Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



POROSITY, n. [from porous.] The quality or state of having pores or interstices.

POROUS, a. [from pore.] Having interstices in the skin or substance of the body; having spiracles or passages for fluids; as a porous skin; porous wood; porous earth.

POROUSNESS, n. The quality of having pores, porosity; as the porousness of the skin of an animal, or of wood, or of fossils.

1. The porous parts. [Not authorized.]

PORPESS, n. In zoology, a cetaceous fish of the genus Delphinus, whose back is usually blackish or brown, whence it is called in Dutch, bruinvisch, brown fish; the body is thick towards the head, but more slender towards the tail, which is semi-lunar. This fish preys on other fish, and seeks food not only by swimming, but by rooting like a hog in the sand and mud, whence some persons suppose the name has been given to it.

Of cetaceous fish, we met with porpesses, or as some sailors call them, sea-hogs.

PORPHYRITIC, PORPHYRACEOUS, a. [See Porphyry.] Pertaining to porphyry; resembling porphyry.

1. Containing or composed of porphyry; as porphyraceous mountains.

PORPHYRIZE, v.t. To cause to resemble porphyry; to make spotted in its composition.

PORPHYRY, n. [Gr. purple; L. porphyrites.] A mineral consisting of a homogeneous ground with crystals of some other mineral imbedded, giving to the mass a speckled complexion. One variety of Egyptian porphyry has a purple ground, whence the name of the species; but the homogeneous ground with imbedded crystals, being all that is essential to porphyry, its composition and colors are consequently various.

Porphyry is very hard, and susceptible of a fine polish.

Porphyry is composed of paste in which are disseminated a multitude of little angular and granuliform parts, of a color different from the ground.

PORPHYRY-SHELL, n. An animal or shell of the genus Murex. It is of the snail kind, the shell consisting of one spiral valve. From one species of this genus was formerly obtained a liquor that produced the Tyrian purple.

PORPITE, PORPITES, n. The hair-button-stone, a small species of fossil coral of a roundish figure, flattened and striated from the center to the circumference; found immersed in stone.

PORRACEOUS, a. [L. porraceus, from porrum, a leek or onion.]

Greenish; resembling the leek in color.

PORRECTION, n. [L. porrectio, porrigo; per or por; Eng. for, fore, and rego; to reach.] The act of stretching forth. [Not used.]

PORRET, n. [L. porrum.] A scallion; a leek or small onion.

PORRIDGE, n. [L. farrago, or from porrum, a leek.]

A kind of food made by boiling meat in water; broth.

This mixture is usually called in America, broth or soup, but not porridge. With us, porridge is a mixture of meal or flour, boiled with water. Perhaps this distinction is not always observed.

PORRIDGE-POT, n. The pot in which flesh, or flesh and vegetables are boiled for food.


1. A small metal vessel in which children eat porridge or milk, or used in the nursery for warming liquors.

2. A head-dress in the shape of a porringer; in contempt.

PORT, n. [L. portus, porto, to carry; L. fero; Eng. to bear.]

1. A harbor; a haven; any bay, cove, inlet or recess of the sea or of a lake or the mouth of a river, which ships or vessels can enter, and where they can lie safe from injury by storms. Ports may be natural or artificial, and sometimes works of art, as piers and moles, are added to the natural shores of a place to render a harbor more safe. The word port is generally applied to spacious harbors much resorted to be ships, as the port of London or of Boston, and not to small bays or coves which are entered occasionally, or in stress of weather only. Harbor includes all places of safety for shipping.

2. A gate. [L. porta.]

From their ivory port the cherubim

Forth issued.

3. An embrasure or opening in the side of a ship of war, through which cannon are discharged; a port-hole.

4. The lid which shuts a port-hole.

5. Carriage; air; mien; manner of movement or walk; demeanor; external appearance; as a proud port; the port of a gentleman.

Their port was more than human.

With more terrific port

Thou walkest.

6. In seamen’s language, the larboard or left side of a ship; as in the phrase,”the ship heels to port.” “Port the helm,” is an order to put the helm to the larboard side.

7. A kind of wine made in Portugal; so called from Oporto.

Port of the voice, in music, the faculty or habit of making the shakes, passages and diminutions, in which the beauty of a song consists.

PORT, v.t. To carry in form; as ported spears.

1. To turn or put to the left or larboard side of a ship. See the noun, No. 6. It is used in the imperative.

PORTABLE, a. [L. porto, to carry.]

1. That may be carried by the hand or about the person, on horseback, or in a traveling vehicle; not bulky or heavy; that may be easily conveyed from place to place with one’s traveling baggage; as a portable bureau or secretary.

2. That may be carried from place to place.

3. That may be borne along with one.

The pleasure of the religious man is an easy and portable pleasure.

4. Sufferable; supportable. [Not in use.]

PORTABLENESS, n. The quality of being portable.

PORTAGE, n. The act of carrying.

1. The price of carriage.

2. A port-hole. [Unusual.]

3. A carrying place over land between navigable waters.

PORTAL, n. In architecture, a little gate, where there are two gates of different dimensions.

1. A little square corner of a room, separated from the rest by a wainscot, and forming a short passage into a room.

2. A kind of arch of joiner’s work before a door.

3. A gate; an opening for entrance; as the portals of heaven.

PORTANCE, n. Air; mien; carriage; port; demeanor.

PORTASS, n. A breviary; a prayer book. [portuis, porthose.]

[Not used.]

PORTATIVE, a. Portable. [Not used.]

PORT-BAR, n. A bar to secure the ports of a ship in a gale of wind.

Port-charges, in commerce, charges to which a ship or its cargo is subjected in a harbor, as wharfage, etc.

PORT-CRAYON, n. A pencil-case.

PORTCULLIS, n. [L. clausus.] In fortification, an assemblage of timbers joined across one another, like those of a harrow, and each pointed with iron; hung over the gateway of a fortified town, to be let down in case of surprise, to prevent the entrance of an enemy.

PORTCULLIS, v.t. To shut; to bar; to obstruct.

PORTCULLISED, a. Having a portcullis.

PORTE, n. The Ottoman court, so called from the gate of the Sultan’s palace where justice is administered; as the Sublime Porte.

PORTED, a. Having gates. [Not used.]

1. Borne in a certain or regular order.

PORTEND, v.t. [L. portendo; por; Eng. fore, and tendo, to stretch.] To foreshow; to foretoken; to indicate something future by previous signs.

A moist and cool summer portends a hard winter.

PORTENDED, pp. Foreshown; previously indicated by signs.

PORTENDING, ppr. Foreshowing.

PORTENSION, n. The act of foreshowing. [Not in use.]

PORTENT, n. [L. portentum.] An omen of ill; any previous sign or prodigy indicating the approach of evil or calamity.

My loss by dire portents the god foretold.

PORTENTOUS, a. [L. portentosus.] Ominous; foreshowing ill. Ignorance and superstition hold meteors to be portentous.

1. Monstrous; prodigious; wonderful; in an ill sense.

No beast of more portentous size,

In the Hercynian forest lies.

PORTER, n. [L. porta, a gate.]

1. A man that has the charge of a door or gate; a door-keeper.

2. One that waits at the door to receive messages.

3. [L. porto.] A carrier; a person who carries or conveys burdens for hire.

4. A malt liquor which differs from ale and pale beer, in being made with high dried malt.

PORTERAGE, n. Money charged or paid for the carriage of burdens by a porter.

1. The business of a porter or door-keeper.

PORTERLY, a. Coarse; vulgar. [Little used.]

PORTESSE. [See Portass.]

PORT-FIRE, n. A composition for setting fire to powder, etc. frequently used in preference to a match. It is wet or dry. The wet is composed of saltpeter, four parts, of sulphur one, and of mealed powder four; mixed and sifted, moistened with a little lintseed oil, and well rubbed. The dry is composed of saltpeter, four parts, sulphur one, mealed powder two, and antimony one. These compositions are driven into small papers for use.

PORTFOLIO, n. [L. folium.] A case of the size of a large book, to keep loose papers in.

To have or hold the portfolio, is to hold the office of minister of foreign affairs.

PORTGLAVE, n. A sword-bearer. [Not in use.]

PORTGRAVE, PORTGREVE, PORTREEVE, n. [L. portus, a port.] Formerly, the chief magistrate of a port or maritime town. This officer is now called mayor or bailiff.

PORT-HOLE, n. [port and hole.]

The embrasure of a ship of war. [See Port.]

PORTICO, n. [L. porticus, form porta or portus.] In architecture, a kind of gallery on the ground, or a piazza encompassed with arches supported by columns; a covered walk. The roof is sometimes flat; sometimes vaulted.

PORTION, n. [L. portio, from partio, to divide, from pars, part. See Part.]

1. In general, a part of any thing separated from it. Hence,

2. A part, though not actually divided, but considered by itself.

These are parts of his ways, but how little a portion is heard of him. Job 26:14.

3. A part assigned; an allotment; a dividend.

How small

A portion to your share would fall.

The priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh. Genesis 47:22.

4. The part of an estate given to a child or heir, or descending to him by law, and distributed to him in the settlement of the estate.

5. A wife’s fortune.

PORTION, v.t. To divide; to parcel; to allot a share or shares.

And portion to his tribes the wide domain.

1. To endow.

Him portion’d maids, apprentic’d orphans blest.

PORTIONED, pp. Divided into shares or parts.

1. Endowed; furnished with a portion.

PORTIONER, n. One who divides or assigns in shares.

PORTIONING, ppr. Dividing; endowing.

PORTIONIST, n. One who has a certain academical allowance or portion.

1. The incumbent of a benefice which has more rectors or vicars than one.

PORTLAND-STONE, n. A compact sandstone from the isle of Portland in England, which forms a calcarious cement.

PORTLAST, PORTOISE, n. The gunwale of a ship.

To lower the yards a portlast, is to lower them to the gunwale.

To ride a portoise, is to have the lower yards and top-masts struck or lowered down, when at anchor in a gale of wind.

PORTLID, n. The lid that closes a porthole.

PORTLINESS, n. [from portly.] Dignity of mien or of personal appearance, consisting in size and symmetry of body, with dignified manners and demeanor.

PORTLY, a. [from port.] Grand or dignified in mien; of a noble appearance and carriage.

1. Bulky; corpulent.

PORT-MAN, n. [port and man.] An inhabitant or burgess, as of a cinque port.

PORTMANTEAU, n. [L. mantele.] A bag usually made of leather, for carrying apparel and other furniture on journeys, particularly on horseback.

PORT-MOTE, n. Anciently, a court held in a port town.

PORTOISE. [See Portlast.]

PORTRAIT, n. [Eng. to portray; pour; for, fore, and traire; L. trahere; Eng. to draw.] A picture or representation of a person, and especially of a face, drawn from the life.

In portraits, the grace, and we may add, the likeness, consist more in the general air than in the exact similitude of every feature.

PORTRAIT, v.t. To portray; to draw. [Not used.]

PORTRAITURE, n. A portrait; painted resemblance.


1. To paint or draw the likeness of any thing in colors; as, to portray a king on horseback; to portray a city or temple with a pencil or with chalk.

2. To describe in words. It belongs to the historian to portray the character of Alexander of Russia. Homer portrays the character and achievements of his heroes in glowing colors.

3. To adorn with pictures; as shields portrayed.

PORTRAYED, pp. Painted or drawn to the life; described.

PORTRAYER, n. One who paints, draws to the life or describes.

PORTRAYING, ppr. Painting or drawing the likeness of; describing.

PORTRESS, PORTERESS, n. [from porter.] A female guardian of a gate.

PORTREVE, n. [The modern orthography of portgreve, which see.]

The chief magistrate of a port or maritime town.

PORT-ROPE, n. A rope to draw up a portlid.

PORWIGLE, n. A tadpole; a young frog. [Not used.]

PORY, a. [from pore.] Full of pores or small interstices.

POSE, n. s as z. [See the Verb.] In heraldry, a lion, horse or other beast standing still, with all his feet on the ground.

POSE, n. s as z. A stuffing of the head; catarrh.
POSE, v.t. s as z. [L. posui.]

1. To puzzle, [a word of the same origin;] to set; to put to a stand or stop; to gravel.

Learning was pos’d, philosophy was set.

I design not to pose them with those common enigmas of magnetism.

2. To puzzle or put to a stand by asking difficult questions; to set by questions; hence, to interrogate closely, or with a view to scrutiny.

POSED, pp. Puzzled; put to a stand; interrogated closely.

POSER, n. One that puzzles by asking difficult questions; a close examiner.

POSING, ppr. Puzzling; putting to a stand; questioning closely.

POSITED, a. [L. positus, from pono, to put; probably however, pono is a different root, and positus from the root of pose.]

Put; set; placed.

POSITION, n. [L. positio, form positus. See Pose and Posited.]

1. State of being placed; situation; often with reference to other objects, or to different parts of the same object.

We have different prospects of the same thing according to our different positions to it.

2. Manner of standing or being placed; attitude; as an inclining position.

3. Principle laid down; proposition advanced or affirmed as a fixed principle, or stated as the ground of reasoning, or to be proved.

Let not the proof of any position depend on the positions that follow, but always on those which precede.

4. The advancement of any principle.

5. State; condition.

Great Britain, at the peace of 1763, stood in a position to prescribe her own terms.

6. In grammar, the state of a vowel placed between two consonants, as in pompous, or before a double consonant, as in axle. In prosody, vowels are said to be long or short by position.

POSITIONAL, a. Respecting position. [Not used.]

POSITIVE, a. [Low L. positivus.]

1. Properly, set; laid down; expressed; direct; explicit; opposed to implied; as, he told us in positive words; we have his positive declaration to the fact; the testimony is positive.

2. Absolute; express; not admitting any condition or discretion. The commands of the admiral are positive.

3. Absolute; real; existing in fact; opposed to negative, as positive good, which exists by itself, whereas negative good is merely the absence of evil; or opposed to relative or arbitrary, as beauty is not a positive thing, but depends on the different tastes of people.

4. Direct; express; opposed to circumstantial; as positive proof.

5. Confident; fully assured; applied to persons. The witness is very positive that he is correct in his testimony.

6. Dogmatic; over-confident in opinion or assertion.

Some positive persisting fops we know,

That, if once wrong, will needs be always so.

7. Settled by arbitrary appointment; opposed to natural or inbred.

In laws, that which is natural, bindeth universally; that which is positive, not so.

Although no laws but positive are mutable, yet all are not mutable which are positive.

8. Having power to act directly; as a positive voice in legislation.

Positive degree, in grammar, is the state of an adjective which denotes simple or absolute quality, without comparison or relation to increase or diminution; as wise, noble.

Positive electricity, according to Dr. Franklin, consists in a superabundance of the fluid in a substance. Others suppose it to consist in a tendency of the fluid outwards. It is not certain in what consists the difference between positive and negative electricity. Positive electricity being produced by rubbing glass, is called the vitreous; negative electricity, produced by rubbing amber or resin, is called the resinous.

POSITIVE, n. What is capable of being affirmed; reality.

1. That which settles by absolute appointment.

2. In grammar, a word that affirms or asserts existence.

POSITIVELY, adv. Absolutely; by itself, independent of any thing else; not comparatively.

Good and evil removed may be esteemed good or evil comparatively, and not positively or simply.

1. Not negatively; really; in its own nature; directly; inherently. A thing is positively good, when it produces happiness by its own qualities or operation. It is negatively good, when it prevents an evil, or does not produce it.

2. Certainly; indubitably. This is positively your handwriting.

3. Directly; explicitly; expressly. The witness testified positively to the fact.

4. Peremptorily; in strong terms.

The divine law positively requires humility and meekness.

5. With full confidence or assurance. I cannot speak positively in regard to the fact.

Positively electrified, in the science of electricity. A body is said to be positively electrified or charged with electric matter, when it contains a superabundance of the fluid, and negatively electrified or charged, when some part of the fluid which it naturally contains, has been taken from it.

According to other theorists, when the electric fluid is directed outwards from a body, the substance is electrified positively; but when it is entering or has a tendency to enter another substance, the body is supposed to be negatively electrified. The two species of electricity attract each other, and each repels its own kind.

POSITIVENESS, n. Actualness; reality of existence; not mere negation.

The positiveness of sins of commission lies both in the habitude of the will and in the executed act too; the positiveness of sins of omission is in the habitude of the will only.

1. Undoubting assurance; full confidence; peremptoriness; as, the man related the facts with positiveness. In matters of opinion, positiveness is not an indication of prudence.

POSITIVITY, n. Peremptoriness. [Not used.]

POSITURE, for posture, is not in use. [See Posture.]

POSNET, n. [See Pose.] A little basin; a porringer, skillet or saucepan.

POSOLOGICAL, a. Pertaining to posology.

POSOLOGY, n. [Gr. how much, and discourse.]

In medicine, the science or doctrine of doses.

POSPOLITE, n. A kind of militia in Poland, consisting of the gentry, who in case of invasion, are summoned to arms for the defense of the country.

Posse comitatus, in law, the power of the country, or the citizens, who are summoned to assist an officer in suppressing a riot, or executing any legal precept which is forcibly opposed. The word comitatus is often omitted, and posse alone is used in the same sense.

1. In low language, a number or crowd of people; a rabble.

POSSESS, v.t. [L. possessus, possideo, a compound of po, a Russian preposition, perhaps by, and sedeo, to sit; to sit in or on.]

1. To have the just and legal title, ownership or property of a thing; to own; to hold the title of, as the rightful proprietor, or to hold both the title and the thing. A man may possess the farm which he cultivates, or he may possess an estate in a foreign country, not in his own occupation. He may possess many farms which are occupied by tenants. In this as in other cases, the original sense of the word is enlarged, the holding or tenure being applied to the title or right, as well as to the thing itself.

2. To hold; to occupy without title or ownership.

I raise up the Chaldeans, to possess the dwelling-places that are not theirs. Habakkuk 1:6.

Neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own. Acts 4:32.

3. To have; to occupy. The love of the world usually possesses the heart.

4. To seize; to gain; to obtain the occupation of.

The English marched towards the river Eske, intending to possess a hill called Under-Eske.

5. To have power over; as an invisible agent or spirit. Luke 8:36.

Beware what spirit rages in your breast;

For ten inspired, ten thousand are possess’d.

6. To affect by some power.

Let not your ears despise my tongue,

Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound

That ever yet they heard.

To possess of, or with, more properly to possess of, is to give possession, command or occupancy.

Of fortune’s favor long possess’d

This possesses us of the most valuable blessing of human life, friendship.

To possess one’s self of, to take or gain possession or command; to make one’s self master of.

We possessed ourselves of the kingdom of Naples.

To possess with, to furnish or fill with something permanent; or to be retained.

It is of unspeakable advantage to possess our minds with an habitual good intention.

If they are possessed with honest minds.

POSSESSED, pp. Held by lawful title; occupied; enjoyed; affected by demons or invisible agents.

POSSESSING, ppr. Having or holding by absolute right or title; occupying; enjoying.

POSSESSION, n. The having, holding or detention of property in one’s power or command; actual seizin or occupancy, either rightful or wrongful. One man may have the possession of a thing, and another may have the right of possession or property.

If the possession is severed from the property; if A has the right of property, and B by unlawful means has gained possession, this is an injury to A. This is a bare or naked possession.

In bailment, the bailee, who receives goods to convey, or to keep for a time, has the possession of the goods, and a temporary right over them, but not the property. Property in possession, includes both the right and the occupation. Long undisturbed possession is presumptive proof of right or property in the possessor.

1. The thing possessed; land, estate or goods owned; as foreign possessions.

The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. Obadiah 17.

When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:22.

2. Any thing valuable possessed or enjoyed. Christian peace of mind is the best possession of life.

3. The state of being under the power of demons or invisible beings; madness; lunacy; as demoniacal possession.

Writ of possession, a precept directing a sheriff to put a person in peaceable possession of property recovered in ejectment.

To take possession, to enter on, or to bring within one’s power or occupancy.

To give possession, to put in another’s power or occupancy.

POSSESSION, v.t. To invest with property. [Not used.]

POSSESSIONER, n. One that has possession of a thing, or power over it. [Little used.]

POSSESSIVE, a. [L. possessivus.] Pertaining to possession; having possession.

Possessive case, in English grammar, is the genitive case, or case of nouns and pronouns, which expresses, 1st, possession, ownership, as John’s book; or 2dly, some relation of one thing to another, as Homer’s admirers.

POSSESSOR, n. An occupant; one that has possession; a person who holds in his hands or power any species of property, real or personal. The owner or proprietor of property is the permanent possessor by legal right; the lessee of land and the bailee of goods are temporary possessors by right; the disseizor of land and the thief are wrongful possessors.

1. One that has, holds or enjoys any good or other thing.

Think of the happiness of the prophets and apostles, saints and martyrs, possessors of eternal glory.

POSSESSORY, a. Having possession; as a possessory lord.

Possessory action, in law, an action or suit in which the right of possession only, and not that of property, is contested.

POSSET, n. [L. posca.] Milk curdled with wine or other liquor.

POSSET, v.t. To curdle; to turn.

POSSIBILITY, n. [from possible.] The power of being or existing; the power of happening; the state of being possible. It often implies improbability or great uncertainty. There is a possibility that a new star may appear this night. There is a possibility of a hard frost in July in our latitude. It is not expedient to hazard much on the bare possibility of success. It is prudent to reduce contracts to writing, and to render them so explicit as to preclude the possibility of mistake or controversy.

POSSIBLE, a. [L. possibilis, from posse. See Power.]

That may be or exist; that may be now, or may happen or come to pass; that may be done; not contrary to the nature of things. It is possible that the Greeks and Turks may now be engaged in battle. It is possible that peace of Europe may continue a century. It is not physically possible that a stream should ascend a mountain, but it is possible that the Supreme Being may suspend a law of nature, that is, his usual course of proceeding. It is not possible that 2 and 3 should be 7, or that the same action should be morally right and morally wrong.

This word when pronounced with a certain emphasis, implies improbability. A thing is possible, but very improbable.

POSSIBLY, adv. By any power, moral or physical, really existing. Learn all that can possibly be known.

Can we possibly his love desert?

1. Perhaps; without absurdity.

Arbitrary power tends to make a man a bad sovereign, who might possibly have been a good one, had he been invested with authority circumscribed by laws.

POST, a. Suborned; hired to do what is wrong. [Not in use.]

POST, n. [L. postis, from positus, the given participle of pono, to place.]

1. A piece of timber set upright, usually larger than a stake, and intended to support something else; as the posts of a house; the posts of a door; the posts of a gate; the posts of a fence.

2. A military station; the place where a single soldier or a body of troops is stationed. The sentinel must not desert his post. The troops are ordered to defend the post. Hence,

3. The troops stationed in a particular place, or the ground they occupy.

4. A public office or employment, that is, a fixed place or station.

When vice prevails and impious men bear sway,

The post of honor is a private station.

5. A messenger or a carrier of letters and papers; one that goes at stated times to convey the mail or dispatches. This sense also denotes fixedness, either from the practice of using relays of horses stationed at particular places, or of stationing men for carrying dispatches, or from the fixed stages where they were to be supplied with refreshment. [See Stage.] Xenophon informs us the Cyrus, king of Persia, established such stations or houses.

6. A seat or situation.

7. A sort of writing paper, such as is used for letters; letter paper.

8. An old game at cards.

To ride post, to be employed to carry dispatches and papers, and as such carriers rode in haste, hence the phrase signifies to ride in haste, to pass with expedition. Post is used also adverbially, for swiftly, expeditiously, or expressly.

Sent from Media post to Egypt.

Hence, to travel post, is to travel expeditiously by the use of fresh horses taken at certain stations.

Knight of the post, a fellow suborned or hired to do a bad action.

POST, v.i. To travel with speed.

And post o’er land and ocean without rest.

POST, v.t. To fix to a post; as, to post a notification.

1. To expose to public reproach by fixing the name to a post; to expose to opprobrium by some public action; as, to post a coward.

2. To advertise on a post or in a public place; as, to post a stray horse.

3. To set; to place; to station; as, to post troops on a hill, or in front or on the flank of an army.

4. In book-keeping, to carry accounts from the waste-book or journal to the ledger.

To post off, to put off; to delay. [Not used.]

POST, a Latin preposition, signifying after. It is used in this sense in composition in many English words.

POSTABLE, a. That may be carried. [Not used.]

POSTAGE, n. The price established by law to be paid for the conveyance of a letter in a public mail.

1. A portage. [Not used.]