Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



PHYSALITE, n. [Gr. to swell or inflate, and a stone.] A mineral of a greenish white color, a subspecies of prismatic topaz; called also pyrophysalite, as it intumesces in heat.

PHYSETER. [See Cachalot.]

PHYSIANTHROPY, n. [Gr. nature, and man.] The philosophy of human life, or the doctrine of the constitution and diseases of man, and the remedies.

PHYSIC, n. s as z. [Gr. from nature; to produce.]

1. The art of healing diseases. This is now generally called medicine.

2. Medicines; remedies for diseases. We desire physic only for the sake of health.

3. In popular language, a medicine that purges; a purge; a cathartic. [In technical and elegant language this sense is not used.]

PHYSIC, v.t. To treat with physic; to evacuate the bowels with a cathartic; to purge.

1. To cure.

PHYSICAL, a. Pertaining to nature or natural productions, or to material things, as opposed to things moral or imaginary. We speak of physical force or power, with reference to material things; as, muscular strength is physical force; armies and navies are the physical force of a nation; whereas wisdom, knowledge, skill, etc. constitute moral force. A physical point is a real point, in distinction from a mathematical or imaginary point. A physical body or substance is a material body or substance, in distinction from spirit or metaphysical substance.

1. External; perceptible to the senses; as the physical characters of a mineral; opposed to chimical.

2. Relating to the art of healing; as a physical treatise.

3. Having the property of evacuating the bowels; as physical herbs.

4. Medicinal; promoting the cure of diseases.

5. Resembling physic; as a physical taste.

[In the three latter senses, nearly obsolete among professional men.]

Physical education, the education which is directed to the object of giving strength, health and vigor to the bodily organs and powers.

PHYSICALLY, adv. According to nature; by natural power or the operation of natural laws in the material system of things, as distinguished from moral power or influence. We suppose perpetual motion to by physically impossible.

I am not now treating physically of light or colors.

1. According to the art or rules of medicine.

He that lives physically, must live miserably.

PHYSICIAN, n. A person skilled in the art of healing; one whose profession is to prescribe remedies for diseases.

1. In a spiritual sense, one that heals moral diseases; as a physician of the soul.

PHYSICO-LOGIC, n. Logic illustrated by natural philosophy.

PHYSICO-LOGICAL. a. Pertaining to physico-logic. [Little used.]

PHYSICO-THEOLOGY, n. [physic or physical and theology.] Theology or divinity illustrated or enforced by physics or natural philosophy.

PHYSICS, n. s as z. In its most extensive sense, the science of nature or of natural objects, comprehending the study or knowledge of whatever exists.

1. In the usual and more limited sense, the science of the material system, including natural history and philosophy. This science is of vast extent, comprehending whatever can be discovered of the nature and properties of bodies, their causes, effects, affections, operations, phenomena and laws.

PHYSIOGNOMER. [See Physiognomist.]

PHYSIOGNOMICICAL, a. s as z. [See Physiognomy.] Pertaining to physiognomy; expressing the temper, disposition or other qualities of the mind by signs in the countenance; or drawing a knowledge of the state of the mind from the features of the face.

PHYSIOGNOMICS, n. Among physicians, signs in the countenance which indicate the state, temperament or constitution of the body and mind.

PHYSIOGNOMIST, n. One that is skilled in physiognomy; one that is able to judge of the particular temper or other qualities of the mind, by signs in the countenance.

PHYSIOGNOMY, n. [Gr. nature, and knowing; to know.]

1. The art or science of discerning the character of the mind from the features of the face; or the art of discovering the predominant temper or other characteristic qualities of the mind by the form of the body, but especially by the external signs of the countenance, or the combination of the features.

2. The face or countenance with respect to the temper of the mind; particular configuration, cast or expression of countenance.

[This word formerly comprehended the art of foretelling the future fortunes of persons by indications of the countenance.]

PHYSIOGRAPHY, n. [Gr. nature, and to describe.] A description of nature, or the science of natural objects.

PHYSIOLOGER, n. A physiologist. [The latter is generally used.]

PHYSIOLOGIC, PHYSIOLOGICAL, a. [See Physiology.] Pertaining to physiology; relating to the science of the properties and functions of living beings.

PHYSIOLOGICALLY, adv. According to the principles of physiology.

PHYSIOLOGIST, n. One who is versed in the science of living beings, or in the properties and functions of animals and plants.

1. One that treats of physiology.

PHYSIOLOGY, n. [Gr. nature, to discourse.]

1. According to the Greek, this word signifies a discourse or treatise of nature, but the moderns use the word in a more limited sense, for the science of the properties and functions of animals and plants, comprehending what is common to all animals and plants, and what is peculiar to individuals and species.

2. The science of the mind, of its various phenomena, affections and powers.

PHYSY, for fusee. [Not used.]

PHYTIVOROUS, a. [Gr. a plant, and L. voro, to eat.] Feeding on plants or herbage; as phytivorous animals.

PHYTOGRAPHICAL, a. Pertaining to the description of plants.

PHYTOGRAPHY, n. [Gr. a plant, and description.] A description of plants.

PHYTOLITE, n. [Gr. a plant, and a stone.] A plant petrified, or fossil vegetable.

PHYTOLOGIST, n. [See Phytology.] One versed in plants, or skilled in phytology; a botanist.

PHYTOLOGY, n. [Gr. a plant, and discourse.] A discourse or treatise of plants, or the doctrine of plants; description of the kinds and properties of plants.

Pia mater, [L.] in anatomy, a thin membrane immediately investing the brain.

PIABA, n. A small fresh water fish of Brazil, about the size of the minnow, much esteemed for food.

PIACLE, n. [L. piaculum.] An enormous crime. [Not used.]

PIACULAR, PIACULOUS, a. [L. piacularis, from pio, to expiate.]

1. Expiatory; having power to atone.

2. Requiring expiation.

3. Criminal; atrociously bad.

[These words are little used.]

PIANET, n. [L. pica or picus.] A bird, the lesser woodpecker.

1. The magpie.

PIANIST, n. A performer on the forte-piano, or one well skilled in it.

PIANO-FORTE, n. [L. planus, plain, smooth; L. fortis, strong.]

A keyed musical instrument of German origin and of the harpsichord kind, but smaller; so called from its softer notes or expressions. Its tones are produced by hammers instead of quills, like the virginal and spinet.

PIASTER, n. An Italian coin of about 80 cents value, or 3s. 7d. sterling. But the value is different in different states or countries. It is called also, a piece of eight.

PIAZZA, n. [Eng. id.] In building, a portico or covered walk supported by arches or columns.

PIB-CORN, n. Among the Welsh, a wind instrument or pipe with a horn at each end.

PIBROCH, n. A wild irregular species of music, peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland. It is performed on a bagpipe, and adapted to excite or assuage passion, and particularly to rouse a martial spirit among troops going to battle.

PICA, n. In ornithology, the pie or mag-pie, a species of Corvus.

1. In medicine, a vitiated appetite which makes the patient crave what is unfit for food, as chalk, ashes, coal, etc.

2. A printing type of a large size; probably named from litera picata, a great black letter at the beginning of some new order in the liturgy; hence,

3. Pica, pye or pie, formerly an ordinary, a table or directory for devotional services; also, an alphabetical catalogue of names and things in rolls and records.

Pica marina, the sea-pye, ostralegus, or oyster-catcher; an aquatic fowl of the genus Haematopus. This fowl feeds on oysters, limpets and marine insects.

PICAROON, n. A plunderer; a pirate. This word is not applied to a highway robber, but to pirates and plunderers of wrecks.

In all wars, Corsica and Majorca have been nests of picaroons.

PICCADIL, PICCADILLY, PICKARDIL, n. [probably from the root of pike, peak.]

A high collar or a kind of ruff.

PICCAGE, n. Money paid at fairs for breaking ground for booths.

PICK, v.t. [L. pecto.]

1. To pull off or pluck with the fingers something that grows or adheres to another thing; to separate by the hand, as fruit from trees; as, to pick apples or oranges; to pick strawberries.

2. To pull off or separate with the teeth, beak or claws; as, to pick flesh from a bone; hence,

3. To clean by the teeth, fingers or claws, or by a small instrument, by separating something that adheres; as, to pick a bone; to pick the ears.

4. To take up; to cause or seek industriously; as, to pick a quarrel.

5. To separate or pull asunder; to pull into small parcels by the fingers; to separate locks for loosening and cleaning; as, to pick wool.

6. To pierce; to strike with a pointed instrument; as, to pick an apple with a pin.

7. To strike with the bill or beak; to puncture. In this sense, we generally use peck.

8. To steal by taking out with the fingers or hands; as, to pick the pocket.

9. To open by a pointed instrument; as, to pick a lock.

10. To select; to cull; to separate particular things from others; as, to pick the best men from a company. In this sense, the word is often followed by out.

To pick off, to separate by the fingers or by a small pointed instrument.

To pick out, to select; to separate individuals from numbers.

To pick up, to take up with the fingers or beak; also, to take particular things here and there; to gather; to glean.

To pick a hole in one’s coat, to find fault.

PICK, v.i. To eat slowly or by morsels; to nibble.

1. To do any thing nicely or by attending to small things.

PICK, n. A sharp pointed tool for digging or removing in small quantities.

What the miners call chert and whern--is so hard that the picks will not touch it.

1. Choice; right of selection. You may have your pick.

2. Among printers, foul matter which collects on printing types from the balls, bad ink, or from the paper impressed.

PICKAPACK, adv. In manner of a pack. [Vulgar.]

PICKAX, n. [pick and ax.] An ax with a sharp point at tone end and a broad blade at the other.

PICKBACK, a. On the back.

PICKED, pp. Plucked off by the fingers, teeth or claws; cleaned by picking; opened by an instrument; selected.

PICKED, PIKED, a. Pointed; sharp.

Let the stake be made picked at the top.

PICKEDNESS, n. State of being pointed at the end; sharpness.

1. Foppery; spruceness.


1. To pillage; to pirate.

2. To skirmish, as soldiers on the outposts of an army, or in pillaging parties.

PICKER, n. One that picks or culls.

1. A pickax or instrument for picking or separating.

2. One that excites a quarrel between himself and another.

PICKEREL, n. [from pike.] A small pike, a fish of the genus Esox.

PICKEREL-WEED, n. A plant supposed to breed pickerels.

PICKET, n. A stake sharpened or pointed; used in fortification and encampments.

1. A narrow board pointed; used in making fence.

2. A guard posted in front of an army to give notice of the approach of the enemy.

3. A game at cards. [See Piquet.]

4. A punishment with consists in making the offender stand with one foot on a pointed stake.

PICKET, v.t. To fortify with pointed stakes.

1. To inclose or fence with narrow pointed boards.

2. To fasten to a picket.

PICKETED, pp. Fortified or inclosed with pickets.

PICKETING, ppr. Inclosing or fortifying with pickets.

PICKING, ppr. Pulling off with the fingers or teeth; selecting.

PICKING, n. The act of plucking; selection; gathering; gleaning.

PICKLE, n. Brine; a solution of salt and water, sometimes impregnated with spices, in which flesh, fish or other substance is preserved; as pickle for beef; pickle for capers or for cucumbers; pickle for herring.

1. A thing preserved in pickle.

2. A state of condition of difficulty or disorder; a word used in ridicule or contempt. You are in a fine pickle.

How cam’st thou in this pickle?

3. A parcel of land inclosed with a hedge. [Local.]

PICKLE, v.t. To preserve in brine or pickle; as, to pickle herring.

1. To season in pickle.

2. To imbue highly with any thing bad; as a pickled rogue.

PICKLE-HERRING, n. A merry Andrew; a zany; a buffoon.

PICKLOCK, n. [pick and lock.] An instrument for opening locks without the key.

1. A person who picks locks.

PICKNICK, n. An assembly where each person contributes to the entertainment.

PICKPOCKET, n. One who steals from the pocket of another.

PICKPURSE, n. One that steals from the purse of another.

PICKTHANK, n. An officious fellow who does what he is not desired to do, for the sake of gaining favor; a whispering parasite.

PICKTOOTH, n. An instrument for picking or cleaning the teeth. [But toothpick is more generally used.]

PICO, n. A peak; the pointed head of a mountain.

PICROLITE, n. A mineral composed chiefly of the carbonate of magnesia, of a green color. [See Pikrolite.]

PICROMEL, n. [Gr. bitter.] The characteristic principle of bile.

PICROTOXIN, n. [Gr. bitter, and L. toxicum.] The bitter and poisonous principle of the Cocculus Indicus.

PICT, n. [L. pictus, pingo.] A person whose body is painted.

PICTORIAL, a. [L. pictor, a painter.] Pertaining to a painter; produced by a painter.

PICTURAL, n. A representation. [Not in use.]

PICTURE, n. [L. pictura, from pingo, to paint.]

1. A painting exhibiting the resemblance of any thing; a likeness drawn in colors.

Pictures and shapes are but secondary objects.

2. The words of painters; painting.

Quintilian, when he saw any well expressed image of grief, either in picture or sculpture, would usually weep.

3. Any resemblance or representation, either to the eye or to the understanding. Thus we say, a child is the picture of his father; the poet has drawn an exquisite picture of grief.

PICTURE, v.t. To paint a resemblance.

Love is like a painter, who, in drawing the picture of a friend having a blemish in one eye, would picture only the other side of the face.

1. To represent; to form or present an ideal likeness.

I do picture it in my mind.

PICTURED, pp. Painted in resemblance; drawn in colors; represented.

PICTURESQUE, PICTURESK, a. [L. pictura, or pictor. In English, this would be picturish.] Expressing that peculiar kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture, natural or artificial; striking the mind with great power or pleasure in representing objects of vision, and in painting to the imagination any circumstance or event as clearly as if delineated in a picture.

PICTURESQUELY, PICTURESKLY, adv. In a picturesque manner.

PICTURESQUENESS, PICTURESKNESS, n. The state of being picturesque.

PIDDLE, v.i. [This is a different spelling of peddle, or from the same source.]

1. To deal in trifles; to spend time in trifling objects; to attend to trivial concerns or the small parts rather than to the main.

2. To pick at table; to eat squeamishly or without appetite.

PIDDLER, n. One who busies himself about little things.

1. One that eats squeamishly or without appetite.

PIE, n. [Gr. thick; or from mixing.]

An article of food consisting of paste baked with something in it or under it, as apple, minced meat, etc.

PIE, n. [L. pica.] The magpie, a party-colored bird of the genus Corvus. It is sometimes written pye.

1. The old popish service book, supposed to be so called from the different color of the text and rubric, or from litera picata, a large black letter, used at the beginning of each order.

2. Printers’ types mixed or unsorted.

Cork and pie, an adjuration by the pie or service book, and by the sacred name of the Deity corrupted.

PIEBALD, a. Of various colors; diversified in color; as a piebald horse.

PIECE, n. [Heb. to cut off or clip.]

1. A fragment or part of any thing separated from the whole, in any manner, by cutting, splitting, breaking or tearing; as, to cut in pieces, break in pieces, tear in pieces, pull in pieces, etc.; a piece of a rock; a piece of paper.

2. A part of any thing, though not separated, or separated only in idea; not the whole; a portion; as a piece of excellent knowledge.

3. A distinct part or quantity; a part considered by itself, or separated from the rest only by a boundary or divisional line; as a piece of land in the meadow or on the mountain.

4. A separate part; a thing or portion distinct from others of a like kind; as a piece of timber; a piece of cloth; a piece of paper hangings.

5. A composition, essay or writing of no great length; as a piece of poetry or prose; a piece of music.

6. A separate performance; a distinct portion of labor; as a piece of work.

7. A picture or painting.

If unnatural, the finest colors are but daubing, and the piece is a beautiful monster at the best.

8. A coin; as a piece of eight.

9. A gun or single part of ordnance. We apply the word to a cannon, a mortar, or a musket. Large guns are called battering pieces; smaller guns are called field pieces.

10. In heraldry, an ordinary or charge. The fess, the bend, the pale, the bar, the cross, the saltier, the chevron are called honorable pieces.

11. In ridicule or contempt. A piece of a lawyer is a smatterer.

12. A castle; a building. [Not in use.]

A-piece, to each; as, he paid the men a dollar a-piece.

Of a piece, like; of the same sort, as if taken from the same whole. They seemed all of a piece. Sometimes followed by with.

The poet must be of a piece with the spectators to gain reputation.

PIECE, v.t. To enlarge or mend by the addition of a piece; to patch; as, to piece a garment; to piece the time.

To piece out, to extend or enlarge by addition of a piece or pieces.

PIECE, v.i. To unite by coalescence of parts; to be compacted, as parts into a whole.

PIECED, pp. Mended or enlarged by a piece or pieces.

PIECELESS, a. Not made of pieces; consisting of an entire thing.


1. In pieces; in fragments.

On which it piecemeal broke.

2. By pieces; by little and little in succession.

Piecemeal they win this acre first, then that.

PIECEMEAL, a. Single; separate; made of parts or pieces.

PIECEMEALED, a. Divided into small pieces.

PIECER, n. One that pieces; a patcher.

PIED, a. [allied probably to pie, in piebald, and a contracted word, perhaps from the root of L. pictus.]

Variegated with spots of different colors; spotted. We now apply the word chiefly or wholly to animals which are marked with large spots of different colors. If the spots are small, we use speckled. This distinction was not formerly observed, and in some cases, pied is elegantly used to express a diversity of colors in small spots.

Meadows trim with daisies pied.

PIEDNESS, n. Diversity of colors in spots.

PIELED, a. [See Peel.] Bald; bare.

PIEPOUDRE, n. An ancient court of record in England, incident to every fair and market, of which the steward of him who owns or has the toll, is the judge. It had jurisdiction of all causes arising in the fair or market.

PIER, n. [L. petra.]

1. A mass of solid stone work for supporting an arch or the timbers of a bridge or other building.

2. A mass of stone work or a mole projecting into the sea, for breaking the force of the waves and making a safe harbor.

PIERCE, v.t. pers.

1. To thrust into with a pointed instrument; as, to pierce the body with a sword or spear; to pierce the side with a thorn.

2. To penetrate; to enter; to force a way into; as, a column of troops pierced the main body of the enemy; a shot pierced the ship.

3. To penetrate the heart deeply; to touch the passions; to excite or affect the passions. 1 Timothy 6:10.

4. To dive or penetrate into, as a secret or purpose.

PIERCE, v.i. pers. To enter; as a pointed instrument.

1. To penetrate; to force a way into or through any thing. The shot pierced through the side of the ship.

Her tears will pierce into a marble heart.

2. To enter; to dive or penetrate, as into a secret.

She would not pierce further into his meaning than himself should declare.

3. To affect deeply.

PIERCEABLE, a. pers’able. That may be pierced.

PIERCED, pp. pers’ed. Penetrated; entered by force; transfixed.

PIERCER, n. pers’er. An instrument that pierces, penetrates or bores.

1. One that pierces or perforates.

PIERCING, ppr. pers’ing. Penetrating; entering, as a pointed instrument; making a way by force into another body.

1. Affecting deeply; as eloquence piercing the heart.

2. a. Affecting; cutting; keen.

PIERCINGLY, adv. pers’ingly. With penetrating force or effect; sharply.

PIERCINGNESS, n. pers’ingness. The power of piercing or penetrating; sharpness; keenness.

PIETISM, n. [See Piety.] Extremely strict devotion, or affectation of piety.

PIETIST, n. One of a sect professing great strictness and purity of life, despising learning, school theology and ecclesiastical polity, as also forms and ceremonies in religion, and giving themselves up to mystic theology. This sect sprung up among the protestants of Germany, in the latter part of the seventeenth century.