Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



PROSCRIPTION, n. [L. proscriptio.] The act of proscribing or dooming to death; among the Romans, the public offer of a reward for the head of a political enemy. Such were the proscriptions of Sylla and Marius. Under the triumvirate, many of the best Roman citizens fell by proscription.

1. A putting out of the protection of law; condemning to exile.

2. Censure and condemnation; utter rejection.

PROSCRIPTIVE, a. Pertaining to or consisting in proscription; proscribing.

PROSE, n. s as z. [L. prosa.]

1. The natural language of man; language loose and unconfined to poetical measure, as opposed to verse or metrical composition.

Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.

2. A prayer used in the Romish church on particular days.

PROSE, v.t. To write in prose.

1. To make a tedious relation.

PROSECUTE, v.t. [L. prosecutus, prosequor; pro and sequor, to follow; Eng. to seed. See Essay.]

1. To follow or pursue with a view to reach, execute or accomplish; to continue endeavors to obtain or complete; to continue efforts already begun; as, to prosecute a scheme; to prosecute an undertaking. The great canal in the State of New York has been prosecuted with success.

That which is morally good is to be desired and prosecuted.

This word signifies either to begin and carry on, or simply to continue what has been begun. When I say, “I have devised a plan which I have not the courage or means to prosecute,” the word signifies to begin to execute. When we say, “the nation began a war which it had not means to prosecute.” it signifies to continue to carry on. The latter is the genuine sense of the word, but both are well authorized. We prosecute any work of the hands or of the head. We prosecute a purpose, an enterprise, a work, studies, inquiries, etc.

2. To seek to obtain by legal process; as, to prosecute a right in a court of law.

3. To accuse of some crime or breach of law, or to pursue for redress or punishment, before a legal tribunal; as, to prosecute a man for trespass or for a riot. It is applied to civil suits for damages, as well as to criminal suits, but not to suits for debt. We never say, man prosecutes another on a bond or note, or in assumpsit; but he prosecutes his right or claim in an action of debt, detinue, trover or assumpsit. So we say, a man prosecutes another for assault and battery, for a libel or for slander, or for breaking his close. In these cases, prosecute signifies to begin and to continue a suit. The attorney general prosecutes offenders in the name of the king or of the state, by information or indictment.

Prosecute differs from persecute, as in law it is applied to legal proceedings only, whereas persecute implies cruelty, injustice or oppression.

PROSECUTED, pp. Pursued, or begun and carried on for execution or accomplishment, as a scheme; pursued for redress or punishment in a court of law, as a person; demanded in law, as a right or claim.

PROSECUTING, ppr. Pursuing, or beginning and carrying on for accomplishment; pursuing for redress or punishment; suing for, as a right or claim.

PROSECUTION, n. The act or process of endeavoring to gain or accomplish something; pursuit by efforts of body or mind; as the prosecution of a scheme, plan, design or undertaking; the prosecution of war or of commerce; the prosecution of a work, study, argument or inquiry.

1. The institution and carrying on of a suit in a court of law or equity. to obtain some right, or to redress and punish some wrong. The prosecution of a claim in chancery is very expensive. Malicious prosecutions subject the offender to punishment.

2. The institution or commencement and continuance of a criminal suit; the process of exhibiting formal charges against an offender before a legal tribunal, and pursuing them to final judgment; as prosecutions of the crown or of the state by the attorney or solicitor general. Prosecutions may be by presentment, information or indictment.

PROSECUTOR, n. One who pursues or carries on any purpose, plan or business.

1. The person who institutes and carries on a criminal suit in a legal tribunal, or one who exhibits criminal charges against an offender. The attorney general is the prosecutor for the king or state.

PROSELYTE, n. [Gr. to come.] A new convert to some religion or religious sect, or to some particular opinion, system or party. Thus a Gentile converted to Judaism is a proselyte; a pagan converted to christianity is a proselyte; and we speak familiarly of proselytes to the theories of Brown, of Black, or of Lavoisier. The word primarily refers to converts to some religious creed.

PROSELYTE, v.t. To make a convert to some religion, or to some opinion or system.

PROSELYTISM, n. The making of converts to a religion or religious sect, or to any opinion, system or party.

They were possessed with a spirit of proselytism in the most fanatical degree.

1. Conversion to a system or creed.

PROSELYTIZE, to make converts, or to convert, is not well authorized, or not in common use, and is wholly unnecessary.

PROSEMINATION, n. [L. proseminatus; pro and semino, to sow.]

Propagation by seed. [Not used.]

PROSENNEAHEDRAL, a. [Gr.] In crystalography, having nine faces on two adjacent parts of the crystal.

PROSER, n. s as z. [from prose.] A writer of prose.

1. In cant language, one who makes a tedious narration of uninteresting matters.

PROSODIAL, PROSODICAL, a. [from prosody.] Pertaining to prosody or the quantity and accents of syllables; according to the rules of prosody.

PROSODIAN, n. [from prosody.] One skilled in prosody or in the rules of pronunciation and metrical composition.

PROSODIST, n. [from prosody.] One who understands prosody.

PROSODY, n. [L. prosodia; Gr. an ode.] That part of grammar which treats of the quantity of syllables, of accent, and of the laws of versification. It includes also the art of adjusting the accent and metrical arrangement of syllables in compositions for the lyre.

PROSOPOLEPSY, n. [Gr.] Respect of persons; more particularly, a premature opinion or prejudice against a person, formed by a view of his external appearance.

PROSOPOPEIA, PROSOPOPY, n. [Gr. perso, and to make.] A figure in rhetoric by which things are represented as persons, or by which things inanimate are spoken of as animated beings, or by which an absent person is introduced as speaking, or a deceased person is represented as alive and present. It includes personification, but is more extensive in its signification.

PROSPECT, n. [L. prospectus, prospicio, to look forward; pro and specio, to see.]

1. View of things within the reach of the eye.

Eden and all the coast in prospect lay.

2. View of things to come; intellectual sight; expectation. The good man enjoys the prospect of future felicity.

3. That which is presented to the eye; the place and the objects seen. There is a noble prospect from the dome of the state house in Boston, a prospect diversified with land and water, and every thing that can please the eye.

4. Object of view.

Man to himself

Is a large prospect.

5. View delineated or painted; picturesque representation of a landscape.

6. Place which affords an extended view.

7. Position of the front of a building; as a prospect towards the south or north. Ezekiel 40:44-46.

8. Expectation, or ground of expectation. There is a prospect of a good harvest. A man has a prospect of preferment; or he has little prospect of success.

9. A looking forward; a regard to something future.

Is he a prudent man as to his temporal estate, who lays designs only for a day, without any prospect to or provision for the remaining part of life? [Little used.]

PROSPECTION, n. The act of looking forward, or of providing for future wants.

PROSPECTIVE, a. Looking forward in time; regarding the future; opposed to retrospective.

The supporting of Bible societies is one of the points on which the promises, at the time of ordination, had no prospective bearing.

1. Acting with foresight.

The French king and king of Sweden, are circumspect, industrious and prospective in this affair.

2. Pertaining to a prospect; viewing at a distance.

3. Furnishing an extensive prospect.

PROSPECTIVELY, adv. With reference to the future.

PROSPECTUS, n. [L.] The plan of a literary work, containing the general subject or design, with the manner and terms of publication, and sometimes a specimen of it.

PROSPER, v.t. [L. prospero, from prosperus, from the Gr. to carry to or toward; to bear.] To favor; to render successful. All things concur to prosper our design.

PROSPER, v.i. To be successful; to succeed.

The Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. Genesis 39:3, 23.

He that covereth his sins, shall not prosper. Proverbs 28:13.

1. To grow or increase; to thrive; to make gain; as, to prosper in business. Our agriculture, commerce and manufactures now prosper.

PROSPERED, pp. Having success; favored.

PROSPERING, ppr. Rendering successful; advancing in growth, wealth or any good.

PROSPERITY, n. [L. prosperitas.] Advance or gain in any thing good or desirable; successful progress in any business or enterprise; success; attainment of the object desired; as the prosperity of arts; agricultural or commercial prosperity; national prosperity. Our disposition to abuse the blessings of providence renders prosperity dangerous.

The prosperity of fools shall destroy them. Proverbs 1:32.

PROSPEROUS, a. [L. prosperus.] Advancing in the pursuit of any thing desirable; making gain or increase; thriving; successful; as a prosperous trade; a prosperous voyage; a prosperous expedition or undertaking; a prosperous man, family or nation; a prosperous war.

The seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit. Zechariah 8:12.

1. Favorable; favoring success; as a prosperous wind.

PROSPEROUSLY, adv. With gain or increase; successfully.

PROSPEROUSNESS, n. The state of being successful; prosperity.

PROSPICIENCE, n. [L. prospiciens.] The act of looking forward.

PROSTATE, a. [From Gr. to set before.] In anatomy, the prostate gland is a gland situated just before the neck of the bladder in males, and surrounding the beginning of the urethra. It is situated on the under and posterior part of the neck of the bladder, so as to surround the lower side of the urethra.

PROSTERNATION, n. [L. prosterno, to prostrate; pro and sterno.]

A state of being cast down; dejection; depression. [Little used.]

PROSTHESIS, PROTHESIS, n. [Gr.] In surgery, the addition of an artificial part to supply a defect of the body; as a wooden leg, etc.

PROSTHETIC, a. [Gr.] Prefixed, as a letter to a word.

PROSTITUTE, v.t. [L. prostituo; pro and statuo, to set.]

1. To offer freely to a lewd use, or to indiscriminate lewdness.

Do not prostitute thy daughter. Leviticus 19:29.

2. To give up to any vile or infamous purpose; to devote to any thing base; to sell to wickedness; as, to prostitute talents to the propagation of infidel principles, to prostitute the press to the publication of blasphemy.

3. To offer or expose upon vile terms or to unworthy persons.

PROSTITUTE, a. Openly devoted to lewdness; sold to wickedness or to infamous purposes.

Made bold by want and prostitute for bread.

PROSTITUTE, n. A female given to indiscriminate lewdness; a strumpet.

1. A base hireling; a mercenary; one who offers himself to infamous employments for hire.

No hireling she, no prostitute to praise.

PROSTITUTED, pp. Offered to common lewdness; devoted to base purposes.

PROSTITUTING, ppr. Offering to indiscriminate lewdness; devoting to infamous uses.

PROSTITUTION, n. [L. prostituo.]

1. The act or practice of offering the body to an indiscriminate intercourse with men; common lewdness of a female.

2. The act of setting one’s self to sale, or offering one’s self to infamous employments; as the prostitution of talents or abilities.

PROSTITUTOR, n. One who prostitutes; one who submits himself or offers another to vile purposes.

PROSTRATE, a. [L. prostratus, from prosterno, to lay flat; pro and sterno.]

1. Lying at length, or with the body extended on the ground or other surface.

Groveling and prostrate on yon lake of fire.

2. Lying at mercy, as a supplicant.

3. Lying in the posture of humility of adoration.

PROSTRATE, v.t. To lay flat; to throw down; as, to prostrate the body; to prostrate trees or plants.

1. To throw down; to overthrow; to demolish; to ruin; as, to prostrate a village; to prostrate a government; to prostrate law or justice; to prostrate the honor of a nation.

2. To prostrate one’s self, to throw one’s self down or to fall in humility or adoration.

3. To bow in humble reverence.

4. To sink totally; to reduce; as, to prostrate strength.

PROSTRATED, pp. Laid at length; laid flat; thrown down; destroyed.

PROSTRATING, ppr. Laying flat; throwing down; destroying.

PROSTRATION, n. The act of throwing down or laying flat; as the prostration of the body, of trees or of corn.

1. The act of falling down, or the act of bowing in humility or adoration; primarily, the act of falling on the face, but it is now used for kneeling or bowing in reverence and worship.

2. Great depression; dejection; as a prostration of spirits.

3. Great loss of natural strength and vigor; that state of the body in disease in which the system is passive and requires powerful stimulants to excite it into action.

PROSTYLE, n. [Gr. a column.] In architecture, a range of columns in the front of a temple.

PROSYLLOGISM, n. [pro and syllogism.] A prosyllogism is when two or more syllogisms are so connected that the conclusion of the former is the major or minor of the following.

PROTASIS, n. [Gr. to present.]

1. A proposition; a maxim.

2. In the ancient drama, the first part of a comic or tragic piece, in which the several persons are shown, their characters intimated, and the subject proposed and entered on. The protasis might extend to two acts, where it ended, and the epitasis commenced.

PROTATIC, a. [Gr.] Being placed in the beginning; previous.

PROTEAN, a. Pertaining to Proteus; readily assuming different shapes. [See Proteus.]

PROTECT, v.t. [L. protectus, protego; pro and tego; to cover; Gr. with a prefix; Eng. deck. See Deck.] To cover or shield from danger or injury; to defend; to guard; to preserve in safety; a word of general import both in a literal and figurative sense. Walls protect a city or garrison; clothing is designed to protect the body from cold; arms may protect one from an assault; our houses protect us from the inclemencies of the weather; the law protects our persons and property; the father protects his children, and the guardian his ward; a shade protects us from extreme heat; a navy protects our commerce and our shores; embassadors are protected from arrest.

PROTECTED, pp. Covered or defended from injury; preserved in safety.

PROTECTING, ppr. Shielding from injury; defending; preserving in safety.

PROTECTION, n. The act of protecting; defense; shelter from evil; preservation from loss, injury or annoyance. We find protection under good laws and an upright administration. How little are men disposed to acknowledge divine protection!

1. That which protects or preserves from injury.

Let them rise up and help you, and be your protection. Deuteronomy 32:38.

2. A writing that protects; a passport or other writing which secures from molestation.

3. Exemption. Embassadors at foreign courts are entitled to protection from arrest. Members of parliament, representatives and senators, are entitled to protection from arrest during their attendance on the legislature, as are suitors and witnesses attending a court.

Writ of protection, a writ by which the king or Great Britain exempts a person from arrest.

PROTECTIVE, a. Affording protection; sheltering; defensive.

PROTECTOR, n. One that defends or shields from injury, evil or oppression; a defender; a guardian. The king or sovereign is, or ought to be, the protector of the nation; the husband is the protector of his wife, and the father of his children.

1. In England, one who formerly had the care of the kingdom during the king’s minority; a regent. Cromwell assumed the title of lord Protector.

2. In catholic countries, every nation and every religious order has a protector residing at Rome. He is a cardinal, and called cardinal protector.

PROTECTORATE, n. Government by a protector.

PROTECTORSHIP, n. The office of a protector or regent.

PROTECTRESS, n. A woman or female that protects.

PROTEND, v.t. [L. protendo; pro and tendo, to stretch.]

To hold out; to stretch forth.

With his protended lance he makes defense.

PROTENDED, pp. Reached or stretched forth.

PROTENDING, ppr. Stretching forth.

PROTENSE, n. protens’. Extension. [Not used.]

PROTERVITY, n. [L. protervitas, from protervus; pro and torvus, crabbed.] Peevishness; petulance. [Little used.]

PROTEST, v.i. [L. protestor; pro and testor, to affirm it.]

1. To affirm with solemnity; to make a solemn declaration of a fact or opinion; as, I protest to you, I have no knowledge of the transaction.

2. To make a solemn declaration expressive of opposition; with against; as, he protests against your votes.

The conscience has power to protest against the exorbitancies of the passions.

3. To make a formal declaration in writing against a public law or measure. It is the privilege of any lord in parliament to protest against a law or resolution.

PROTEST, v.t. To call as a witness in affirming or denying, or to prove an affirmation.

Fiercely they oppos’d

My journey strange, with clamorous uproar

Protesting fate supreme.

1. To prove; to show; to give evidence of. [Not in use.]

2. In commerce, to protest a bill of exchange, is for a notary public, at the request of the payee, to make a formal declaration under hand and seal, against the drawer of the bill, on account of non-acceptance or non-payment, for exchange, cost, commissions, damages and interest; of which act the indorser must be notified within such time as the law or custom prescribes. In like manner, notes of hand given to a banking corporation are protested for non-payment.

PROTEST, n. A solemn declaration of opinion, commonly against some act; appropriately, a formal and solemn declaration in writing of dissent from the proceedings of a legislative body; as the protest of lords in parliament, or a like declaration of dissent of any minority against the proceedings of a majority of a body of men.

1. In commerce, a formal declaration made by a notary public, under hand and seal, at the request of the payee or holder of a bill of exchange, for non-acceptance or non-payment of the same, protesting against the drawer and others concerned, for the exchange, charges, damages and interest. This protest is written on a copy of the bill, and notice given to the indorser of the same, by which he becomes liable to pay the amount of the bill, with charges, damages and interest; also, a like declaration against the drawer of a note of hand for non-payment to a banking corporation, and of the master of a vessel against seizure, etc. A protest is also a writing attested by a justice of the peace or consul, drawn by the master of a vessel, stating the severity of the voyage by which the ship has suffered, and showing that the damage suffered was not owing to the neglect or misconduct of the master.

PROTESTANT, a. Pertaining to those who, at the reformation of religion, protested against a decree of Charles V. and the diet of Spires; pertaining to the adherents of Luther, or others of the reformed churches; as the protestant religion.

PROTESTANT, n. One of the party who adhered to Luther at the reformation in 1529, and protested, or made a solemn declaration of dissent from a decree of the emperor Charles V. and the diet of Spires, and appealed to a general council. This name was afterwards extended to the followers of Calvin, and Protestants is the denomination now given to all who belong to the reformed churches. The king of Prussia has, however, interdicted the use of this name in his dominions.

PROTESTANTISM, n. The protestant religion.

PROTESTANTLY, adv. In conformity to the protestants. [A very bad word and not used.]


1. A solemn declaration of a fact, opinion or resolution.

2. A solemn declaration of dissent; a protest; as the protestation of certain noblemen against an order of council.

3. In law, a declaration in pleading, by which the party interposes an oblique allegation or denial of some fact, protesting that it does or does not exist. The lord may allege the villenage of the plaintiff by way of protestation, and thus deny the demand.

PROTESTED, pp. Solemnly declared or alleged; declared against for non-acceptance or non-payment.

PROTESTER, n. One who protests; one who utters a solemn declaration.

1. One who protests a bill of exchange.

PROTESTING, ppr. Solemnly declaring or affirming; declaring against for non-acceptance or non-payment.

PROTEUS, n. [L.] In mythology, a marine deity, the son of Oceanus and Tethys, whose distinguishing characteristic was the faculty of assuming different shapes. Hence we denominate one who easily changes his form or principles, a Proteus.

PROTHONOTARISHIP, n. The office of a prothonotary. [An awkward, harsh word and little used.]

PROTHONOTARY, n. [Low L. protonotarius; Gr. first, and L. notarius, a scribe.]

1. Originally, the chief notary; and anciently, the title of the principal notaries of the emperors of Constantinople. Hence,

2. In England, an officer in the court of king’s bench and common pleas. The prothonotary of the king’s bench records all civil actions. In the common pleas, the prothonotaries, of which there are three, enter and enroll all declarations, pleadings, judgments, etc., make out judicial writs and exemplifications of records, enter recognizances, etc.

3. In the United States, a register or clerk of a court. The word however is not applied to any officer, except in particular states.

Apostolical prothonotaries, in the court of Rome, are twelve persons constituting a college, who receive the last wills of cardinals, make informations and proceedings necessary for the canonization of saints, etc.

PROTOCOL, n. [Low L. protocollum; Gr. first, and glue; so called perhaps from the gluing together of pieces of paper, or from the spreading of it on tablets. It was formerly the upper part of a leaf of a book on which the title or name was written.]

1. The original copy of any writing. [Not now used.]

2. A record or registry.

PROTOCOLIST, n. In Russia, a register or clerk.

PROTOMARTYR, n. [Gr. first, and martyr.]

1. The first martyr; a term applied to Stephen, the first christian martyr.

2. The first who suffers or is sacrificed in any cause.

PROTOPLAST, n. [Gr. first and formed.] The original; the thing first formed, as a copy to be imitated. Thus Adam has been called our protoplast.

PROTOPLASTIC, a. First formed.

PROTOPOPE, n. [Gr. first, and pope.] Chief pope or imperial confessor, an officer of the holy directing synod, the supreme spiritual court of the Greek church in Russia.

PROTOSULPHATE, n. In chimistry, the combination of sulphuric acid with a protoxyd.

PROTOTYPE, n. [Gr. first, and type, form, model.]

An original or model after which any thing is formed; the pattern of any thing to be engraved, cast, etc.; exemplar; archetype.

PROTOXYD, n. [Gr. first, and acid.] A substance combined with oxygen in the first degree, or any oxyd formed by the first degree of oxydizement.

PROTOXYDIZE, v.t. To oxydize in the first degree.

PROTRACT, v.t. [L. protractus, from pro and traho, to draw.]

1. To draw out or lengthen in time; to continue; to prolong; as, to protract an argument; to protract a discussion; to protract a war or a negotiation.

2. To delay; to defer; to put off to a distant time; as, to protract the decision of a question; to protract the final issue.

PROTRACT, n. Tedious continuance. [Not used.]

PROTRACTED, pp. Drawn out in time; delayed.

PROTRACTER, n. One who protracts or lengthens in time.

PROTRACTING, ppr. Drawing out or continuing in time; delaying.

PROTRACTION, n. The act of drawing out or continuing in time; the act of delaying the termination of a thing; as the protraction of a debate.

PROTRACTIVE, a. Drawing out or lengthening in time; prolonging; continuing; delaying.

He suffered their protractive arts.

PROTRACTOR, n. An instrument for laying down and measuring angles on paper with accuracy and dispatch, and by which the use of the line of chords is superseded. It is of various forms, semicircular, rectangular or circular.

PROTREPTICAL, a. [Gr. to exhort; and to turn.] Hortatory; suasory; intended or adapted to persuade. [Little used.]

PROTRUDE, v.t. [L. protrudo; pro and trudo, to thrust. See Thrust.]

1. To thrust forward; to drive or force along; as food protruded from the stomach into the intestine.

2. To thrust out, as from confinement. The contents of the abdomen are protruded in hernia.

PROTRUDE, v.i. To shoot forward; to be thrust forward.

The parts protrude beyond the skin.

PROTRUDED, pp. Thrust forward or out.

PROTRUDING, ppr. Thrusting forward or out.

PROTRUSION, n. s as z. The act of thrusting forward or beyond the usual limit; a thrusting or driving; a push.

PROTRUSIVE, a. Thrusting or impelling forward; as protrusive motion.

PROTUBERANCE, n. [L. protuberans, protubero; pro and tuber, a puff, bunch or knob.] A swelling or tumor on the body; a prominence; a bunch or knob; any thing swelled or pushed beyond the surrounding or adjacent surface; on the surface on the earth, a hill, knoll or other elevation.

Protuberance differs from projection, being applied to parts that rise from the surface with a gradual ascent or small angle; whereas a projection may be at a right angle with the surface.

PROTUBERANT, a. Swelling; prominent beyond the surrounding surface; as a protuberant joint; a protuberant eye.