the method of Ray; the Linnean method.

In natural arrangements a distinction is sometimes made between method and system. System is an arrangement founded, throughout all its parts, on some one principle. Method is an arrangement less fixed and determinate, and founded on more general relations. Thus we say, the natural method, and the artificial or sexual system of Linne, though the latter is not a perfect system.

METHODIC, METHODICAL, a. Arranged in convenient order; disposed in a just and natural manner, or in a manner to illustrate a subject, or to facilitate practical operations; as a methodical arrangement of the parts of a discourse or of arguments; a methodical treatise; methodical accounts.

METHODICALLY, adv. In a methodical manner; according to natural or convenient order.

METHODISM, n. The doctrines and worship of the sect of christians called Methodists.

METHODIST, n. One that observes method.

1. One of a sect of christians, founded by Morgan, or rather by John Wesley, and so called from the exact regularity of their lives, and the strictness of their principles and rules.

2. A physician who practices by method or theory.

3. In the cant of irreligious men, a person of strict piety; one who lives in the exact observance of religious duties.

METHODISTIC, a. Resembling the Methodists; partaking of the strictness of Methodists.

METHODIZE, v.t. To reduce to method; to dispose in due order; to arrange in a convenient manner.

One who brings with him any observations he has made in reading the poets, will find his own reflections methodized and explained in the works of a good critic.

METHOUGHT, pret. of methinks. It seemed to me; I thought.

METIC, n. [Gr. house.] In ancient Greece, a sojourner; a resident stranger in a Grecian city or place.

METICULOUS, a. [L. Feticulosus.] Timid. [Not used.]

METONIC CYCLE, METONIC YEAR, the cycle of the moon, or period of nineteen years, in which the lunations of the moon return to the same days of the month; so called from its discoverer Meton the Athenian.

METONYMIC, METONYMICAL, a. [See Metonymy.] Used by way of metonymy, by putting one word for another.

METONYMICALLY, adv. By putting one word for another.

METONYMY, n. [Gr. over, beyond, and name.] In rhetoric, a trope in which one word is put for another; a change of names which have some relation to each other; as when we say, “a man keeps a good table.” instead of good provisions. “We read Virgil.” that is, his poems or writings. “They have Moses and the prophets,” that is, their books or writings. A man has a clear head, that is, understanding, intellect; a warm heart, that is affections.

METOPE, n. met’opy. [Gr. with, near or by, and an aperture or hollow.] In architecture, the space between the triglyphs of the Doric frieze, which among the ancients used to be painted or adorned with carved work.

METOPOSCOPIST, n. [infra.] One versed in physiognomy.

METOPOSCOPY, n. [Gr. the forehead, and to view.] The study of physiognomy; the art of discovering the character or the dispositions of men by their features, or the lines of the face.

METRE. [See Meter.]

METRICAL, a. [L. metricus.]

1. Pertaining to measure, or due arrangement or combination of long and short syllables.

2. Consisting of verses; as metrical compositions.

METROLOGY, n. [Gr. measure, and discourse.]

1. A discourse on measures or mensuration; the description of measures.

2. An account of measures, or the science of weights and measures.

METROPOLIS, n. [L. from Gr. mother, and city. It has no plural.]

Literally, the mother-city, that is, the chief city or capital of a kingdom, state or country, as Paris in France, Madrid in Spain, London in Great Britain. In the United States, Washington, in the District of Columbia, is the metropolis, as being the seat of government; but in several of the states, the largest cities are not the seats of the respective governments. Yet New York city, in the state of that name, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, are the chief cities, and may be called each the metropolis of the state in which it is situated, though neither of them is the seat of government in the state.

METROPOLITAN, a. Belonging to a metropolis, or to the mother church; residing in the chief city.

METROPOLITAN, n. The bishop of the mother church; an archbishop.

METROPOLITE, a. A metropolitan. [Not used.]

METROPOLITIC, METROPOLITICAL, a. Pertaining to a metropolis; chief or principal of cities; archiepiscopal.

METTLE, n. met’l. [usually supposed to be corrupted from metal. L. animus, animosus.] Spirit; constitutional ardor; that temperament which is susceptible of high excitement. It is not synonymous with courage, though it may be accompanied with it, and is sometimes used for it.

The winged courser, like a generous horse,

Shows most true mettle when you check his course.

METTLED, a. High spirited; ardent; full of fire.

METTLESOME, a. Full of spirit; possessing constitutional ardor; brisk; fiery; as a mettlesome horse.

METTLESOMENESS, n. The state of being high spirited.

MEW, n. A seafowl of the genus Larus; a gull.

MEW, n. A cage for birds; an inclosure; a place of confinement.
MEW, v.t. [from the noun.] To shut up; to inclose; to confine, as in a cage or other inclosure.

More pity that the eagle should be mew’d.

Close mew’d in their sedans, for fear of air.

MEW, v.t. [L. muto and moto.] To shed or cast; to change; to molt. The hawk mewed his feathers.

Nine times the moon had mew’d her horns--

MEW, v.i. [L. mugio.] To cry as a cat.
MEW, v.i. To change; to put on a new appearance.

MEWING, ppr. Casting the feathers or skin; crying.

MEWL, v.i. [L. mugio, to low.] To cry or squall, as a child.

MEWLER, n. One that squalls or mewls.

MEZEREON, n. A plant of the genus Daphne; the spurge olive.

MEZZO, in music, denotes middle, mean.

MEZZORELIEVO, n. Middle relief.

MEZZOTINTO, n. [L. tinctus, painted.] A particular manner of engraving or representation of figures on copper, in imitation of painting in Indian ink. To perform this the plate is scratched and furrowed in different directions; the design is then drawn on the face, then the dents and furrows are erased from the parts where the lights of the piece are to be; the parts which are to represent shades being left.

MIASM, MIASMA, n. [Gr. to pollute.] Infecting substances floating in the air; the effluvia or fine particles of any putrefying bodies, rising and floating in the atmosphere, and considered to be noxious to health.

MIASMATIC, a. Pertaining to miasma; partaking of the qualities of noxious effluvia.

MICA, n. [L. mica, a grain or particle; mico, to shine.] A mineral of a foliated structure, consisting of thin flexible lamels or scales, having a shining surface. The scales are sometimes parallel, sometimes interwoven, sometimes wavy or undulated, sometimes representing filaments. It is called also talck, glimmer, muscovy-glass, and glist.

Jameson subdivides mica into ten subspecies, viz. mica, pinite, lepidolite, chlorite, green earth, talck, nacrite, potstone, steatite and figure stone.

MICACEOUS, a. Pertaining to mica; resembling mica or partaking of its properties.

MICAREL, n. A species of argillaceous earth; a mineral of a brownish or blackish red color, commonly crystallized in rhomboidal prisms, or in prisms of six sides.

MICE, plu. of mouse.

MICHAELITE, n. A subvariety of siliceous sinter, found in the isle of St. Michael.

MICHAELMAS, n. The feast of St. Michael, a festival of the Romish church, celebrated Sept. 29; hence,

1. In colloquial language, autumn.

MICHE, v.i.

1. To lie hid; to skulk; to retire or shrink from view.

2. To pilfer.

MICHER, n. One who skulks, or creeps out of sight; a thief.

MICHERY, n. Theft, cheating.

MICHING, ppr. Retiring; skulking; creeping from sight; mean; cowardly. [Vulgar.]

MICKLE, a. Much; great. [Obsolete, but retained in the Scottish language.]

MICO, n. A beautiful species of monkey.

MICROCOSM, n. [Gr. small, and world.] Literally, the little world; but used for man, supposed to be an epitome of the universe or great world.

Microcosmic salt, a triple salt of soda, ammonia and phosphoric acid, obtained from urine.

MICROCOSMICAL, a. Pertaining to the microcosm.

MICROCOUSTIC, n. [Gr. small, and to hear.] An instrument to augment small sounds, and assist in hearing.

MICROGRAPHY, n. [Gr. small, and to describe.] The description of objects too small to be discerned without the aid of a microscope.

MICROMETER, n. [Gr. small, and measure.] An instrument for measuring small objects or spaces, by the help of which, the apparent magnitude of objects viewed through the microscope or telescope, is measured with great exactness.

MICROPHONE, n. [Gr. small, and sound.] An instrument to augment small sounds; a microcoustic.