Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



PENULT, n. [L. penultimus; pene, almost, and ultimus, last.]

The last syllable of a word except one.

PENULTIMATE, a. [supra.] The last but one; a word used of the last syllable of a word except one. It may be sometimes used as a noun.

PENUMBRA, n. [L. pene, almost, and umbra, shade.] In astronomy, a partial shade or obscurity on the margin of the perfect shade in an eclipse, or between the perfect shade, where the light is entirely intercepted, and the full light.

PENURIOUS, a. [L. penuria, scarcity, want; Gr. poor; rare.]

1. Excessively saving or sparing in the use of money; parsimonious to a fault; sordid; as a penurious man. It expresses somewhat less than niggardly.

2. Scanty; affording little; as a penurious spring.

PENURIOUSLY, adv. In a saving or parsimonious manner; with scanty supply.

PERURIOUSNESS, n. Parsimony; a sordid disposition to save money.

1. Scantiness; not plenty.

PENURY, n. [L. penuria, from Gr. needy.]

Want of property; indigence; extreme poverty.

All innocent they were exposed to hardship and penury.

PEON, n. In Hindoostan, a foot soldier, or a footman armed with sword and target; said to be corrupted from piadah. [Qu. L. pes, pedis.] Hence,

1. In France, a common man in chess; usually written and called pawn.

PEONY, n. [L. poeonia; Gr. from Apollo.]

A plant and flower of the genus Paeonia. It is written also piony.

PEOPLE, n. [L. populus.]

1. The body of persons who compose a community, town, city or nation. We say, the people of a town; the people of London or Paris; the English people. In this sense, the word is not used in the plural, but it comprehends all classes of inhabitants, considered as a collective body, or any portion of the inhabitants of a city or country.

2. The vulgar; the mass of illiterate persons.

The knowing artist may judge better than the people.

3. The commonalty, as distinct from men of rank.

Myself shall mount the rostrum in his favor,

And strive to gain his pardon from the people.

4. Persons of a particular class; a part of a nation or community; as country people.

5. Persons in general; any persons indefinitely; like on in French, and man in Saxon.

People were tempted to lend by great premiums and large interest.

6. A collection or community of animals.

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer. Proverbs 30:25.

7. When people signified a separate nation or tribe, it has the plural number.

Thou must prophesy again before many peoples. Revelation 10:11.

8. In Scripture, fathers or kindred. Genesis 25:8, 17.

9. The Gentiles.

--To him shall the gathering of the people be. Genesis 49:10.

PEOPLE, v.t. To stock with inhabitants. Emigrants from Europe have peopled the United States.

PEOPLED, pp. Stocked or furnished with inhabitants.

PEOPLING, ppr. Stocking with inhabitants.

PEOPLISH, a. Vulgar.

PEPASTIC, n. [Gr. to concoct or mature.] A medicine that serves to help digestion; applied particularly to such medicines as tend to promote the digestion of wounds.

PEPPER, n. [L. piper.] A plant and its seed or grain, of the genus Piper. The stem of the plant is a vine requiring a prop, which is usually a tree. The leaves are oval and the flower white. We have three kinds of pepper, the black, the white, and the long. The black pepper is the produce of Java, Sumatra, Ceylon, and other Asiatic countries; The white pepper is the black pepper decorticated; the long pepper is the fruit of a different species, also from the E. Indies. It consists of numerous grains attached to a common footstalk. Pepper has a strong aromatic smell and a pungent taste.

PEPPER, v.t. To sprinkle with pepper.

1. To beat; to pelt with shot; to mangle with blows.

PEPPER-BOX, n. A small box with a perforated lid, used for sprinkling pulverized pepper on food.

PEPPER-CAKE, n. A kind of spiced cake or gingerbread.

PEPPER-CORN, n. The berry or seed of the pepper-plant.

1. Something of inconsiderable value; as lands held at the rent of a pepper-corn.

PEPPERED, pp. Sprinkled with pepper; pelted; spotted.

PEPPER-GINGERBREAD, n. A kind of cake made in England.

PEPPERGRASS, n. A plant of the genus Pilularia; also, a plant of the genus Lepidium.

PEPPERING, ppr. Sprinkling with pepper; pelting.

1. a. Hot; pungent; angry.

PEPPERMINT, n. A plant of the genus Mentha. It is aromatic and pungent. Also, a liquor distilled from the plant.

PEPPERMINT-TREE, n. The Eucalyptus piperita, a native of New South Wales.

PEPPER-POT, n. A plant of the genus Capsicum.

PEPPER-TREE, n. A plant of the venus Vitis.

PEPPER-WATER, n. A liquor prepared from powdered black pepper; used in microscopical observations.

PEPPER-WORT, n. A plant of the genus Lepidium.

PEPTIC, a. [Gr. to digest.]

Promoting digestion; dietetic, as peptic precepts.

PER, a Latin preposition, denoting through, passing, or over the whole extent, as in perambulo. Hence it is sometimes equivalent to very in English, as in peracutus, very sharp. As a prefix, in English, it retains these significations, and in chimistry it is used to denote very of fully, to the utmost extent, as in peroxyd, a substance oxydated to the utmost degree.

Per is used also for by, as per bearer, by the bearer.

Per annum, [L.] by the year; in each year successively.

Per se, [L.] by himself; by itself; by themselves.

PERACUTE, a. [L. peracutus; per, through, and acutus, sharp.]

Very sharp; very violent; as a peracute fever. [Little used.]

PERADVENTURE, adv. [L. venio, to come.] By chance; perhaps; it may be.

It has been used as a noun for doubt or question, but rather improperly. The word is obsolescent and inelegant.

PERAGRATE, v.i. [L. peragro; per, through, over, and ager, a field.] To travel over or through; to wander; to ramble. [Little used.]

PERAGRATION, n. The act of passing through any space; as the peragration of the moon in her monthly revolution. [Little used.]

PERAMBULATE, v.t. [L. perambulo; per and ambulo, to walk.]

To walk through or over; properly and technically, to pass through or over for the purpose of surveying or examining something; to visit as overseers; as, to perambulate a parish. So in New England, the laws require the select men of towns to appoint suitable persons annually to perambulate the borders or bounds of the township, and renew the boundaries, or see that the old ones are in a good state.

PERAMBULATED, pp. Passed over; inspected.

PERAMBULATING, ppr. Passing over or through for the purpose of inspection.

PERAMBULATION, n. The act of passing or walking through or over.

1. A traveling survey or inspection.

2. A district within which a person has the right of inspection; jurisdiction.

3. Annual survey of the bounds of a parish in England, or of a township in America.

PERAMBULATOR, n. An instrument or wheel for measuring distances, to be used in surveying or traveling; called also a pedometer.

PERBISULPHATE, n. A sulphate with two proportions of sulphuric acid, and combined with an oxyd at the maximum of oxydation.

PERCARBURETED, a. The percarbureted hydrogen of the French chimists is said to be the only definite compound of these two elements.

PERCASE, adv. [per and case, by case.]

Perhaps; perchance. [Not used.]

PERCEANT, n. Piercing; penetrating. [Not used.]

PERCEIVABLE, a. [See Perceive.] Perceptible; that may be perceived; that may fall under perception or the cognizance of the senses; that may be felt, seen, heard, smelt or tasted. We say, the roughness of cloth is perceivable; the dawn of the morning is perceivable; the sound of a bell is perceivable; the scent of an orange is perceivable; the difference of taste in an apple and an orange is perceivable.

1. That may be known, understood or conceived. [Less proper.]

PERCEIVABLY, adv. In such a manner as to be perceived.

PERCEIVANCE, n. Power of perceiving. [Not in use.]

PERCEIVE, v.t. [L. percipio; per and capio, to take.]

1. To have knowledge or receive impressions of external objects through the medium or instrumentality of the senses or bodily organs; as, to perceive light or color; to perceive the cold or ice or the taste of honey.

2. To know; to understand; to observe.

Till we ourselves see it with our own eyes, and perceive it by our own understanding, we are in the dark.

3. To be affected by; to receive impressions from.

The upper regions of the air perceive the collection of the matter of tempests before the air below.

PERCEIVED, pp. Known by the senses; felt; understood; observed.

PERCEIVER, n. One who perceives, feels or observes.

PERCEPTIBILITY, n. The state or quality of being perceptible; as the perceptibility of light or color.

1. Perception. [Less proper.]

PERCEPTIBLE, a. [L. percipio, perceptus.]

1. That may be perceived; that may impress the bodily organs; that may come under the cognizance of the senses; as a perceptible degree of heat or cold; a perceptible odor; a perceptible sound. A thing may be too minute to be perceptible to the touch.

2. That may be known or conceived of.

PERCEPTIBLY, adv. In a manner to be perceived.

The woman decays perceptibly every week.

PERCEPTION, n. [L. perceptio. See Perceive.]

1. The act of perceiving or of receiving impressions by the senses; or that act or process of the mind which makes known an external object. In other words, the notice which the mind takes of external objects. We gain a knowledge of the coldness and smoothness of marble by perception.

2. In philosophy, the faculty of perceiving; the faculty or peculiar part of man’s constitution, by which he has knowledge through the medium or instrumentality of the bodily organs.

3. Notion; idea.

4. The state of being affected or capable of being affected by something external.

This experiment discovers perception in plants.

PERCEPTIVE, a. Having the faculty of perceiving.

PERCEPTIVITY, n. The power of perception of thinking.

PERCH, n. [L. perca.] A fish of the genus Perca. This fish has a deep body, very rough scales, an arched back, and prickly dorsal fins.

PERCH, n. [L. pertica.]

1. A pole; hence, a roost for fowls, which is often a pole; also, any thing on which they light.

2. A measure of length containing five yards and a half; a rod. In the popular language of America, rod is chiefly used; but rod, pole, and perch, all signifying the same thing, may be used indifferently.

PERCH, v.i. To sit or roost; as a bird.

1. To light or settle on a fixed body; as a bird.

PERCH, v.t. To place on a fixed object or perch.

PERCHANCE, adv. [per and chance.] By chance; perhaps.

PERCHERS, n. Paris candles anciently used in England; also, a larger sort of wax candles which were usually set on the altar.

PERCHLORATE, n. A compound of perchloric acid with a base.

PERCHLORIC, a. Perchloric acid is chlorine converted into an acid by combining with a maximum of oxygen.

PERCIPIENT, a. [L. percipiens.] Perceiving; having the faculty of perception. Animals are percipient beings; mere matter is not percipient.

PERCIPIENT, n. One that perceives or has the faculty of perception.

PERCLOSE, n. s as z. Conclusion. [Not used.]

PERCOLATE, v.t. [L. percolo; per and colo, to strain.] To strain through; to cause to pass through small interstices, as a liquor; to filter.

PERCOLATE, v.i. To pass through small interstices; to filter; as, water percolates through a porous stone.

PERCOLATED, pp. Filtered; passed through small interstices.

PERCOLATING, ppr. Filtering.

PERCOLATION, n. The act of straining or filtering; filtration; the act of passing through small interstices, as liquor through felt or a porous stone.

Percolation is intended for the purification of liquors.

PERCUSS, v.t. [L. percussus, from percutio, to strike.]

To strike. [Little used.]

PERCUSSION, n. [L. percussio.] The act of striking one body against another, with some violence; as the vibrations excited in the air by percussion.

1. The impression one body makes on another by falling on it or striking it.

2. The impression or effect of sound on the ear.

PERCUTIENT, n. [L. percutiens.] That which strikes, or has power to strike.

PERDIFOIL, n. [L. perdo, to lose, and folium, leaf.] A plant that annually loses or drops its leaves; opposed to evergreen.

The passion flower of America and the jasmine of Malabar, which are evergreens in their native climates, become perdifoils when transplanted into Britain.

PERDITION, n. [L. perditio, from perdo, to lose, to ruin.]

1. Entire loss or ruin; utter destruction; as the perdition of the Turkish fleet.

[In this sense, the word is now nearly or wholly obsolete.]

2. The utter loss of the soul or of final happiness in a future state; future misery or eternal death. The impenitent sinner is condemned to final perdition.

If we reject the truth, we seal our own perdition.

3. Loss. [Not used.]

PERDU, PERDUE, adv. [L. perdo.] Close; in concealment.

The moderator, out of view,

Beneath the desk had lain perdue.

PERDU, n. One that is placed on the watch or in ambush.
PERDU, a. Abandoned; employed on desperate purposes; accustomed to desperate purposes or enterprises.

PERDULOUS, a. [L. perdo.] Lost; thrown away. [Not used.]

PERDURABLE, a. [L. perduro; per and duro, to last.]

Very durable; lasting; continuing long. [Not used.]

PERDURABLY, adv. Very durably. [Not used.]

PERDURATION, n. Long continuance. [Not used.]

PERDY, adv. Certainly; verily; in truth.

PEREGAL, a. Equal. [Not used.]

PEREGRINATE, v.i. [L. peregrinor, from peregrinus, a traveler or stranger; peragro, to wander; per and ager.]

To travel from place to place or from one country to another; to live in a foreign country.

PEREGRINATION, n. A traveling from one country to another; a wandering; abode in foreign countries.

PEREGRINATOR, n. A traveler into foreign countries.

PEREGRINE, a. [L. peregrinus.] Foreign; not native. [Little used.]

Peregrine falcon, a species of hawk, the black hawk or falcon, found in America and in Asia, and which wanders in summer to the Arctic circle.

PEREMPT, v.t. [L. peremptus, perimo, to kill.]

In law, to kill; to crush or destroy. [Not used.]

PEREMPTION, n. [L. peremptio.] A killing; a quashing; nonsuit. [Not used.]

PEREMPTORILY, adv. [from peremptory.] Absolutely; positively; in a decisive manner; so as to preclude further debate.

Never judge peremptorily on first appearances.

PEREMPTORINESS, n. Positiveness; absolute decision; dogmatism.

Peremptoriness is of two sorts; one, a magisterialness in matters of opinion; the other, a positiveness in matters of fact.

PEREMPTORY, a. [L. peremptorius, from peremptus, taken away, killed.]

1. Express; positive; absolute; decisive; authoritative; in a manner to preclude debate or expostulation. The orders of the commander are peremptory.

2. Positive in opinion or judgment. The genuine effect of sound learning is to make men less peremptory in their determinations.

3. Final; determinate.

4. Peremptory challenge, in law, a challenge or right of challenging jurors without showing cause.

PERENNIAL, a. [L. perennis; per and annus, a year.]

1. Lasting or continuing without cessation through the year.

2. Perpetual; unceasing; never failing.

3. In botany, continuing more than two years; as a perennial stem or root.

4. Continuing without intermission; as a fever.

PERENNIAL, n. In botany, a plant which lives or continues more than two years, whether it retains its leaves or not. That which retains its leaves during winter is called an evergreen; that which casts its leaves, deciduous, or a perdifoil.

PERENNIALLY, adv. Continually; without ceasing.

PERENNITY, n. [L. perennitas.] An enduring or continuing through the whole year without ceasing.

PERERRATION, n. [L. perrro; per and erro, to wander.]

A wandering or rambling through various places.

PERFECT, a. [L. perfectus, perficio, to complete; per and facio, to do or make through, to carry to the end.]

1. Finished; complete; consummate; not defective; having all that is requisite to its nature and kind; as a perfect statue; a perfect likeness; a perfect work; a perfect system.

As full, as perfect in a hair as heart.

2. Fully informed; completely skilled; as men perfect in the use of arms; perfect in discipline.

3. Complete in moral excellencies.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48.

4. Manifesting perfection.

My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Perfect chord, in music, a concord or union of sounds which is perfectly coalescent and agreeable to the ear, as the fifth and the octave; a perfect consonance.

A perfect flower, in botany, has both stamen and pistil, or at least another and stigma.

Perfect tense, in grammar, the preterit tense; a tense which expresses an act completed.

PERFECT, v.t. [L. perfectus, perficio.] To finish or complete so as to leave nothing wanting; to give to any thing all that is requisite to its nature and kind; as, to perfect a picture or statue. 2 Chronicles 8:16.

-Inquire into the nature and properties of things, and thereby perfect our ideas of distinct species.

If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12.

1. To instruct fully; to make fully skillful; as, to perfect one’s self in the rules of music or architecture; to perfect soldiers in discipline.

PERFECTED, pp. Finished; completed.

PERFECTER, n. One that makes perfect.

PERFECTIBILITY, n. [from perfectible.]

The capacity of becoming or being made perfect.

PERFECTIBLE, a. Capable of becoming or being made perfect, or of arriving at the utmost perfection of the species.

PERFECTING, ppr. Finishing; completing; consummating.

PERFECTION, n. [L. perfectio.] The state of being perfect or complete, so that nothing requisite is wanting; as perfection in an art or science; perfection in a system of morals.

1. Physical perfection, is when a natural object has all its powers, faculties or qualities entire and in full vigor, and all its parts in due proportion.

2. Metaphysical or transcendental perfection, is the possession of all the essential attributes or all the parts necessary to the integrity of a substance. This is absolute, where all defect is precluded, such as the perfection of God; or according to its kind, as in created things.

3. Moral perfection, is the complete possession of all moral excellence, as in the Supreme Being; or the possession of such moral qualities and virtues as a thing is capable of.

4. A quality, endowment or acquirement completely excellent, or of great worth.

In this sense, the word has a plural.

What tongue can her perfections tell?

5. An inherent or essential attribute of supreme or infinite excellence; or one perfect in its kind; as the perfections of God. The infinite power, holiness, justice, benevolence and wisdom of God are denominated his perfections.

6. Exactness; as, to imitate a model to perfection.

PERFECTIONAL, a. Made complete.

PERFECTIONATE, used by Dryden and Tooke, in lieu of the verb to perfect, is a useless word.

PERFECTIONIST, n. One pretending to perfection; an enthusiast in religion.