Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



OPINIONATIVENESS, n. Excessive attachment to one’s own opinions; obstinacy in opinion.

OPINIONED, a. Attached to particular opinions; conceited.

OPINIONIST, n. One fond of his own notions, or one unduly attached to his own opinions.

OPISTHODOME, n. [Gr. that is behind, and house.]

In Greece, a part or place in the back part of a house.

OPIUM, n. [L. opium; Gr. from juice.]

Opium is the inspissated juice of the capsules of the papaver somniferum, or somniferous white poppy with which the fields in Asia Minor are sown, as ours are with wheat and rye. It flows from incisions made in the heads of the plant, and the best flows from the first incision. It is imported into Europe and America from the Levant and the East Indies. It is brought in cakes or masses weighing from eight ounces to a pound. It is heavy, of a dense texture, of a brownish yellow color, not perfectly dry, but easily receiving an impression from the finger; it has a dead and faint smell, and its taste is bitter and acrid. Opium is of great use as a medicine.

OPLE-TREE, n. [L. opulus.] The witch-hazel. Obs.

OPOBALSAM, n. [L. Gr. juice, and balsamum.]

The balm or balsam of Gilead. It has a yellowish or greenish yellow color, a warm bitterish aromatic taste, and an acidulous fragrant smell. It is held in esteem as a medicine and as an odoriferous unguent and cosmetic. The shrub or tree producing this balsam is of the genus Amyris, and grows spontaneously in Arabia Felix.


1. The name of a plaster, said to have been invented by Mindererus; but in modern usage.

2. A saponaceous camphorated liniment; a solution of soap in ardent spirits, with the addition of camphor and essential oils.

OPOPANAX, n. [L.; Gr. juice, and a plant.]

A gum-resin of a tolerably firm texture, brought in loose granules or drops, sometimes in larger masses. This substance on the outside is of a brownish red color, with specks of white, and within of a dusky yellow or whitish color. It has a strong smell and an acrid taste. It is obtained from the roots of an umbelliferous plant of the genus Pastinaca or parsnep, and is brought from Turkey and the East Indies.

OPOSSUM, n. A quadruped of the genus Didelphis. It has a prehensile tail, like some of the monkeys, and is distinguished by a pouch or false belly, in which it protects and carries its young. The name is also given to other species of the genus, some of which want the pouch.

OPPIDAN, n. [L. oppidanus, from oppidum a city or town.]

1. An inhabitant of a town. [Not used.]

2. An appellation given to the students of Eton school in England.

OPPIDAN, a. Pertaining to a town. [Not used.]

OPPIGNERATE, v.t. [L. oppignero; ob and pignero, to pledge, from pignus, pledge.] To pledge; to pawn. [Not in use.]

OPPILATE, v.t. [L. oppilo; ob and pilo, to drive.]

To crown together; to fill with obstructions.

OPPILATION, n. The act of filling or crowding together; a stopping by redundant matter; obstructions, particularly in the lower intestines.

OPPILATIVE, a. Obstructive.

OPPLETED, a. [L. oppletus.] Filled; crowded. [Not in use.]

OPPONE, v.t. [L. oppono; ob and pono, to put.] To oppose. [Not used.]

OPPONENCY, n. [See Opponent.] The opening of an academical disputation; the proposition of objections to a tenet; an exercise for a degree. [I believe not used in America.]

OPPONENT, a. [L. opponens, oppono; ob and pono, to set, put or lay, that is, to thrust against; Heb. to build, that is, to set, to found, L. fundo.] That opposes; opposite; adverse.

OPPONENT, n. One that opposes; particularly, one that opposes in controversy, disputation or argument. It is sometimes applied to the person that begins a dispute by raising objections to a tenet or doctrine, and is correlative to defendant or respondent. In common usage, however, it is applicable to either party in a controversy, denoting any person who opposes another or his cause. Opponent may sometimes be used for adversary, and for antagonist, but not with strict propriety, as the word does not necessarily imply enmity nor bodily strife. Nor is it well used in the sense of rival or competitor.

OPPORTUNE, a. [L. opportunus; ob and porto, to bear or bring; probably from the root of fero or porto, to bear. The sense of the verb opporto, would be to bring to or upon. See Impart, Importune. In this and all words of like signification, the primary sense is to fall, come or bring to. See Luck, Fortune, Season.]

Properly, having come or being present at a proper time; hence, seasonable; timely; well timed. It agrees with seasonable rather than with convenient, though the sense of the latter may be included in it.

Perhaps in view of those bright confines, whence with neighboring arms, and opportune excursion, we may chance re-enter heaven.

OPPORTUNELY, adv. Seasonably; at a time favorable for the purpose. It has been applied to place, as well as to time, but its proper application is to time, and hence it accords with seasonably, rather than with conveniently.

OPPORTUNITY, n. [L. opportunitas.]

1. Fit or convenient time; a time favorable for the purpose; suitable time combined with other favorable circumstances. Suitableness of time is the predominant signification, but it includes generally circumstances of place and other conveniences adapted to the end desired.

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.

I had an opportunity to see the cloud descent.

Neglect no opportunity of doing good.

2. Convenient means. I had an opportunity of sending the letter, or no opportunity to send it. Opportunities rarely occur on frequently offer.

OPPOSAL, n. s as z. Opposition. [Not used.]

OPPOSE, v.t. s as z. [L. oppono, opposui. The change of n into s is unusual. Two different verbs may be used, as in L. fero, tuli. See Pose.]

1. To set; against; to put in opposition, with a view to counterbalance or countervail, and thus to hinder defeat, destroy or prevent effect; as, to oppose one argument to another.

I may without presumption oppose my single opinion to his.

2. To act against; to resist, either by physical means, by arguments or other means. The army opposed the progress of the enemy, but without success. Several members of the house strenuously opposed the bill, but it passed.

3. To check; to resist effectually. The army was not able to oppose the progress of the enemy.

4. To place in front; to set opposite.

5. To act against, as a competitor.

OPPOSED, pp. s as z.

1. To act adversely; with against; as, a servant opposed against the act. [Not used.]

2. To object or act against in controversy.


1. Set in opposition; resisted.

2. a. Being in opposition in principle or in act; adverse.

Certain characters were formerly opposed to it.

OPPOSELESS, a. Not to be opposed; irresistible. [Not in use.]


1. One that opposes; an opponent in party, in principle, in controversy or argument. We speak of the opposers of public measures; the opposers of ecclesiastical discipline; an opposer of christianity or of orthodoxy.

2. One who acts in opposition; one who resists; as an opposer of law or of the execution of law.

3. An antagonist; an adversary; an enemy; a rival.

OPPOSITE, a. [L. oppositus.]

1. Standing or situated in front; facing; as an edifice opposite to the Exchange. Brooklyn lies opposite to New York, or on the opposite side of the river.

2. Adverse; repugnant.

- Novels, by which the reader is misled into another sort of pleasure opposite to that designed in an epic poem.

3. Contrary; as words of opposite significations; opposite terms. The medicine had an effect opposite to what was expected.

4. In botany, growing in pairs, each pair decussated or crossing that above and below it; as opposite leaves or branches.


1. An opponent; an adversary; an enemy; an antagonist.

2. That which is opposed or contrary.


1. In front; in a situation to face each other.

2. Adversely; against each other.

Winds from all quarters oppositely blow.

OPPOSITENESS, n. The state of being opposite or contrary.

OPPOSITIFOLIOUS, a. [L. oppositus and folium, a leaf.]

In botany, opposite to the leaf; as an oppositifolious peduncle.

OPPOSITION, n. [L. oppositio.]

1. Situation so as to front something else; a standing over against; as the opposition of two mountains or buildings.

2. The act of opposing; attempt to check, restrain or defeat. he makes opposition to the measure; the bill passed without opposition. Will any opposition be made to the suit, to the claim or demand?

3. Obstacle. the river meets with no opposition in its course to the ocean.

4. Resistance; as the opposition of enemies. Virtue will break through all opposition.

5. Contrariety; repugnance in principle; as the opposition of the heart to the laws of God.

6. Contrariety of interests, measures on designs. The two parties are in opposition to each other.

7. Contrariety or diversity of meaning; as one term used in opposition to another.

8. Contradiction; inconsistency.

9. The collective body of opposers; in England, the party in Parliament which opposed the ministry; in America, the party that opposed the existing administration.

10. In astronomy, the situation of two heavenly bodies, when distant from each other 180 degrees.

OPPOSITIONIST, n. One that belongs to the party opposing the administration.

OPPOSITIVE, a. that may be put in opposition.

OPPRESS, v.t. [L. appressus, from opprimo; ob and premo, to press.]

1. To load or burden with unreasonable impositions; to treat with unjust severity, rigor or hardship; as, to oppress a nation with taxes or contributions; to oppress one by compelling him to perform unreasonable service.

2. To overpower; to overburden; as, to be oppressed with grief.

3. to sit or lie heavy on; as, excess of good oppresses the stomach.

OPPRESSED, pp. burdened with unreasonable impositions; overpowered; overburdened; depressed.

OPPRESSING, ppr. Overburdening.


1. The act of oppressing; the imposition of unreasonable burdens, either in taxes or services; cruelty; severity.

2. The state of being oppressed or overburdened; misery.

The Lord - saw the oppression of Israel. 2 Kings 13:4.

3. Hardship; calamity.

4. Depression; dullness of spirits; lassitude of body.

5. A sense of heaviness or weight in the breast, etc.


1. Unreasonably burdensome; unjustly severe; as oppressive taxes; oppressive exactions of service.

2. Tyrannical; as an oppressive government.

3. Heavy; overpowering; overwhelming; as oppressive grief or woe.

OPPRESSIVELY, adv. In a manner to oppress; with unreasonable severity.

OPPRESSIVENESS, n. The quality of being oppressive.

OPPRESSOR, n. One that oppresses; one that imposes unjust burdens on others; one that harasses others with unjust laws or unreasonable severity.

Power when employed to relieve the oppressed and to punish the oppressor, becomes a great blessing.

OPPROBRIOUS, a. [See Opprobrium.]

1. Reproachful and contemptuous; scurrilous; as opprobrious language; opprobrious words or terms.

2. Blasted with infamy; despised; rendered hateful; as an opprobrious name.

OPPROBRIOUSLY, adv. With reproach mingled with contempt; scurrilously.

OPPROBRIOUSNESS, n. Reproachfulness mingled with contempt; scurrility.

OPPROBRIUM, n. [L. ob and probrum, disgrace.]

Reproach mingled with contempt or disdain.

OPPUGN, v.t. oppu’ne. [L. oppugno; ob and pugno, to fight, from pugnus, the fist.]

To attack; to oppose; to resist.

They said the manner of their impeachment they could not but conceive did oppugn the rights of parliament.

[It is never used in the literal sense, to fight.]

OPPUGNANCY, n. Opposition; resistance.

OPPUGNATION, n. Opposition; resistance.

OPPUGNED, pp. oppu’ned. Opposed; resisted.

OPPUGNER, n. oppu’ner. One who opposes or attacks; that which opposes.

OPPUGNING, ppr. oppu’ning. Attacking; opposing.

OPSIMATHY, n. [Gr. late and to learn.] Late education; education late in life. [Little used.]

OPSONATION, n. [L. obsono, to cater.] A catering; a buying of provisions. [Not used.]

OPTABLE, a. [L. optabilis, from opto, to desire.] Desirable. [Not used.]

OPTATION, n. [L. optatio.] A desiring; the expression of a wish.

OPTATIVE, a. [L. optativus, from opto, to desire or wish.]

Expressing desire or wish. The optative mode, in grammar, is that form of the verb in which wish or desire is expressed.

OPTATIVE, n. Something to be desired. [Little used.]

OPTIC, OPTICAL, a. [Gr. from to see, the eye.]

1. Relating or pertaining to vision or sight.

2. Relating to the science of optics.

Optic angle, is that which the optic axes of the eyes make with one another, as they tend to meet at some distance before the eyes.

Optic axis, is the axis of the eye, or a line going through the middle of the pupil and the center of the eye.

OPTIC, n. An organ of sight.


1. A person skilled in the science of optics.

2. One who makes or sells optic glasses and instruments.

OPTICS, n. The science which treats of light and the phenomena of vision.

OPTIMACY, n. [L. optimates, grandees, from optimus, best.] The body of nobles; the nobility.

OPTIMISM, n. [L. optimus, best.] The opinion or doctrine that every thing in nature is ordered for the best; or the order of things in the universe that is adapted to produce the most good.

The true and amiable philosophy of optimism.

A system of strict optimism may be the real system in both cases.

OPTIMITY, n. The state of being best.

OPTION, n. [L. optio, from opto, to wish or desire.]

1. The power of choosing; the right of choice or election; as the archbishop’s option in collating to a vacant benefice.

There is an option left to the United States of America, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable, as a nation.

2. The power of wishing; wish.

3. Choice; election; preference. He ought not to complain of his lot; it was his own option. We leave this to your own option.


1. Left to one’s wish or choice; depending on choice or preference. It is optional with you to go or stay.

2. Leaving something to choice.

Original writs are either optional or peremptory.

OPULENCE, n. [L. opulentia, from opes, wealth.] Wealth; riches; affluence. [Opulency is little used.]

OPULENT, a. [L. opulentus.] Wealthy; rich; affluent; having a large estate or property.

OPULENTLY, adv. Richly; with abundance or splendor.

OPUSCULE, n. [L. opusculum.] A small work.

OR, a termination of Latin nouns, is a contraction of vir, a man, or from the same radix. The same word vir, is in our mother tongue, wer, and from this we have the English termination er.

It denotes an agent, as in actor, creditor. We annex it to many words of English origin, as in lessor, as we do er to words of Latin and Greek origin, as in astronomer, laborer. In general, or is annexed to words of Latin, and er to those of English origin.

OR, conj. [It seems that or is a mere contraction of other.]

A connective that marks an alternative. “You may read or may write;” that is, you may do one of the things at your pleasure, but not both. It corresponds to either. You may either ride to London, or to Windsor. It often connects a series of words or propositions, presenting a choice of either. He may study law or medicine or divinity, or he may enter into trade.

Or sometimes begins a sentence, but in this case it expresses an alternative with the foregoing sentence. Matthew 7:4, 9, 10 and Matthew 9:5.

In poetry, or is sometimes used for either.

For thy vast bounties are so numberless, that them or to conceal or else to tell is equally impossible.

Or is often used to express an alternative of terms, definitions or explanations of the same thing in different words. Thus we say, a thing is a square, or a figure under four equal sides and angles.

Or ever. In this phrase, or is supposed to be a corruption of ere.

OR, in heraldry, gold. [L. aurum.]

ORACH, ORRACH, n. A plant of the genus Atriplex, used as a substitute for spinage.

Wild orach is of the genus Chenopodium.

ORACLE, n. [L. oraculum, from oro, to utter.]

1. Among pagans, the answer of a god or some person reputed to be a god, to an inquiry made respecting some affair of importance, usually respecting some future event, as the success of an enterprise or battle.

2. The deity who gave or was supposed to give answers to inquiries; as the Delphic oracle.

3. The place where the answers were given.

4. Among christians, oracles, in the plural, denotes the communications, revelations or messages delivered by God to prophets. In this sense it is rarely used in the singular; but we say, the oracles of God, divine oracles, meaning the Scriptures.

5. The sanctuary or most holy place in the temple, in which was deposited the ark of the covenant. 1 Kings 6:5-31.

6. Any person or place where certain decisions are obtained.

7. Any person reputed uncommonly wise, whose determinations are not disputed, or whose opinions are of great authority.

8. A wise sentence or decision of great authority.

ORACLE, v.i. To utter oracles.


1. Uttering oracles; as an oracular tongue.

The oraculous seer.

2. Grace; venerable; like an oracle; as an oracular shade.

They have something venerable and oracular in that unadorned gravity and shortness in the expression.

3. Positive; authoritative; magisterial; as oraculous expressions of sentiments.

4. Obscure; ambiguous, like the oracles of pagan deities.


1. In the manner of an oracle.

2. Authoritatively; positively.

ORACULOUSNESS, n. The state of being oracular.

ORAISON, n. [L. oratio.] Prayer; verbal supplication or oral worship; now written orison.

ORAL, a. [L. os, oris, the mouth.] Uttered by the mouth or in words; spoken, not written; as oral traditions; oral testimony; oral law.

ORALLY, adv. By mouth; in words, without writing; as traditions derived orally from ancestors.

ORANGE, n. [L. aurantium; so named from aurum, gold, which the orange resembles in color.]

The fruit of a species of Citrus which grows in warm climates. The fruit is round and depressed; it has a rough rind, which when ripe is yellow. This contains a vesicular pulp inclosed in nine cells for seeds. The tree producing oranges grows to the height of ten or twelve feet and bears the same name.

ORANGE-MUSK, n. A species of pear.

ORANGE-PEEL, n. The rind of an orange separated from the fruit.

ORANGERY, n. A plantation of orange trees.

ORANGE-TAWNY, a. Of the color of an orange.

ORANGE-WIFE, n. A woman that sells oranges.

ORANG-OUTANG, n. The satyr or great ape (Simia satyrus,) an animal with a flat face and deformed resemblance of the human form. These animals walk erect like man, feed on fruits, sleep on trees, and make a shelter against inclemencies of the weather. They grow to the height of six feet, are remarkable strong, and wield weapons with the hand. They are solitary animals, inhabiting the interior of Africa and the isles of Sumatra, Borneo and Java.

The orang-outang is found only in S. Eastern Asia. The African animal resembling it, is the chimpanzee (Simia troglodytes.)

ORATION, n. [L. oratio, from oro, to pray, to utter.]

1. A speech or discourse composed according to the rules of oratory, and spoken in public. Orations may be reduced to three kinds; demonstrative, deliberative, and judicial.

2. In modern usage, an oration differs from a sermon, from an argument at the bar, and from a speech before a deliberative assembly. The word is now applied chiefly to discourses pronounced on special occasions, as a funeral oration, an oration on some anniversary, etc. and to academic declamations.

3. A harangue; a public speech or address.

ORATOR, n. [L.]

1. A public speaker. In ancient Rome, orators were advocates for clients in the forum and before the senate and people. They were employed in causes of importance instead of the common patron.

2. In modern usage, a person who pronounces a discourse publicly on some special occasion, as on the celebration of some memorable event.

3. An eloquent public speaker; a speaker, by way of eminence. We say, a man writes and reasons well, but is no orator. Lord Chatham was an orator.

4. In France, a speaker in debate in a legislative body.

5. In chancery, a petitioner.

6. An officer in the universities in England.

ORATORIAL, ORATORICAL, a. Pertaining to an orator or to oratory; rhetorical; becoming an orator. We say, a man has many oratorical flourishes, or he speaks in an oratorical way.

ORATORIALLY, ORATORICALLY, adv. In a rhetorical manner.


1. In Italian music, a sacred drama of dialogues, containing recitatives, duets, trios, ritornellos, choruses, etc. The subjects are mostly taken from the Scriptures.

2. A place of worship; a chapel.

ORATORY, n. [Low L. oratoria, from orator.]

1. The art of speaking well, or of speaking according to the rules of rhetoric, in order to persuade. To constitute oratory, the speaking must be just and pertinent to the subject; it must be methodical, all parts of the discourse being disposed in due order and connection; and it must be embellished with the beauties of language and pronounced with eloquence. Oratory consists of four parts, invention, disposition, elocution, and pronunciation.

2. Exercise of eloquence.

3. Among the Romanists, a close apartment near a bed-chamber, furnished with an altar, a crucifix, etc. for private devotions.

4. A place allotted for prayer, or a place for public worship.

ORATRESS, ORATRIX, n. A female orator.

ORB, n. [L. orbis.]

1. A spherical body; as the celestial orbs.

2. In astronomy, a hollow globe or sphere.

3. A wheel; a circular body that revolves or rolls; as the orbs of a chariot.

4. A circle; a sphere defined by a line; as, he move in a larger orb.

5. A circle described by any mundane sphere; an orbit.

6. Period; revolution of time.

7. The eye.

8. In tactics, the circular form of a body of troops, or a circular body of troops.

The ancient astronomers conceived the heavens as consisting of several vast azure transparent orbs or spheres inclosing one another, and including the bodies of the planets.

ORB, v.t. To form into a circle.

ORBATE, a. [L. orbatus.] Bereaved; fatherless; childless.

ORBATION, n. [L. orbatio, from orbo, to bereave.]

Privation of parents or children, or privation in general. [Not used.]


1. Round; circular; orbicular.

2. Formed into a circle or round shape.

3. Rounded or covered on the exterior.

The wheels were orbed with gold.

ORBIC, a. Spherical.

ORBICULAR, a. [L. orbiculus.] Spherical; circular; in the form of an orb.

ORBICULARLY, adv. Spherically.

ORBICULARNESS, n. Sphericity; the state of being orbicular.

ORBICULATE, ORBICULATED, a. [L. orbiculatus.] Made or being in the form of an orb. In botany, an orbiculate or orbicular leaf is one that has the periphery of a circle, or both its longitudinal and transverse diameters equal.