Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



WHUR, v.i. To pronounce the letter r with too much force.

WHUR, n. The sound of a body moving through the air with velocity. [See Whir.]

WHURT, n. A whortleberry or bilberry. [See Whort.]

WHY, adv. [L., for what. The original phrase is for what, for why.]

1. For what cause or reason, interrogatively.

Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die? Jeremiah 27:13.

2. For which reason or cause, relatively.

No ground of enmity, why he should mean me ill.

3. For what reason or cause; for which; relatively.

Turn the discourse; I have a reason why I would not have you speak so tenderly.

4. It is used sometimes emphatically, or rather as a expletive.

If her chill heart I cannot move, why, Ill enjoy the very love.

WI, from the Gothic weiha, signifies holy. It is found in some names, as in Wibert, holy-bright, or bright-holy, eminent for sanctity.

WIC, WICK, a termination, denotes jurisdiction, as in bailiwick. Its primary sense is a village or mansion, L.; hence it occurs in Berwick, Harwich, Norwich, etc. It signifies also a bay or a castle.

WICK, n. A number of threads of cotton or some similar substance, loosely twisted into a string, round which wax or tallow is applied by means of melting and running in a mold, and thus forming a candle or torch.

WICKED, a. [The primary sense is to wind and turn, or to depart, to fall away.]

1. Evil in principle or practice; deviating from the divine law; addicted to vice; sinful; immoral. This is a word of comprehensive signification, extending to every thing that is contrary to the moral law, and both to persons and actions. We say, a wicked man, a wicked deed, wicked ways, wicked lives, a wicked heart, wicked designs, wicked works.

No man was ever wicked without secret discontent.

2. A word of slight blame; as the wicked urchin.

3. Cursed; baneful; pernicious; as wicked words, words pernicious in their efforts.

[This last signification may throw some light on the word witch.]

The wicked, in Scripture, persons who live in sin; transgressors of the divine law; all who are unreconciled to God, unsanctified or impenitent.

WICKEDLY, adv. IN a manner or with motives and designs contrary to the divine law; viciously; corruptly; immorally.

All that do wickedly shall be stubble. Malachi 4:1.

I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. 2 Samuel 24:17.

WICKEDNESS, n. Departure from the rules of the divine law; evil disposition or practices; immorality; crime; sin; sinfulness; corrupt manners Wickedness generally signifies evil practices.

What wickedness is this that is done among you? Judges 20:12.

But wickedness expresses also the corrupt dispositions of the heart.

Their inward part is very wickedness. Psalm 5:9.

In heart ye work wickedness. Psalm 58:2.

WICKEN, WICKEN-TREE, n. The Sorbus aucuparia, mountain ash, or roan-tree.

WICKER, a. [L., to grow. The word signifies a shoot.] Made of twigs or oziers; as a wicker basket; a wicker chair.

WICKET, n. A small gate.

The wicket, often opend, knew the key.

WICKLIFFITE, n. A follower of Wickliffe, the English reformer.

WIDE, a.

1. Broad; having a great or considerable distance or extent between the sides; opposed to narrow; as wide cloth; a wide table; a wide highway; a wide bed; a wide hall or entry. In this use, wide is distinguished from long, which refers to the extent or distance between the ends.

2. Broad; having a great extent each way; as a wide plain; the wide ocean.

3. Remote; distant. This position is very wide from the truth.

4. Broad to a certain degree; as three feet wide.

WIDE, adv.

1. At a distance; far. His fame was spread wide.

2. With great extent; used chiefly in composition; as wide-skirted meads; wide-waving swords; wide-wasting pestilence; wide-spreading evil.

WIDELY, adv.

1. With great extent each way. The gospel was widely disseminated by the apostles.

2. Very much; to a great distance; far. We differ widely in opinion.

WIDEN, v.t. To make wide or wider; to extend in breadth; as, to widen a field; to widen a breach. [Note.--In America, females say, to widen a stocking.]

WIDEN, v.i. To grow wide or wider; to enlarge; to extend itself.

And arches widen, and long aisles extend.

WIDENED, pp. Made wide or wider; extended in breadth.


1. Breadth; width; great extent between the sides; as the wideness of a room.

2. Large extent in all directions; as the wideness of the sea or ocean.

WIDENING, ppr. Extending the distance between the sides; enlarging in all directions.

WIDGEON, n. A fowl of the duck kind, or genus Anas, having a black bill, the head and upper part of the neck of a bright bay, the back and sides waved with black and white, and the belly white.

WIDOW, n. [L. See Wide.] A woman who has lost her husband by death. Luke 2:37.

Widows chamber, in London, the apparel and furniture of the bed-chamber of the widow of a freeman, to which she is entitled.

WIDOW, v.t.

1. To bereave of a husband; but rarely used except in the participle.

2. To endow with a widows right. [Unusual.]

3. To strip of any thing good.

The widowd isle in mourning--

WIDOW-BENCH, n. [widow and bench.] In Sussex, that share which a widow is allowed of her husbands estate, besides her jointure.


1. Bereaved of a husband by death.

2. Deprived of some good; stripped.

Trees of their shriveld fruits are widowd.

WIDOWER, n. A man who has lost his wife by death.


1. The state of being a widow.

2. Estate settled on a widow. [Not in use.]

WIDOW-HUNTER, n. [widow and hunter.] One who seeks or courts widows for a jointure or fortune.

WIDOWING, ppr. Bereaving of a husband; depriving; stripping.

WIDOW-MAKER, n. [widow and maker.] One who make widows by destroying lives.

WIDOW-WAIL, n. In botany, a plant of the genus Cneorum.

WIDTH, n. [from wide.] Breadth; wideness; the extent of a thing from side to side; as the width of cloth; the width of a door.

WIELD, v.t. [L. The primary sense of power and strength is to stretch or strain.]

1. To use with full command or power, as a thing not too heavy for the holder; to manage; as, to wield a sword; to wield the scepter.

Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed.

2. To use or employ with the hand.

Nothing but the influence of a civilized power could induce a savage to wield a spade.

3. To handle; in an ironical sense.

Base Hungarian wight, wilt thou the spigot wield?

To wield the scepter, to govern with supreme command.

WIELDED, pp. Used with command; managed.

WIELDING, ppr. Using with power; managing.

WIELDLESS, a. Unmanageable.

WIELDY, a. That may be wielded; manageable.

WIERY, a. [from wire.]

1. Made of wire; having the properties of wire. It would be better written wiry.

2. Wet; marshy. [Not in use.]

WIFE, n. plu. Wives. [G., a woman.]

1. The lawful consort of man; a woman who is united to man in the lawful bonds of wedlock; the correlative of husband.

The husband of one wife. 1 Timothy 3:2, 12.

Let every one of you in particular, so love his wife even as himself, and let the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:33.

2. A woman of low employment; as strawberry wives. [Not in use.]

WIG, in Saxon, signifies war. It is found in some names.

WIG, n. [G., roll butter. It would seem that the sense is a roll or twist interwoven.]

1. A covering for the head, consisting of hair interwoven or united by a kind of network; formerly much worn by men.

2. A sort of cake.

WIGEON. [See Widgeon.]

WIGHT, n. [g., a living being. L., to live.] A being; a person. It is obsolete, except in irony or burlesque. [See Aught.]

The wight of all the world who lovd thee best.

WIGHT, a. Swift; nimble. [This seems to be a dialectical form of quick.]

WIGHTLY, adv. Swiftly; nimbly.

WIGWAM, n. An Indian cabin or hut, so called in America. It is sometimes written weekwam.

WILD, a. [G.]

1. Roving; wandering; inhabiting the forest or open field; hence, not tamed or domesticated; as a wild boar; a wild ox; a wild cat; a wild bee.

2. Growing without culture; as wild parsnep; wild cherry; wild tansy. Wild rice, a palatable and nutritious food, grows spontaneously in the lakes and ponds of the North West territory.

3. Desert; not inhabited; as a wild forest.

4. Savage; uncivilized; not refined by culture; as the wild natives of Africa or America.

5. Turbulent; tempestuous; irregular; as a wild tumult.

The wild winds howl.

6. Licentious; ungoverned; as wild passions.

Valor grown wild by pride--

7. Inconstant; mutable; fickle.

In the ruling passion, there also the wild are constant, and the cunning known.

8. Inordinate; loose.

A fop well dressd, extravagant and wild.

9. Uncouth; loose.

--What are these, so witherd, and so wild in their attire?

10. Irregular; disorderly; done without plan or order; as, to make wild work.

11. Not well digested; not framed according to the ordinary rules of reason; not being within the limits of probable practicability; imaginary; fanciful; as a wild project or scheme; wild speculations.

12. Exposed to the wind and sea; as a wild roadstead.

13. Made or found in the forest; as wild honey.

Wild is prefixed to the names of many plants, to distinguish them from such of the name as are cultivated in gardens, as wild basil, wild parsnep, wild carrot, wild olive, etc.

WILD, n. A desert; an uninhabited and uncultivated tract or region; a forest or sandy desert; as the wilds of America; the wilds of Africa; the sandy wilds of Arabia.

Then Libya first, of all her moisture draind, became a barren waste, a wild of sand.

WILDFIRE, n. [wild and fire.]

1. A composition of inflammable materials.

Brimstone, pitch, wildfire, burn easily, and are hard to quench.

2. A disease of sheep, attended with inflammation of the skin; a kind of erysipelas.

WILD-FOWL, n. [wild and fowl.] Fowls of the forest, or untamed.

WILD-GOOSE, n. [wild and goose.] An aquatic fowl of the genus Anas, the Anas anser, a fowl of passage. These geese fly to the south in autumn, and return to the north in the spring. This species is the stock of the common domestic goose. The wild goose of North America, also migratory, is a distinct species, the Anas canadensis.

Wild-goose chase, the pursuit of something as unlikely to be caught as the wild goose.

WILD-HONEY, n. [wild and honey.] Honey that is found int he forest, in hollow trees or among rocks.

WILD-LAND, n. [wild and land.]

1. Land not cultivated, or in a state that renders it unfit for cultivation.

2. In America, forest; land not settled and cultivated.

WILD-SERVICE, n. A plant. The wilder myrtle-leaved service is a tree of the genus Crataegus, [C. Torminalis.]

WILDER, v.t. To lose or cause to lose the way or track; to puzzle with mazes or difficulties; to bewilder.

Long lost and wilderd in the maze of fate.

WILDERED, pp. Lost in a pathless tract; puzzled.

WILDERING, ppr. Puzzling.

WILDERNESS, n. [from wild.]

1. A desert; a tract of land or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, whether a forest or a wide barren plain. In the United States, it is applied only to a forest. In Scripture, it is applied frequently to the deserts of Arabia. The Israelites wandered int he wilderness forty years.

2. The ocean.

The watry wilderness yields no supply.

3. A state of disorder. [Not in use.]

4. A wood in a garden, resembling a forest.

WILDING, n. A wild sour apple.

WILDLY, adv.

1. Without cultivation.

2. Without tameness.

3. With disorder; with perturbation or distraction; with a fierce or roving look; as, to start wildly from ones seat; to stare wildly.

4. Without attention; heedlessly.

5. Capriciously; irrationally; extravagantly.

Who is there so wildly skeptical as to question whether the sun will rise in the east?

6. Irregularly.

She, wildly wanton, wears by night away the sign of all our labors done by day.


1. Rudeness; rough uncultivated state; as the wildness of a forest or heath.

2. Inordinate disposition to rove; irregularity of manners; as the wildness of youth.

3. Savageness; brutality.

4. Savage state; rudeness.

5. Uncultivated state; as the wildness of land.

6. A wandering; irregularity.

Delirium is but a short wildness of the imagination.

7. Alienation of mind.

8. State of being untamed.

9. The quality of being undisciplined, or not subjected to method or rules.

Is there any danger that this discipline will tame too much the fiery spirit, the enchanting wildness, and magnificent irregularity of the orators genius?

WILDS, n. Among farmers, the part of a plow by which it is drawn.

WILE, n. A trick or stratagem practiced for ensnaring or deception; a sly, insidious artifice.

That ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11.

WILE, v.t. To deceive; to beguile. [Little used.]

WILILY, adv. [from wily.] By stratagem; with insidious art. Joshua 9:4.

WILINESS, n. [from wily.] Cunning; guile.

WILK, WHILK, n. [G., to wither, or cause to wither.] A species of shell. [See Welk.]

WILL, n. [See the Verb.]

1. That faculty of the mind by which we determine either to do or forbear an action; the faculty which is exercised in deciding, among two or more objects, which we shall embrace or pursue. The will is directed or influenced by the judgment. The understanding or reason compares different objects, which operate as motives; the judgment determines which is preferable, and the will decides which to pursue. In other words, we reason with respect to the value or importance of things; we then judge which is to be preferred; and we will to take the most valuable. These are but different operations of the mind, soul, or intellectual part of man. Great disputes have existed respecting the freedom of the will. Will is often quite a different thing from desire.

A power over a man’s subsistence, amounts to a power over his will.

2. Choice; determination. It is my will to prosecute the trespasser.

3. Choice; discretion; pleasure.

Go, then, the guilty at thy will chastise.

4. Command; direction.

Our prayers should be according to the will of God.

5. Disposition; inclination; desire. What is your will, Sir? In this phrase, the word may also signify determination, especially when addressed to a superior.

6. Power; arbitrary disposal.

Deliver me not over to the will of my enemies. Psalm 27:12.

7. Divine determination; moral purpose or counsel.

Thy will be done. Lords Prayer.

8. Testament; the disposition of a man’s estate, to take effect after his death. Wills are written, or nuncupative, that is, verbal.

Good will,

1. Favor; kindness.

2. Right intention. Philippians 1:15.

Ill will, enmity; unfriendliness. It expresses less than malice.

To have ones will, to obtain what is desired.

At will. To hold an estate at the will of another, is to enjoy the possession at his pleasure, and be liable to be ousted at any time by the lessor or proprietor.

Will with a wisp, Jack with a lantern; ignis fatuus; a luminous appearance sometimes seen in the air over moist ground, supposed to proceed from hydrogen gas.

WILL, v.t. [G., L., Gr. The sense is to set, or to set forward, to stretch forward. The sense is well expressed by the L.]

1. To determine; to decide int he mind that something shall be done or forborne; implying power to carry the purpose into effect. In this manner God wills whatever comes to pass. So in the style of princes; we will that execution be done.

A man that sits still is said to be at liberty, because he can walk if he will it.

2. To command; to direct.

Tis yours, O queen! To will the work which duty bids me to fulfill.

3. To be inclined or resolved to have.

There, there, Hortensio, will you any wife?

4. To wish; to desire. What will you?

5. To dispose of estate and effects by testament.

6. It is sometimes equivalent to may be. Let the circumstances be what they will; that is, any circumstances, of whatever nature.

7. Will is used as an auxiliary verb, and a sign of the future tense. It has different signification in different persons.

1. I will go, is a present promise to go; and with an emphasis on will, it expresses determination.

2. Thou wilt go, you will go, express foretelling; simply stating an event that is to come.

3. He will go, is also a foretelling. The use of will in the plural, is the same. We will, promises; ye will, they will, foretell.


1. Determined; resolved; desired.

2. Disposed of by will or testament.

WILLER, n. One who wills.

WILLFUL, a. [will and full.]

1. Governed by the will without yielding to reason; obstinate; stubborn; perverse; inflexible; as a willful man.

2. Stubborn; refractory; as a willful horse.


1. Obstinately; stubbornly.

2. By design; with set purpose.

If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 10:26.

WILLFULNESS, n. Obstinacy; stubbornness; perverseness.

Sins of presumption are such as proceed from pride, arrogance, willfulness, and haughtiness of mens heart.


1. Determining; resolving; desiring.

2. Disposing of by will.


1. Free to do or grant; having the mind inclined; disposed; not averse. Let every man give, who is able and willing.

2. Pleased; desirous.

Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure. Acts 24:27.

3. Ready; prompt.

He stoopd with weary wings and willing feet.

4. Chosen; received of choice or without reluctance; as, to be held in willing chains.

5. Spontaneous.

No spouts of blood run wiling from a tree.

6. Consenting.

WILLING-HEARTED, a. Well disposed; having a free heart. Exodus 35:5.


1. With free will; without reluctance; cheerfully.

2. By ones own choice.

The condition of that people is not so much to be envied as some would willingly represent it.

WILLINGNESS, n. Free choice or consent of the will; freedom from reluctance; readiness of the mind to do or forbear.

Sweet is the love that comes with willingness.

WILLOW, n. [L.] A tree of the genus Salix. There are several species of willow, the white, the black, the purple or red, the sallow, and the broad leaved willow, etc. A species called the weeping willow, has long and slender branches which droop and hang downward, the Salix Babylonica.

WILLOWED, a. Abounding with willows.

WILLOW-GALL, n. A protuberance on the leaves of willows.

WILLOW-HERB, n. The purple loose strife, a plant of the genus Lythrum; also, the yellow loose strife, of the genus Lysimachia; also, the French willow, of the genus Epilobium.

WILLOWISH, a. Like the color of the willow.

WILLOW-TUFTED, a. Tufted with willows.

WILLOW-WEED, n. A name sometimes given to the smartweed or persicaria.

WILLOW-WORT, n. A plant.

WILLOWY, a. Abounding with willows.

WILT, v.i. [G., to fade; that is, to shrink or withdraw.] To begin to wither; to lose freshness and become flaccid, as a plant when exposed to great heat in a dry day, or when first separated from its root. This is a legitimate word, for which there is no substitute in the language. It is not synonymous with wither, as it expresses only the beginning of withering. A wilted plant often revives and becomes fresh; not so a withered plant.

WILT, v.t.

1. To cause to begin to wither; to make flaccid; as a green plant.

2. To cause to languish; to depress or destroy the vigor and energy of.

Despots have wilted the human race into sloth and imbecility.

WILTED, pp. Having become flaccid and lost its freshness, as a plant.

WILTING, ppr. Beginning to fade or wither.

WILY, a. [from wile.] Cunning; sly; using craft or stratagem to accomplish a purpose; subtle; as a wily adversary.

WIMBLE, n. [See Whim.] An instrument for boring holes, turned by a handle.

WIMBLE, a. Active; nimble.

WIMBREL, n. A bird of the curlew kind, a species of Soclopax.

WIMPLE, n. [G., a pendant.] A hood or vail. Isaiah 3:22.

WIMPLE, v.t. To draw down, as a vail.

WIN, v.t. pret. and pp. won. [G.]

1. To gain by success in competition or contest; as, to win the prize in a game; to win money; to win a battle, or to win a country. Battles are won by superior strength or skill.

--Who thus shall Canaan win.

2. To gain by solicitation or courtship.

3. To obtain; to allure to kindness or compliance. Thy virtue won me. Win your enemy by kindness.

4. To gain by persuasion or influence; as, an orator wins his audience by argument. The advocate has won the jury.

And Mammon wins his way, where seraphs might despair.

WIN, v.t.

1. To gain the victory.

Nor is it aught but just that he, who in debate of truth hath won, should win in arms.

To win upon, to gain favor or influence; as, to win upon the heart or affections.

2. To gain ground.

The rabble will in time win upon power.

To win of, to be conqueror.

WINCE, v.i.

1. To shrink, as from a blow or from pain; to start back.

I will not stir nor wince.

2. To kick or flounce when uneasy, or impatient of a rider; as, a horse winces.

WINCER, n. One that winces, shrinks or kicks.

WINCH, n. A windlass; or an instrument with which to turn or strain something forcibly; as a winch to strain the cord of a bedstead, or to turn a wheel.

WINCH, v.i. To wince; to shrink; to kick with impatience or uneasiness. [This is a more correct orthography than wince.]

WINCHING, WINCING, ppr. Flinching; shrinking; kicking.

WINCOPIPE, n. The vulgar name of a little flower, that, when it opens in the morning, bodes a fair day.

WIND, n. [L., G. The primary sense is to move, flow, rush or drive along.]

1. Air in motion with any degree of velocity, indefinitely; a current of air. When the air moves moderately, we call it a light wind, or a breeze; when with more velocity, we call it a fresh breeze, and when with violence, we call it a gale, storm or tempest. The word gale is used by the poets for a moderate breeze, but seamen use it as equivalent to storm. Winds are denominated from the point of compass from which they blow; as a north wind; an east wind; a south wind; a west wind; a southwest wind, etc.

2. The four winds, the cardinal points of the heavens.

Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain. Ezekiel 37:9.

This sense of the word seems to have had its origin with the orientals, as it was the practice of the Hebrews to give to each of the four cardinal points the name of wind.

3. Direction of the wind from other points of the compass than the cardinal, or any point of compass; as a compass of eight winds.

4. Breath; power of respiration.

If my wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.

5. Air in motion form any force or action; as the wind of a cannon ball; the wind of a bellows.

6. Breath modulated by the organs or by an instrument.

Their instruments were various in their kind, some for the bow, and some for breathing wind.

7. Air impregnated with scent.

A pack of dog-fish had him in the wind.

8. Any thing insignificant or light as wind.

Think not with wind or airy threats to awe.

9. Flatulence; air generated in the stomach and bowels; as, to be troubled with wind.

10. The name given to a disease of sheep, in which the intestines are distended with air, or rather affected with a violent inflammation. It occurs immediately after shearing.

Down the wind, decaying; declining; in a state of decay; as, he went down the wind. [Not used.]

To take or have the wind, or to get wind, to be divulged; to become public. The story got wind, or took wind.

In the winds eye, in seamens language, towards the direct point from which the wind blows.

Between wind and water, denoting that part of a ships side or bottom which is frequently brought above water by the rolling of the ship, or fluctuation of the waters surface.

To carry the wind, in the manege, is when a horse tosses his nose as high as his ears.

Constant or perennial wind, a wind that blows constantly from one point of the compass; as the trade wind of the tropics.

Shifting, variable or erratic winds, are such as are changeable, now blowing from one point and now from another, and then ceasing altogether.

Stated or periodical wind, a wind that constantly returns at a certain time, and blows steadily from one point for a certain time. Such are the monsoons in India, and land and sea breezes.

Trade wind, a wind that blows constantly from one point, such as the tropical wind in the Atlantic.

WINDAGE, n. The difference between the diameter of a piece and that of a ball or shell.

WINDBOUND, a. [wind and bound.] Prevented from sailing by a contrary wind.

WIND-DROPSY, n. [wind and dropsy.] A swelling of the belly from wind in the intestines; tympauites.

WIND-EGG, n. [wind and egg.] An addle egg.

WINDER, v.t. To fan; to clean grain with a fan. [Local.]

WINDER-MEB, n. A bird of the genus Larus, or gull-kind.

WINDFALL, n. [wind and fall.]

1. Fruit blown off the tree by wind.

2. An unexpected legacy.