Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



VAN-GUARD, n. [van and guard.] The troops who march in front of an army; the first line.

VANILLA, n. A genus of plants which have an unctuous aromatic taste, and a fragrant smell; natives of South America and the West Indies.

VANISH, v.i. [L. vanesco, vanus, vain, or its root; Eng. to wane. The primary sense is to withdraw or depart.]

1. To disappear; to pass from a visible to an invisible state; as, vapor vanishes from the sight by being dissipated. Light vanishes, when the rays of the illuminating body are intercepted; darkness vanishes before the rising sun.

2. To disappear; to pass beyond the limit of vision; as, a ship vanishes from the sight of spectators on land.

3. To disappear; to pass away; to be annihilated or lost. How cheering is the well founded hope of enjoying delights which can never vanish!

VANISHED, a. Having no perceptible existence.

VANISHING, ppr. Disappearing; passing from the sight or possession; departing forever.

VANITY, n. [L. vanitas, from vanus, vain.]

1. Emptiness; want of substance to satisfy desire; uncertainty; inanity.

Vanity of vanities, said the preacher; all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2.

2. Fruitless desire or endeavor.

Vanity possesseth many who are desirous to know the certainty of things to come.

3. Trifling labor that produces no good.

4. Emptiness; untruth

Here I may well show the vanity of what is reported in the story of Walsingham.

5. Empty pleasure; vain pursuit; idle show; unsubstantial enjoyment.

Sin with vanity had fill’d the works of men.

Think not when woman’s transient breath is fled, that all her vanities at once are dead; succeeding vanities she still regards.

6. Ostentation; arrogance.

7. Inflation of mind upon slight grounds; empty pride, inspired by an overweening conceit of one’s personal attainments or decorations. Fops cannot be cured of their vanity.

Vanity is the food of fools.

No man sympathizes with the sorrows of vanity.

VANQUISH, v.t. [L. vinco, vincio, to bind.]

1. To conquer; to overcome; to subdue in battle; as an enemy.

They vanquished the rebels in all encounters.

2. To defeat in any contest; to refute in argument.

VANQUISH, n. A disease in sheep, in which they pine away.

VANQUISHABLE, a. That may be conquered.

VANQUISHED, pp. Overcome in battle; subdued; defeated.

VANQUISHER, n. A conqueror; a victor.

VANQUISHING, ppr. Conquering; subduing; defeating; refuting.

VANSIRE, n. In zoology, a species of weasel with short ears, found in Madagascar.

VANT, v.i. To boast. [This is the more correct orthography. See Vaunt.]

VANTAGE, n. [L. venio. See Advantage and Van.]

1. Gain; profit. Obs.

2. Superiority; state in which one has better means of action or defense than another. [This, I believe, is used only in the compound, vantage-ground.]

3. Opportunity; convenience. Obs.

VANTAGE, v.t. To profit. [Not in use.]

VANTAGE-GROUND, n. Superiority of state or place; the place or condition which gives one an advantage over another.

VANTBRASS, n. Armor for the arm. Obs.

VAPID, a. [L. vapidus. The radical verb is not in the Latin, but the sense must be to pass or fly off, to escape; or to strike down. L. vapulo. It is probably allied to vapor.]

1. Having lost its life and spirit; dead; spiritless; flat; as vapid beer; a vapid state of the blood.

2. Dull; unaminated.


1. The state of having lost its life or spirit; deadness; flatness; as the vapidness of ale or cider.

2. Dullness; want of life or spirit.

VAPOR, n. [L. vapor.]

1. In a general sense, an invisible elastic fluid, rendered aeriform by heat, and capable of being condensed, or brought back to the liquid or solid state, by cold. The vapor of water is distinguished by the name of steam, which see.

2. A visible fluid floating in the atmosphere. All substances which impair the transparency of the atmosphere, as smoke, fog, etc. are in common language called vapors, though the term vapor is technical applied only to an invisible and condensible substance, as in No. 1; fog, etc. being vapor condensed, or water in a minute state of division. Vapor rising into the higher regions of the atmosphere, and condensed in large volumes, forms clouds.

3. Substances resembling smoke, which sometimes fill the atmosphere, particularly in America during the autumn.

4. Wind; flatulence.

5. Mental fume; vain imagination; unreal fancy.

6. Vapors, a disease of nervous debility, in which a variety of strange images float in the brain, or appear as if visible. Hence hypochondriacal affections and spleen are called vapors.

7. Something unsubstantial, fleeting or transitory.

For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14.

VAPOR, v.i. [L. veporo.]

1. To pass off in fumes or a moist floating substance; to steam; to be exhaled; to evaporate. [In this sense, evaporate is generally used.]

2. To emit fumes.

Running water vapors not so much as standing water. [Little used.]

3. To bully; to boast or vaunt with a vain ostentatious display of worth; to brag.

[This is the most usual signification of the word.]

And what in real value’s wanting, supply with vaporing and ranting.

VAPOR, v.t. To emit, cast off or scatter in fumes or stream; as, to vapor away a heated fluid.

Another sighing vapors forth his soul.

VAPORABILITY, n. The quality of being capable of vaporization.

VAPORABLE, a. Capable of being converted into vapor by the agency of caloric.

VAORATE, v.i. To emit vapor. [See Evaporate.]

VAPORATION, n. [L. vaporatio.] The act or process of converting into vapor, or of passing off in vapor.

VAPOR-BATH, n. [vapor and bath.]

1. The application of vapor to the body in a close place.

2. In chimistry, an apparatus for heating bodies by the fumes of hot water.


1. Moist; wet with vapors.

2. Splenetic; peevish.

VAPORER, n. A boaster; one who makes a vaunting display of his prowess or worth; a braggart.

VAPORIFIC, a. [L. vapor and facio, to make.]

Forming into vapor; converting into steam, or expelling in a volatile form, as fluids.

VAPORING, ppr. Boasting; vaunting ostentatiously and vainly.

VAPORINGLY, adv. In a boasting manner.


1. Full of vapors.

2. Hypochondriac; splenetic; affected by hysterics.

VAPORIZATION, n. The artificial formation of vapor.

VAPORIZE, v.t. To convert into vapor by the application of heat or artificial means.

VAPORIZE, v.i. To pass off in vapor.

VAPORIZED, pp. Expelled in vapor.

VAPORIZING, ppr. Converting into vapor.


1. Full of vapors or exhalations; as the vaporous air of valleys.

2. Vain; unreal; proceeding from the vapors.

3. Windy; flatulent; as, vaporous food is the most easily digested.

VAPOROUSNESS, n. State of being full of vapors.


1. Vaporous; full of vapors.

2. Hypochondriac; splenetic; peevish.

VAPULATION, n. [L. vapulo.] The act of beating or shipping. [Not in use.]

VARE, n. A wand or staff of justice. [Not in use.]

VAREC, n. The French name for kelp or incinerated sea weed; wrack.

VARI, n. In zoology, a species of quadruped, the maucauco or Lemur catta of Linne, having its tail marked with rings of black and white; a native of Madagascar. The vari of Buffon is the black maucauco, L. macaco of Linne, with the neck bearded, like a ruff.


1. That may vary or alter; capable of alteration in any manner; changeable; as variable winds or seasons; variable colors.

2. Susceptible of change; liable to change; mutable; fickle; unsteady; inconstant; as, the affections of men are variable; passions are variable.

His heart I know, how variable and vain.

3. In mathematics, subject to continual increase or decrease; in opposition to constant, retaining the same value.

VARIABLE, n. In mathematics, a quantity which is in a state of continual increase or decrease. The indefinitely small quantity by which a variable is continually increased or diminished, is called its differential, and the method of finding these quantities, the differential calculus.


1. Susceptibility of change; liableness or aptness to alter; changeableness; as the variableness of the weather.

2. Inconstancy; fickleness; unsteadiness; levity; as the variableness of human passions.

VARIABLY, adv. Changeably; with alteration; in an inconstant or fickle manner.

VARIANCE, n. [See Vary.]

1. In law, an alteration of something formerly laid in a writ; or a difference between a declaration and a writ, or the deed on which it is grounded.

2. Any alteration or change of condition.

3. Difference that produces dispute or controversy; disagreement; dissension; discord. A mere variance may become a war. Without a spirit of condescension, there will be an everlasting variance.

1. At variance, in disagreement; in a state of difference or want of agreement.

2. In a state of dissension or controversy; in a state of enmity.


1. To alter; to make different.

2. To vary. [A bad word.]

VARIATION, n. [L. variatio. See Vary.]

1. Alteration; a partial change in the form, position, state or qualities of the same thing; as a variation of color in different lights; a variation in the size of a plant from day to day; the unceasing, though slow variation of language; a variation in a soil from year to year. Our opinions are subject to continual variations.

The essences of things are conceived not capable of such variation.

2. Difference; change from one to another.

In some other places are born more females than males; which, upon this variation of proportion, I recommend to the curious.

3. In grammar, change of termination of nouns and adjectives, constituting what is called case, number and gender; as the variation of words.

4. Deviation; as a variation of a transcript from the original.

5. In astronomy, the variation of the moon is the third inequality in her motion; by which, when out of the quadratures, her true place differs from her place twice equated.

6. In geography and navigation, the deviation of the magnetic needle from the true north point; called also declination.

The variation of the needle at New Haven, in 1820, as ascertained from the mean of numerous observations made by Professor Fisher, was 4 degrees 25.42’ west.

7. In music, the different manner of singing or playing the same air or tune, by subdividing the notes into several others of less value, or by adding graces, yet so that the tune itself may be discovered through all its embellishments.

VARICOCELE, n. [L. varix, a dilated vein, and Gr. a tumor.]

In surgery, a varicous enlargement of the veins of the spermatic cord; or more generally, a like enlargement of the veins of the scrotum.

VARICOSE, VARICOUS, a. [L. varicosus, having enlarged veins.]

1. Preternaturally enlarged, or permanently dilated, as a vein.

2. Swelled; puffy; as an ulcer on the legs of beasts.

VARIED, pp. of vary. Altered; partially changed; changed.

VARIEGATE, v.t. [L. vario, varius. See Vary.]

To diversify in external appearance; to mark with different colors; as, to variegate a floor with marble of different colors. The shells are filled with a white spar, which variegates and adds to the beauty of the stone.

Ladies like variegated tulips show.

VARIEGATED, pp. Diversified in colors or external appearance. Variegated leaves, in botany, are such as are irregularly marked with white or yellow spots.

VARIEGATING, ppr. Diversifying with colors.

VARIEGATION, n. The act of diversifying, or state of being diversified by different colors; diversity of colors.

VARIETY, n. [L. varietas, from vario, to vary.]

1. Intermixture of different things, or of things different in form; or a succession of different things.

Variety is nothing else but a continued novelty.

The variety of colors depends on the composition of light.

2. One thing of many which constitute variety. In this sense, it has a plural; as the varieties of a species.

3. Difference; dissimilitude.

There is a variety in the tempers of good men.

4. Variation; deviation; change from a former state. [Little used.]

5. Many and different kinds. The shopkeeper has a great variety of cottons and silks.

He wants to do a variety of good things.

6. In natural history, a difference not permanent or invariable, but occasioned by an accidental change; as a variety of any species of plant.

Naturalists formerly erred very much in supposing an accidental variety of plants, animals or minerals, to be a distinct species. Ray has established a good test for varieties in botany. A plant is distinct, which propagates itself in its own form by its seed; but when the difference disappears in the new plant, it is only a variety. Variety then is a difference between individuals, not permanent nor important enough to constitute a distinct species; such as in size, color, fullness, curling, etc.

7. Different sort; as varieties of soil or land.

VARIOLITE, n. [L. varius and Gr. stone.]

In mineralogy, a kind of porphyritic rock, in which the imbedded substances are imperfectly crystallized, or are rounded, giving the stone a spotted appearance.

Variolites are fragments of primitive gladular rocks.

VARIOLOID, n. [L. variolae and Gr. form.]

The name recently given to a disease resembling the small pox.

VARIOLOUS, a. [L. variolae, from vario, to diversify.] Pertaining to or designating the small pox.

VARIOUS, a. [L. varius, See Vary.]

1. different; several; manifold; as men of various names and various occupations.

2. Changeable; uncertain; unfixed.

The names of mixed modes - are very various and doubtful.

3. Unlike each other; diverse.

So many and so various laws are giv’n.

4. Variegated; diversified.

VARIOUSLY, adv. In different ways; with change; with diversity; as objects variously represented; flowers variously colored. The human system is variously affected by different medicines.

VARIX, n. [L.]

1. An uneven swelling of a dilated vein.

2. In beasts, a sort of puffy dilatation or enlargement in some part of a vein, forming a kind of knot.

VARLET, n. [See Valet.]

1. Anciently, a servant or footman.

2. A scoundrel; a rascal; as an impudent varlet.

VARLETRY, n. The rabble; the crowd. [Not in use.]

VARNISH, n. [Low L. vernix.]

1. A thick, viscid, glossy liquid, laid on work by painters and others, to give it a smooth hard surface and a beautiful gloss. Varnishes are made of different materials and for different purposes. amber varnish is made of amber, lintseed oil, litharge and turpentine. Black varnish, for japanning wood and leather, is made by mixing lampblack with a proper quantity of a strong solution of gum-lac in spirit of wine.

2. An artificial covering to give a fair appearance to any act or conduct.


1. To lay varnish on; to cover with a liquid, for giving any thing a glossy surface; as, to varnish a sideboard or table.

2. To cover with something that gives a fair external appearance.

Close ambition, varnish’d o’er with zeal.

3. To give a fair external appearance in words; to give a fair coloring to; as, to varnish errors or deformity.

Cato’s voice was ne’er employ’d to clear the guilty, and to varnish crimes.

And bow the knee to pomp that loves to varnish guilt.


1. Covered with varnish; made glossy.

2. Rendered fair in external appearance.


1. One who varnishes, or whose occupation is to varnish.

2. One who disguises or palliates; one who gives a fair external appearance.

VARNISHING, ppr. Laying on varnish; giving a fair external appearance.

VARNISH-TREE, n. The Rhus vernix, poison ash, or poison oak.

VARVELS, VERVELS, n. Silver rings about the legs of a hawk, on which the owner’s name is engraved.

VARY, v.t. [L. vario, verto.]

1. To alter in form, appearance, substance or position; to make different by a partial change; as, to vary a thing in dimensions; to vary its properties, proportions or nature; to vary the posture or attitude of a thing; to vary one’s dress.

2. To change to something else.

Gods, that never change their state, vary oft their love and hate.

We are to vary the customs according to the time and country where the scene of action lies.

3. To make of different kinds.

God hath varied the inclinations of men, according to the variety of actions to be performed.

4. To diversify; to variegate.

God hath here varied his bounty so with new delights.

VARY, v.i.

1. To alter or be altered in any manner; to suffer a partial change. Colors often vary when held in different positions. Customs vary from one age to another, until they are entirely changed.

2. To be changeable; to alter; as the varying hues of the clouds; the varying plumage of a dove.

3. To differ or be different; to be unlike. The laws of different countries vary. The laws of France vary from those of England.

4. To be changed; to become different. The man varies in his opinions; his opinions vary with the times.

5. To become unlike one’s self; to alter.

He varies from himself no less.

6. To deviate; to depart; as, to vary from the law; to vary from the rules of justice or reason.

7. To alter or change in succession.

While fear and anger, with alternate grace, pant in her breast, and vary in her face.

8. To disagree; to be at variance; as, men vary in opinion.

VARY, n. Alternation; change. [Not in use.]

VARYING, ppr. Altering; changing; deviating.

VASCULAR, a. [L. vasculum, a vessel, from vas, id.]

1. Pertaining to the vessels of animal or vegetable bodies; as the vascular functions.

2. Full of vessels; consisting of animal or vegetable vessels, as arteries, veins, lacteals and the like; as the vascular system. Animal flesh is all vascular, none of it parenchymous.

VASCULARITY, n. The state of being vascular.

VASCULIFEROUS, a. [L. vasculum and fero, to bear.]

Vasculiferous plants are such as have seed vessels divided into cells.

VASE, n. [L. vas, vasa, a vessel.]

1. A vessel for domestic use, or for use in temples; as a vase for sacrifice, an urn, etc.

2. An ancient vessel dug out of the ground or from rubbish, and kept as a curiosity.

3. In architecture, an ornament of sculpture, placed on socles or pedestals, representing the vessels of the ancients, as incensepots, flower-pots, etc. They usually crown or finish facades or frontispieces.

4. The body of the Corinthian and Composite capital; called also the tambor or drum.

5. Among florists, the calyx of a plant, as of a tulip.

6. Among goldsmiths, the middle of a church candlestick.

7. A solid piece of ornamental marble.


1. A feudatory; a tenant; one who holds land of a superior, and who vows fidelity and homage to him. A rear vassal is one who holds of a lord who is himself a vassal.

2. A subject; a dependant.

3. A servant.

4. In common language, a bondman; a political slave. We will never be the vassals of a foreign prince.

VASSAL, v.t. To subject to control; to enslave.


1. The state of being a vassal or feudatory.

2. Political servitude; dependence; subjection; slavery. The Greeks were long held in vassalage by the Turks.

VASSALED, pp. or a. Enslaved; subjected to absolute power; as a vassaled land.

VAST, a. [L. vastus. The primary sense of the root must be a part or spread, as this is connected with the verb to waste.]

1. Being of great extent; very spacious or large; as the vast ocean; a vast abyss; the vast empire of Russia; the vast plains of Syria; the vast domains of the Almighty.

2. Huge in bulk and extent; as the vast mountains of Asia; the vast range of the Andes.

3. Very great in numbers or amount; as a vast army; vast numbers or multitudes were slain; vast sums of money have been expended to gratify pride and ambition.

4. Very great in force; mighty; as vast efforts; vast labor.

5. Very great in importance; as a subject of vast concern.

VAST, n. An empty waste.

Through the vast of heav’n it sounded.

The watery vast.

VASTATION, n. [L. vastatio, from vasto, to waste.]

A laying waste; waste; depopulation. [Devastation is generally used.]

VASTIDITY, n. Vastness; immensity. [Not English.]

VASTLY, adv. Very greatly; to a great extent or degree; as a space vastly extended. Men differ vastly in their opinions and manners.


1. Great extent; immensity; as the vastness of the ocean or of space.

2. Immense bulk and extent; as the vastness of a mountain.

3. Immense magnitude or amount; as the vastness of an army, or of the sums of money necessary to support it.

4. Immense importance.

VASTY, a. Being of great extent; very spacious.

I can call spirits from the vasty deep. [Little used.]

VAT, n. [See also Fat.]

1. A large vessel or cistern for holding liquors in an immature state; as vats for wine.

Let him produce his vats and tubs, in opposition to heaps of arms and standards.

2. A square box or cistern in which hides are laid for steeping in tan.

3. An oil measure in Holland; also, a wine measure.

4. A square hollow place on the back of a calcining furnace, where tin ore is laid to dry.

VATICAN, n. In Rome, the celebrated church of St. Peter; and also, a magnificent palace of the pope; situated at the foot of one of the seven hills on which Rome was built. Hence the phrase, the thunders of the Vatican, meaning the anathemas or denunciations of the pope.

VATICIDE, n. [L. vates, a prophet, and caedo, to kill.]

The murderer of a prophet.

VATICINAL, a. [L. vaticinor, to prophesy.] Containing prophecy.

VATICINATE, v.i. [L. vaticinor, from vates, a prophet.]

To prophesy; to foretell; to practice prediction. [Little used.]

VATICINATION, n. Prediction; prophecy.

VAULT, n. [L. vultus; a derivative of L. volvo, volutus.]

1. A continued arch, or an arched roof. Vaults are of various kinds, circular, elliptical, single, double, cross, diagonal, Gothic, etc.

2. A cellar.

To banish rats that haunt our vault.

3. A cave or cavern.

The silent vaults of death, unknown to light.

4. A repository for the dead.

5. In the manege, the leap or a horse.

VAULT, v.t. To arch; to form with a vault; or to cover with a vault; as, to vault a passage to a court.
VAULT, v.i.

1. To leap; to bound; to jump; to spring.

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself -

Leaning on his lance, he vaulted on a tree.

Lucan vaulted upon Pegasus with all the heat and intrepidity of youth.

2. To tumble; to exhibit feats of tumbling or leaping.

VAULTAGE, n. Vaulted work; an arched cellar. [Not in use.]


1. Arched; concave; as a vaulted roof.

2. Covered with an arch or vault.

3. a. In botany, arched like the roof of the mouth, as the upper lip of many ringent flowers.

VAULTER, n. One that vaults; a leaper; a tumbler.


1. Arching; covering with an arch.

2. Leaping; tumbling; exhibiting feats of leaping.

VAULTY, a. Arched; concave. [Not in use.]

VAUNT, v.i. [L. vanus. This ought to be written vant.]

To boast; to make a vain display of one’s own worth, attainments or decorations; to talk with vain ostentation; to brag.

Pride - prompts a man to vaunt and overvalue what he is.

VAUNT, v.t. To boast of; to make a vain display of.

My vanquisher, spoil’d of his vaunted spoil.

Charity vaunteth not itself. 1 Corinthians 13:4.

VAUNT, n. Boast; a vain display of what one is or has, or has done; ostentation from vanity.

Him I seduc’d with other vaunts and other promises.

VAUNT, n. The first part. [Not used.]

VAUNT-COURIER, n. A precursor.

VAUNTED, pp. Vainly boasted of or displayed.

VAUNTER, n. A vain conceited boaster; a braggart; a man given to vain ostentation.

VAUNTFUL, a. Boastful; vainly ostentatious.