Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary




B is the second letter, and the first articulation, or consonant, in the English, as in the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and most other alphabets. In the Ethiopic, it is the ninth letter, and its shape is that of a hut. Perhaps from this or other like figure, it received its Hebrew name, beth, a house. It is a mute and a labial, being formed by pressing the whole length of the lips together, as in pronouncing eb. It is less perfectly mute than p, as may be perceived by pronouncing the syllables ab and ap. It is convertible, 1st, with p, as in the Celtic, ben or pen, a mountain; in the English, beak and peak, beck and peck; 2d, with v, as in the German, silber for silver; and in Spanish, b and v are used indifferently; 3d, with f, as in bore and perforo; Eng. bear, L. fero; in the celtic bun, bunadh, bunait, stock, origin, foundation; English, found; L. fundamentum; with the Gr. as Bilip; 4th, with the v and w; as, Ir. fior, L. verus; fear, vir; Ir. buaic, the wick of a candle.

The Greek B is always pronounced like the English V, and the Russian B corresponds with the Greek.

In composition, the letter B is changed into p before the letter p; as in opprimo, from ob and premo; oppono, from ob and pono; into f, before f, as in offero, from ob and fero; into c before c, as in occido, from ob and cado, and coedo.

As a numeral, B was used by the Hebrews and Greeks, as now by the Arabians, for 2; by the Romans for 300, and with a dash over it thus B, for 3000. B is used also as an abbreviation; thus B.A. stand for bachelor of arts; B.L. for bachelor of laws; B.D. for bachelor of divinity; B.F. before the decrees of the old Romans, for bonum factum. In music, B stands for the tone above A; for B flat, or the semi-tone major above A. B also stands for base, and B.C. for basso continuo, or thorough base.

BAA, n. The cry or appropriate bleating of sheep.

BAA, v.i. To cry or bleat as sheep.

BAAL, n. An idol among the ancient Chaldeans and Syrians, representing the sun. The word signifies also lord, or commander; and the character of the idol was varied by different nations, at different times. Thus Baal Berith is supposed to signify the Lord of the Covenant; Baal Peor, or rather Baal Phegor, the Lord of the dead. Psalm 106:28. Baal Zebub, the god of flies, etc.

BABBLE, v.i.

1. To utter words imperfectly or indistinctly, as children.

2. To talk idly or irrationally; to talk thoughtlessly.

3. To talk much; to prate; hence to tell secrets.

4. To utter sounds frequently, incessantly, or indistinctly; as a babbling echo; a babbling stream.

BABBLE, v.t. To prate; to utter.
BABBLE, n. Idle talk; senseless prattle.

BABBLEMENT, n. Idle talk; senseless prate; unmeaning words.

BABBLER, n. An idle talker; an irrational prattler; a teller of secrets.

BABBLING, ppr. Talking idly; telling secrets.

2. Uttering a succession of murmuring sounds; as a babbling stream.

3. In hunting, babbling is when the hounds are too busy after they have found a good scent.

BABBLING, n. Foolish talk. 1 Timothy 6:20.

BABE, n. [L. pupus, a word of endearment; pupa, little girl; whence pupillus, pupilla, pupil.]

An infant; a young child of either sex.

BABEL, n. [Heb.] Confusion; disorder.

BABERY, n. Finery to please a child; any trifling toy for children.

BABISH, a. Like a babe; childish.

BABISHLY, adv. Childishly.

BABOON, n. A monkey of the largest species; a quadruped belonging to the genus Simia, in the class Mammalia, and order Primates, according to the system of Linne; but by Pennant arranged under the digitated quadrupeds. Baboons have short tails; a long face; a broad high muzzle; dog-like tusks, or canine teeth; and naked callosities on the buttocks. They are found only on the eastern continent.

BABY, a. Like a young child; pertaining to an infant.

BABY, n. [See Babe.] An infant or young child of either sex; a babe; [used in familiar language.]

2. A small image in form of an infant, for girls to play with; a doll.

BABY, v.t. To treat like a young child.

BABYHOOD, n. The state of being a baby.

BABY-HOUSE, n. A place for children’s dolls and babies.

BABYLONIAN, BABYLONISH, a. Pertaining to Babylon, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Babylonia, or to the kingdom. The city stood on the river Frat, or Euphrates, and it is supposed, on the spot where the tower of Babel was founded.

2. Like the language of Babel; mixed; confused.

BABYLONIAN, n. An inhabitant of Babylonia. In ancient writers, an astrologer, as the Chaldeans were remarkable for the study of astrology.

BABYLONIC, BABYLONICAL, a. Pertaining to Babylon, or made there; as Babylonic garments, carpets or hangings.

2. Tumultuous; disorderly.

BABYLONICS, n. plu. The title of a fragment of the history of the world, ending 267 years before Christ, composed by Berosus, a priest of Babylon.

BABYROUSSA, n. In zoology, the Indian hog, a native of Celebes, and of Buero, but not found on the continent of Asia or of Africa. This quadruped belongs to the genus, Sus, in the class Mammalia, and order Bellua. From the outside of the upper jaw, spring two teeth twelve inches long, bending like horns, and almost touching the forehead. Along the back are some weak bristles, and on the rest of the body only a sort of wool. These animals live in herds, feed on herbage, are sometimes tamed, and their flesh is well tasted. When pursued hard, they rush into the sea, swim or dive and pass from isle to isle. In the forest, they rest their heads by hooking their upper tusks on a bough.

BAC or BACK, n.

1. In navigation, a ferry-boat or praam.

2. In brewing, a large flat tub, or vessel, in which wort is cooled before boiling; hence called a cooler.

3. In distilleries, a vessel into which the liquor to be fermented is pumped, from the cooler, in order to be worked with the yeast.

BACCA, n. [L.] In botany, a berry; a fruit which consists of a pulpy pericarp, without valves, inclosing several naked seeds.

BACCALAUREATE, n. [The first part of this word is from the same root as bachelor; or as Bailey supposes, from bacca, berry; and the latter part, from laurea, a laurel, from the practice of wearing a garland of bay berries.]

The degree of bachelor of arts.

BACCATED, a. [L. baccatus, garnished with pearls, from bacca, a berry.]

Set or adorned with pearls; having many berries.

BACCHANAL, BACCHANALIAN, n. [from Bacchus, Gr.,the deity of wine and revelling. L. poculum.]

One who indulges in drunken revels; a drunkard; one who is noisy and riotous, when intoxicated.

BACCHANAL, BACCHANALIAN, a. Revelling in intemperate drinking; riotous; noisy.

BACCHANALIAN, a. Pertaining to reveling and drunkenness. Even bacchanalian madness has its charms.

BACCHANALS, n. plu. Drunken feasts; the revels of bacchanalians. In antiquity, feasts in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine. These were celebrated in spring and autumn, with games and shows.

BACCHIC, a. Jovial; drunken; mad with intoxication.

2. Relating to Bacchus, the god of wine; as, a bacchic feast or song; bacchic mysteries.

BACCHIUS, n. In ancient poetry, a foot composed of a short syllable and two long ones; as in avari.

BACCIFFEROUS, a. [L. baccifer, of bacca, a berry, and fero, to bear.]

That produces berries. [See Bacca.] Bacciferous plants formerly included all such plants as have a pulpy fruit, whether of the apple, berry or cherry kind; but the modern systems of botany comprehend under this description such plants only as bear the pulpy pericarp, called bacca, or berry.

BACCIVOROUS, a. [L. bacca, berry, and voro, to eat.]

Eating or subsisting on berries; as baccivorous birds.

BACHELOR, n. [L. baculus, a stick, that is, a shoot.]

1. A young man who has not been married.

2. A man of any age, who has not been married; often with the word old.

3. A person who has taken the first degree in the liberal arts and sciences, at a college or university. This degree or honor is called the baccalaureate. This title is given also to such as take the first degree in divinity, law or physic, in certain European universities.

4. A knight of the lowest order, or more correctly, a young knight, styled, a knight bachelor. The Germans anciently constituted their young men knights or soldiers, by presenting to them a shield and a lance, in a great council. This ceremony answered to that of the toga virilis of the Romans. In the livery companies of London, those persons not yet admitted to the livery are called bachelors.

BACHELORSHIP, n. The state of being a bachelor.

2. The state of one who has taken his first degree in a college or university.

BACK, n.

1. The upper part of an animal, particularly of a quadruped, whose back is a ridge. In human beings, the hinder part of the body.

2. The outward or convex part of the hand, opposed to the inner, concave part, or palm.

3. As the back of man is the part on the side opposite to the face; hence the part opposed to the front; as the back of a book and of a chimney, or the back of a house.

4. The part opposite to or most remote from that which fronts the speaker or actor, or the part out of sight; as the back of an isle, of a wood, of a village.

5. As the back is the strongest part of an animal, and as the back is behind in motion; hence the thick and strong part of a cutting tool; as the back of a knife, or of a saw.

6. The place behind or nearest the back; as, on the back of a hill or of a village.

7. The outer part of the body, or the whole body; a part for the whole; as, he has not clothes to his back.

8. To turn the back on one, is to forsake, or neglect him.

9. To turn the back to one, to acknowledge to be superior.

10. To turn the back, is to depart, or to leave the care or cognizance of; to remove or be absent.

11. Behind the back, is in secret, or when one is absent.

12. To cast behind the back, in scripture, is to forget and forgive, Isaiah 38:17; or to treat with contempt. Ezekiel 23:35; Nehemiah 9:26.

13. To plow the back, is to oppress and persecute. Psalm 129:3.

14. To bow the back, is to submit to oppression. Romans 11:10.

BACK, adv. To the place from which one came; as, to go back is to return.

2. In a figurative sense, to a former state, condition or station; as, he cannot go back from his engagements.

3. Behind; not advancing; not coming or bringing forward; as, to keep back a part; to keep one’s selfback.

4. Towards times or things past; as, to look back on former ages.

5. Again; in return; as, give back the money.

6. To go or come back, is to return, either to a former place, or state.

7. To go or give back, is to retreat to recede.

BACK, v.t. To mount; to get upon the back; sometimes perhaps to place upon the back; as, to back a horse.

2. To support; to maintain; to second or strengthen by aid; as, the Court was backed by the House of Commons.

3. To put backward; to cause to retreat or recede; as, to back oxen.

4. To back a warrant, is for a justice of the peace in the county where the warrant is to be executed, to sign or indorse a warrant, issued in another county, to apprehend an offender.

5. In seamanship, to back an anchor is to lay down a small anchor ahead of a large one, the cable of the small one being fastened to the crown of the large one, to prevent its coming home.

6. To back astern, in rowing, is to manage the oars in a direction contrary to the usual method, to move a boat stern foremost.

7. To back the sails, is to arrange them so as to cause the ship to move astern.

BACK, v.i. To move or go back; as, the horse refuses to back.

BACKBITE, v.t. [back and bite] To censure, slander, reproach, or speak evil of the absent. Proverbs 25:23.

BACKBITER, n. One who slanders, calumniates or speaks ill of the absent.

BACKBITING, n. The act of slandering the absent; secret calumny. 2 Corinthians 12:20.

BACKBITINGLY, adv. With secret slander.

BACKBOARD, n. [back and board.] A board placed across the after part of a boat.

BACKBONE, n. [back and bone.] The bone of the back; or the spine.

BACKCARRY, n. A having on the back; a term of law.

BACKDOOR, n. [back and door.] A door on the back part of a bulding; a private passage; and indirect way.

BACKED, pp. Mounted; having on the back; supported by aid; seconded; moved backward.

BACKED, a. Having a back; a word used in composition; as broad-backed, hump-backed.

BACKFRIEND, n. [back and friend.] A secret enemy.

BACKGAMMON, n. A game played by two persons, upon a table, with box and dice. The table is in two parts, on which are 24 black and white spaces, called points. Each player has 15 men of different colors for the purpose of distinction.

BACKGROUND, n. [back and ground.] Ground in the rear or behind, as opposed to the front.

2. A place of obscurity, or shade; a situation little seen, or noticed.

BACKHANDED, a. [back and hand.] With the hand turned backward; as a backhanded blow.

BACKHANDED, adv. With the hand directed backward; as, to strike backhanded.

BACKHOUSE, n. [back and house.] A building behind the main or front building.

BACKING, ppr. Mounting; moving back, as a horse; seconding.

BACKPAINTING, n. [back and paint.] The method of painting mezzotinto prints, pasted on glass of a size to fit the print.

BACKPIECE, n. [back and piece.] The piece of armor which covers the back.

BACKRETURN, n. Repeated return.

BACKROOM, n. [back and room.] A room behind the front room, or in the back part of the house.

BACKS, n. Among dealers in leather, the thickest and best tanned hides.

BACKSET, a. [back and set.] Set upon in the rear.

BACKSIDE, n. [back and side.] The back part of anything; the part behind that which is presented to the face of a spectator. Exodus 3:1.

2. The hind part of an animal.

3. The yard, ground or place behind a house.

BACKSLIDE, v.i. [back and slide.] To fall off; to apostatize; to turn gradually from the faith and practice of christianity. Jeremiah 3:6-22; Hosea 4:16.

BACKSLIDER, n. An apostate; one who falls from the faith and practice of religion. Proverbs 14:14.

2. One who neglects his vows of obedience and falls into sin.

BACKSLIDING, n. The act of apostatizing from faith or practice; a falling insensibly from religion into sin or idolatry. Jeremiah 5:6.

BACKSTAFF, n. [back and staff, so called from its being used with the observer’s back toward the sun.]

A quadrant; an instrument for taking the sun’s altitude at sea; called also, from its inventor, Davis’s quadrant.

BACKSTAIRS, n. [back and stairs.]

Stairs in the back part of a house; private stairs; and figuratively, a private or indirect way.

BACKSTAYS, n. [back and stay.]

Long ropes or stays extending from the top-mast heads to both sides of a ship, to assist the shrouds in supporting the mast, when strained by a weight of sail, and prevent it from giving way and falling overboard.

BACKSWORD, n. [back and sword.]

A sword with one sharp edge. In England, a stick with a basket handle used in rustic amusements.

BACKWARD, BACKWARDS, adv. [back and ward. See Ward.] With the back in advance; as, to move backward.

2. Toward the back; as, to throw the arms backward; to move backwards and forwards.

3. On the back, or with the back downwards; as, to fall backward.

4. Toward past times or events; as to look backward on the history of man.

5. By way of reflection; reflexively.

6. From a better to a worse state; as, public affairs go backward.

7. In time past; as, let us look some ages backward.

8. Perversely; from a wrong end.

I never yet saw man but she would spell him backward.

9. Towards the beginning; in an order contrary to the natural order; as, to read backward.

10. In a scriptural sense, to go or turn backward, is to rebel, apostatize, or relapse into sin, or idolatry. Isaiah 1:4.

11. Contrarily; in a contrary manner.

To be driven or turned backward, is to be defeated, or disappointed. Psalm 40:14. turn judgment backward, is to pervert justice and laws. Isaiah 59:14.

BACKWARD, a. Unwilling; averse; reluctant; hesitating. For wiser brutes are backward to be slaves.

2. Slow; sluggish; dilatory. The mind is backward to undergo the fatigue of weighing every argument.

3. Dull; not quick of apprehension; behind in progress; as a backward learner.

4. Late; behind in time; coming after something else, or after the usual time; as backward fruits; the season is backward.

BACKWARD, n. The things or state behind or past.

In the dark backward or abysm of time. [Not proper, nor in use.]

BACKWARDLY, adv. Unwillingly; reluctantly; adversely; perversely.

BACKWARDNESS, n. Unwillingness; reluctance, dilatoriness, or dullness in action.

2. A state of being behind in progress; slowness; tardiness; as the backwardness of the spring.

BACKWORM, n. [back and worm.] A small worm, in a thin skin, in the reins of a hawk. [See Filanders.]

BACON, n. ba’kn.

Hog’s flesh, salted or pickled and dried, usually in smoke.

To save one’s bacon, is to preserve one’s self from harm.

BACULE, n. In fortification, a kind of portcullis or gate, made like a pit-fall, with a counterpoise, and supported by two great stakes.

BACULITE, n. [L. baculus.]

A genus of fossil shells, of a straight form, in their cellular structure resembling the ammonites.

BACULOMETRY, n. [L. baculus, a staff, and Gr. measure.]

The act of measuring distance of altitude by a staff or staves.

BAD, a. [Heb. to perish or destroy]

1. Ill; evil; opposed to good; a word of general use, denoting physical defects and moral faults, in men and things; as a bad man, a bad heart, a bad design, bad air, bad water, bad books.

2. Vicious; corrupt; depraved, in a moral sense; as a bad life; a bad action.

3. Unwholesome; as bad provisions.

4. Unfortunate; unprosperous; as a bad state of affairs.

5. Unskillful; as a bad player.

6. Small; poor; as a bad crop.

7. Infirm; as a bad state of health.

8. Feeble, corrupt, or oppressive; as a bad government.

9. Hurtful; pernicious; as, fine print is bad for the eyes.

10. Unfavorable; as a bad season.

11. Poor; sterile; as a bad soil.

12. Rough or muddy; as a bad road. In short, bad expresses whatever is injurious, hurtful, inconvenient, unlawful or immoral; whatever is offensive, painful or unfavorable; or what is defective.

BAD, BADE, the past tense of bid. [See Bid.]

BADGE, n. [I know not the affinities of this word, not having found it in any other language. Probably it belongs to class Bg.]

1. A mark, sign, token or thing, by which a person is distinguished, in a particular place or employment, and designating his relation to a person or to a particular occupation; as the badge of authority.

2. The mark or token of anything; as the badge of bitterness.

3. An ornament on ships, near the stern, decorated with figures.

BADGE, v.t. To mark, or distinguish with a badge.

BADGER, n. In law, a person who is licensed to buy corn in one place and sell it in another, without incurring the penalties of engrossing.

BADGER, n. A quadruped of the genus Ursus, of a clumsy make, with short, thick legs, and long claws on the fore feet. It inhabits the north of Europe and Asia, burrows, is indolent and sleepy, feeds by night on vegetables, and is very fat. Its skin is used for pistol furniture; its flesh makes good bacon, and its hair is used for brushes to soften the shades in painting. The American badger is called the ground hog, and is sometimes white.

BADGER-LEGGED, a. Having legs like a badger. Johnson says having legs of unequal length; but, qu. short thick legs.

BADIAGA, n. A small spunge, common in the North of Europe, the powder of which is used to take away the livid marks of bruises.

BADIANE, BANDIAN, n. The seed of a tree in China, which smells like anise seeds; used by the Chinese and Dutch to give their tea an aromatic taste.

BADIGEON, n. A mixture of plaster and free stone, ground together and sifted, used by statuaries to fill the small holes and repair the defects of the stones, of which they make their statues.

BADINAGE, n. Light or playful discourse.

BADLY, adv. [from bad.] In a bad manner; not well, unskillfully; grievously; unfortunately; imperfectly.

BADNESS, n. The state of being bad, evil, vicious or depraved; want of good qualities, natural or moral; as the badness of the heart, of the season, of the roads, etc.

BAFFETAS, BAFTAS, BASTAS, n. An India cloth or plain muslin. That of Surat is said to be the best.

BAFFLE, v.t. To mock or elude by artifice; to elude by shifts and turns; hence to defeat, or confound; as, to baffle the designs of an enemy.

Fashionable follies baffle argument.

BAFFLE, v.i. To practice deceit.
BAFFLE, n. A defeat by artifice, shifts and turns.

BAFFLED, pp. Eluded; defeated; confounded.

BAFFLER, n. One that baffles.

BAFFLING, ppr. Eluding by shifts, and turns, or by stratagem; defeating; confounding. A baffling wind, among seamen, is one that frequently shifts, from one point to another.

BAG, n. [Norm. bage, a bag, a coffer, bagnes, baggage. This word seems to be from the root of pack, pouch.]

1. A sack; a pouch, usually of cloth or leather, used to hold, preserve or convey corn, and other commodities.

2. A sack in animal bodies containing some fluid or other substance.

3. Formerly, a sort of silken purse tied to the hair.

4. In commerce, a certain quantity of a commodity, such as it is customary to carry to market in a sack; as a bag of pepper or hops; a bag of corn.

5. Among farriers, a bag of asafoetida and savin is tied to the bits of horses to restore their appetites.

BAG, v.t. To put into a bag.

2. To load with bags.

BAG, v.i. To swell like a full bag, as sails when filled with wind.

BAGATELLE, n. bagatel’.

A trifle; a thing of no importance.

BAGGAGE, n. [Eng. package.]

1. The tents, clothing, utensils, and other necessaries of an army.

2. The clothing and other conveniencies which a traveller carries with him, on a journey.

Having dispatched my baggage by water to Altdorf.

[The English now call this luggage.]

BAGGAGE, n. A low worthless woman; a strumpet.

BAGGING, ppr. Swelling; becoming protuberant.

BAGGING, n. The cloth or materials for bags. U. States. Edwards’ W. Indies.

BAGNIO, n. ban’yo. [L. balneum.]

1. A bath; a house for bathing, cupping, sweating and otherwise cleansing the body. In Turkey, it is the name of prisons where slaves are kept; so called from the baths which they contain.

2. A brothel.

BAGPIPE, n. [bag and pipe.]

A musical wind instrument, used chiefly in Scotland and Ireland. It consists of a leathern bag, which receives the air by a tube, which is stopped by a valve; and pipes, into which the air is pressed by the performer. The base-pipe is called the drone, and the tenor or treble is called the chanter. The pipes have eight holes like those of a flute, which the performer stops and opens at pleasure. There are several species of bag-pipes, as the soft and melodious Irish bag-pipe, with two short drones and a long one; the Highland bag-pipe, with two short drones, the music of which is very loud; the Scot’s Lowland bag-pipe, which is played with a bellows and is also a loud instrument. There is also a small pipe, with a chanter about eight inches in length.

In seamanship, to bag-pipe the mizen, is to lay it aback by bringing the sheet to the mizen shrouds.

BAGPIPER, n. One who plays on a bag-pipe.

BAGRE, n. A small bearded fish, a species of Silurus, anguilliform, of a silvery hue, without scales, and delicious food.

BAGREEF, n. [bag and reef.] A fourth and lower reef used in the British navy.

BAGUET, n. In architecture, a little round molding, less than an astragal, sometimes carved and enriched.

BAHAR, BARRE, n. Weights used in the E. Indies. The great bahar, for weighing pepper, cloves, nutmegs, etc., is 524 lb. 9 oz. avoirdupoise. The little bahar, for weighing quicksilver, vermilion, ivory, silk, etc., is 437 lbs. 9 oz.

BAIGNE, v.t. To soak or drench. [Not used.]

BAIKALITE, n. [From Baikal, a lake in Northern Asia.]

A mineral occurring in acicular prisms, sometimes long, and either confusedly grouped or radiating from a center. Its color is greenish, or yellowish white. It is regarded as a variety of Tremolite. This name is given also to an olive-green variety of augite and also of epidote.

BAIL, v.t.

1. To set free, deliver, or liberate from arrest and imprisonment, upon security given that the person bailed shall appear and answer in court. The word is applied to the magistrate, or the surety. The magistrate bails a man, when he liberates him from arrest or imprisonment, upon bond given with sureties. The surety bails a person, when he procures his release from arrest, by giving bond for his appearance.

2. To deliver goods in trust, upon a contract, expressed or implied, that the trust shall be faithfully executed on the part of the bailee or person entrusted; as, to bail cloth to a tailor to be made into a garment, or to bail goods to a carrier.

3. To free from water, as to bail a boat. This word is improperly written bale. The word is probably the same as bail in law, to free, or liberate, and signifies to throw out water, as with a bucket or shovel.

BAIL, n. The person or persons who procure the release of a prisoner from custody, by becoming surety for his appearance in court.

The bail must be real substantial bondsmen.

B and B were bail to the arrest in a suit at law.

Bail is not used with a plural termination.

2. The security given for the release of a prisoner from custody; as, the man is out upon bail.

Excessive bail ought not to be required.

Bail is common or special. Common bail are imaginary persons, who are pledges for the plaintiff’s prosecution; as John Doe and Richard Roe.

Special bail must be men of real substance, sufficient to pay their bond or recognizance. To perfect or justify bail is to prove by the oath of the person that he is worth the sum for which he is surety beyond his debts. To admit to bail, is to release upon security given by bondsmen.

3. The handle of a kettle or other vessel.

4. In England, a certain limit within a forest.

BAILABLE, a. That may be set free upon bond with sureties; that may be admitted to bail; used of persons.

2. That admits of bail; as a bailable offense.