British Library Cataloguing Data
The concise Oxford dictionary of current English.--8th ed.
1. English language--Dictionaries
I. Allen, R. E. (Robert Edward), 1944-423
ISBN 0-19-861243-5 thumb index
ISBN 0-19-861200-1 plain
paca n. any tailless rodent of the genus Cuniculus, esp. the spotted
cavy of S. and Central America. [Sp. & Port., f. Tupi]
pace(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a a single step in walking or running. b the
distance covered in this (about 75 cm or 30 in.). c the
distance between two successive stationary positions of the same
foot in walking. 2 speed in walking or running. 3 Theatr. &
Mus. speed or tempo in theatrical or musical performance (played
with great pace). 4 a rate of progression. 5 a a manner of
walking or running; a gait. b any of various gaits, esp. of a
trained horse etc. (rode at an ambling pace). --v. 1 intr. a
walk (esp. repeatedly or methodically) with a slow or regular
pace (pacing up and down). b (of a horse) = AMBLE. 2 tr.
traverse by pacing. 3 tr. set the pace for (a rider, runner,
etc.). 4 tr. (foll. by out) measure (a distance) by pacing.
Ьkeep pace (often foll. by with) advance at an equal rate (as).
pace bowler Cricket a bowler who delivers the ball at high speed
without spin. pace-setter 1 a leader. 2 = PACEMAKER 1. put a
person through his (or her) paces test a person's qualities in
action etc. set the pace determine the speed, esp. by leading.
stand (or stay) the pace be able to keep up with others.
ЬЬ-paced adj. pacer n. [ME f. OF pas f. L passus f. pandere
pace(2) prep. (in stating a contrary opinion) with due deference to
(the person named). [L, ablat. of pax peace]
pacemaker n. 1 a competitor who sets the pace in a race. 2 a natural or
artificial device for stimulating the heart muscle and
determining the rate of its contractions.
pacha var. of PASHA.
pachinko n. a Japanese form of pinball. [Jap.]
pachisi n. a four-handed Indian board-game with six cowries used like
dice. [Hindi, = of 25 (the highest throw)]
pachyderm n. any thick-skinned mammal, esp. an elephant or rhinoceros.
ЬЬpachydermatous adj. [F pachyderme f. Gk pakhudermos f.
pakhus thick + derma -matos skin]
pacific adj. & n. --adj. 1 characterized by or tending to peace;
tranquil. 2 (Pacific) of or adjoining the Pacific. --n. (the
Pacific) the generally placid expanse of ocean between America
to the east and Asia to the west. ЬPacific Time the standard
time used in the Pacific region of Canada and the US.
ЬЬpacifically adv. [F pacifique or L pacificus f. pax pacis
n. the act of pacifying or the process of being pacified.
ЬЬpacificatory adj. [F f. L pacificatio -onis (as PACIFY)]
pacifier n. 1 a person or thing that pacifies. 2 US a baby's dummy.
pacifism n. the belief that war and violence are morally unjustified and
that all disputes can be settled by peaceful means. ЬЬpacifist
n. & adj. [F pacifisme f. pacifier PACIFY]
pacify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 appease (a person, anger, etc.). 2 bring
(a country etc.) to a state of peace. [ME f. OF pacifier or L
pacificare (as PACIFIC)]
pack(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a a collection of things wrapped up or tied
together for carrying. b = BACKPACK. 2 a set of items packaged
for use or disposal together. 3 usu. derog. a lot or set (of
similar things or persons) (a pack of lies; a pack of thieves).
4 Brit. a set of playing cards. 5 a a group of hounds esp. for
foxhunting. b a group of wild animals, esp. wolves, hunting
together. 6 an organized group of Cub Scouts or Brownies. 7
Rugby Football a team's forwards. 8 a a medicinal or cosmetic
substance applied to the skin; = face-pack. b a hot or cold pad
of absorbent material for treating a wound etc. 9 = pack ice.
10 a quantity of fish, fruit, etc., packed in a season etc. 11
Med. a the wrapping of a body or part of a body in a wet sheet
etc. b a sheet etc. used for this. --v. 1 tr. (often foll. by
up) a fill (a suitcase, bag, etc.) with clothes and other items.
b put (things) together in a bag or suitcase, esp. for
travelling. 2 intr. & tr. come or put closely together; crowd
or cram (packed a lot into a few hours; passengers packed like
sardines). 3 tr. (in passive; often foll. by with) be filled
(with); contain extensively (the restaurant was packed; the book
is packed with information). 4 tr. fill (a hall, theatre, etc.)
with an audience etc. 5 tr. cover (a thing) with something
pressed tightly round. 6 intr. be suitable for packing. 7 tr.
colloq. a carry (a gun etc.). b be capable of delivering (a
punch) with skill or force. 8 intr. (of animals or Rugby
forwards) form a pack. Ьpack-animal an animal for carrying
packs. pack-drill a military punishment of marching up and down
carrying full equipment. packed lunch a lunch carried in a bag,
box, etc., esp. to work, school, etc. packed out colloq. full,
crowded. pack ice an area of large crowded pieces of floating
ice in the sea. pack it in (or up) colloq. end or stop it.
pack off send (a person) away, esp. abruptly or promptly.
pack-rat US a large hoarding rodent. pack-saddle a saddle
adapted for supporting packs. pack up colloq. 1 (esp. of a
machine) stop functioning; break down. 2 retire from an
activity, contest, etc. send packing colloq. dismiss (a
person) summarily. ЬЬpackable adj. [ME f. MDu., MLG pak,
pakken, of unkn. orig.]
pack(2) v.tr. select (a jury etc.) or fill (a meeting) so as to secure
a decision in one's favour. [prob. f. obs. verb pact f. PACT]
package n. & v. --n. 1 a a bundle of things packed. b a parcel, box,
etc., in which things are packed. 2 (in full package deal) a
set of proposals or items offered or agreed to as a whole. 3
Computing a piece of software suitable for various applications
rather than one which is custom-built. 4 colloq. = package
holiday. --v.tr. make up into or enclose in a package.
Ьpackage holiday (or tour etc.) a holiday or tour etc. with all
arrangements made at an inclusive price. ЬЬpackager n.
[PACK(1) + -AGE]
packaging n. 1 a wrapping or container for goods. 2 the process of
packer n. a person or thing that packs, esp. a dealer who prepares and
packs food for transportation and sale.
packet n. 1 a small package. 2 colloq. a large sum of money won,
lost, or spent. 3 (in full packet-boat) hist. a mail-boat or
passenger ship. [PACK(1) + -ET(1)]
packhorse n. a horse for carrying loads.
packing n. 1 the act or process of packing. 2 material used as padding
to pack esp. fragile articles. 3 material used to seal a join
or assist in lubricating an axle. Ьpacking-case a case (usu.
wooden) or framework for packing goods in.
n. stout thread for sewing or tying up packs.
pact n. an agreement or a treaty. [ME f. OF pact(e) f. L pactum,
neut. past part. of pacisci agree]
pad(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a piece of soft material used to reduce
friction or jarring, fill out hollows, hold or absorb liquid,
etc. 2 a number of sheets of blank paper fastened together at
one edge, for writing or drawing on. 3 = ink-pad. 4 the fleshy
underpart of an animal's foot or of a human finger. 5 a guard
for the leg and ankle in sports. 6 a flat surface for
helicopter take-off or rocket-launching. 7 colloq. a lodging,
esp. a bedsitter or flat. 8 the floating leaf of a water lily.
--v.tr. (padded, padding) 1 provide with a pad or padding;
stuff. 2 (foll. by out) lengthen or fill out (a book etc.) with
unnecessary material. Ьpadded cell a room with padded walls in
a mental hospital. [prob. of LG or Du. orig.]
pad(2) v. & n. --v. (padded, padding) 1 intr. walk with a soft dull
steady step. 2 a tr. tramp along (a road etc.) on foot. b
intr. travel on foot. --n. the sound of soft steady steps. [LG
padden tread, pad PATH]
padding n. soft material used to pad or stuff with.
paddle(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a short broad-bladed oar used without a
rowlock. 2 a paddle-shaped instrument. 3 Zool. a fin or
flipper. 4 each of the boards fitted round the circumference of
a paddle-wheel or mill-wheel. 5 the action or a spell of
paddling. --v. 1 intr. & tr. move on water or propel a boat by
means of paddles. 2 intr. & tr. row gently. 3 tr. esp. US
colloq. spank. Ьpaddle-boat (or -steamer etc.) a boat, steamer,
etc., propelled by a paddle-wheel. paddle-wheel a wheel for
propelling a ship, with boards round the circumference so as to
press backwards against the water. ЬЬpaddler n. [15th c.:
paddle(2) v. & n. --v.intr. walk barefoot or dabble the feet or hands in
shallow water. --n. the action or a spell of paddling.
ЬЬpaddler n. [prob. of LG or Du. orig.: cf. LG paddeln tramp
paddock n. 1 a small field, esp. for keeping horses in. 2 a turf
enclosure adjoining a racecourse where horses or cars are
assembled before a race. 3 Austral. & NZ a field; a plot of
land. [app. var. of (now dial.) parrock (OE pearruc): see
Paddy n. (pl. -ies) colloq. often offens. an Irishman. [pet-form
of the Irish name Padraig (= Patrick)]
paddy(1) n. (pl. -ies) 1 (in full paddy-field) a field where rice is
grown. 2 rice before threshing or in the husk. [Malay padi]
paddy(2) n. (pl. -ies) Brit. colloq. a rage; a fit of temper.
pademelon n. any small wallaby of the genus Thylogale, inhabiting the
coastal scrub of Australia. [corrupt. of an Aboriginal name]
padlock n. & v. --n. a detachable lock hanging by a pivoted hook on the
object fastened. --v.tr. secure with a padlock. [ME f.
LOCK(1): first element unexpl.]
padouk n. 1 any timber tree of the genus Pterocarpus, esp. P.
indicus. 2 the wood of this tree, resembling rosewood.
padre n. a chaplain in any of the armed services. [It., Sp., &
Port., = father, priest, f. L pater patris father]
padsaw n. a saw with a narrow blade, for cutting curves.
paean n. (US pean) a song of praise or triumph. [L f. Doric Gk paian
hymn of thanksgiving to Apollo (under the name of Paian)]
paederast var. of PEDERAST.
var. of PEDERASTY.
n.pl. (treated as sing.) (US pediatrics) the branch of medicine
dealing with children and their diseases. ЬЬpaediatric adj.
paediatrician n. [PAEDO- + Gk iatros physician]
paedo- comb. form (US pedo-) child. [Gk pais paid- child]
n. (US pedophile) a person who displays paedophilia.
n. (US pedophilia) sexual desire directed towards children.
paella n. a Spanish dish of rice, saffron, chicken, seafood, etc.,
cooked and served in a large shallow pan. [Catalan f. OF paele
f. L patella pan]
paeon n. a metrical foot of one long syllable and three short
syllables in any order. ЬЬpaeonic adj. [L f. Gk paion, the
Attic form of paian PAEAN]
paeony var. of PEONY.
pagan n. & adj. --n. a person not subscribing to any of the main
religions of the world, esp. formerly regarded by Christians as
unenlightened or heathen. --adj. 1 a of or relating to or
associated with pagans. b irreligious. 2 identifying divinity
or spirituality in nature; pantheistic. ЬЬpaganish adj.
paganism n. paganize v.tr. & intr. (also -ise). [ME f. L
paganus villager, rustic f. pagus country district: in
Christian L = civilian, heathen]
page(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a a leaf of a book, periodical, etc. b each
side of this. c what is written or printed on this. 2 a an
episode that might fill a page in written history etc.; a
record. b a memorable event. --v.tr. paginate. [F f. L pagina
f. pangere fasten]
page(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a boy or man, usu. in livery, employed to run
errands, attend to a door, etc. 2 a boy employed as a personal
attendant of a person of rank, a bride, etc. 3 hist. a boy in
training for knighthood and attached to a knight's service.
--v.tr. 1 (in hotels, airports, etc.) summon by making an
announcement or by sending a messenger. 2 summon by means of a
pager. Ьpage-boy 1 = PAGE(2) n. 2. 2 a woman's hairstyle with
the hair reaching to the shoulder and rolled under at the ends.
[ME f. OF, perh. f. It. paggio f. Gk paidion, dimin. of pais
pageant n. 1 a a brilliant spectacle, esp. an elaborate parade. b a
spectacular procession, or play performed in the open,
illustrating historical events. c a tableau etc. on a fixed
stage or moving vehicle. 2 an empty or specious show. [ME
pagyn, of unkn. orig.]
pageantry n. (pl. -ies) 1 elaborate or sumptuous show or display. 2 an
instance of this.
pager n. a radio device with a bleeper, activated from a central
point to alert the person wearing it.
paginal adj. 1 of pages (of books etc.). 2 corresponding page for
page. ЬЬpaginary adj. [LL paginalis (as PAGE(1))]
paginate v.tr. assign numbers to the pages of a book etc. ЬЬpagination
n. [F paginer f. L pagina PAGE(1)]
pagoda n. 1 a Hindu or Buddhist temple or sacred building, esp. a
many-tiered tower, in India and the Far East. 2 an ornamental
imitation of this. Ьpagoda-tree any of various trees, esp.
Sophora japonica, resembling a pagoda in shape. [Port. pagode,
prob. ult. f. Pers. butkada idol temple]
pah int. expressing disgust or contempt. [natural utterance]
Pahlavi n. (also Pehlevi) the writing system of Persia from the 2nd c.
BC to the advent of Islam in the 7th c. AD. [Pers. pahlawi f.
pahlav f. parthava Parthia]
paid past and past part. of PAY(1).
pail n. 1 a bucket. 2 an amount contained in this. ЬЬpailful n.
(pl. -fuls). [OE p‘gel gill (cf. MDu. pegel gauge), assoc.
with OF paelle: see PAELLA]
paillasse var. of PALLIASSE.
paillette n. 1 a piece of bright metal used in enamel painting. 2 a
spangle. [F, dimin. of paille f. L palea straw, chaff]
pain n. & v. --n. 1 a the range of unpleasant bodily sensations
produced by illness or by harmful physical contact etc. b a
particular kind or instance of this (often in pl.: suffering
from stomach pains). 2 mental suffering or distress. 3 (in
pl.) careful effort; trouble taken (take pains; got nothing for
my pains). 4 (also pain in the neck) colloq. a troublesome
person or thing; a nuisance. --v.tr. 1 cause pain to. 2 (as
pained adj.) expressing pain (a pained expression). Ьin pain
suffering pain. on (or under) pain of with (death etc.) as the
penalty. [ME f. OF peine f. L poena penalty]
painful adj. 1 causing bodily or mental pain or distress. 2 (esp. of
part of the body) suffering pain. 3 causing trouble or
difficulty; laborious (a painful climb). ЬЬpainfully adv.
n. a medicine or drug for alleviating pain. ЬЬpainkilling adj.
painless adj. not causing or suffering pain. ЬЬpainlessly adv.
adj. careful, industrious, thorough. ЬЬpainstakingly adv.
paint n. & v. --n. 1 a colouring matter, esp. in liquid form for
imparting colour to a surface. b this as a dried film or
coating (the paint peeled off). 2 joc. or archaic cosmetic
make-up, esp. rouge or nail varnish. --v.tr. 1 a cover the
surface of (a wall, object, etc.) with paint. b apply paint of
a specified colour to (paint the door green). 2 depict (an
object, scene, etc.) with paint; produce (a picture) by
painting. 3 describe vividly as if by painting (painted a
gloomy picture of the future). 4 joc. or archaic a apply liquid
or cosmetic to (the face, skin, etc.). b apply (a liquid to the
skin etc.). Ьpainted lady an orange-red butterfly, esp.
Cynthia cardui, with black and white spots. paint out efface
with paint. paint shop the part of a factory where goods are
painted, esp. by spraying. paint-stick a stick of water-soluble
paint used like a crayon. paint the town red colloq. enjoy
oneself flamboyantly. ЬЬpaintable adj. [ME f. peint past
part. of OF peindre f. L pingere pict- paint]
paintbox n. a box holding dry paints for painting pictures.
n. a brush for applying paint.
n. a person who paints, esp. an artist or decorator. [ME f. OF
peintour ult. f. L pictor (as PAINT)]
n. a rope attached to the bow of a boat for tying it to a quay
etc. [ME, prob. f. OF penteur rope from a masthead: cf. G
Pentertakel f. pentern fish the anchor]
painterly adj. 1 a using paint well; artistic. b characteristic of a
painter or paintings. 2 (of a painting) lacking clearly defined
painting n. 1 the process or art of using paint. 2 a painted picture.
paintwork n. 1 a painted surface or area in a building etc. 2 the work
painty adj. (paintier, paintiest) 1 of or covered in paint. 2 (of a
picture etc.) overcharged with paint.
pair n. & v. --n. 1 a set of two persons or things used together or
regarded as a unit (a pair of gloves; a pair of eyes). 2 an
article (e.g. scissors, trousers, or pyjamas) consisting of two
joined or corresponding parts not used separately. 3 a an
engaged or married couple. b a mated couple of animals. 4 two
horses harnessed side by side (a coach and pair). 5 the second
member of a pair in relation to the first (cannot find its
pair). 6 two playing cards of the same denomination. 7 Parl.
either or both of two MPs etc. on opposite sides absenting
themselves from voting by mutual arrangement. --v.tr. & intr.
1 (often foll. by off) arrange or be arranged in couples. 2 a
join or be joined in marriage. b (of animals) mate. 3 Parl.
form a pair. Ьin pairs in twos. pair production Physics the
conversion of a radiation quantum into an electron and a
positron. pair royal a set of three cards of the same
denomination. [ME f. OF paire f. L paria neut. pl. of par
paisa n. (pl. paise) a coin and monetary unit of India, Pakistan,
Nepal, and Bangladesh, equal to one-hundredth of a rupee or
Paisley n. (often attrib.) 1 a distinctive detailed pattern of curved
feather-shaped figures. 2 a soft woollen garment having this
pattern. [Paisley in Scotland]
pajamas US var. of PYJAMAS.
pakeha n. NZ a White person as opposed to a Maori. [Maori]
Paki n. (pl. Pakis) Brit. sl. offens. a Pakistani, esp. an
immigrant in Britain. [abbr.]
Pakistani n. & adj. --n. 1 a native or national of Pakistan. 2 a person
of Pakistani descent. --adj. of or relating to Pakistan.
pakora n. a piece of cauliflower, carrot, or other vegetable, coated
in seasoned batter and deep-fried. [Hind.]
pal n. & v. --n. colloq. a friend, mate, or comrade. --v.intr.
(palled, palling) (usu. foll. by up) associate; form a
friendship. [Romany = brother, mate, ult. f. Skr. bhratr
palace n. 1 the official residence of a sovereign, president,
archbishop, or bishop. 2 a splendid mansion; a spacious
building. Ьpalace revolution (or coup) the (usu. non-violent)
overthrow of a sovereign, government, etc. at the hands of
senior officials. [ME f. OF palais f. L Palatium Palatine
(hill) in Rome where the house of the emperor was situated]
paladin n. hist. 1 any of the twelve peers of Charlemagne's court, of
whom the Count Palatine was the chief. 2 a knight errant; a
champion. [F paladin f. It. paladino f. L palatinus: see
adj. Zool. of the Arctic and temperate parts of the old world.
[PALAEO- + ARCTIC]
palaeo- comb. form (US paleo-) ancient, old; of ancient (esp.
prehistoric) times. [Gk palaios ancient]
n. the study of fossil plants.
adj. & n. (US Paleocene) Geol. --adj. of or relating to the
earliest epoch of the Tertiary period with evidence of the
emergence and development of mammals. --n. this epoch or
system. °Cf. Appendix II. [PALAEO- + Gk kainos new]
n. (US paleoclimatology) the study of the climate in
geologically past times.
n. (US paleogeography) the study of the geographical features
at periods in the geological past.
n. (US paleography) the study of writing and documents from the
past. ЬЬpalaeographer n. palaeographic adj. palaeographical
adj. palaeographically adv. [F pal‚ographie f. mod.L
palaeographia (as PALAEO-, -GRAPHY)]
adj. (US paleolithic) Archaeol. of or relating to the early
part of the Stone Age. [PALAEO- + Gk lithos stone]
n. (US paleomagnetism) the study of the magnetism remaining in
n. (US paleontology) the study of life in the geological past.
ЬЬpalaeontological adj. palaeontologist n. [PALAEO- + Gk onta
neut. pl. of on being, part. of eimi be + -LOGY]
adj. & n. (also Paleozoic) Geol. --adj. of or relating to an
era of geological time marked by the appearance of marine and
terrestrial plants and animals, esp. invertebrates. °Cf.
Appendix II. --n. this era (cf. CENOZOIC, MESOZOIC). [PALAEO-
+ Gk zoe life, zoos living]
palaestra n. (also palestra) Gk & Rom. Antiq. a wrestling-school or
gymnasium. [ME f. L palaestra f. Gk palaistra f. palaio
palais n. colloq. a public hall for dancing. [F palais (de danse)
palanquin n. (also palankeen) (in India and the East) a covered litter
for one passenger. [Port. palanquim: cf. Hindi palki f. Skr.
palyanka bed, couch]
palatable adj. 1 pleasant to taste. 2 (of an idea, suggestion, etc.)
acceptable, satisfactory. ЬЬpalatability n. palatableness n.
palatal adj. & n. --adj. 1 of the palate. 2 (of a sound) made by
placing the surface of the tongue against the hard palate (e.g.
y in yes). --n. a palatal sound. ЬЬpalatalize v.tr. (also
-ise). palatalization n. palatally adv. [F (as PALATE)]
palate n. 1 a structure closing the upper part of the mouth cavity in
vertebrates. 2 the sense of taste. 3 a mental taste or
inclination; liking. [ME f. L palatum]
palatial adj. (of a building) like a palace, esp. spacious and splendid.
ЬЬpalatially adv. [L (as PALACE)]
n. territory under the jurisdiction of a Count Palatine.
adj. (also Palatine) hist. 1 (of an official or feudal lord)
having local authority that elsewhere belongs only to a
sovereign (Count Palatine). 2 (of a territory) subject to this
authority. [ME f. F palatin -ine f. L palatinus of the PALACE]
adj. & n. --adj. of or connected with the palate. --n. (in
full palatine bone) each of two bones forming the hard palate.
[F palatin -ine (as PALATE)]
palaver n. & v. --n. 1 fuss and bother, esp. prolonged and tedious. 2
profuse or idle talk. 3 cajolery. 4 colloq. an affair or
business. 5 esp. hist. a parley between African or other
natives and traders. --v. 1 intr. talk profusely. 2 tr.
flatter, wheedle. [Port. palavra word f. L (as PARABLE)]
pale(1) adj. & v. --adj. 1 (of a person or complexion) of a whitish or
ashen appearance. 2 a (of a colour) faint; not dark or deep. b
faintly coloured. 3 of faint lustre; dim. --v. 1 intr. & tr.
grow or make pale. 2 intr. (often foll. by before, beside)
become feeble in comparison (with). ЬЬpalely adv. paleness n.
palish adj. [ME f. OF pale, palir f. L pallidus f. pallere be
pale(2) n. 1 a pointed piece of wood for fencing etc.; a stake. 2 a
boundary or enclosed area. 3 Heraldry a vertical stripe in the
middle of a shield. Ьbeyond the pale outside the bounds of
acceptable behaviour. in pale Heraldry arranged vertically.
[ME f. OF pal f. L palus stake]
palea n. (pl. paleae) Bot. a chafflike bract, esp. in a flower of
grasses. [L, = chaff]
paled adj. having palings.
paleface n. a name supposedly used by the N. American Indians for the
paleo- comb. form US var. of PALAEO-.
Paleocene US var. of PALAEOCENE.
Paleozoic US var. of PALAEOZOIC.
adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to Palestine, a region (in
ancient and modern times) and former mandated territory on the
E. Mediterranean coast. --n. 1 a native of Palestine in
ancient or modern times. 2 an Arab, or a descendant of one,
born or living in the area formerly called Palestine.
palestra var. of PALAESTRA.
palette n. 1 a thin board or slab or other surface, usu. with a hole
for the thumb, on which an artist lays and mixes colours. 2 the
range of colours used by an artist. Ьpalette-knife 1 a thin
steel blade with a handle for mixing colours or applying or
removing paint. 2 a kitchen knife with a long blunt round-ended
flexible blade. [F, dimin. of pale shovel f. L pala spade]
palfrey n. (pl. -eys) archaic a horse for ordinary riding, esp. for
women. [ME f. OF palefrei f. med.L palefredus, LL paraveredus
f. Gk para beside, extra, + L veredus light horse, of Gaulish
Pali n. an Indic language used in the canonical books of Buddhists.
[Skr. pali-bhasa f. pali canon + bhasa language]
palimony n. esp. US colloq. an allowance made by one member of an
unmarried couple to the other after separation. [PAL + ALIMONY]
n. 1 a piece of writing-material or manuscript on which the
original writing has been effaced to make room for other
writing. 2 a monumental brass turned and re-engraved on the
reverse side. [L palimpsestus f. Gk palimpsestos f. palin
again + psestos rubbed smooth]
n. a word or phrase that reads the same backwards as forwards
(e.g. rotator, nurses run). ЬЬpalindromic adj. palindromist
n. [Gk palindromos running back again f. palin again + drom-
paling n. 1 a fence of pales. 2 a pale.
n. Biol. the exact reproduction of ancestral characteristics
in ontogenesis. ЬЬpalingenetic adj. [Gk palin again + genesis
palinode n. 1 a poem in which the writer retracts a view or sentiment
expressed in a former poem. 2 a recantation. [F palinode or LL
palinodia f. Gk palinoidia f. palin again + oide song]
palisade n. & v. --n. 1 a a fence of pales or iron railings. b a
strong pointed wooden stake used in a close row for defence. 2
US (in pl.) a line of high cliffs. --v.tr. enclose or provide
with a palisade. Ьpalisade layer Bot. a layer of elongated
cells below the epidermis. [F palissade f. Prov. palissada f.
palissa paling ult. f. L palus stake]
pall(1) n. 1 a cloth spread over a coffin, hearse, or tomb. 2 a
shoulder-band with pendants, worn as an ecclesiastical vestment
and sign of authority. 3 a dark covering (a pall of darkness; a
pall of smoke). 4 Heraldry a Y-shaped bearing charged with
crosses representing the front of an ecclesiastical pall. [OE
p‘ll, f. L pallium cloak]
pall(2) v. 1 intr. (often foll. by on) become uninteresting (to). 2
tr. satiate, cloy. [ME, f. APPAL]
palladia pl. of PALLADIUM(2).
Palladian adj. Archit. in the neoclassical style of Palladio.
ЬЬPalladianism n. [A. Palladio, It. architect d. 1580]
n. Chem. a white ductile metallic element occurring naturally
in various ores and used in chemistry as a catalyst and for
making jewellery. °Symb.: Pd. [mod.L f. Pallas, an asteroid
discovered (1803) just before the element, + -IUM; cf. CERIUM]
n. (pl. palladia) a safeguard or source of protection. [ME f.
L f. Gk palladion image of Pallas (Athene), a protecting deity]
n. a person helping to carry or officially escorting a coffin
at a funeral.
pallet(1) n. 1 a straw mattress. 2 a mean or makeshift bed. [ME pailet,
paillet f. AF paillete straw f. OF paille f. L palea]
pallet(2) n. 1 a flat wooden blade with a handle, used in ceramics to
shape clay. 2 = PALETTE. 3 a portable platform for
transporting and storing loads. 4 a projection transmitting
motion from an escapement to a pendulum etc. 5 a projection on
a machine-part, serving to change the mode of motion of a wheel.
ЬЬpalletize v.tr. (also -ise) (in sense 3). [F palette: see
pallia pl. of PALLIUM.
palliasse n. (also paillasse) a straw mattress. [F paillasse f. It.
pagliaccio ult. f. L palea straw]
palliate v.tr. 1 alleviate (disease) without curing it. 2 excuse,
extenuate. ЬЬpalliation n. palliator n. [LL palliare to cloak
f. pallium cloak]
n. & adj. --n. anything used to alleviate pain, anxiety, etc.
--adj. serving to alleviate. ЬЬpalliatively adv. [F palliatif
-ive or med.L palliativus (as PALLIATE)]
pallid adj. pale, esp. from illness. ЬЬpallidity n. pallidly adv.
pallidness n. [L pallidus PALE(1)]
pallium n. (pl. palliums or pallia) 1 an ecclesiastical pall, esp.
that sent by the Pope to an archbishop as a symbol of authority.
2 hist. a man's large rectangular cloak esp. as worn in
antiquity. 3 Zool. the mantle of a mollusc or brachiopod . [L]
pall-mall n. hist. a game in which a ball was driven through an iron
ring suspended in a long alley. [obs. F pallemaille f. It.
pallamaglio f. palla ball + maglio mallet]
pallor n. pallidness, paleness. [L f. pallere be pale]
pally adj. (pallier, palliest) colloq. like a pal; friendly.
palm(1) n. 1 any usu. tropical tree of the family Palmae, with no
branches and a mass of large pinnate or fan-shaped leaves at the
top. 2 the leaf of this tree as a symbol of victory. 3 a
supreme excellence. b a prize for this. 4 a branch of various
trees used instead of a palm in non-tropical countries, esp. in
celebrating Palm Sunday. Ьpalm oil oil from the fruit of any of
various palms. Palm Sunday the Sunday before Easter,
celebrating Christ's entry into Jerusalem. palm wine an
alcoholic drink made from fermented palm sap. ЬЬpalmaceous adj.
[OE palm(a) f. Gmc f. L palma PALM(2), its leaf being likened to
a spread hand]
palm(2) n. & v. --n. 1 the inner surface of the hand between the wrist
and fingers. 2 the part of a glove that covers this. 3 the
palmate part of an antler. --v.tr. conceal in the hand. Ьin
the palm of one's hand under one's control or influence. palm
off 1 (often foll. by on) a impose or thrust fraudulently (on a
person). b cause a person to accept unwillingly or unknowingly
(palmed my old typewriter off on him). 2 (often foll. by with)
cause (a person) to accept unwillingly or unknowingly (palmed
him off with my old typewriter). ЬЬpalmar adj. palmed adj.
palmful n. (pl. -fuls). [ME paume f. OF paume f. L palma:
later assim. to L]
palmate adj. 1 shaped like an open hand. 2 having lobes etc. like
spread fingers. [L palmatus (as PALM(2))]
palmer n. 1 hist. a a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land with a
palm branch or leaf. b an itinerant monk under a vow of
poverty. 2 a hairy artificial fly used in angling. 3 (in full
palmer-worm) a destructive hairy caterpillar of a European moth,
Euproctis chrysorrhoea. [ME f. AF palmer, OF palmier f. med.L
palmette n. Archaeol. an ornament of radiating petals like a palm-leaf.
[F, dimin. of palme PALM(1)]
palmetto n. (pl. -os) a small palm tree, e.g. any of various fan palms
of the genus Sabal or Chamaerops. [Sp. palmito, dimin. of
palma PALM(1), assim. to It. words in -etto]
palmiped adj. & n. (also palmipede) --adj. web-footed. --n. a
web-footed bird. [L palmipes -pedis (as PALM(2), pes pedis
palmistry n. supposed divination from lines and other features on the
palm of the hand. ЬЬpalmist n. [ME (orig. palmestry) f.
PALM(2): second element unexpl.]
palmy adj. (palmier, palmiest) 1 of or like or abounding in palms. 2
triumphant, flourishing (palmy days).
palmyra n. an Asian palm, Borassus flabellifer, with fan-shaped leaves
used for matting etc. [Port. palmeira palm-tree, assim. to
Palmyra in Syria]
palomino n. (pl. -os) a golden or cream-coloured horse with a
light-coloured mane and tail, orig. bred in the south-western
US. [Amer. Sp. f. Sp. palomino young pigeon f. paloma dove f.
paloverde n. any yellow-flowered thorny tree of the genus Cercidium in
Arizona etc. [Amer. Sp., = green tree]
palp n. (also palpus) (pl. palps or palpi) a segmented sense-organ
at the mouth of an arthropod; a feeler. ЬЬpalpal adj. [L
palpus f. palpare feel]
palpable adj. 1 that can be touched or felt. 2 readily perceived by the
senses or mind. ЬЬpalpability n. palpably adv. [ME f. LL
palpabilis (as PALPATE)]
palpate v.tr. examine (esp. medically) by touch. ЬЬpalpation n. [L
palpare palpat- touch gently]
palpebral adj. of or relating to the eyelids. [LL palpebralis f. L
n. 1 throbbing, trembling. 2 (often in pl.) increased activity
of the heart due to exertion, agitation, or disease. [L
palpitatio (as PALPITATE)]
palpus var. of PALP.
palsgrave n. a Count Palatine. [Du. paltsgrave f. palts palatinate +
palstave n. Archaeol. a type of chisel made of bronze etc. shaped to
fit into a split handle. [Da. paalstav f. ON p lstavr f. p ll
hoe (cf. L palus stake) + stafr STAFF(1)]
palsy n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 paralysis, esp. with involuntary
tremors. 2 a a condition of utter helplessness. b a cause of
this. --v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 affect with palsy. 2 render
helpless. [ME pa(r)lesi f. OF paralisie ult. f. L paralysis:
palter v.intr. 1 haggle or equivocate. 2 trifle. ЬЬpalterer n.
[16th c.: orig. unkn.]
paltry adj. (paltrier, paltriest) worthless, contemptible, trifling.
ЬЬpaltriness n. [16th c.: f. paltry trash app. f. palt, pelt
rubbish + -RY (cf. trumpery): cf. LG paltrig ragged]
paludal adj. 1 of a marsh. 2 malarial. ЬЬpaludism n. (in sense 2).
[L palus -udis marsh + -AL]
paly adj. Heraldry divided into equal vertical shapes. [OF pal‚ f.
n. the study of pollen, spores, etc., for rock-dating and the
study of past environments. ЬЬpalynological adj. palynologist
n. [Gk paluno sprinkle + -LOGY]
pampas n.pl. large treeless plains in S. America. Ьpampas-grass a
tall grass, Cortaderia selloana, from S. America, with silky
flowering plumes. [Sp. f. Quechua pampa plain]
pamper v.tr. 1 overindulge (a person, taste, etc.), cosset. 2 spoil
(a person) with luxury. ЬЬpamperer n. [ME, prob. of LG or Du.
pampero n. (pl. -os) a strong cold SW wind in S. America, blowing from
the Andes to the Atlantic. [Sp. (as PAMPAS)]
pamphlet n. & v. --n. a small, usu. unbound booklet or leaflet
containing information or a short treatise. --v.tr.
(pamphleted, pamphleting) distribute pamphlets to. [ME f.
Pamphilet, the familiar name of the 12th-c. Latin love poem
Pamphilus seu de Amore]
n. & v. --n. a writer of (esp. political) pamphlets. --v.intr.
pan(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a a vessel of metal, earthenware, or plastic,
usu. broad and shallow, used for cooking and other domestic
purposes. b the contents of this. 2 a panlike vessel in which
substances are heated etc. 3 any similar shallow container such
as the bowl of a pair of scales or that used for washing gravel
etc. to separate gold. 4 Brit. the bowl of a lavatory. 5 part
of the lock that held the priming in old guns. 6 a hollow in
the ground (salt-pan). 7 a hard substratum of soil. 8 US sl.
the face. --v. (panned, panning) 1 tr. colloq. criticize
severely. 2 a tr. (foll. by off, out) wash (gold-bearing
gravel) in a pan. b intr. search for gold by panning gravel. c
intr. (foll. by out) (of gravel) yield gold. Ьpan out (of an
action etc.) turn out in a specified way. ЬЬpanful n. (pl.
-fuls). panlike adj. [OE panne, perh. ult. f. L patina dish]
pan(2) v. & n. --v. (panned, panning) 1 tr. swing (a cine-camera)
horizontally to give a panoramic effect or to follow a moving
object. 2 intr. (of a cine-camera) be moved in this way. --n.
a panning movement. [abbr. of PANORAMA]
pan(3) n. Bot. 1 a leaf of the betel. 2 this enclosing lime and
areca-nut parings, chewed in India etc. [Hindi f. Skr. parna
pan- comb. form 1 all; the whole of. 2 relating to the whole or all
the parts of a continent, racial group, religion, etc.
(pan-American; pan-African; pan-Hellenic; pan-Anglican). [Gk f.
pan neut. of pas all]
panacea n. a universal remedy. ЬЬpanacean adj. [L f. Gk panakeia f.
panakes all-healing (as PAN-, akos remedy)]
panache n. 1 assertiveness or flamboyant confidence of style or manner.
2 hist. a tuft or plume of feathers, esp. as a head-dress or on
a helmet. [F f. It. pennacchio f. LL pinnaculum dimin. of
panada n. 1 a thick paste of flour etc. 2 bread boiled to a pulp and
flavoured. [Sp. ult. f. L panis bread]
panama n. a hat of strawlike material made from the leaves of a
pine-tree. [Panama in Central America]
n. & adj. --n. 1 a native or national of the Republic of
Panama in Central America. 2 a person of Panamanian descent.
--adj. of or relating to Panama.
panatella n. a long thin cigar. [Amer. Sp. panatela, = long thin
biscuit f. It. panatella dimin. of panata (as PANADA)]
pancake n. & v. --n. 1 a thin flat cake of batter usu. fried and
turned in a pan and rolled up with a filling. 2 a flat cake of
make-up etc. --v. 1 intr. make a pancake landing. 2 tr. cause
(an aircraft) to pancake. Ьflat as a pancake completely flat.
Pancake Day Shrove Tuesday (on which pancakes are traditionally
eaten). pancake landing an emergency landing by an aircraft
with its undercarriage still retracted, in which the pilot
attempts to keep the aircraft in a horizontal position
throughout. [ME f. PAN(1) + CAKE]
panchayat n. a village council in India. [Hindi f. Skr. pancha five]
n. a Tibetan lama ranking next after the Dalai lama. [Tibetan
panchen great learned one]
adj. Photog. (of a film etc.) sensitive to all visible colours
of the spectrum.
pancreas n. a gland near the stomach supplying the duodenum with
digestive fluid and secreting insulin into the blood.
ЬЬpancreatic adj. pancreatitis n. [mod.L f. Gk pagkreas (as
PAN-, kreas -atos flesh)]
n. a digestive extract containing pancreatic enzymes, prepared
from animal pancreases.
panda n. 1 (also giant panda) a large bearlike mammal, Ailuropoda
melanoleuca, native to China and Tibet, having characteristic
black and white markings. 2 (also red panda) a Himalayan
racoon-like mammal, Ailurus fulgens, with reddish-brown fur and
a long bushy tail. Ьpanda car Brit. a police patrol car (orig.
white with black stripes on the doors). [Nepali name]
pandect n. (usu. in pl.) 1 a complete body of laws. 2 hist. a
compendium in 50 books of the Roman civil law made by order of
Justinian in the 6th c. [F pandecte or L pandecta pandectes f.
Gk pandektes all-receiver (as PAN-, dektes f. dekhomai
pandemic adj. & n. --adj. (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country
or the world. --n. a pandemic disease. [Gk pandemos (as PAN-,
n. 1 uproar; utter confusion. 2 a scene of this. [mod.L
(place of all demons in Milton's Paradise Lost) f. PAN- + Gk
pander v. & n. --v.intr. (foll. by to) gratify or indulge a person, a
desire or weakness, etc. --n. 1 a go-between in illicit love
affairs; a procurer. 2 a person who encourages coarse desires.
[Pandare, a character in Boccaccio and in Chaucer's Troilus and
Criseyde, f. L Pandarus f. Gk Pandaros]
pandit var. of PUNDIT 1.
P. & O. abbr. Peninsular and Oriental Shipping Company (or Line).
n. a process that once activated will generate many
unmanageable problems. [in Gk Mythol. the box from which the
ills of mankind were released, Hope alone remaining: f. Gk
Pandora all-gifted (as PAN-, doron gift)]
p. & p. abbr. Brit. postage and packing.
pane n. 1 a single sheet of glass in a window or door. 2 a
rectangular division of a chequered pattern etc. [ME f. OF pan
f. L pannus piece of cloth]
panegyric n. a laudatory discourse; a eulogy. ЬЬpanegyrical adj. [F
pan‚gyrique f. L panegyricus f. Gk panegurikos of public
assembly (as PAN-, eguris = agora assembly)]
v.tr. (also -ise) speak or write in praise of; eulogize.
ЬЬpanegyrist n. [Gk panegurizo (as PANEGYRIC)]
panel n. & v. --n. 1 a a distinct, usu. rectangular, section of a
surface (e.g. of a wall, door, or vehicle). b a control panel
(see CONTROL n. 5). c = instrument panel. 2 a strip of
material as part of a garment. 3 a group of people forming a
team in a broadcast game, discussion, etc. 4 Brit. hist. a
list of medical practitioners registered in a district as
accepting patients under the National Insurance Act. 5 a a list
of available jurors; a jury. b Sc. a person or persons accused
of a crime. --v.tr. (panelled, panelling; US paneled,
paneling) 1 fit or provide with panels. 2 cover or decorate
with panels. Ьpanel-beater one whose job is to beat out the
metal panels of motor vehicles. panel game a broadcast quiz
etc. played by a panel. panel heating the heating of rooms by
panels in the wall etc. containing the sources of heat. panel
pin a thin nail with a very small head. panel saw a saw with
small teeth for cutting thin wood for panels. panel truck US a
small enclosed delivery truck. [ME & OF, = piece of cloth, ult.
f. L pannus: see PANE]
panelling n. (US paneling) 1 panelled work. 2 wood for making panels.
panellist n. (US panelist) a member of a panel (esp. in broadcasting).
pang n. (often in pl.) a sudden sharp pain or painful emotion.
[16th c.: var. of earlier prange pinching f. Gmc]
panga n. a bladed African tool like a machete. [native name in E.
pangolin n. any scaly anteater of the genus Manis, native to Asia and
Africa, having a small head with elongated snout and tongue, and
a tapering tail. [Malay peng-goling roller (from its habit of
rolling itself up)]
panhandle n. & v. US --n. a narrow strip of territory extending from one
State into another. --v.tr. & intr. colloq. beg for money in
the street. ЬЬpanhandler n.
panic(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a sudden uncontrollable fear or alarm. b
(attrib.) characterized or caused by panic (panic buying). 2
infectious apprehension or fright esp. in commercial dealings.
--v.tr. & intr. (panicked, panicking) (often foll. by into)
affect or be affected with panic (was panicked into buying).
Ьpanic button a button for summoning help in an emergency.
panic-monger a person who fosters a panic. panic stations a
state of emergency. panic-stricken (or -struck) affected with
panic; very apprehensive. ЬЬpanicky adj. [F panique f. mod.L
panicus f. Gk panikos f. Pan a rural god causing terror]
panic(2) n. any grass of the genus Panicum, including millet and other
cereals. [OE f. L panicum f. panus thread on bobbin,
millet-ear f. Gk penos web]
panicle n. Bot. a loose branching cluster of flowers, as in oats.
ЬЬpanicled adj. [L paniculum dimin. of panus thread]
n. 1 a mock title for an important person. 2 a pompous or
pretentious official etc. [app. invented in nonsense verse by
S. Foote 1755]
panne n. (in full panne velvet) a velvet-like fabric of silk or rayon
with a flattened pile. [F]
pannier n. 1 a basket, esp. one of a pair carried by a beast of burden.
2 each of a pair of bags or boxes on either side of the rear
wheel of a bicycle or motor cycle. 3 hist. a part of a skirt
looped up round the hips. b a frame supporting this. [ME f. OF
panier f. L panarium bread-basket f. panis bread]
pannikin n. Brit. 1 a small metal drinking-cup. 2 the contents of
this. [PAN(1) + -KIN, after cannikin]
panoply n. (pl. -ies) 1 a complete or splendid array. 2 a complete
suit of armour. ЬЬpanoplied adj. [F panoplie or mod.L panoplia
full armour f. Gk (as PAN-, oplia f. hopla arms)]
panoptic adj. showing or seeing the whole at one view. [Gk panoptos
seen by all, panoptes all-seeing]
panorama n. 1 an unbroken view of a surrounding region. 2 a complete
survey or presentation of a subject, sequence of events, etc. 3
a picture or photograph containing a wide view. 4 a continuous
passing scene. ЬЬpanoramic adj. panoramically adv. [PAN- + Gk
horama view f. horao see]
pan-pipes n.pl. a musical instrument orig. associated with the Greek
rural god Pan, made of a series of short pipes graduated in
length and fixed together with the mouthpieces in line.
pansy n. (pl. -ies) 1 any garden plant of the genus Viola, with
flowers of various rich colours. 2 colloq. derog. a an
effeminate man. b a male homosexual. [F pens‚e thought, pansy
f. penser think f. L pensare frequent. of pendere pens- weigh]
pant v. & n. --v. 1 intr. breathe with short quick breaths. 2 tr.
(often foll. by out) utter breathlessly. 3 intr. (often foll.
by for) yearn or crave. 4 intr. (of the heart etc.) throb
violently. --n. 1 a panting breath. 2 a throb. ЬЬpantingly
adv. [ME f. OF pantaisier ult. f. Gk phantasioo cause to
imagine (as FANTASY)]
pantalets n.pl. (also pantalettes) hist. 1 long underpants worn by women
and girls in the 19th c., with a frill at the bottom of each
leg. 2 women's cycling trousers. [dimin. of PANTALOON]
pantaloon n. 1 (in pl.) a hist. men's close-fitting breeches fastened
below the calf or at the foot. b esp. US trousers. 2
(Pantaloon) a character in Italian comedy wearing pantaloons (in
sense 1a). [F pantalon f. It. pantalone, a character in
n. Brit. a large van for transporting furniture. [PAN- +
TECHNIC orig. as the name of a bazaar and then a furniture
pantheism n. 1 the belief that God is identifiable with the forces of
nature and with natural substances. 2 worship that admits or
tolerates all gods. ЬЬpantheist n. pantheistic adj.
pantheistical adj. pantheistically adv. [PAN- + Gk theos god]
pantheon n. 1 a building in which illustrious dead are buried or have
memorials. 2 the deities of a people collectively. 3 a temple
dedicated to all the gods, esp. the circular one at Rome. [ME
f. L f. Gk pantheion (as PAN-, theion holy f. theos god)]
panther n. 1 a leopard, esp. with black fur. 2 US a puma. [ME f. OF
pantere f. L panthera f. Gk panther]
n. a woman's girdle with a crotch shaped like pants.
panties n.pl. colloq. short-legged or legless underpants worn by women
and girls. [dimin. of PANTS]
pantihose n. (US panty hose) (usu. treated as pl.) women's tights.
[PANTIES + HOSE]
pantile n. a roof-tile curved to form an S-shaped section, fitted to
overlap. [PAN(1) + TILE]
panto n. (pl. -os) Brit. colloq. = PANTOMIME 1. [abbr.]
panto- comb. form all, universal. [Gk pas pantos all]
n. 1 Art & Painting an instrument for copying a plan or drawing
etc. on a different scale by a system of jointed rods. 2 a
jointed framework conveying a current to an electric vehicle
from overhead wires. ЬЬpantographic adj. [PANTO- + Gk -graphos
pantomime n. 1 Brit. a theatrical entertainment based on a fairy tale,
with music, topical jokes, etc., usu. produced about Christmas.
2 the use of gestures and facial expression to convey meaning,
esp. in drama and dance. 3 colloq. an absurd or outrageous
piece of behaviour. ЬЬpantomimic adj. [F pantomime or L
pantomimus f. Gk pantomimos (as PANTO-, MIME)]
n. a vitamin of the B complex, found in rice, bran, and many
other foods, and essential for the oxidation of fats and
carbohydrates. [Gk pantothen from every side]
pantry n. (pl. -ies) 1 a small room or cupboard in which crockery,
cutlery, table linen, etc., are kept. 2 a larder. [ME f. AF
panetrie, OF paneterie f. panetier baker ult. f. LL panarius
bread-seller f. L panis bread]
pantryman n. (pl. -men) a butler or a butler's assistant.
pants n.pl. colloq. 1 Brit. underpants or knickers. 2 US trousers
or slacks. Ьbore (or scare etc.) the pants off colloq. bore,
scare, etc., to an intolerable degree. pants (or pant) suit
esp. US a trouser suit. with one's pants down colloq. in an
embarrassingly unprepared state. [abbr. of PANTALOONS]
US var. of PANTIHOSE.
panzer n. 1 (in pl.) armoured troops. 2 (attrib.) heavily armoured
(panzer division). [G, = coat of mail]
pap(1) n. 1 a soft or semi-liquid food for infants or invalids. b a
mash or pulp. 2 light or trivial reading matter; nonsense.
ЬЬpappy adj. [ME prob. f. MLG, MDu. pappe, prob. ult. f. L
pap(2) n. archaic or dial. the nipple of a breast. [ME, of Scand.
orig.: ult. imit. of sucking]
papa n. archaic father (esp. as a child's word). [F f. LL f. Gk
papabile adj. suitable for high office. [It., = suitable to be pope, f.
L papa pope]
papacy n. (pl. -ies) 1 a pope's office or tenure. 2 the papal
system. [ME f. med.L papatia f. papa pope]
papain n. an enzyme obtained from unripe pawpaws, used to tenderize
meat and as a food supplement to aid digestion. [PAPAYA + -IN]
papal adj. of or relating to a pope or to the papacy. ЬPapal States
hist. the temporal dominions belonging to the Pope, esp. in
central Italy. ЬЬpapally adv. [ME f. OF f. med.L papalis f.
eccl.L papa POPE(1)]
paparazzo n. (pl. paparazzi) a freelance photographer who pursues
celebrities to get photographs of them. [It.]
adj. like or related to the poppy. ЬЬpapaveraceous adj. [L
papaw var. of PAWPAW.
papaya n. = PAWPAW 1. [earlier form of PAWPAW]
paper n. & v. --n. 1 a material manufactured in thin sheets from the
pulp of wood or other fibrous substances, used for writing or
drawing or printing on, or as wrapping material etc. 2
(attrib.) a made of or using paper. b flimsy like paper. 3 =
NEWSPAPER. 4 a a document printed on paper. b (in pl.)
documents attesting identity or credentials. c (in pl.)
documents belonging to a person or relating to a matter. 5
Commerce a negotiable documents, e.g. bills of exchange. b
(attrib.) recorded on paper though not existing (paper profits).
6 a a set of questions to be answered at one session in an
examination. b the written answers to these. 7 = WALLPAPER. 8
an essay or dissertation, esp. one read to a learned society or
published in a learned journal. 9 a piece of paper, esp. as a
wrapper etc. 10 Theatr. sl. free tickets or the people
admitted by them (the house is full of paper). --v.tr. 1 apply
paper to, esp. decorate (a wall etc.) with wallpaper. 2 (foll.
by over) a cover (a hole or blemish) with paper. b disguise or
try to hide (a fault etc.). 3 Theatr. sl. fill (a theatre) by
giving free passes. Ьon paper 1 in writing. 2 in theory; to
judge from written or printed evidence. paper-boy (or -girl) a
boy or girl who delivers or sells newspapers. paper-chase a
cross-country run in which the runners follow a trail marked by
torn-up paper. paper-clip a clip of bent wire or of plastic for
holding several sheets of paper together. paper-hanger a person
who decorates with wallpaper, esp. professionally. paper-knife
a blunt knife for opening letters etc. paper-mill a mill in
which paper is made. paper money money in the form of
banknotes. paper mulberry a small Asiatic tree, Broussonetia
papyrifera, of the mulberry family, whose bark is used for
making paper and cloth. paper nautilus see NAUTILUS 2. paper
round 1 a job of regularly delivering newspapers. 2 a route
taken doing this. paper tape Computing tape made of paper, esp.
that on which data or instructions are represented by means of
holes punched in it, for conveying to a processor etc. paper
tiger an apparently threatening, but ineffectual, person or
thing. ЬЬpaperer n. paperless adj. [ME f. AF papir, = OF
papier f. L papyrus: see PAPYRUS]
paperback adj. & n. --adj. (of a book) bound in stiff paper not boards.
--n. a paperback book.
n. a small heavy object for keeping loose papers in place.
paperwork n. routine clerical or administrative work.
papery adj. like paper in thinness or texture.
n. paper pulp used for moulding into boxes, trays, etc. [F, =
adj. (of a plant) with a corolla like a butterfly. [mod.L
papilionaceus f. L papilio -onis butterfly]
papilla n. (pl. papillae) 1 a small nipple-like protuberance in a part
or organ of the body. 2 Bot. a small fleshy projection on a
plant. ЬЬpapillary adj. papillate adj. papillose adj. [L, =
nipple, dimin. of papula: see PAPULA]
papilloma n. (pl. papillomas or papillomata) a wartlike usu. benign
papillon n. 1 a toy dog of a breed with ears suggesting the form of a
butterfly. 2 this breed. [F, = butterfly, f. L papilio -onis]
papist n. & adj. often derog. --n. 1 a Roman Catholic. 2 hist. an
advocate of papal supremacy. --adj. of or relating to Roman
Catholics. ЬЬpapistic adj. papistical adj. papistry n. [F
papiste or mod.L papista f. eccl.L papa POPE(1)]
papoose n. a N. American Indian young child. [Algonquin]
pappus n. (pl. pappi) a group of hairs on the fruit of thistles,
dandelions, etc. ЬЬpappose adj. [L f. Gk pappos]
paprika n. 1 Bot. a red pepper. 2 a condiment made from it. [Magyar]
pap test n. a test done by a cervical smear. [abbr. of G. N.
Papanicolaou, US scientist d. 1962]
papula n. (also papule) (pl. papulae) 1 a pimple. 2 a small fleshy
projection on a plant. ЬЬpapular adj. papulose adj. papulous
n. the study of ancient papyri. ЬЬpapyrological adj.
papyrus n. (pl. papyri) 1 an aquatic plant, Cyperus papyrus, with dark
green stems topped with fluffy inflorescences. 2 a a
writing-material prepared in ancient Egypt from the pithy stem
of this. b a document written on this. [ME f. L papyrus f. Gk
par(1) n. 1 the average or normal amount, degree, condition, etc.
(feel below par; be up to par). 2 equality; an equal status or
footing (on a par with). 3 Golf the number of strokes a
first-class player should normally require for a hole or course.
4 Stock Exch. the face value of stocks and shares etc. (at par).
5 (in full par of exchange) the recognized value of one
country's currency in terms of another's. Ьabove (or below) par
Stock Exch. at a premium (or discount). at par Stock Exch. at
face value. par for the course colloq. what is normal or
expected in any given circumstances. [L (adj. & n.) = equal,
par(2) n. Brit. esp. Journalism colloq. paragraph. [abbr.]
par. abbr. (also para.) paragraph.
par- prefix var. of PARA-(1) before a vowel or h; (paraldehyde;
para n. colloq. 1 a paratrooper. 2 a paragraph. [abbr.]
para-(1) prefix (also par-) 1 beside (paramilitary). 2 beyond
(paranormal). 3 Chem. a modification of (paraldehyde). b
relating to diametrically opposite carbon atoms in a benzene
ring (paradichlorobenzene). [from or after Gk para- f. para
beside, past, beyond]
para-(2) comb. form protect, ward off (parachute; parasol). [F f. It. f.
L parare defend]
n. Biol. the natural or artificial joining of two individuals.
ЬЬparabiotic adj. [mod.L, formed as PARA-(1) + Gk biosis mode
of life f. bios life]
parable n. 1 a narrative of imagined events used to illustrate a moral
or spiritual lesson. 2 an allegory. [ME f. OF parabole f. LL
sense 'allegory, discourse' of L parabola comparison]
parabola n. an open plane curve formed by the intersection of a cone
with a plane parallel to its side, resembling the path of a
projectile under the action of gravity. [mod.L f. Gk parabole
placing side by side, comparison (as PARA-(1), bole a throw f.
parabolic adj. 1 of or expressed in a parable. 2 of or like a parabola.
ЬЬparabolically adv. [LL parabolicus f. Gk parabolikos (as
adj. = PARABOLIC 1.
n. 1 (in full paraboloid of revolution) a solid generated by
the rotation of a parabola about its axis of symmetry. 2 a
solid having two or more non-parallel parabolic cross-sections.
n. 1 a drug used to reduce pain and relieve fever. 2 a tablet
of this. [para-a cetyl aminophen ol]
n. an error in chronology, esp. by assigning too late a date.
[PARA-(1) + Gk khronos time, perh. after anachronism]
parachute n. & v. --n. 1 a rectangular or umbrella-shaped apparatus
allowing a person or heavy object attached to it to descend
slowly from a height, esp. from an aircraft, or to retard
motion in other ways. 2 (attrib.) dropped or to be dropped by
parachute (parachute troops; parachute flare). --v.tr. & intr.
convey or descend by parachute. [F (as PARA-(2), CHUTE(1))]
n. 1 a person who uses a parachute. 2 (in pl.) parachute
Paraclete n. the Holy Spirit as advocate or counsellor (John 14:16, 26,
etc.). [ME f. OF paraclet f. LL paracletus f. Gk parakletos
called in aid (as PARA-(1), kletos f. kaleo call)]
parade n. & v. --n. 1 a a formal or ceremonial muster of troops for
inspection. b = parade-ground. 2 a public procession. 3
ostentatious display (made a parade of their wealth). 4 a
public square, promenade, or row of shops. --v. 1 intr.
assemble for parade. 2 a tr. march through (streets etc.) in
procession. b intr. march ceremonially. 3 tr. display
ostentatiously. Ьon parade 1 taking part in a parade. 2 on
display. parade-ground a place for the muster of troops.
ЬЬparader n. [F, = show, f. Sp. parada and It. parata ult. f.
L parare prepare, furnish]
n. a drum roll with alternate beating of sticks. [imit.]
paradigm n. an example or pattern, esp. a representative set of the
inflections of a noun, verb, etc. ЬЬparadigmatic adj.
paradigmatically adv. [LL paradigma f. Gk paradeigma f.
paradeiknumi show side by side (as PARA-(1), deiknumi show)]
paradise n. 1 (in some religions) heaven as the ultimate abode of the
just. 2 a place or state of complete happiness. 3 (in full
earthly paradise) the abode of Adam and Eve in the biblical
account of the Creation; the garden of Eden. ЬЬparadisaical
adj. paradisal adj. paradisiacal adj. paradisical adj. [ME
f. OF paradis f. LL paradisus f. Gk paradeisos f. Avestan
parados n. an elevation of earth behind a fortified place as a
protection against attack from the rear, esp. a mound along the
back of a trench. [F (as PARA-(2), dos back f. L dorsum)]
paradox n. 1 a a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement, even if
actually well-founded. b a self-contradictory or essentially
absurd statement. 2 a person or thing conflicting with a
preconceived notion of what is reasonable or possible. 3 a
paradoxical quality or character. [orig. = a statement contrary
to accepted opinion, f. LL paradoxum f. Gk paradoxon neut. adj.
(as PARA-(1), doxa opinion)]
adj. 1 of or like or involving paradox. 2 fond of paradox.
paraffin n. 1 an inflammable waxy or oily substance obtained by
distillation from petroleum or shale, used in liquid form (also
paraffin oil) esp. as a fuel. 2 Chem. = ALKANE. Ьparaffin wax
paraffin in its solid form. [G (1830) f. L parum little +
affinis related, from the small affinity it has for other
paragoge n. the addition of a letter or syllable to a word in some
contexts or as a language develops (e.g. t in peasant).
ЬЬparagogic adj. [LL f. Gk paragoge derivation (as PARA-(1),
agoge f. ago lead)]
paragon n. 1 a a model of excellence. b a supremely excellent person
or thing. 2 (foll. by of) a model (of virtue etc.). 3 a
perfect diamond of 100 carats or more. [obs. F f. It. paragone
touchstone, f. med.Gk parakone whetstone]
paragraph n. & v. --n. 1 a distinct section of a piece of writing,
beginning on a new usu. indented line. 2 a symbol (usu. X!X!)
used to mark a new paragraph, and also as a reference mark. 3 a
short item in a newspaper, usu. of only one paragraph. --v.tr.
arrange (a piece of writing) in paragraphs. ЬЬparagraphic adj.
[F paragraphe or med.L paragraphus f. Gk paragraphos short
stroke marking a break in sense (as PARA-(1), grapho write)]
parakeet n. (US also parrakeet) any of various small usu. long-tailed
parrots. [OF paroquet, It. parrocchetto, Sp. periquito, perh.
ult. f. dimin. of Pierre etc. Peter: cf. PARROT]
n. elements or factors in communication that are ancillary to
language proper, e.g. intonation and gesture.
n. a cyclic polymer of acetaldehyde, used as a narcotic and
sedative. [PARA-(1) + ALDEHYDE]
paralegal adj. & n. esp. US --adj. of or relating to auxiliary aspects
of the law. --n. a person trained in subsidiary legal matters.
[PARA-(1) + LEGAL]
n.pl. (also -leipomena) 1 things omitted from a work and added
as a supplement. 2 Bibl. the books of Chronicles in the Old
Testament, containing particulars omitted from Kings. [ME f.
eccl.L f. Gk paraleipomena f. paraleipo omit (as PARA-(1),
n. (also -leipsis) (pl. -ses) Rhet. 1 the device of giving
emphasis by professing to say little or nothing of a subject, as
in not to mention their unpaid debts of several millions. 2 an
instance of this. [LL f. Gk paraleipsis passing over (as
PARA-(1), leipsis f. leipo leave)]
parallax n. 1 the apparent difference in the position or direction of an
object caused when the observer's position is changed. 2 the
angular amount of this. ЬЬparallactic adj. [F parallaxe f.
mod.L parallaxis f. Gk parallaxis change f. parallasso to
alternate (as PARA-(1), allasso exchange f. allos other)]
parallel adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 a (of lines or planes) side by side
and having the same distance continuously between them. b
(foll. by to, with) (of a line or plane) having this relation
(to another). 2 (of circumstances etc.) precisely similar,
analogous, or corresponding. 3 a (of processes etc.) occurring
or performed simultaneously. b Computing involving the
simultaneous performance of operations. --n. 1 a person or
thing precisely analogous or equal to another. 2 a comparison
(drew a parallel between the two situations). 3 (in full
parallel of latitude) Geog. a each of the imaginary parallel
circles of constant latitude on the earth's surface. b a
corresponding line on a map (the 49th parallel). 4 Printing two
parallel lines (ll) as a reference mark. --v.tr. (paralleled,
paralleling) 1 be parallel to; correspond to. 2 represent as
similar; compare. 3 adduce as a parallel instance. Ьin
parallel (of electric circuits) arranged so as to join at common
points at each end. parallel bars a pair of parallel rails on
posts for gymnastics. ЬЬparallelism n. [F parallЉle f. L
parallelus f. Gk parallelos (as PARA-(1), allelos one another)]
n. Geom. a solid body of which each face is a parallelogram.
[Gk parallelepipedon (as PARALLEL, epipedon plane surface)]
n. Geom. a four-sided plane rectilinear figure with opposite
sides parallel. Ьparallelogram of forces 1 a parallelogram
illustrating the theorem that if two forces acting at a point
are represented in magnitude and direction by two sides of a
parallelogram meeting at that point, their resultant is
represented by the diagonal drawn from that point. 2 this
theorem. [F parall‚logramme f. LL parallelogrammum f. Gk
parallelogrammon (as PARALLEL, gramme line)]
n. Logic 1 a fallacy. 2 illogical reasoning (esp. of which the
reasoner is unconscious). ЬЬparalogist n. paralogize v.intr.
(also -ise). [F paralogisme f. LL paralogismus f. Gk
paralogismos f. paralogizomai reason falsely f. paralogos
contrary to reason (as PARA-(1), logos reason)]
paralyse n. (US paralyze) 1 affect with paralysis. 2 render powerless;
cripple. ЬЬparalysation n. paralysingly adv. [F paralyser f.
paralysie: cf. PALSY]
paralysis n. (pl. paralyses) 1 a nervous condition with impairment or
loss of esp. the motor function of the nerves. 2 a state of
utter powerlessness. [L f. Gk paralusis f. paraluo disable (as
PARA-(1), luo loosen)]
paralytic adj. & n. --adj. 1 affected by paralysis. 2 sl. very drunk.
--n. a person affected by paralysis. ЬЬparalytically adv. [ME
f. OF paralytique f. L paralyticus f. Gk paralutikos (as
adj. (of a body or substance) tending to become weakly
magnetized so as to lie parallel to a magnetic field force.
paramatta var. of PARRAMATTA.
n. (also paramoecium) any freshwater protozoan of the genus
Paramecium, of a characteristic slipper-like shape covered with
cilia. [mod.L f. Gk paramekes oval (as PARA-(1), mekos length)]
paramedic n. a paramedical worker.
adj. (of services etc.) supplementing and supporting medical
parameter n. 1 Math. a quantity constant in the case considered but
varying in different cases. 2 a an (esp. measurable or
quantifiable) characteristic or feature. b (loosely) a constant
element or factor, esp. serving as a limit or boundary.
ЬЬparametric adj. parametrize v.tr. (also -ise). [mod.L f. Gk
para beside + metron measure]
adj. (of forces) ancillary to and similarly organized to
n. Psychol. = DђJ° VU. [PARA-(1) + AMNESIA]
paramo n. (pl. -os) a high treeless plateau in tropical S. America.
[Sp. & Port. f. L paramus]
var. of PARAMECIUM.
paramount adj. 1 supreme; requiring first consideration; pre-eminent (of
paramount importance). 2 in supreme authority. ЬЬparamountcy
n. paramountly adv. [AF paramont f. OF par by + amont above:
paramour n. archaic or derog. an illicit lover of a married person.
[ME f. OF par amour by love]
parang n. a large heavy Malayan knife used for clearing vegetation
paranoia n. 1 a mental disorder esp. characterized by delusions of
persecution and self-importance. 2 an abnormal tendency to
suspect and mistrust others. ЬЬparanoiac adj. & n.
paranoiacally adv. paranoic adj. paranoically adv. paranoid
adj. & n. [mod.L f. Gk f. paranoos distracted (as PARA-(1),
adj. beyond the scope of normal objective investigation or
explanation. ЬЬparanormally adv.
parapet n. 1 a low wall at the edge of a roof, balcony, etc., or along
the sides of a bridge. 2 a defence of earth or stone to conceal
and protect troops. ЬЬparapeted adj. [F parapet or It.
parapetto breast-high wall (as PARA-(2), petto breast f. L
paraph n. a flourish after a signature, orig. as a precaution against
forgery. [ME f. F paraphe f. med.L paraphus for paragraphus
n.pl. (also treated as sing.) miscellaneous belongings, items
of equipment, accessories, etc. [orig. = property owned by a
married woman, f. med.L paraphernalia f. LL parapherna f. Gk
parapherna property apart from a dowry (as PARA-(1), pherna f.
n. & v. --n. a free rendering or rewording of a passage.
--v.tr. express the meaning of (a passage) in other words.
ЬЬparaphrastic adj. [F paraphrase or L paraphrasis f. Gk
paraphrasis f. paraphrazo (as PARA-(1) phrazo tell)]
n. paralysis of the legs and part or the whole of the trunk.
ЬЬparaplegic adj. & n. [mod.L f. Gk paraplegia f. paraplesso
(as PARA-(1), plesso strike)]
n. the study of mental phenomena outside the sphere of ordinary
psychology (hypnosis, telepathy, etc.). ЬЬparapsychological
adj. parapsychologist n.
paraquat n. a quick-acting herbicide, becoming inactive on contact with
the soil. [PARA-(1) + QUATERNARY (from the position of the bond
between the two parts of the molecule relative to quaternary
n. a sport in which participants wearing open parachutes are
towed behind a vehicle or motor boat to gain height before
release for a conventional descent, usu. towards a predetermined
target. ЬЬparascender n.
n. (pl. paraselenae) a bright spot, esp. an image of the moon,
on a lunar halo. Also called mock moon. [mod.L (as PARA-(1), Gk
parasite n. 1 an organism living in or on another and benefiting at the
expense of the other. 2 a person who lives off or exploits
another or others. 3 Philol. an inorganic sound or letter
developing from an adjacent one. ЬЬparasitic adj. parasitical
adj. parasitically adv. parasiticide n. parasitism n.
parasitology n. parasitologist n. [L parasitus f. Gk parasitos
one who eats at another's table (as PARA-(1), sitos food)]
v.tr. (also -ise) infest as a parasite. ЬЬparasitization n.
parasol n. a light umbrella used to give shade from the sun. [F f. It.
parasole (as PARA-(2), sole sun f. L sol)]
adj. Anat. relating to the part of the nervous system that
consists of nerves leaving the lower end of the spinal cord and
connecting with those in or near the viscera (cf. SYMPATHETIC
9). [PARA-(1) + SYMPATHETIC, because some of these nerves run
alongside sympathetic nerves]
n. Philol. a derivation from a compound, e.g. black-eyed from
black eye(s) + -ed. ЬЬparasynthetic adj. [Gk parasunthesis (as
parataxis n. Gram. the placing of clauses etc. one after another,
without words to indicate coordination or subordination, e.g.
Tell me, how are you? ЬЬparatactic adj. paratactically adv.
[Gk parataxis (as PARA-(1), taxis arrangement f. tasso
parathion n. a highly toxic agricultural insecticide. [PARA-(1) + THIO-
n. & adj. Anat. --n. a gland next to the thyroid, secreting a
hormone that regulates calcium levels in the body. --adj. of or
associated with this gland.
paratroop n. (attrib.) of or consisting of paratroops (paratroop
n. a member of a body of paratroops.
n.pl. troops equipped to be dropped by parachute from aircraft.
[contr. of PARACHUTE + TROOP]
n. & adj. --n. a fever resembling typhoid but caused by various
different though related bacteria. --adj. of, relating to, or
caused by this fever.
paravane n. a torpedo-shaped device towed at a depth regulated by its
vanes or planes to cut the moorings of submerged mines.
par avion adv. by airmail. [F, = by aeroplane]
parboil v.tr. partly cook by boiling. [ME f. OF parbo(u)illir f. LL
perbullire boil thoroughly (as PER-, bullire boil: confused with
parbuckle n. & v. --n. a rope arranged like a sling, for raising or
lowering casks and cylindrical objects. --v.tr. raise or lower
with this. [earlier parbunkle, of unkn. orig.: assoc. with
parcel n. & v. --n. 1 a goods etc. wrapped up in a single package. b
a bundle of things wrapped up, usu. in paper. 2 a piece of
land, esp. as part of an estate. 3 a quantity dealt with in one
commercial transaction. 4 archaic part. --v.tr. (parcelled,
parcelling; US parceled, parceling) 1 (foll. by up) wrap as a
parcel. 2 (foll. by out) divide into portions. 3 cover (rope)
with strips of canvas. Ьparcel post the branch of the postal
service dealing with parcels. [ME f. OF parcelle ult. f. L
particula (as PART)]
parch v. 1 tr. & intr. make or become hot and dry. 2 tr. roast
(peas, corn, etc.) slightly. [ME perch, parche, of unkn. orig.]
parched adj. 1 hot and dry; dried out with heat. 2 colloq. thirsty.
parchment n. 1 a an animal skin, esp. that of a sheep or goat, prepared
as a writing or painting surface. b a manuscript written on
this. 2 (in full vegetable parchment) high-grade paper made to
resemble parchment. [ME f. OF parchemin, ult. a blend of LL
pergamina writing material from Pergamum (in Asia Minor) with
Parthica pellis Parthian skin (leather)]
parclose n. a screen or railing in a church, separating a side chapel.
[ME f. OF parclos -ose past part. of parclore enclose]
pard n. archaic or poet. a leopard. [ME f. OF f. L pardus f. Gk
pardalote n. any small brightly-coloured Australian bird of the genus
Pardalotus, with spotted plumage. Also called diamond-bird.
[mod.L Pardalotus f. Gk pardalotos spotted like a leopard (as
pardner n. US colloq. a partner or comrade. [corrupt.]
pardon n., v., & int. --n. 1 the act of excusing or forgiving an
offence, error, etc. 2 (in full free pardon) a remission of the
legal consequences of a crime or conviction. 3 RC Ch. an
indulgence. --v.tr. 1 release from the consequences of an
offence, error, etc. 2 forgive or excuse a person for (an
offence etc.). 3 make (esp. courteous) allowances for; excuse.
--int. (also pardon me or I beg your pardon) 1 a formula of
apology or disagreement. 2 a request to repeat something said.
ЬЬpardonable adj. pardonably adv. [ME f. OF pardun, pardoner
f. med.L perdonare concede, remit (as PER-, donare give)]
pardoner n. hist. a person licensed to sell papal pardons or
indulgences. [ME f. AF (as PARDON)]
pare v.tr. 1 a trim or shave (esp. fruit and vegetables) by cutting
away the surface or edge. b (often foll. by off, away) cut off
(the surface or edge). 2 (often foll. by away, down) diminish
little by little. ЬЬparer n. [ME f. OF parer adorn, peel
(fruit), f. L parare prepare]
paregoric n. (in full paregoric elixir) hist. a camphorated tincture of
opium used to reduce pain. [LL paregoricus f. Gk paregorikos
soothing (as PARA-(1), -agoros speaking f. agora assembly)]
pareira n. a drug from the root of a Brazilian shrub, Chondrodendron
tomentosum, used as a muscle relaxant in surgery etc. [Port.
parreira vine trained against a wall]
n. 1 Anat. the functional part of an organ as distinguished
from the connective and supporting tissue. 2 Bot. the cellular
material, usu. soft and succulent, found esp. in the softer
parts of leaves, pulp of fruits, bark and pith of stems, etc.
ЬЬparenchymal adj. parenchymatous adj. [Gk paregkhuma
something poured in besides (as PARA-(1), egkhuma infusion f.
egkheo pour in)]
parent n. & v. --n. 1 a person who has begotten or borne offspring; a
father or mother. 2 a person who has adopted a child. 3 a
forefather. 4 an animal or plant from which others are derived.
5 a source or origin. 6 an initiating organization or
enterprise. --v.tr. (also absol.) be a parent of. Ьparent
company a company of which other companies are subsidiaries.
parent-teacher association a local organization of parents and
teachers for promoting closer relations and improving
educational facilities at a school. ЬЬparental adj. parentally
adv. parenthood n. [ME f. OF f. L parens parentis f. parere
parentage n. lineage; descent from or through parents (their parentage is
unknown). [ME f. OF (as PARENT)]
adj. Med. administered or occurring elsewhere than in the
alimentary canal. ЬЬparenterally adv. [PARA-(1) + Gk enteron
n. (pl. parentheses) 1 a a word, clause, or sentence inserted
as an explanation or afterthought into a passage which is
grammatically complete without it, and usu. marked off by
brackets or dashes or commas. b (in pl.) a pair of round
brackets () used for this. 2 an interlude or interval. Ьin
parenthesis as a parenthesis or afterthought. [LL f. Gk
parenthesis f. parentithemi put in beside]
v.tr. (also -ise) 1 (also absol.) insert as a parenthesis. 2
put into brackets or similar punctuation.
adj. 1 of or by way of a parenthesis. 2 interposed.
ЬЬparenthetical adj. parenthetically adv. [PARENTHESIS after
synthesis, synthetic, etc.]
parenting n. the occupation or concerns of parents.
parergon n. (pl. parerga) 1 work subsidiary to one's main employment.
2 an ornamental accessory. [L f. Gk parergon (as PARA-(1),
paresis n. (pl. pareses) Med. partial paralysis. ЬЬparetic adj.
[mod.L f. Gk f. pariemi let go (as PARA-(1), hiemi let go)]
adv. as having special excellence; being the supreme example of
its kind (the short story par excellence). [F, = by excellence]
parfait n. 1 a rich iced pudding of whipped cream, eggs, etc. 2 layers
of ice-cream, meringue, etc., served in a tall glass. [F
parfait PERFECT adj.]
pargana n. (also pergunnah, pergana) (in India) a group of villages or
a subdivision of a district. [Urdu pargana district]
parget v. & n. --v.tr. (pargeted, pargeting) 1 plaster (a wall etc.)
esp. with an ornamental pattern. 2 roughcast. --n. 1 plaster
applied in this way; ornamental plasterwork. 2 roughcast. [ME
f. OF pargeter, parjeter f. par all over + jeter throw]
parhelion n. (pl. parhelia) a bright spot on the solar halo. Also called
mock sun, sun-dog. ЬЬparheliacal adj. parhelic adj. [L
parelion f. Gk (as PARA-(1), helios sun)]
pariah n. 1 a social outcast. 2 hist. a member of a low caste or of
no caste in S. India. Ьpariah-dog = PYE-DOG. [Tamil paraiyar
pl. of paraiyan hereditary drummer f. parai drum]
parietal adj. 1 Anat. of the wall of the body or any of its cavities. 2
Bot. of the wall of a hollow structure etc. 3 US relating to
residence within a college. Ьparietal bone either of a pair of
bones forming the central part of the sides and top of the
skull. [F pari‚tal or LL parietalis f. L paries -etis wall]
n. 1 a form of betting in which those backing the first three
places divide the losers' stakes (less the operator's
commission). 2 a totalizator. [F, = mutual stake]
paring n. a strip or piece cut off.
adv. 1 with equal speed. 2 simultaneously and equally. [L]
n. a poisonous chemical used as a pigment and insecticide.
[Paris in France]
parish n. 1 an area having its own church and clergy. 2 (in full
civil parish) a district constituted for purposes of local
government. 3 the inhabitants of a parish. 4 US a county in
Louisiana. Ьparish clerk an official performing various duties
concerned with the church. parish council Brit. the
administrative body in a civil parish. parish pump (often
attrib.) a symbol of a parochial or restricted outlook. parish
register a book recording christenings, marriages, and burials,
at a parish church. [ME paroche, parosse f. OF paroche,
paroisse f. eccl.L parochia, paroechia f. Gk paroikia sojourning
f. paroikos (as PARA-(1), -oikos -dwelling f. oikeo dwell)]
n. an inhabitant of a parish. [obs. parishen f. ME f. OF
parossien, formed as PARISH]
Parisian adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to Paris in France. --n. 1 a
native or inhabitant of Paris. 2 the kind of French spoken in
Paris. [F parisien]
parison n. a rounded mass of glass formed by rolling immediately after
taking it from the furnace. [F paraison f. parer prepare f. L
parity(1) n. 1 equality or equal status, esp. as regards status or pay.
2 parallelism or analogy (parity of reasoning). 3 equivalence
of one currency with another; being at par. 4 (of a number) the
fact of being even or odd. 5 Physics (of a quantity) the fact
of changing its sign or remaining unaltered under a given
transformation of coordinates etc. [F parit‚ or LL paritas (as
parity(2) n. Med. 1 the fact or condition of having borne children. 2
the number of children previously borne. [formed as -PAROUS +
park n. & v. --n. 1 a large public garden in a town, for
recreation. 2 a large enclosed piece of ground, usu. with
woodland and pasture, attached to a country house etc. 3 a a
large area of land kept in its natural state for public
recreational use. b a large enclosed area of land used to
accommodate wild animals in captivity (wildlife park). 4 an
area for motor vehicles etc. to be left in (car park). 5 the
gear position or function in automatic transmission in which the
gears are locked, preventing the vehicle's movement. 6 an area
devoted to a specified purpose (industrial park). 7 a US a
sports ground. b (usu. prec. by the) a football pitch. --v.tr.
1 (also absol.) leave (a vehicle) usu. temporarily, in a car
park, by the side of the road, etc. 2 colloq. deposit and
leave, usu. temporarily. Ьparking-light a small light at the
side of a vehicle, for use when the vehicle is parked at night.
parking-lot US an outdoor area for parking vehicles.
parking-meter a coin-operated meter which receives fees for
vehicles parked in the street and indicates the time available.
parking-ticket a notice, usu. attached to a vehicle, of a
penalty imposed for parking illegally. park oneself colloq.
sit down. [ME f. OF parc f. med.L parricus of Gmc orig., rel.
to pearruc: see PADDOCK]
parka n. 1 a skin jacket with hood, worn by Eskimos. 2 a similar
windproof fabric garment worn by mountaineers etc. [Aleutian]
parkin n. Brit. a cake or biscuit made with oatmeal, ginger, and
treacle or molasses. [perh. f. the name Parkin, dimin. of
n. = PARKINSON'S DISEASE.
n. a progressive disease of the nervous system with tremor,
muscular rigidity, and emaciation. Also called PARKINSONISM.
[J. Parkinson, Engl. surgeon d. 1824]
n. the notion that work expands so as to fill the time
available for its completion. [C. N. Parkinson, Engl. writer
parkland n. open grassland with clumps of trees etc.
parkway n. 1 US an open landscaped highway. 2 Brit. a railway station
with extensive parking facilities.
parlance n. a particular way of speaking, esp. as regards choice of
words, idiom, etc. [OF f. parler speak, ult. f. L parabola
(see PARABLE): in LL = 'speech']
parlay v. & n. US --v.tr. 1 use (money won on a bet) as a further
stake. 2 increase in value by or as if by parlaying. --n. 1
an act of parlaying. 2 a bet made by parlaying. [F paroli f.
It. f. paro like f. L par equal]
parley n. & v. --n. (pl. -eys) a conference for debating points in a
dispute, esp. a discussion of terms for an armistice etc.
--v.intr. (-leys, -leyed) (often foll. by with) hold a parley.
[perh. f. OF parlee, fem. past part. of parler speak: see
n. 1 (Parliament) a (in the UK) the highest legislature,
consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House
of Commons. b the members of this legislature for a particular
period, esp. between one dissolution and the next. 2 a similar
legislature in other nations and States. [ME f. OF parlement
speaking (as PARLANCE)]
n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of a parliament, esp. one
well-versed in its procedures. 2 hist. an adherent of
Parliament in the English Civil War of the 17th c. --adj. =
adj. 1 of or relating to a parliament. 2 enacted or
established by a parliament. 3 (of language) admissible in a
parliament; polite. ЬParliamentary Commissioner for
Administration the official name of the ombudsman in the UK.
parliamentary private secretary a member of parliament assisting
a government minister.
parlour n. (US parlor) 1 a sitting-room in a private house. 2 a room
in a hotel, convent, etc., for the private use of residents. 3
esp. US a shop providing specified goods or services (beauty
parlour; ice-cream parlour). 4 a room or building equipped for
milking cows. 5 (attrib.) derog. denoting support for political
views by those who do not try to practise them (parlour
socialist). Ьparlour game an indoor game, esp. a word game.
parlour-maid hist. a maid who waits at table. [ME f. AF
parlur, OF parleor, parleur: see PARLANCE]
parlous adj. & adv. archaic or joc. --adj. 1 dangerous or difficult.
2 hard to deal with. --adv. extremely. ЬЬparlously adv.
parlousness n. [ME, = PERILOUS]
n. a variety of sweet violet with heavy scent and
lavender-coloured flowers often crystallized for food
decoration. [Parma in Italy]
Parmesan n. a kind of hard dry cheese made orig. at Parma and used esp.
in grated form. [F f. It. parmegiano of Parma in Italy]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 of Parnassus, a mountain in C. Greece, in
antiquity sacred to the Muses. 2 poetic. 3 of or relating to a
group of French poets in the late 19th c., emphasizing
strictness of form, named from the anthology Le Parnasse
contemporain (1866). --n. a member of this group.
parochial adj. 1 of or concerning a parish. 2 (of affairs, views, etc.)
merely local, narrow or restricted in scope. ЬЬparochialism n.
parochiality n. parochially adv. [ME f. AF parochiel, OF
parochial f. eccl.L parochialis (as PARISH)]
parody n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a humorous exaggerated imitation of
an author, literary work, style, etc. 2 a feeble imitation; a
travesty. --v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 compose a parody of. 2 mimic
humorously. ЬЬparodic adj. parodist n. [LL parodia or Gk
paroidia burlesque poem (as PARA-(1), oide ode)]
parol adj. & n. Law --adj. 1 given orally. 2 (of a document) not
given under seal. --n. an oral declaration. [OF parole (as
parole n. & v. --n. 1 a the release of a prisoner temporarily for a
special purpose or completely before the expiry of a sentence,
on the promise of good behaviour. b such a promise. 2 a word
of honour. --v.tr. put (a prisoner) on parole. Ьon parole
released on the terms of parole. ЬЬparolee n. [F, = word: see
n. a play on words; a pun. [L f. Gk paronomasia (as PARA-(1),
onomasia naming f. onomazo to name f. onoma a name)]
paronym n. 1 a word cognate with another. 2 a word formed from a
foreign word. ЬЬparonymous adj. [Gk paronumon, neut. of
paronumos (as PARA-(1), onuma name)]
parotid adj. & n. --adj. situated near the ear. --n. (in full parotid
gland) a salivary gland in front of the ear. Ьparotid duct a
duct opening from the parotid gland into the mouth. [F parotide
or L parotis parotid- f. Gk parotis -idos (as PARA-(1), ous otos
parotitis n. 1 inflammation of the parotid gland. 2 mumps. [PAROTID +
-parous comb. form bearing offspring of a specified number or kind
(multiparous; viviparous). [L -parus -bearing f. parere bring
Parousia n. Theol. the supposed second coming of Christ. [Gk, =
paroxysm n. 1 (often foll. by of) a sudden attack or outburst (of rage,
laughter, etc.). 2 a fit of disease. ЬЬparoxysmal adj. [F
paroxysme f. med.L paroxysmus f. Gk paroxusmos f. paroxuno
exasperate (as PARA-(1), oxuno sharpen f. oxus sharp)]
adj. & n. --adj. (esp. in ancient Greek) having an acute accent
on the last syllable but one. --n. a word of this kind. [mod.L
f. Gk paroxutonos (as PARA-(1), OXYTONE)]
parpen n. a stone passing through a wall from side to side, with two
smooth vertical faces. [ME f. OF parpain, prob. ult. f. L per
through + pannus piece of cloth, in Rmc 'piece of wall']
parquet n. & v. --n. 1 a flooring of wooden blocks arranged in a
pattern. 2 US the stalls of a theatre. --v.tr. (parqueted;
parqueting) furnish (a room) with a parquet floor. [F, = small
compartment, floor, dimin. of parc PARK]
parquetry n. the use of wooden blocks to make floors or inlay for
parr n. a young salmon with blue-grey finger-like markings on its
sides, younger than a smolt. [18th c.: orig. unkn.]
parrakeet US var. of PARAKEET.
n. (also paramatta) a light dress fabric of wool and silk or
cotton. [Parramatta in New South Wales, Australia]
parricide n. 1 the killing of a near relative, esp. of a parent. 2 an
act of parricide. 3 a person who commits parricide.
ЬЬparricidal adj. [F parricide or L parricida (= sense 3),
parricidium (= sense 1), of uncert. orig., assoc. in L with
pater father and parens parent]
parrot n. & v. --n. 1 any of various mainly tropical birds of the
order Psittaciformes, with a short hooked bill, often having
vivid plumage and able to mimic the human voice. 2 a person who
mechanically repeats the words or actions of another. --v.tr.
(parroted, parroting) repeat mechanically. Ьparrot-fashion
(learning or repeating) mechanically without understanding.
parrot-fish any fish of the genus Scarus, with a mouth like a
parrot's bill and forming a protective mucous cocoon against
predators. [prob. f. obs. or dial. F perrot parrot, dimin. of
Pierre Peter: cf. PARAKEET]
parry v. & n. --v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 avert or ward off (a weapon or
attack), esp. with a countermove. 2 deal skilfully with (an
awkward question etc.). --n. (pl. -ies) an act of parrying.
[prob. repr. F parez imper. of parer f. It. parare ward off]
parse v.tr. 1 describe (a word in context) grammatically, stating its
inflection, relation to the sentence, etc. 2 resolve (a
sentence) into its component parts and describe them
grammatically. ЬЬparser n. esp. Computing [perh. f. ME pars
parts of speech f. OF pars, pl. of part PART, infl. by L pars
parsec n. a unit of stellar distance, equal to about 3.25 light years
(3.08 x 10(16) metres), the distance at which the mean radius of
the earth's orbit subtends an angle of one second of arc.
[PARALLAX + SECOND(2)]
Parsee n. 1 an adherent of Zoroastrianism. 2 a descendant of the
Persians who fled to India from Muslim persecution in the
7th-8th c. 3 = PAHLAVI. ЬЬParseeism n. [Pers. parsi Persian
f. pars Persia]
parsimony n. 1 carefulness in the use of money or other resources. 2
meanness, stinginess. Ьlaw of parsimony the assertion that no
more causes or forces should be assumed than are necessary to
account for the facts. ЬЬparsimonious adj. parsimoniously adv.
parsimoniousness n. [ME f. L parsimonia, parcimonia f. parcere
parsley n. a biennial herb, Petroselinum crispum, with white flowers
and crinkly aromatic leaves, used for seasoning and garnishing
food. Ьparsley fern a fern, Cryptogramma crispa, with leaves
like parsley. parsley-piert a dwarf annual herb, Aphanes
arvensis. [ME percil, per(e)sil f. OF peresil, and OE
petersilie ult. f. L petroselinum f. Gk petroselinon;
parsley-piert prob. corrupt. of F perce-pierre pierce stone]
parsnip n. 1 a biennial umbelliferous plant, Pastinaca sativa, with
yellow flowers and a large pale-yellow tapering root. 2 this
root eaten as a vegetable. [ME pas(se)nep (with assim. to nep
turnip) f. OF pasnaie f. L pastinaca]
parson n. 1 a rector. 2 a vicar or any beneficed member of the
clergy. 3 colloq. any (esp. Protestant) member of the clergy.
Ьparson's nose the piece of fatty flesh at the rump of a fowl.
ЬЬparsonical adj. [ME person(e), parson f. OF persone f. L
persona PERSON (in med.L rector)]
parsonage n. a church house provided for a parson.
part n., v., & adv. --n. 1 some but not all of a thing or number of
things. 2 an essential member or constituent of anything (part
of the family; a large part of the job). 3 a component of a
machine etc. (spare parts; needs a new part). 4 a a portion of
a human or animal body. b (in pl.) = private parts. 5 a
division of a book, broadcast serial, etc., esp. as much as is
issued or broadcast at one time. 6 each of several equal
portions of a whole (the recipe has 3 parts sugar to 2 parts
flour). 7 a a portion allotted; a share. b a person's share in
an action or enterprise (will have no part in it). c one's duty
(was not my part to interfere). 8 a a character assigned to an
actor on stage. b the words spoken by an actor on stage. c a
copy of these. 9 Mus. a melody or other constituent of harmony
assigned to a particular voice or instrument. 10 each of the
sides in an agreement or dispute. 11 (in pl.) a region or
district (am not from these parts). 12 (in pl.) abilities (a
man of many parts). 13 US = PARTING 2. --v. 1 tr. & intr.
divide or separate into parts (the crowd parted to let them
through). 2 intr. a leave one another's company (they parted
the best of friends). b (foll. by from) say goodbye to. 3 tr.
cause to separate (they fought hard and had to be parted). 4
intr. (foll. by with) give up possession of; hand over. 5 tr.
separate (the hair of the head on either side of the parting)
with a comb. --adv. to some extent; partly (is part iron and
part wood; a lie that is part truth). Ьfor the most part see
MOST. for one's part as far as one is concerned. in part (or
parts) to some extent; partly. look the part appear suitable
for a role. on the part of on the behalf or initiative of (no
objection on my part). part and parcel (usu. foll. by of) an
essential part. part company see COMPANY. part-exchange n. a
transaction in which goods are given as part of the payment for
other goods, with the balance in money. --v.tr. give (goods) in
such a transaction. part of speech n. each of the categories
to which words are assigned in accordance with their grammatical
and semantic functions (in English esp. noun, pronoun,
adjective, adverb, verb, preposition, conjunction, and
interjection). part-song a song with three or more voice-parts,
often without accompaniment, and harmonic rather than
contrapuntal in character. part time less than the full time
required by an activity. part-time adj. occupying or using
only part of one's working time. part-timer a person employed
in part-time work. part-work Brit. a publication appearing in
several parts over a period of time. play a part 1 be
significant or contributory. 2 act deceitfully. 3 perform a
theatrical role. take in good part see GOOD. take part (often
foll. by in) assist or have a share (in). take the part of
support; back up. three parts three quarters. [ME f. OF f. L
pars partis (n.), partire, partiri (v.)]
partake v.intr. (past partook; past part. partaken) 1 (foll. by of,
in) take a share or part. 2 (foll. by of) eat or drink some or
colloq. all (of a thing). 3 (foll. by of) have some (of a
quality etc.) (their manner partook of insolence). ЬЬpartakable
adj. partaker n. [16th c.: back-form. f. partaker, partaking
= part-taker etc.]
parterre n. 1 a level space in a garden occupied by flower-beds arranged
formally. 2 US the ground floor of a theatre auditorium, esp.
the pit overhung by balconies. [F, = par terre on the ground]
n. Biol. reproduction by a male gamete without fertilization,
esp. as a normal process in invertebrates and lower plants.
ЬЬparthenogenetic adj. parthenogenetically adv. [mod.L f. Gk
parthenos virgin + genesis as GENESIS]
n. a remark or glance etc. reserved for the moment of
departure. [Parthia, an ancient kingdom in W. Asia: from the
custom of a retreating Parthian horseman firing a shot at the
partial adj. & n. --adj. 1 not complete; forming only part (a partial
success). 2 biased, unfair. 3 (foll. by to) having a liking
for. --n. Mus. any of the constituents of a musical sound.
Ьpartial eclipse an eclipse in which only part of the luminary
is covered or darkened. partial verdict a verdict finding a
person guilty of part of a charge. ЬЬpartially adv.
partialness n. [ME f. OF parcial f. LL partialis (as PART)]
n. 1 bias, favouritism. 2 (foll. by for) fondness. [ME f. OF
parcialit‚ f. med.L partialitas (as PARTIAL)]
n. a participator.
v.intr. 1 (foll. by in) take a part or share (in). 2 literary
or formal (foll. by of) have a certain quality (the speech
participated of wit). ЬЬparticipation n. participator n.
participatory adj. [L participare f. particeps - cipis taking
part, formed as PART + -cip- = cap- stem of capere take]
n. Gram. a word formed from a verb (e.g. going, gone, being,
been) and used in compound verb-forms (e.g. is going, has been)
or as an adjective (e.g. working woman, burnt toast).
ЬЬparticipial adj. participially adv. [ME f. OF, by-form of
participe f. L participium (as PARTICIPATE)]
particle n. 1 a minute portion of matter. 2 the least possible amount
(not a particle of sense). 3 Gram. a a minor part of speech,
esp. a short undeclinable one. b a common prefix or suffix such
as in-, -ness. [ME f. L particula (as PART)]
adj. partly of one colour, partly of another or others.
[PARTY(2) + COLOURED]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 relating to or considered as one thing or
person as distinct from others; individual (in this particular
instance). 2 more than is usual; special, noteworthy (took
particular trouble). 3 scrupulously exact; fastidious. 4
detailed (a full and particular account). 5 Logic (of a
proposition) in which something is asserted of some but not all
of a class (opp. UNIVERSAL). --n. 1 a detail; an item. 2 (in
pl.) points of information; a detailed account. Ьin particular
especially, specifically. [ME f. OF particuler f. L
particularis (as PARTICLE)]
n. 1 exclusive devotion to one party, sect, etc. 2 the
principle of leaving political independence to each State in an
empire or federation. 3 the theological doctrine of individual
election or redemption. ЬЬparticularist n. [F particularisme,
mod.L particularismus, and G Partikularismus (as PARTICULAR)]
n. 1 the quality of being individual or particular. 2 fullness
or minuteness of detail in a description.
v.tr. (also -ise) tr. (also absol.) 1 name specially or one by
one. 2 specify (items). ЬЬparticularization n. [F
particulariser (as PARTICULAR)]
adv. 1 especially, very. 2 specifically (they particularly
asked for you). 3 in a particular or fastidious manner.
adj. & n. --adj. in the form of separate particles. --n.
matter in this form. [L particula PARTICLE]
parting n. 1 a leave-taking or departure (often attrib.: parting
words). 2 Brit. the dividing line of combed hair. 3 a
division; an act of separating. Ьparting shot = PARTHIAN SHOT.
n. & adj. --n. a preconceived view; a bias. --adj. prejudiced,
biased. [F, = side taken]
partisan n. & adj. (also partizan) --n. 1 a strong, esp. unreasoning,
supporter of a party, cause, etc. 2 Mil. a guerrilla in
wartime. --adj. 1 of or characteristic of partisans. 2 loyal
to a particular cause; biased. ЬЬpartisanship n. [F f. It.
dial. partigiano etc. f. parte PART]
partita n. (pl. partite) Mus. 1 a suite. 2 an air with variations.
[It., fem. past part. of partire divide, formed as PART]
partite adj. 1 divided (esp. in comb.: tripartite). 2 Bot. & Zool.
divided to or nearly to the base. [L partitus past part. of
partiri PART v.]
partition n. & v. --n. 1 division into parts, esp. Polit. of a country
with separate areas of government. 2 a structure dividing a
space into two parts, esp. a light interior wall. --v.tr. 1
divide into parts. 2 (foll. by off) separate (part of a room
etc.) with a partition. ЬЬpartitioned adj. partitioner n.
partitionist n. [ME f. OF f. L partitio -onis (as PARTITE)]
partitive adj. & n. Gram. --adj. (of a word, form, etc.) denoting part
of a collective group or quantity. --n. a partitive word (e.g.
some, any) or form. Ьpartitive genitive a genitive used to
indicate a whole divided into or regarded in parts, expressed in
English by of as in most of us. ЬЬpartitively adv. [F partitif
-ive or med.L partitivus (as PARTITE)]
partizan var. of PARTISAN.
partly adv. 1 with respect to a part or parts. 2 to some extent.
partner n. & v. --n. 1 a person who shares or takes part with another
or others, esp. in a business firm with shared risks and
profits. 2 a companion in dancing. 3 a player (esp. one of
two) on the same side in a game. 4 either member of a married
couple, or of an unmarried couple living together. --v.tr. 1
be the partner of. 2 associate as partners. ЬЬpartnerless adj.
[ME, alt. of parcener joint heir, after PART]
n. 1 the state of being a partner or partners. 2 a joint
business. 3 a pair or group of partners.
partook past of PARTAKE.
partridge n. (pl. same or partridges) 1 any game-bird of the genus
Perdix, esp. P. perdix of Europe and Asia. 2 any other of
various similar birds of the family Phasianidae, including the
snow partridge. [ME partrich etc. f. OF perdriz etc. f. L
perdix -dicis: for -dge cf. CABBAGE]
adj. about to give birth. [L parturire be in labour, incept.
f. parere part- bring forth]
n. formal the act of bringing forth young; childbirth. [LL
parturitio (as PARTURIENT)]
party(1) n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a social gathering, usu. of invited
guests. 2 a body of persons engaged in an activity or
travelling together (fishing party; search party). 3 a group of
people united in a cause, opinion, etc., esp. a political group
organized on a national basis. 4 a person or persons forming
one side in an agreement or dispute. 5 (foll. by to) Law an
accessory (to an action). 6 colloq. a person. --v.tr. & intr.
(-ies, -ied) entertain at or attend a party. Ьparty line 1 the
policy adopted by a political party. 2 a telephone line shared
by two or more subscribers. party-wall a wall common to two
adjoining buildings or rooms. [ME f. OF partie ult. f. L
partire: see PART]
party(2) adj. Heraldry divided into parts of different colours. [ME f.
OF parti f. L (as PARTY(1))]
parvenu n. & adj. --n. (fem. parvenue) 1 a person of obscure origin
who has gained wealth or position. 2 an upstart. --adj. 1
associated with or characteristic of such a person. 2 upstart.
[F, past part. of parvenir arrive f. L pervenire (as PER-,
parvis n. (also parvise) 1 an enclosed area in front of a cathedral,
church, etc. 2 a room over a church porch. [ME f. OF parvis
ult. f. LL paradisus PARADISE, a court in front of St Peter's,
pas n. (pl. same) a step in dancing, esp. in classical ballet. Ь
pas de chat a leap in which each foot in turn is raised to the
opposite knee. pas de deux a dance for two persons. pas gliss‚
see GLISSђ. pas seul a solo dance. [F, = step]
pascal n. 1 the SI unit of pressure, equal to one newton per square
metre. 2 (Pascal) Computing a programming language esp. used in
education. [B. Pascal, Fr. scientist d. 1662: sense 2 so named
because he built a calculating machine]
paschal adj. 1 of or relating to the Jewish Passover. 2 of or relating
to Easter. Ьpaschal lamb 1 a lamb sacrificed at Passover. 2
Christ. [ME f. OF pascal f. eccl.L paschalis f. pascha f. Gk
paskha f. Aram. pasha, rel. to Heb. pesah PASSOVER]
pash n. sl. a brief infatuation. [abbr. of PASSION]
pasha n. (also pacha) hist. the title (placed after the name) of a
Turkish officer of high rank, e.g. a military commander, the
governor of a province, etc. [Turk. pasa, prob. = basa f. bas
pashm n. the under-fur of some Tibetan animals, esp. that of goats as
used for Cashmere shawls.
Pashto n. & adj. --n. the official language of Afghanistan, also
spoken in areas of Pakistan. --adj. of or in this language.
n. 1 a ballroom dance based on a Latin American style of
marching. 2 this style of marching. [Sp., = double step]
n. a ranunculaceous plant, Pulsatilla vulgaris, with
bell-shaped purple flowers and fernlike foliage. Also called
ANEMONE. [earlier passe-flower f. F passe-fleur: assim. to
pasque = obs. pasch (as PASCHAL), Easter]
n. a lampoon or satire, orig. one displayed in a public place.
[It. pasquinata f. Pasquino, a statue in Rome on which abusive
Latin verses were annually posted]
pass(1) v. & n. --v. (past part. passed) (see also PAST). 1 intr.
(often foll. by along, by, down, on, etc.) move onward; proceed,
esp. past some point of reference (saw the procession passing).
2 tr. a go past; leave (a thing etc.) on one side or behind in
proceeding. b overtake, esp. in a vehicle. c go across (a
frontier, mountain range, etc.). 3 intr. & tr. be transferred
or cause to be transferred from one person or place to another
(pass the butter; the title passes to his son). 4 tr. surpass;
be too great for (it passes my comprehension). 5 intr. get
through; effect a passage. 6 intr. a be accepted as adequate;
go uncensored (let the matter pass). b (foll. by as, for) be
accepted or currently known as. c US (of a person with some
Black ancestry) be accepted as White. 7 tr. move; cause to go
(passed her hand over her face; passed a rope round it). 8 a
intr. (of a candidate in an examination) be successful. b tr.
be successful in (an examination). c tr. (of an examiner) judge
the performance of (a candidate) to be satisfactory. 9 a tr.
(of a bill) be examined and approved by (a parliamentary body or
process). b tr. cause or allow (a bill) to proceed to further
legislative processes. c intr. (of a bill or proposal) be
approved. 10 intr. a occur, elapse (the remark passed
unnoticed; time passes slowly). b happen; be done or said
(heard what passed between them). 11 a intr. circulate; be
current. b tr. put into circulation (was passing forged
cheques). 12 tr. spend or use up (a certain time or period)
(passed the afternoon reading). 13 tr. (also absol.) (in field
games) send (the ball) to another player of one's own side. 14
intr. forgo one's turn or chance in a game etc. 15 intr. (foll.
by to, into) change from one form (to another). 16 intr. come
to an end. 17 tr. discharge from the body as or with excreta.
18 tr. (foll. by on, upon) a utter (criticism) about. b
pronounce (a judicial sentence) on. 19 intr. (often foll. by
on, upon) adjudicate. 20 tr. not declare or pay (a dividend).
21 tr. cause (troops etc.) to go by esp. ceremonially. --n. 1
an act or instance of passing. 2 a success in an examination.
b Brit. the status of a university degree without honours. 3
written permission to pass into or out of a place, or to be
absent from quarters. 4 a a ticket or permit giving free entry
or access etc. b = free pass. 5 (in field games) a
transference of the ball to another player on the same side. 6
a thrust in fencing. 7 a juggling trick. 8 an act of passing
the hands over anything, as in conjuring or hypnotism. 9 a
critical position (has come to a fine pass). Ьin passing 1 by
the way. 2 in the course of speech, conversation, etc. make a
pass at colloq. make amorous or sexual advances to. pass away
1 euphem. die. 2 cease to exist; come to an end. pass by 1 go
past. 2 disregard, omit. passed pawn Chess a pawn that has
advanced beyond the pawns on the other side. pass one's eye
over read (a document etc.) cursorily. pass muster see MUSTER.
pass off 1 (of feelings etc.) disappear gradually. 2 (of
proceedings) be carried through (in a specified way). 3 (foll.
by as) misrepresent (a person or thing) as something else. 4
evade or lightly dismiss (an awkward remark etc.). pass on 1
proceed on one's way. 2 euphem. die. 3 transmit to the next
person in a series. pass out 1 become unconscious. 2 Brit.
Mil. complete one's training as a cadet. 3 distribute. pass
over 1 omit, ignore, or disregard. 2 ignore the claims of (a
person) to promotion or advancement. 3 euphem. die. pass round
1 distribute. 2 send or give to each of a number in turn. pass
through experience. pass the time of day see TIME. pass up
colloq. refuse or neglect (an opportunity etc.). pass water
urinate. ЬЬpasser n. [ME f. OF passer ult. f. L passus
pass(2) n. 1 a narrow passage through mountains. 2 a navigable
channel, esp. at the mouth of a river. Ьsell the pass betray a
cause. [ME, var. of PACE(1), infl. by F pas and by PASS(1)]
passable adj. 1 barely satisfactory; just adequate. 2 (of a road, pass,
etc.) that can be passed. ЬЬpassableness n. passably adv. [ME
f. OF (as PASS(1))]
n. Mus. an instrumental piece usu. with a ground bass. [It.
f. Sp. pasacalle f. pasar pass + calle street: orig. often
played in the streets]
n. 1 the process or means of passing; transit. 2 = PASSAGEWAY.
3 the liberty or right to pass through. 4 a the right of
conveyance as a passenger by sea or air. b a journey by sea or
air. 5 a transition from one state to another. 6 a a short
extract from a book etc. b a section of a piece of music. 7
the passing of a bill etc. into law. 8 (in pl.) an interchange
of words etc. 9 Anat. a duct etc. in the body. Ьpassage of (or
at) arms a fight or dispute. work one's passage earn a right
(orig. of passage) by working for it. [ME f. OF (as PASS(1))]
v. 1 intr. (of a horse or rider) move sideways, by the pressure
of the rein on the horse's neck and of the rider's leg on the
opposite side. 2 tr. make (a horse) do this. [F passager,
earlier pass‚ger f. It. passeggiare to walk, pace f. passeggio
walk f. L passus PACE(1)]
n. a narrow way for passing along, esp. with walls on either
side; a corridor.
passant adj. Heraldry (of an animal) walking and looking to the dexter
side, with three paws on the ground and the right forepaw
raised. [ME f. OF, part. of passer PASS(1)]
passband n. a frequency band within which signals are transmitted by a
filter without attenuation.
passbook n. a book issued by a bank or building society etc. to an
account-holder recording sums deposited and withdrawn.
pass‚ adj. (fem. pass‚e) 1 behind the times; out of date. 2 past
its prime. [F, past part. of passer PASS(1)]
n. a trimming of gold or silver lace, braid, beads, etc. [F f.
passement gold lace etc. f. passer PASS(1)]
passenger n. 1 a traveller in or on a public or private conveyance (other
than the driver, pilot, crew, etc.). 2 colloq. a member of a
team, crew, etc., who does no effective work. 3 (attrib.) for
the use of passengers (passenger seat). Ьpassenger-mile one
mile travelled by one passenger, as a unit of traffic.
passenger-pigeon an extinct wild pigeon of N. America, capable
of long flight. [ME f. OF passager f. OF passager (adj.)
passing (as passage(1)): -n- as in messenger etc.]
n. 1 a master-key. 2 a picture-frame (esp. for mounted
photographs) consisting of two pieces of glass stuck together at
the edges with adhesive tape. 3 adhesive tape or paper used for
this. [F, = passes everywhere]
passer-by n. (pl. passers-by) a person who goes past, esp. by chance.
passerine n. & adj. --n. any perching bird of the order Passeriformes,
having feet with three toes pointing forward and one pointing
backwards, including sparrows and most land birds. --adj. 1 of
or relating to this order. 2 of the size of a sparrow. [L
passible adj. Theol. capable of feeling or suffering. ЬЬpassibility n.
[ME f. OF passible or LL passibilis f. L pati pass- suffer]
passim adv. (of allusions or references in a published work) to be
found at various places throughout the text. [L f. passus
scattered f. pandere spread]
passing adj. & n. --adj. 1 in senses of PASS v. 2 transient, fleeting
(a passing glance). 3 cursory, incidental (a passing
reference). --n. 1 in senses of PASS v. 2 euphem. the death
of a person (mourned his passing). Ьpassing note Mus. a note
not belonging to the harmony but interposed to secure a smooth
transition. passing shot Tennis a shot aiming the ball beyond
and out of reach of the other player. ЬЬpassingly adv.
passion n. 1 strong barely controllable emotion. 2 an outburst of
anger (flew into a passion). 3 intense sexual love. 4 a strong
enthusiasm (has a passion for football). b an object arousing
this. 5 (the Passion) a Relig. the suffering of Christ during
his last days. b a narrative of this from the Gospels. c a
musical setting of any of these narratives. Ьpassion-flower any
climbing plant of the genus Passiflora, with a flower that was
supposed to suggest the instruments of the Crucifixion.
passion-fruit the edible fruit of some species of
passion-flower, esp. Passiflora edulis: also called GRANADILLA.
passion-play a miracle play representing Christ's Passion.
Passion Sunday the fifth Sunday in Lent. Passion Week 1 the
week between Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday. 2 = Holy Week.
ЬЬpassionless adj. [ME f. OF f. LL passio -onis f. L pati pass-
passional adj. & n. --adj. literary of or marked by passion. --n. a
book of the sufferings of saints and martyrs.
adj. 1 dominated by or easily moved to strong feeling, esp.
love or anger. 2 showing or caused by passion. ЬЬpassionately
adv. passionateness n. [ME f. med.L passionatus (as PASSION)]
n. the last two weeks of Lent.
passivate v.tr. make (esp. metal) passive (see PASSIVE). ЬЬpassivation
passive adj. 1 suffering action; acted upon. 2 offering no opposition;
submissive. 3 a not active; inert. b (of a metal) abnormally
unreactive. 4 Gram. designating the voice in which the subject
undergoes the action of the verb (e.g. in they were killed). 5
(of a debt) incurring no interest payment. Ьpassive obedience 1
surrender to another's will without cooperation. 2 compliance
with commands irrespective of their nature. passive resistance
a non-violent refusal to cooperate. passive smoking the
involuntary inhaling, esp. by a non-smoker, of smoke from
others' cigarettes etc. ЬЬpassively adv. passiveness n.
passivity n. [ME f. OF passif -ive or L passivus (as PASSION)]
passkey n. 1 a private key to a gate etc. for special purposes. 2 a
passmark n. the minimum mark needed to pass an examination.
Passover n. 1 the Jewish spring festival commemorating the liberation of
the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, held from the 14th to the
21st day of the seventh month of the Jewish year. 2 = paschal
lamb. [pass over = pass without touching, with ref. to the
exemption of the Israelites from the death of the first-born
passport n. 1 an official document issued by a government certifying the
holder's identity and citizenship, and entitling the holder to
travel under its protection to and from foreign countries. 2
(foll. by to) a thing that ensures admission or attainment (a
passport to success). [F passeport (as PASS(1), PORT(1))]
password n. a selected word or phrase securing recognition, admission,
etc., when used by those to whom it is disclosed.
past adj., n., prep., & adv. --adj. 1 gone by in time and no longer
existing (in past years; the time is past). 2 recently
completed or gone by (the past month; for some time past). 3
relating to a former time (past president). 4 Gram. expressing
a past action or state. --n. 1 (prec. by the) a past time. b
what has happened in past time (cannot undo the past). 2 a
person's past life or career, esp. if discreditable (a man with
a past). 3 a past tense or form. --prep. 1 beyond in time or
place (is past two o'clock; ran past the house). 2 beyond the
range, duration, or compass of (past belief; past endurance).
--adv. so as to pass by (hurried past). Ьnot put it past a
person believe it possible of a person. past it colloq.
incompetent or unusable through age. past master 1 a person who
is especially adept or expert in an activity, subject, etc. 2 a
person who has been a master in a guild, Freemason's lodge, etc.
past perfect = PLUPERFECT. [past part. of PASS(1) v.]
pasta n. 1 a dried flour paste used in various shapes in cooking
(e.g. lasagne, spaghetti). 2 a cooked dish made from this.
[It., = PASTE]
paste n. & v. --n. 1 any moist fairly stiff mixture, esp. of powder
and liquid. 2 a dough of flour with fat, water, etc., used in
baking. 3 an adhesive of flour, water, etc., esp. for sticking
paper and other light materials. 4 an easily spread preparation
of ground meat, fish, etc. (anchovy paste). 5 a hard vitreous
composition used in making imitation gems. 6 a mixture of clay,
water, etc., used in making ceramic ware, esp. a mixture of low
plasticity used in making porcelain. --v.tr. 1 fasten or coat
with paste. 2 sl. a beat or thrash. b bomb or bombard
heavily. Ьpaste-up a document prepared for copying etc. by
combining and pasting various sections on a backing. ЬЬpasting
n. (esp. in sense 2 of v.). [ME f. OF f. LL pasta small square
medicinal lozenge f. Gk paste f. pastos sprinkled]
n. 1 a sheet of stiff material made by pasting together sheets
of paper. 2 (attrib.) a flimsy, unsubstantial. b fake.
pastel n. 1 a crayon consisting of powdered pigments bound with a gum
solution. 2 a work of art in pastel. 3 a light and subdued
shade of a colour. ЬЬpastelist n. pastellist n. [F pastel or
It. pastello, dimin. of pasta PASTE]
pastern n. 1 the part of a horse's foot between the fetlock and the
hoof. 2 a corresponding part in other animals. [ME pastron f.
OF pasturon f. pasture hobble ult. f. L pastorius of a
shepherd: see PASTOR]
v.tr. (also -ise) subject (milk etc.) to the process of partial
sterilization by heating. ЬЬpasteurization n. pasteurizer n.
[L. Pasteur, Fr. chemist d. 1895]
pasticcio n. (pl. -os) = PASTICHE. [It.: see PASTICHE]
pastiche n. 1 a medley, esp. a picture or a musical composition, made up
from or imitating various sources. 2 a literary or other work
of art composed in the style of a well-known author. [F f. It.
pasticcio ult. f. LL pasta PASTE]
pastille n. 1 a small sweet or lozenge. 2 a small roll of aromatic
paste burnt as a fumigator etc. Ьpastille-burner an ornamental
ceramic container in which an aromatic pastille may be burnt.
[F f. L pastillus little loaf, lozenge f. panis loaf]
pastime n. 1 a pleasant recreation or hobby. 2 a sport or game.
[PASS(1) + TIME]
pastis n. an aniseed-flavoured aperitif. [F]
pastor n. 1 a minister in charge of a church or a congregation. 2 a
person exercising spiritual guidance. 3 a pink starling,
Sturnus roseus. ЬЬpastorship n. [ME f. AF & OF pastour f. L
pastor -oris shepherd f. pascere past- feed, graze]
pastoral adj. & n. --adj. 1 of, relating to, or associated with
shepherds or flocks and herds. 2 (of land) used for pasture. 3
(of a poem, picture, etc.) portraying country life, usu. in a
romantic or idealized form. 4 of or appropriate to a pastor.
--n. 1 a pastoral poem, play, picture, etc. 2 a letter from a
pastor (esp. a bishop) to the clergy or people. Ьpastoral staff
a bishop's crosier. pastoral theology that considering
religious truth in relation to spiritual needs. ЬЬpastoralism
n. pastorality n. pastorally adv. [ME f. L pastoralis (as
pastorale n. (pl. pastorales or pastorali) 1 a slow instrumental
composition in compound time, usu. with drone notes in the bass.
2 a simple musical play with a rural subject. [It. (as
n. Austral. a farmer of sheep or cattle.
pastorate n. 1 the office or tenure of a pastor. 2 a body of pastors.
pastrami n. seasoned smoked beef. [Yiddish]
pastry n. (pl. -ies) 1 a dough of flour, fat, and water baked and
used as a base and covering for pies etc. 2 a food, esp. cake,
made wholly or partly of this. b a piece or item of this food.
Ьpastry-cook a cook who specializes in pastry, esp. for public
sale. [PASTE after OF pastaierie]
pasturage n. 1 land for pasture. 2 the process of pasturing cattle etc.
[OF (as PASTURE)]
pasture n. & v. --n. 1 land covered with grass etc. suitable for
grazing animals, esp. cattle or sheep. 2 herbage for animals.
--v. 1 tr. put (animals) to graze in a pasture. 2 intr. & tr.
(of animals) graze. [ME f. OF f. LL pastura (as PASTOR)]
pasty(1) n. (pl. -ies) a pastry case with a sweet or savoury filling,
baked without a dish to shape it. [ME f. OF past‚ ult. f. LL
pasty(2) adj. (pastier, pastiest) 1 of or like or covered with paste. 2
unhealthily pale (esp. in complexion) (pasty-faced). ЬЬpastily
adv. pastiness n.
Pat n. a nickname for an Irishman. [abbr. of the name Patrick]
Pat. abbr. Patent.
pat(1) v. & n. --v. (patted, patting) 1 tr. strike gently with the
hand or a flat surface. 2 tr. flatten or mould by patting. 3
tr. strike gently with the inner surface of the hand, esp. as a
sign of affection, sympathy, or congratulation. 4 intr. (foll.
by on, upon) beat lightly. --n. 1 a light stroke or tap, esp.
with the hand in affection etc. 2 the sound made by this. 3 a
small mass (esp. of butter) formed by patting. Ьpat-a-cake a
child's game with the patting of hands (the first words of a
nursery rhyme). pat on the back a gesture of approval or
congratulation. pat a person on the back congratulate a person.
[ME, prob. imit.]
pat(2) adj. & adv. --adj. 1 known thoroughly and ready for any
occasion. 2 apposite or opportune, esp. unconvincingly so (gave
a pat answer). --adv. 1 in a pat manner. 2 appositely,
opportunely. Ьhave off pat know or have memorized perfectly.
stand pat esp. US 1 stick stubbornly to one's opinion or
decision. 2 Poker retain one's hand as dealt; not draw other
cards. ЬЬpatly adv. patness n. [16th c.: rel. to PAT(1)]
pat(3) n. Ьon one's pat Austral. sl. on one's own. [Pat Malone,
rhyming slang for own]
patagium n. (pl. patagia) Zool. 1 the wing-membrane of a bat or
similar animal. 2 a scale covering the wing-joint in moths and
butterflies. [med.L use of L patagium f. Gk patageion gold
patball n. 1 a simple game of ball played between two players. 2
derog. lawn tennis.
patch n. & v. --n. 1 a piece of material or metal etc. used to mend
a hole or as reinforcement. 2 a pad worn to protect an injured
eye. 3 a dressing etc. put over a wound. 4 a large or
irregular distinguishable area on a surface. 5 colloq. a period
of time in terms of its characteristic quality (went through a
bad patch). 6 a piece of ground. 7 colloq. an area assigned to
or patrolled by an authorized person, esp. a police officer. 8
a number of plants growing in one place (brier patch). 9 a
scrap or remnant. 10 a temporary electrical connection. 11
hist. a small disc etc. of black silk attached to the face, worn
esp. by women in the 17th-18th c. for adornment. 12 Mil. a
piece of cloth on a uniform as the badge of a unit. --v.tr. 1
(often foll. by up) repair with a patch or patches; put a patch
or patches on. 2 (of material) serve as a patch to. 3 (often
foll. by up) put together, esp. hastily or in a makeshift way.
4 (foll. by up) settle (a quarrel etc.) esp. hastily or
temporarily. Ьnot a patch on colloq. greatly inferior to.
patch cord an insulated lead with a plug at each end, for use
with a patchboard. patch panel = PATCHBOARD. patch pocket one
made of a piece of cloth sewn on a garment. patch test a test
for allergy by applying to the skin patches containing
allergenic substances. ЬЬpatcher n. [ME pacche, patche, perh.
var. of peche f. OF pieche dial. var. of piece PIECE]
n. a board with electrical sockets linked to enable changeable
permutations of connection.
patchouli n. 1 a strongly scented E. Indian plant, Pogostemon cablin. 2
the perfume obtained from this. [a native name in Madras]
patchwork n. 1 needlework using small pieces of cloth with different
designs, forming a pattern. 2 a thing composed of various small
pieces or fragments.
patchy adj. (patchier, patchiest) 1 uneven in quality. 2 having or
existing in patches. ЬЬpatchily adv. patchiness n.
pate n. archaic or colloq. the head, esp. representing the seat of
intellect. [ME: orig. unkn.]
pѓte n. the paste of which porcelain is made. [F, = PASTE]
pѓt‚ n. a rich paste or spread of mashed and spiced meat or fish
etc. Ь pѓt‚ de foie gras a paste of fatted goose liver. [F f.
OF past‚ (as PASTY(1))]
patella n. (pl. patellae) the kneecap. ЬЬpatellar adj. patellate
adj. [L, dimin. of patina: see PATEN]
paten n. 1 a shallow dish used for the bread at the Eucharist. 2 a
thin circular plate of metal. [ME ult. f. OF patene or L
patena, patina shallow dish f. Gk patane a plate]
patent n., adj., & v. --n. 1 a government authority to an individual
or organization conferring a right or title, esp. the sole right
to make or use or sell some invention. 2 a document granting
this authority. 3 an invention or process protected by it.
--adj. 1 obvious, plain. 2 conferred or protected by patent.
3 a made and marketed under a patent; proprietary. b to which
one has a proprietary claim. 4 such as might be patented;
ingenious, well-contrived. 5 (of an opening etc.) allowing free
passage. --v.tr. obtain a patent for (an invention). Ьletters
patent an open document from a sovereign or government
conferring a patent or other right. patent leather leather with
a glossy varnished surface. patent medicine medicine made and
marketed under a patent and available without prescription.
patent office an office from which patents are issued. Patent
Roll (in the UK) a list of patents issued in a year. ЬЬpatency
n. patentable adj. patently adv. (in sense 1 of adj.). [ME f.
OF patent and L patere lie open]
patentee n. 1 a person who takes out or holds a patent. 2 a person for
the time being entitled to the benefit of a patent.
patentor n. a person or body that grants a patent.
pater n. Brit. colloq. father. °Now only in jocular or affected
n. the male head of a family or household. [L, = father of the
paternal adj. 1 of or like or appropriate to a father. 2 fatherly. 3
related through the father. 4 (of a government etc.) limiting
freedom and responsibility by well-meant regulations.
ЬЬpaternally adv. [LL paternalis f. L paternus f. pater
n. the policy of governing in a paternal way, or behaving
paternally to one's associates or subordinates. ЬЬpaternalist
n. paternalistic adj. paternalistically adv.
paternity n. 1 fatherhood. 2 one's paternal origin. 3 the source or
authorship of a thing. Ьpaternity test a blood test to
determine whether a man may be or cannot be the father of a
particular child. [ME f. OF paternit‚ or LL paternitas]
n. 1 a the Lord's Prayer, esp. in Latin. b a rosary bead
indicating that this is to be said. 2 a lift consisting of a
series of linked doorless compartments moving continuously on a
circular belt. [OE f. L pater noster our father]
path n. (pl. paths) 1 a way or track laid down for walking or made
by continual treading. 2 the line along which a person or thing
moves (flight path). 3 a course of action or conduct. 4 a
sequence of movements or operations taken by a system.
ЬЬpathless adj. [OE p‘th f. WG]
-path comb. form forming nouns denoting: 1 a practitioner of curative
treatment (homoeopath; osteopath). 2 a person who suffers from
a disease (psychopath). [back-form. f. -PATHY, or f. Gk
-pathes -sufferer (as PATHOS)]
Pathan n. a member of a Pashto-speaking people inhabiting NW Pakistan
and SE Afghanistan. [Hindi]
pathetic adj. 1 arousing pity or sadness or contempt. 2 Brit. colloq.
miserably inadequate. 3 archaic of the emotions. Ьpathetic
fallacy the attribution of human feelings and responses to
inanimate things, esp. in art and literature. ЬЬpathetically
adv. [F path‚tique f. LL patheticus f. Gk pathetikos (as
n. 1 a person who explores new territory, investigates a new
subject, etc. 2 an aircraft or its pilot sent ahead to locate
and mark the target area for bombing.
patho- comb. form disease. [Gk pathos suffering: see PATHOS]
pathogen n. an agent causing disease. ЬЬpathogenic adj. pathogenous
adj. [PATHO- + -GEN]
n. (also pathogeny) the manner of development of a disease.
adj. 1 of pathology. 2 of or caused by a physical or mental
disorder (a pathological fear of spiders). ЬЬpathologically
pathology n. 1 the science of bodily diseases. 2 the symptoms of a
disease. ЬЬpathologist n. [F pathologie or mod.L pathologia
(as PATHO-, -LOGY)]
pathos n. a quality in speech, writing, events, etc., that excites
pity or sadness. [Gk pathos suffering, rel. to paskho suffer,
pathway n. 1 a path or its course. 2 Biochem. etc. a sequence of
reactions undergone in a living organism.
patience n. 1 calm endurance of hardship, provocation, pain, delay, etc.
2 tolerant perseverance or forbearance. 3 the capacity for calm
self-possessed waiting. 4 esp. Brit. a game for one player in
which cards taken in random order have to be arranged in certain
groups or sequences. Ьhave no patience with 1 be unable to
tolerate. 2 be irritated by. [ME f. OF f. L patientia (as
patient adj. & n. --adj. having or showing patience. --n. a person
receiving or registered to receive medical treatment.
ЬЬpatiently adv. [ME f. OF f. L patiens -entis pres. part. of
patina n. (pl. patinas) 1 a film, usu. green, formed on the surface
of old bronze. 2 a similar film on other surfaces. 3 a gloss
produced by age on woodwork. ЬЬpatinated adj. patination n.
[It. f. L patina dish]
patio n. (pl. -os) 1 a paved usu. roofless area adjoining and
belonging to a house. 2 an inner court open to the sky in a
Spanish or Spanish-American house. [Sp.]
n. 1 a shop where pastries are made and sold. 2 pastries
collectively. [F pѓtisserie f. med.L pasticium pastry f. pasta
n. a variety of rice with long firm grains. [Patna in India,
where it was orig. grown]
patois n. (pl. same) the dialect of the common people in a region,
differing fundamentally from the literary language. [F, = rough
speech, perh. f. OF patoier treat roughly f. patte paw]
patrial adj. & n. Brit. hist. --adj. having the right to live in the
UK through the British birth of a parent or a grandparent. --n.
a person with this right. ЬЬpatriality n. [obs. F patrial or
med.L patrialis f. L patria fatherland f. pater father]
patriarch n. 1 the male head of a family or tribe. 2 (often in pl.)
Bibl. any of those regarded as fathers of the human race, esp.
the sons of Jacob, or Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their
forefathers. 3 Eccl. a the title of a chief bishop, esp. those
presiding over the Churches of Antioch, Alexandria,
Constantinople, and (formerly) Rome; now also the title of the
heads of certain autocephalous Orthodox Churches. b (in the
Roman Catholic Church) a bishop ranking next above primates and
metropolitans, and immediately below the pope. c the head of a
Uniate community. 4 a the founder of an order, science, etc. b
a venerable old man. c the oldest member of a group.
ЬЬpatriarchal adj. patriarchally adv. [ME f. OF patriarche f.
eccl.L patriarcha f. Gk patriarkhes f. patria family f. pater
father + -arkhes -ruler]
n. 1 the office, see, or residence of an ecclesiastical
patriarch. 2 the rank of a tribal patriarch. [med.L
patriarchatus (as PATRIARCH)]
n. (pl. -ies) a system of society, government, etc., ruled by
a man and with descent through the male line. ЬЬpatriarchism n.
[med.L patriarchia f. Gk patriarkhia (as PATRIARCH)]
patrician n. & adj. --n. 1 hist. a member of the ancient Roman nobility
(cf. PLEBEIAN). 2 hist. a nobleman in some Italian republics.
3 an aristocrat. --adj. 1 noble, aristocratic. 2 hist. of the
ancient Roman nobility. [ME f. OF patricien f. L patricius
having a noble father f. pater patris father]
n. 1 a patrician order; an aristocracy. 2 the rank of
patrician. [L patriciatus (as PATRICIAN)]
patricide n. = PARRICIDE (esp. with reference to the killing of one's
father). ЬЬpatricidal adj. [LL patricida, patricidium, alt. of
L parricida, parricidium (see PARRICIDE) after pater father]
adj. of or relating to, or based on kinship with, the father or
descent through the male line. [L pater patris father + LINEAL]
patrimony n. (pl. -ies) 1 property inherited from one's father or
ancestor. 2 a heritage. 3 the endowment of a church etc.
ЬЬpatrimonial adj. [ME patrimoigne f. OF patrimoine f. L
patrimonium f. pater patris father]
patriot n. a person who is devoted to and ready to support or defend
his or her country. ЬЬpatriotic adj. patriotically adv.
patriotism n. [F patriote f. LL patriota f. Gk patriotes f.
patrios of one's fathers f. pater patros father]
patristic adj. of the early Christian writers or their work.
ЬЬpatristics n.pl. (usu. treated as sing.). [G patristisch f. L
pater patris father]
patrol n. & v. --n. 1 the act of walking or travelling around an
area, esp. at regular intervals, in order to protect or
supervise it. 2 one or more persons or vehicles assigned or
sent out on patrol, esp. a detachment of guards, police, etc. 3
a a detachment of troops sent out to reconnoitre. b such
reconnaissance. 4 a routine operational voyage of a ship or
aircraft. 5 a routine monitoring of astronomical or other
phenomena. 6 Brit. an official controlling traffic where
children cross the road. 7 a unit of six to eight Scouts or
Guides. --v. (patrolled, patrolling) 1 tr. carry out a patrol
of. 2 intr. act as a patrol. Ьpatrol car a police car used in
patrolling roads and streets. patrol wagon esp. US a police
van for transporting prisoners. ЬЬpatroller n. [F patrouiller
paddle in mud f. patte paw: (n.) f. G Patrolle f. F patrouille]
patrolman n. (pl. -men) US a policeman of the lowest rank.
patrology n. (pl. -ies) 1 the study of the writings of the Fathers of
the Church. 2 a collection of such writings. ЬЬpatrological
adj. patrologist n. [Gk pater patros father]
patron n. (fem. patroness) 1 a person who gives financial or other
support to a person, cause, work of art, etc., esp. one who buys
works of art. 2 a usu. regular customer of a shop etc. 3 Rom.
Antiq. a the former owner of a freed slave. b the protector of
a client. 4 Brit. a person who has the right of presenting a
member of the clergy to a benefice. Ьpatron saint the
protecting or guiding saint of a person, place, etc. [ME f. OF
f. L patronus protector of clients, defender f. pater patris
patronage n. 1 the support, promotion, or encouragement given by a
patron. 2 a patronizing or condescending manner. 3 Rom. Antiq.
the rights and duties or position of a patron. 4 Brit. the
right of presenting a member of the clergy to a benefice etc. 5
a customer's support for a shop etc. [ME f. OF (as PATRON)]
patronal adj. of or relating to a patron saint (the patronal festival).
[F patronal or LL patronalis (as PATRON)]
patronize v.tr. (also -ise) 1 treat condescendingly. 2 act as a patron
towards (a person, cause, artist, etc.); support; encourage. 3
frequent (a shop etc.) as a customer. ЬЬpatronization n.
patronizer n. patronizing adj. patronizingly adv. [obs. F
patroniser or med.L patronizare (as PATRON)]
n. & adj. --n. a name derived from the name of a father or
ancestor, e.g. Johnson, O'Brien, Ivanovich. --adj. (of a name)
so derived. [LL patronymicus f. Gk patronumikos f. patronumos
f. pater patros father + onuma, onoma name]
patroon n. US hist. a landowner with manorial privileges under the
Dutch governments of New York and New Jersey. [Du., = PATRON]
patsy n. (pl. -ies) esp. US sl. a person who is deceived,
ridiculed, tricked, etc. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
patt‚e adj. (of a cross) having almost triangular arms becoming very
broad at the ends so as to form a square. [F f. patte paw]
patten n. hist. a shoe or clog with a raised sole or set on an iron
ring, for walking in mud etc. [ME f. OF patin f. patte paw]
patter(1) v. & n. --v. 1 intr. make a rapid succession of taps, as of
rain on a window-pane. 2 intr. run with quick short steps. 3
tr. cause (water etc.) to patter. --n. a rapid succession of
taps, short light steps, etc. [PAT(1)]
patter(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a the rapid speech used by a comedian or
introduced into a song. b the words of a comic song. 2 the
words used by a person selling or promoting a product; a sales
pitch. 3 the special language or jargon of a profession, class,
etc. --v. 1 tr. repeat (prayers etc.) in a rapid mechanical
way. 2 intr. talk glibly or mechanically. [ME f. pater =
pattern n. & v. --n. 1 a repeated decorative design on wallpaper,
cloth, a carpet, etc. 2 a regular or logical form, order, or
arrangement of parts (behaviour pattern; the pattern of one's
daily life). 3 a model or design, e.g. of a garment, from which
copies can be made. 4 an example of excellence; an ideal; a
model (a pattern of elegance). 5 a wooden or metal figure from
which a mould is made for a casting. 6 a sample (of cloth,
wallpaper, etc.). 7 the marks made by shots, bombs, etc. on a
target or target area. 8 a random combination of shapes or
colours. --v.tr. 1 (usu. foll. by after, on) model (a thing)
on a design etc. 2 decorate with a pattern. Ьpattern bombing
bombing over a large area, not on a single target. [ME patron
(see PATRON): differentiated in sense and spelling since the
patty n. (pl. -ies) 1 a little pie or pastry. 2 US a small flat
cake of minced meat etc. [F pѓt‚ PASTY(1)]
pattypan n. a pan for baking a patty.
patulous adj. 1 (of branches etc.) spreading. 2 formal open; expanded.
ЬЬpatulously adj. patulousness n. [L patulus f. patere be
paua n. 1 a large edible New Zealand shellfish of the genus
Haliotis. 2 its ornamental shell. 3 a fish-hook made from
paucity n. smallness of number or quantity. [ME f. OF paucit‚ or f. L
paucitas f. paucus few]
Pauli exclusion principle
n. Physics the assertion that no two fermions can have the same
quantum number. [W. Pauli, Austrian physicist d. 1958]
Pauline adj. of or relating to St Paul (the Pauline epistles). [ME f.
med.L Paulinus f. L Paulus Paul]
n. a ballroom dance in which partners are exchanged according
to a pattern. [the name of an Amer. naval officer d. 1792]
paulownia n. any Chinese tree of the genus Paulownia, with fragrant
purple flowers. [Anna Paulovna, Russian princess d. 1865]
paunch n. & v. --n. 1 the belly or stomach, esp. when protruding. 2
a ruminant's first stomach; the rumen. 3 Naut. a thick strong
mat. --v.tr. disembowel (an animal). ЬЬpaunchy adj.
(paunchier, paunchiest). paunchiness n. [ME f. AF pa(u)nche,
ONF panche ult. f. L pantex panticis bowels]
pauper n. 1 a person without means; a beggar. 2 hist. a recipient of
poor-law relief. 3 Law a person who may sue in forma pauperis.
ЬЬpauperdom n. pauperism n. pauperize v.tr. (also -ise).
pauperization n. [L, = poor]
pause n. & v. --n. 1 an interval of inaction, esp. when due to
hesitation; a temporary stop. 2 a break in speaking or reading;
a silence. 3 Mus. a mark (3! 3!) over a note or rest that is to
be lengthened by an unspecified amount. --v.intr. 1 make a
pause; wait. 2 (usu. foll. by upon) linger over (a word etc.).
Ьgive pause to cause (a person) to hesitate. [ME f. OF pause or
L pausa f. Gk pausis f. pauo stop]
pavage n. 1 paving. 2 a tax or toll towards the paving of streets.
[ME f. OF f. paver PAVE]
pavane n. (also pavan) hist. 1 a stately dance in elaborate clothing.
2 the music for this. [F pavane f. Sp. pavana, perh. f. pavon
pave v.tr. 1 a cover (a street, floor, etc.) with paving etc. b
cover or strew (a floor etc.) with anything (paved with
flowers). 2 prepare (paved the way for her arrival).
Ьpaving-stone a large flat usu. rectangular piece of stone etc.
for paving. ЬЬpaver n. paving n. pavior n. (also paviour).
[ME f. OF paver, back-form. (as PAVEMENT)]
pav‚ n. 1 a paved street, road, or path. 2 a setting of jewels
placed closely together. [F, past part. of paver: see PAVE]
pavement n. 1 Brit. a paved path for pedestrians at the side of and a
little higher than a road. 2 the covering of a street, floor,
etc., made of tiles, wooden blocks, asphalt, and esp. of
rectangular stones. 3 US a roadway. 4 Zool. a pavement-like
formation of close-set teeth, scales, etc. Ьpavement artist 1
Brit. an artist who draws on paving-stones with coloured chalks,
hoping to be given money by passers-by. 2 US an artist who
displays paintings for sale on a pavement. [ME f. OF f. L
pavimentum f. pavire beat, ram]
pavilion n. & v. --n. 1 Brit. a building at a cricket or other sports
ground used for changing, refreshments, etc. 2 a summerhouse or
other decorative building in a garden. 3 a tent, esp. a large
one with crenellated decorations at a show, fair, etc. 4 a
building used for entertainments. 5 a temporary stand at an
exhibition. 6 a detached building at a hospital. 7 a usu.
highly decorated subdivision of a building. 8 the part of a cut
gemstone below the girdle. --v.tr. enclose in or provide with a
pavilion. [ME f. OF pavillon f. L papilio -onis butterfly,
pavlova n. a meringue cake with cream and fruit. [A. Pavlova, Russ.
ballerina d. 1931]
Pavlovian adj. of or relating to I. P. Pavlov, Russian physiologist d.
1936, or his work, esp. on conditioned reflexes.
pavonine adj. of or like a peacock. [L pavoninus f. pavo -onis
paw n. & v. --n. 1 a foot of an animal having claws or nails. 2
colloq. a person's hand. --v. 1 tr. strike or scrape with a
paw or foot. 2 intr. scrape the ground with a paw or hoof. 3
tr. colloq. fondle awkwardly or indecently. [ME pawe, powe f.
OF poue etc. ult. f. Frank.]
pawl n. & v. --n. 1 a lever with a catch for the teeth of a wheel
or bar. 2 Naut. a short bar used to lock a capstan, windlass,
etc., to prevent it from recoiling. --v.tr. secure (a capstan
etc.) with a pawl. [perh. f. LG & Du. pal, rel. to pal fixed]
pawn(1) n. 1 Chess a piece of the smallest size and value. 2 a person
used by others for their own purposes. [ME f. AF poun, OF peon
f. med.L pedo -onis foot-soldier f. L pes pedis foot: cf. PEON]
pawn(2) v. & n. --v.tr. 1 deposit an object, esp. with a pawnbroker,
as security for money lent. 2 pledge or wager (one's life,
honour, word, etc.). --n. 1 an object left as security for
money etc. lent. 2 anything or any person left with another as
security etc. Ьin (or at) pawn (of an object etc.) held as
security. [ME f. OF pan, pand, pant, pledge, security f. WG]
n. a person who lends money at interest on the security of
personal property pawned. ЬЬpawnbroking n.
pawnshop n. a shop where pawnbroking is conducted.
pawpaw n. (also papaw, papaya) 1 a an elongated melon-shaped fruit
with edible orange flesh and small black seeds. b a tropical
tree, Carica papaya, bearing this and producing a milky sap from
which papain is obtained. 2 US a N. American tree, Asimina
triloba, with purple flowers and edible fruit. [earlier
papay(a) f. Sp. & Port. papaya, of Carib orig.]
PAX abbr. private automatic (telephone) exchange.
pax n. 1 the kiss of peace. 2 (as int.) Brit. sl. a call for a
truce (used esp. by schoolchildren). [ME f. L, = peace]
pay(1) v. & n. --v.tr. (past and past part. paid) 1 (also absol.)
give (a person etc.) what is due for services done, goods
received, debts incurred, etc. (paid him in full; I assure you I
have paid). 2 a give (a usu. specified amount) for work done, a
debt, a ransom, etc. (they pay њ6 an hour). b (foll. by to)
hand over the amount of (a debt, wages, recompense, etc.) to
(paid the money to the assistant). 3 a give, bestow, or express
(attention, respect, a compliment, etc.) (paid them no heed). b
make (a visit, a call, etc.) (paid a visit to their uncle). 4
(also absol.) (of a business, undertaking, attitude, etc.) be
profitable or advantageous to (a person etc.). 5 reward or
punish (can never pay you for what you have done for us; I shall
pay you for that). 6 (usu. as paid adj.) recompense (work,
time, etc.) (paid holiday). 7 (usu. foll. by out, away) let out
(a rope) by slackening it. --n. wages; payment. Ьin the pay of
employed by. paid holidays an agreed holiday period for which
wages are paid as normal. paid-up member (esp. of a trade-union
member) a person who has paid the subscriptions in full.
pay-as-you-earn Brit. the deduction of income tax from wages at
source. pay-bed a hospital bed for private patients. pay-claim
a demand for an increase in pay, esp. by a trade union. pay-day
a day on which payment, esp. of wages, is made or expected to be
made. pay dearly (usu. foll. by for) 1 obtain at a high cost,
great effort, etc. 2 suffer for a wrongdoing etc. pay dirt (or
gravel) US 1 Mineral. ground worth working for ore. 2 a
financially promising situation. pay envelope US = pay-packet.
pay for 1 hand over the price of. 2 bear the cost of. 3 suffer
or be punished for (a fault etc.). pay in pay (money) into a
bank account. paying guest a boarder. pay its (or one's) way
cover costs; not be indebted. pay one's last respects show
respect towards a dead person by attending the funeral. pay off
1 dismiss (workers) with a final payment. 2 colloq. yield good
results; succeed. 3 pay (a debt) in full. 4 (of a ship) turn
to leeward through the movement of the helm. pay-off n. sl. 1
an act of payment. 2 a climax. 3 a final reckoning. pay out
(or back) punish or be revenged on. pay-packet Brit. a packet
or envelope containing an employee's wages. pay phone a
coin-box telephone. pay the piper and call the tune pay for,
and therefore have control over, a proceeding. pay one's
respects make a polite visit. pay station US = pay phone. pay
through the nose colloq. pay much more than a fair price. pay
up pay the full amount, or the full amount of. put paid to
colloq. 1 deal effectively with (a person). 2 terminate (hopes
etc.). ЬЬpayee n. payer n. [ME f. OF paie, payer f. L pacare
appease f. pax pacis peace]
pay(2) v.tr. (past and past part. payed) Naut. smear (a ship) with
pitch, tar, etc. as a defence against wet. [OF peier f. L
picare f. pix picis PITCH(2)]
payable adj. 1 that must be paid; due (payable in April). 2 that may
be paid. 3 (of a mine etc.) profitable.
payback n. 1 a financial return; a reward. 2 the profit from an
investment etc., esp. one equal to the initial outlay. Ьpayback
period the length of time required for an investment to pay for
itself in terms of profits or savings.
PAYE abbr. Brit. pay-as-you-earn.
payload n. 1 the part of an aircraft's load from which revenue is
derived. 2 a the explosive warhead carried by an aircraft or
rocket. b the instruments etc. carried by a spaceship.
paymaster n. 1 an official who pays troops, workmen, etc. 2 a person,
organization, etc., to whom another owes duty or loyalty because
of payment given. 3 (in full Paymaster General) Brit. the
minister at the head of the Treasury department responsible for
payment n. 1 the act or an instance of paying. 2 an amount paid. 3
reward, recompense. [ME f. OF paiement (as PAY(1))]
paynim n. archaic 1 a pagan. 2 a non-Christian, esp. a Muslim. [ME
f. OF pai(e)nime f. eccl.L paganismus heathenism (as PAGAN)]
payola n. esp. US 1 a bribe offered in return for unofficial
promotion of a product etc. in the media. 2 the practice of
such bribery. [PAY(1) + -ola as in Victrola, make of
payroll n. a list of employees receiving regular pay.
paysage n. 1 a rural scene; a landscape. 2 landscape painting. ЬЬ
paysagist n. [F f. pays country: see PEASANT]
PC abbr. 1 (in the UK) police constable. 2 (in the UK) Privy
Counsellor. 3 personal computer.
p.c. abbr. 1 per cent. 2 postcard.
PCB abbr. 1 Computing printed circuit board. 2 Chem.
polychlorinated biphenyl, any of several toxic aromatic
compounds containing two benzene molecules in which hydrogens
have been replaced by chlorine atoms, formed as waste in
pea n. 1 a a hardy climbing plant, Pisum sativum, with seeds
growing in pods and used for food. b its seed. 2 any of
several similar plants (sweet pea; chick-pea). Ьpea-brain
colloq. a stupid or dim-witted person. pea-green bright green.
pea-souper Brit. colloq. a thick yellowish fog. [back-form.
f. PEASE (taken as pl.: cf. CHERRY)]
peace n. 1 a quiet; tranquillity (needs peace to work well). b
mental calm; serenity (peace of mind). 2 a (often attrib.)
freedom from or the cessation of war (peace talks). b (esp.
Peace) a treaty of peace between two States etc. at war. 3
freedom from civil disorder. 4 Eccl. a ritual liturgical
greeting. Ьat peace 1 in a state of friendliness. 2 serene. 3
euphem. dead. hold one's peace keep silence. keep the peace
prevent, or refrain from, strife. make one's peace (often foll.
by with) re-establish friendly relations. make peace bring
about peace; reconcile. the peace (or the queen's peace) peace
existing within a realm; civil order. Peace Corps US an
organization sending young people to work as volunteers in
developing countries. peace-offering 1 a propitiatory or
conciliatory gift. 2 Bibl. an offering presented as a
thanksgiving to God. peace-pipe a tobacco-pipe as a token of
peace among US Indians. [ME f. AF pes, OF pais f. L pax pacis]
peaceable adj. 1 disposed to peace; unwarlike. 2 free from disturbance;
peaceful. ЬЬpeaceableness n. peaceably adv. [ME f. OF
peisible, plaisible f. LL placibilis pleasing f. L placere
peaceful adj. 1 characterized by peace; tranquil. 2 not violating or
infringing peace (peaceful coexistence). 3 belonging to a state
of peace. ЬЬpeacefully adv. peacefulness n.
n. a person who brings about peace. ЬЬpeacemaking n. & adj.
peacetime n. a period when a country is not at war.
peach(1) n. 1 a a round juicy stone-fruit with downy cream or yellow
skin flushed with red. b the tree, Prunus persica, bearing it.
2 the yellowish-pink colour of a peach. 3 colloq. a a person
or thing of superlative quality. b an attractive young woman.
Ьpeach-bloom an oriental porcelain-glaze of reddish pink, usu.
with green markings. peach-blow 1 a delicate purplish-pink
colour. 2 = peach-bloom. peaches and cream (of a complexion)
creamy skin with downy pink cheeks. peach Melba see MELBA.
ЬЬpeachy adj. (peachier, peachiest). peachiness n. [ME f. OF
peche, pesche, f. med.L persica f. L persicum (malum), lit.
peach(2) v. 1 intr. (usu. foll. by against, on) colloq. turn informer;
inform. 2 tr. archaic inform against. [ME f. appeach f. AF
enpecher, OF empechier IMPEACH]
pea-chick n. a young peafowl. [formed as PEACOCK + CHICK(1)]
peacock n. 1 a male peafowl, having brilliant plumage and a tail (with
eyelike markings) that can be expanded erect in display like a
fan. 2 this type of ostentatious display. Ьpeacock blue the
lustrous greenish blue of a peacock's neck. peacock butterfly a
butterfly, Inachis io, with eyelike markings on its wings. [ME
pecock f. OE pea f. L pavo + COCK(1)]
peafowl n. 1 a peacock or peahen. 2 a pheasant of the genus Pavo.
peahen n. a female peafowl.
n. a sailor's short double-breasted overcoat of coarse woollen
cloth. [prob. f. Du. pijjakker f. pij coat of coarse cloth +
jekker jacket: assim. to JACKET]
peak(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a projecting usu. pointed part, esp.: a the
pointed top of a mountain. b a mountain with a peak. c a stiff
brim at the front of a cap. d a pointed beard. e the narrow
part of a ship's hold at the bow or stern (forepeak;
after-peak). f Naut. the upper outer corner of a sail extended
by a gaff. 2 a the highest point in a curve (on the peak of the
wave). b the time of greatest success (in a career etc.). c
the highest point on a graph etc. --v.intr. reach the highest
value, quality, etc. (output peaked in September). Ьpeak hour
the time of the most intense traffic etc. peak-load the maximum
of electric power demand etc. ЬЬpeaked adj. peaky adj.
peakiness n. [prob. back-form. f. peaked var. of dial. picked
peal(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a the loud ringing of a bell or bells, esp. a
series of changes. b a set of bells. 2 a loud repeated sound,
esp. of thunder, laughter, etc. --v. 1 intr. sound forth in a
peal. 2 tr. utter sonorously. 3 tr. ring (bells) in peals.
[ME pele f. apele APPEAL]
peal(2) n. a salmon grilse. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
pean(1) n. Heraldry fur represented as sable spotted with or. [16th
c.: orig. unkn.]
pean(2) US var. of PAEAN.
peanut n. 1 a leguminous plant, Arachis hypogaea, bearing pods that
ripen underground and contain seeds used as food and yielding
oil. 2 the seed of this plant. 3 (in pl.) colloq. a paltry or
trivial thing or amount, esp. of money. Ьpeanut butter a paste
of ground roasted peanuts.
pear n. 1 a yellowish or brownish-green fleshy fruit, tapering
towards the stalk. 2 any of various trees of the genus Pyrus
bearing it, esp. P. communis. Ьpear-drop a small sweet with
the shape of a pear. [OE pere, peru ult. f. L pirum]
pearl(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a (often attrib.) a usu. white or bluish-grey
hard mass formed within the shell of a pearl-oyster or other
bivalve mollusc, highly prized as a gem for its lustre (pearl
necklace). b an imitation of this. c (in pl.) a necklace of
pearls. d = mother-of-pearl (cf. seed-pearl). 2 a precious
thing; the finest example. 3 anything resembling a pearl, e.g.
a dewdrop, tear, etc. --v. 1 tr. poet. a sprinkle with
pearly drops. b make pearly in colour etc. 2 tr. reduce
(barley etc.) to small rounded grains. 3 intr. fish for
pearl-oysters. 4 intr. poet. form pearl-like drops. Ьcast
pearls before swine offer a treasure to a person unable to
appreciate it. pearl ash commercial potassium carbonate. pearl
barley barley reduced to small round grains by grinding. pearl
bulb a translucent electric light bulb. pearl button a button
made of mother-of-pearl or an imitation of it. pearl-diver a
person who dives for pearl-oysters. pearl millet a tall cereal,
Pennisetum typhoides. pearl onion a very small onion used in
pickles. pearl-oyster any of various marine bivalve molluscs of
the genus Pinctada, bearing pearls. ЬЬpearler n. [ME f. OF
perle prob. f. L perna leg (applied to leg-of-mutton-shaped
pearl(2) n. Brit. = PICOT. [var. of PURL(1)]
pearled adj. 1 adorned with pearls. 2 formed into pearl-like drops or
grains. 3 pearl-coloured.
adj. having or producing the appearance of mother-of-pearl.
pearlite var. of PERLITE.
pearlized adj. treated so as to resemble mother-of-pearl.
pearlware n. a fine white glazed earthenware.
pearlwort n. Bot. any small herbaceous plant of the genus Sagina,
inhabiting rocky and sandy areas.
pearly adj. & n. --adj. (pearlier, pearliest) 1 resembling a pearl;
lustrous. 2 containing pearls or mother-of-pearl. 3 adorned
with pearls. --n. (pl. -ies) (in pl.) Brit. 1 pearly kings
and queens. 2 a pearly king's or queen's clothes or pearl
buttons. ЬPearly Gates colloq. the gates of Heaven. pearly
king (or queen) Brit. a London costermonger (or his wife)
wearing clothes covered with pearl buttons. pearly nautilus see
NAUTILUS. ЬЬpearliness n.
pearmain n. a variety of apple with firm white flesh. [ME, = warden
pear, f. OF parmain, permain, prob. ult. f. L parmensis of Parma
peart adj. US lively; cheerful. [var. of PERT]
peasant n. 1 esp. colloq. a countryman or countrywoman; a rustic. 2 a
a worker on the land, esp. a labourer or smallholder. b hist. a
member of an agricultural class dependent on subsistence
farming. 3 derog. a lout; a boorish person. ЬЬpeasantry n.
(pl. -ies). peasanty adj. [ME f. AF paisant, OF pa‹sent,
earlier pa‹sence f. pa‹s country ult. f. L pagus canton]
pease n.pl. archaic peas. Ьpease-pudding boiled split peas (served
esp. with boiled ham). [OE pise pea, pl. pisan, f. LL pisa f.
L pisum f. Gk pison: cf. PEA]
n. a small tube for blowing dried peas through as a toy.
peat n. 1 vegetable matter decomposed in water and partly
carbonized, used for fuel, in horticulture, etc. 2 a cut piece
of this. ЬЬpeaty adj. [ME f. AL peta, perh. f. Celt.: cf.
peatbog n. a bog composed of peat.
peatmoss n. 1 a peatbog. 2 any of various mosses of the genus Sphagnum,
which grow in damp conditions and form peat as they decay.
n. a smooth finely-ribbed satiny fabric of silk or rayon. [F,
= skin of silk]
pebble n. 1 a small smooth stone worn by the action of water. 2 a a
type of colourless transparent rock-crystal used for spectacles.
b a lens of this. c (attrib.) colloq. (of a spectacle-lens)
very thick and convex. 3 an agate or other gem, esp. when found
as a pebble in a stream etc. Ьnot the only pebble on the beach
(esp. of a person) easily replaced. pebble-dash mortar with
pebbles in it used as a coating for external walls. ЬЬpebbly
adj. [OE papel-stan pebble-stone, pyppelripig pebble-stream, of
p.e.c. abbr. photoelectric cell.
pecan n. 1 a pinkish-brown smooth nut with an edible kernel. 2 a
hickory, Carya illinoensis, of the southern US, producing this.
[earlier paccan, of Algonquian orig.]
peccable adj. formal liable to sin. ЬЬpeccability n. [F, f. med.L
peccabilis f. peccare sin]
n. (pl. -oes or -os) a trifling offence; a venial sin. [Sp.
pecadillo, dimin. of pecado sin f. L (as PECCANT)]
peccant adj. formal 1 sinning. 2 inducing disease; morbid. ЬЬpeccancy
n. [F peccant or L peccare sin]
peccary n. (pl. -ies) any American wild pig of the family Tayassuidae,
esp. Tayassu tajacu and T. pecari. [Carib pakira]
peccavi int. & n. --int. expressing guilt. --n. (pl. peccavis) a
confession of guilt. [L, = I have sinned]
n. = peach Melba (see MELBA). [F]
peck(1) v. & n. --v.tr. 1 strike or bite (something) with a beak. 2
kiss (esp. a person's cheek) hastily or perfunctorily. 3 a make
(a hole) by pecking. b (foll. by out, off) remove or pluck out
by pecking. 4 colloq. (also absol.) eat (food) listlessly;
nibble at. 5 mark with short strokes. 6 (usu. foll. by up,
down) break with a pick etc. --n. 1 a a stroke or bite with a
beak. b a mark made by this. 2 a hasty or perfunctory kiss. 3
sl. food. Ьpeck at 1 eat (food) listlessly; nibble. 2 carp at;
nag. 3 strike (a thing) repeatedly with a beak. pecking (or
peck) order a social hierarchy, orig. as observed among hens.
[ME prob. f. MLG pekken, of unkn. orig.]
peck(2) n. 1 a measure of capacity for dry goods, equal to 2 gallons or
8 quarts. 2 a vessel used to contain this amount. Ьa peck of a
large number or amount of (troubles, dirt, etc.). [ME f. AF
pek, of unkn. orig.]
pecker n. 1 a bird that pecks (woodpecker). 2 US coarse sl. the
penis. Ьkeep your pecker up Brit. colloq. remain cheerful.
peckish adj. colloq. 1 hungry. 2 US irritable.
pecorino n. (pl. -os) an Italian cheese made from ewes' milk. [It. f.
pecorino (adj.) of ewes f. pecora sheep]
pecten n. (pl. pectens or pectines) Zool. 1 a comblike structure of
various kinds in animal bodies. 2 any bivalve mollusc of the
genus Pecten. Also called SCALLOP. ЬЬpectinate adj. pectinated
adj. pectination n. (all in sense 1). [L pecten pectinis comb]
pectin n. Biochem. any of various soluble gelatinous polysaccharides
found in ripe fruits etc. and used as a setting agent in jams
and jellies. ЬЬpectic adj. [Gk pektos congealed f. pegnumi
pectoral adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to the breast or chest;
thoracic (pectoral fin; pectoral muscle). 2 worn on the chest
(pectoral cross). --n. 1 (esp. in pl.) a pectoral muscle. 2 a
pectoral fin. 3 an ornamental breastplate esp. of a Jewish high
priest. [ME f. OF f. L pectorale (n.), pectoralis (adj.) f.
pectus pectoris breast, chest]
pectose n. Biochem. an insoluble polysaccharide derivative found in
unripe fruits and converted into pectin by ripening, heating,
etc. [pectic (see PECTIN) + -OSE(2)]
peculate v.tr. & intr. embezzle (money). ЬЬpeculation n. peculator n.
[L peculari rel. to peculium: see PECULIAR]
peculiar adj. & n. --adj. 1 strange; odd; unusual (a peculiar flavour;
is a little peculiar). 2 a (usu. foll. by to) belonging
exclusively (a fashion peculiar to the time). b belonging to
the individual (in their own peculiar way). 3 particular;
special (a point of peculiar interest). --n. 1 a peculiar
property, privilege, etc. 2 a parish or church exempt from the
jurisdiction of the diocese in which it lies. [ME f. L
peculiaris of private property f. peculium f. pecu cattle]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a idiosyncrasy; unusualness; oddity. b an
instance of this. 2 a characteristic or habit (meanness is his
peculiarity). 3 the state of being peculiar.
adv. 1 more than usually; especially (peculiarly annoying). 2
oddly. 3 as regards oneself alone; individually (does not
affect him peculiarly).
pecuniary adj. 1 of, concerning, or consisting of, money (pecuniary aid;
pecuniary considerations). 2 (of an offence) entailing a money
penalty or fine. ЬЬpecuniarily adv. [L pecuniarius f. pecunia
money f. pecu cattle]
pedagogue n. archaic or derog. a schoolmaster; a teacher. ЬЬpedagogic
adj. pedagogical adj. pedagogically adv. pedagogism n. (also
pedagoguism). [ME f. L paedagogus f. Gk paidagogos f. pais
paidos boy + agogos guide]
pedagogy n. the science of teaching. ЬЬpedagogics n. [F p‚dagogie f.
Gk paidagogia (as PEDAGOGUE)]
pedal(1) n. & v. --n. 1 any of several types of foot-operated levers or
controls for mechanisms, esp.: a either of a pair of levers for
transmitting power to a bicycle or tricycle wheel etc. b any of
the foot-operated controls in a motor vehicle. c any of the
foot-operated keys of an organ used for playing notes, or for
drawing out several stops at once etc. d each of the
foot-levers on a piano etc. for making the tone fuller or
softer. e each of the foot-levers on a harp for altering the
pitch of the strings. 2 a note sustained in one part, usu. the
bass, through successive harmonies, some of which are
independent of it. --v. (pedalled, pedalling; US pedaled,
pedaling) 1 intr. operate a cycle, organ, etc. by using the
pedals. 2 tr. work (a bicycle etc.) with the pedals. Ьpedal
cycle a bicycle. [F p‚dale f. It. pedale f. L (as PEDAL(2))]
pedal(2) adj. Zool. of the foot or feet (esp. of a mollusc). [L
pedalis f. pes pedis foot]
pedalo n. (pl. -os) a pedal-operated pleasure-boat.
pedant n. 1 a person who insists on strict adherence to formal rules
or literal meaning at the expense of a wider view. 2 a person
who rates academic learning or technical knowledge above
everything. 3 a person who is obsessed by a theory; a
doctrinaire. ЬЬpedantic adj. pedantically adv. pedantize
v.intr. & tr. (also -ise). pedantry n. (pl. -ies). [F
p‚dant f. It. pedante: app. formed as PEDAGOGUE]
pedate adj. 1 Zool. having feet. 2 Bot. (of a leaf) having divisions
like toes or a bird's claws. [L pedatus f. pes pedis foot]
peddle v. 1 tr. a sell (goods), esp. in small quantities, as a
pedlar. b advocate or promote (ideas, a philosophy, a way of
life, etc.). 2 tr. sell (drugs) illegally. 3 intr. engage in
selling, esp. as a pedlar. [back-form. f. PEDLAR]
peddler n. 1 a person who sells drugs illegally. 2 US var. of PEDLAR.
pederast n. (also paederast) a man who performs pederasty.
pederasty n. (also paederasty) anal intercourse between a man and a boy.
[mod.L paederastia f. Gk paiderastia f. pais paidos boy +
pedestal n. & v. --n. 1 a base supporting a column or pillar. 2 the
stone etc. base of a statue etc. 3 either of the two supports
of a knee-hole desk or table, usu. containing drawers. --v.tr.
(pedestalled, pedestalling; US pedestaled, pedestaling) set or
support on a pedestal. Ьpedestal table a table with a single
central support. put (or set) on a pedestal regard as highly
admirable, important, etc.; venerate. [F pi‚destal f. It.
piedestallo f. piЉ foot f. L pes pedis + di of + stallo
n. & adj. --n. 1 (often attrib.) a person who is walking, esp.
in a town (pedestrian crossing). 2 a person who walks
competitively. --adj. prosaic; dull; uninspired. Ьpedestrian
crossing Brit. a specified part of a road where pedestrians
have right of way to cross. pedestrian precinct an area of a
town restricted to pedestrians. ЬЬpedestrianism n.
pedestrianize v.tr. & intr. (also -ise). pedestrianization n.
[F p‚destre or L pedester -tris]
US var. of PAEDIATRICS.
pedicab n. a pedal-operated rickshaw.
pedicel n. (also pedicle) 1 a small (esp. subordinate) stalklike
structure in a plant or animal (cf. PEDUNCLE). 2 Surgery part
of a graft left temporarily attached to its original site.
ЬЬpedicellate adj. pediculate adj. [mod.L pedicellus & L
pediculus dimin. of pes pedis foot]
pedicular adj. (also pediculous) infested with lice. ЬЬpediculosis n.
[L pedicularis, -losus f. pediculus louse]
pedicure n. & v. --n. 1 the care or treatment of the feet, esp. of the
toenails. 2 a person practising this, esp. professionally.
--v.tr. treat (the feet) by removing corns etc. [F p‚dicure f.
L pes pedis foot + curare: see CURE]
pedigree n. 1 (often attrib.) a recorded line of descent of a person or
esp. a pure-bred domestic or pet animal. 2 the derivation of a
word. 3 a genealogical table. 4 colloq. the 'life history' of
a person, thing, idea, etc. ЬЬpedigreed adj. [ME pedegru etc.
f. AF f. OF pie de grue (unrecorded) crane's foot, a mark
denoting succession in pedigrees]
pediment n. 1 a the triangular front part of a building in Grecian
style, surmounting esp. a portico of columns. b a similar part
of a building in Roman or Renaissance style. 2 Geol. a broad
flattish rock surface at the foot of a mountain slope.
ЬЬpedimental adj. pedimented adj. [earlier pedament, periment,
perh. corrupt. of PYRAMID]
pedlar n. (US peddler) 1 a travelling seller of small items esp.
carried in a pack etc. 2 (usu. foll. by of) a retailer of
gossip etc. ЬЬpedlary n. [ME pedlere alt. of pedder f. ped
pannier, of unkn. orig.]
pedo- comb. form US var. of PAEDO-.
pedology n. the scientific study of soil, esp. its formation, nature,
and classification. ЬЬpedological adj. pedologist n. [Russ.
pedologiya f. Gk pedon ground]
pedometer n. an instrument for estimating the distance travelled on foot
by recording the number of steps taken. [F p‚domЉtre f. L pes
peduncle n. 1 Bot. the stalk of a flower, fruit, or cluster, esp. a main
stalk bearing a solitary flower or subordinate stalks (cf.
PEDICEL). 2 Zool. a stalklike projection in an animal body.
ЬЬpeduncular adj. pedunculate adj. [mod.L pedunculus f. L pes
pedis foot: see -UNCLE]
pee v. & n. colloq. --v. (pees, peed) 1 intr. urinate. 2 tr.
pass (urine, blood, etc.) from the bladder. --n. 1 urination.
2 urine. [initial letter of PISS]
peek v. & n. --v.intr. (usu. foll. by in, out, at) look quickly or
slyly; peep. --n. a quick or sly look. [ME pike, pyke, of
peekaboo adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a garment etc.) transparent or having a
pattern of small holes. 2 (of a hairstyle) concealing one eye
with a fringe or wave. --n. US = BO-PEEP. [PEEK + BOO]
peel(1) v. & n. --v. 1 tr. a strip the skin, rind, bark, wrapping,
etc. from (a fruit, vegetable, tree, etc.). b (usu. foll. by
off) strip (skin, peel, wrapping, etc.) from a fruit etc. 2
intr. a (of a tree, an animal's or person's body, a painted
surface, etc.) become bare of bark, skin, paint, etc. b (often
foll. by off) (of bark, a person's skin, paint, etc.) flake off.
3 intr. (often foll. by off) colloq. (of a person) strip for
exercise etc. 4 tr. Croquet send (another player's ball)
through the hoops. --n. the outer covering of a fruit,
vegetable, prawn, etc.; rind. Ьpeel off 1 veer away and detach
oneself from a group of marchers, a formation of aircraft, etc.
2 colloq. strip off one's clothes. ЬЬpeeler n. (in sense 1 of
v.). [earlier pill, pele (orig. = plunder) f. ME pilien etc. f.
OE pilian (unrecorded) f. L pilare f. pilus hair]
peel(2) n. a shovel, esp. a baker's shovel for bringing loaves etc.
into or out of an oven. [ME & OF pele f. L pala, rel. to
peel(3) n. (also pele) hist. a small square tower built in the 16th c.
in the border counties of England and Scotland for defence
against raids. [ME pel stake, palisade, f. AF & OF pel f. L
palus stake: cf. PALE(2)]
peeler n. Brit. archaic sl. or dial. a policeman. [Sir Robert Peel,
Engl. statesman d. 1850]
peeling n. a strip of the outer skin of a vegetable, fruit, etc.
peen n. & v. --n. the wedge-shaped or thin or curved end of a
hammer-head (opp. FACE n. 5a). --v.tr. 1 hammer with a peen.
2 treat (sheet metal) with a stream of metal shot in order to
shape it. [17th c.: also pane, app. f. F panne f. Du. pen f. L
peep(1) v. & n. --v.intr. 1 (usu. foll. by at, in, out, into) look
through a narrow opening; look furtively. 2 (usu. foll. by out)
a (of daylight, a flower beginning to bloom, etc.) come slowly
into view; emerge. b (of a quality etc.) show itself
unconsciously. --n. 1 a furtive or peering glance. 2 the
first appearance (at peep of day). Ьpeep-bo = BO-PEEP.
peep-hole a small hole that may be looked through. peeping Tom
a furtive voyeur. peep-show a small exhibition of pictures etc.
viewed through a lens or hole set into a box etc. peep-sight
the aperture backsight of some rifles. peep-toe (or -toed) (of
a shoe) leaving the toes partly bare. [ME: cf. PEEK, PEER(1)]
peep(2) v. & n. --v.intr. make a shrill feeble sound as of young birds,
mice, etc.; squeak; chirp. --n. such a sound. [imit.: cf.
peeper n. 1 a person who peeps. 2 colloq. an eye. 3 US sl. a private
peepul n. (also pipal) = BO-TREE. [Hindi pipal f. Skr. pippala]
peer(1) v.intr. 1 (usu. foll. by into, at, etc.) look keenly or with
difficulty (peered into the fog). 2 appear; peep out. 3
archaic come into view. [var. of pire, LG piren; perh. partly
peer(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a (fem. peeress) a member of one of the
degrees of the nobility in Britain, i.e. a duke, marquis, earl,
viscount, or baron. b a noble of any country. 2 a person who
is equal in ability, standing, rank, or value; a contemporary
(tried by a jury of his peers). --v.intr. & tr. (usu. foll. by
with) rank or cause to rank equally. Ьpeer group a group of
people of the same age, status, interests, etc. peer of the
realm (or the United Kingdom) any of the class of peers whose
adult members may all sit in the House of Lords. ЬЬpeerless
adj. [ME f. AF & OF pe(e)r, perer f. LL pariare f. L par equal]
peerage n. 1 peers as a class; the nobility. 2 the rank of peer or
peeress (was given a life peerage). 3 a book containing a list
of peers with their genealogy etc.
peeve v. & n. colloq. --v.tr. (usu. as peeved adj.) annoy; vex;
irritate. --n. 1 a cause of annoyance. 2 vexation.
[back-form. f. PEEVISH]
peevish adj. querulous; irritable. ЬЬpeevishly adv. peevishness n.
[ME, = foolish, mad, spiteful, etc., of unkn. orig.]
peewit n. (also pewit) 1 a lapwing. 2 its cry. [imit.]
peg n. & v. --n. 1 a a usu. cylindrical pin or bolt of wood or
metal, often tapered at one end, and used for holding esp. two
things together. b such a peg attached to a wall etc. and used
for hanging garments etc. on. c a peg driven into the ground
and attached to a rope for holding up a tent. d a bung for
stoppering a cask etc. e each of several pegs used to tighten
or loosen the strings of a violin etc. f a small peg,
matchstick, etc. stuck into holes in a board for calculating the
scores at cribbage. 2 Brit. = clothes-peg. 3 Brit. a measure
of spirits or wine. --v.tr. (pegged, pegging) 1 (usu. foll. by
down, in, out, etc.) fix (a thing) with a peg. 2 Econ. a
stabilize (prices, wages, exchange rates, etc.). b prevent the
price of (stock etc.) from falling or rising by freely buying or
selling at a given price. 3 mark (the score) with pegs on a
cribbage-board. Ьoff the peg (of clothes) ready-made. peg away
(often foll. by at) work consistently and esp. for a long
period. peg down restrict (a person etc.) to rules, a
commitment, etc. peg-leg 1 an artificial leg. 2 a person with
an artificial leg. peg on = peg away. peg out 1 sl. die. 2
score the winning point at cribbage. 3 Croquet hit the peg with
the ball as the final stroke in a game. 4 mark the boundaries
of (land etc.). a peg to hang an idea etc. on a suitable
occasion or pretext etc. for it. a round (or square) peg in a
square (or round) hole a misfit. take a person down a peg or
two humble a person. [ME, prob. of LG or Du. orig.: cf. MDu.
pegge, Du. dial. peg, LG pigge]
pegboard n. a board having a regular pattern of small holes for pegs,
used for commercial displays, games, etc.
pegmatite n. a coarsely crystalline type of granite. [Gk pegma -atos
thing joined together f. pegnumi fasten]
pegtop n. a pear-shaped spinning-top with a metal pin or peg forming
the point, spun by the rapid uncoiling of a string wound round
Pehlevi var. of PAHLAVI.
PEI abbr. Prince Edward Island.
peignoir n. a woman's loose dressing-gown. [F f. peigner to comb]
adj. & n. --adj. (of a word, an expression, etc.) depreciatory.
--n. a depreciatory word. ЬЬpejoratively adv. [F p‚joratif
-ive f. LL pejorare make worse (pejor)]
pekan n. a N. American flesh-eating mammal, Martes pennanti, valued
for its fur. [Can.F f. Abnaki p‚kan‚]
peke n. colloq. a Pekingese dog. [abbr.]
Pekingese n. & adj. (also Pekinese) --n. (pl. same) 1 a a lap-dog of a
short-legged breed with long hair and a snub nose. b this
breed. 2 a citizen of Peking (Beijing) in China. 3 the form of
the Chinese language used in Beijing. --adj. of or concerning
Beijing or its language or citizens.
pekoe n. a superior kind of black tea. [Chin. dial. pek- ho f. pek
white + ho down, leaves being picked young with down on them]
pelage n. the fur, hair, wool, etc. of a mammal. [F f. poil hair]
Pelagian adj. & n. --adj. of or concerning the monk Pelagius (4th-5th
c.) or his theory denying the doctrine of original sin. --n. a
follower of Pelagius. ЬЬPelagianism n. [eccl.L Pelagianus f.
pelagian adj. & n. --adj. inhabiting the open sea. --n. an inhabitant
of the open sea. [L pelagius f. Gk pelagios of the sea
pelagic adj. 1 of or performed on the open sea (pelagic whaling). 2
(of marine life) belonging to the upper layers of the open sea.
[L pelagicus f. Gk pelagikos (as PELAGIAN)]
n. any plant of the genus Pelargonium, with red, pink, or white
flowers and fragrant leaves. Also called GERANIUM. [mod.L f. Gk
pelargos stork: cf. GERANIUM]
pele var. of PEEL(3).
pelf n. derog. or joc. money; wealth. [ME f. ONF f. OF pelfre,
peufre spoils, of unkn. orig.: cf. PILFER]
pelham n. a horse's bit combining a curb and a snaffle. [the surname
pelican n. any large gregarious waterfowl of the family Pelecanidae
with a large bill and a pouch in the throat for storing fish.
Ьpelican crossing (in the UK) a pedestrian crossing with traffic
lights operated by pedestrians. [OE pellican & OF pelican f. LL
pelicanus f. Gk pelekan prob. f. pelekus axe, with ref. to its
pelisse n. hist. 1 a woman's cloak with armholes or sleeves, reaching
to the ankles. 2 a fur-lined cloak, esp. as part of a hussar's
uniform. [F f. med.L pellicia (vestis) (garment) of fur f.
pelite n. a rock composed of claylike sediment. [Gk pelos clay, mud]
pellagra n. a disease caused by deficiency of nicotinic acid,
characterized by cracking of the skin and often resulting in
insanity. ЬЬpellagrous adj. [It. f. pelle skin, after
pellet n. & v. --n. 1 a small compressed ball of paper, bread, etc.
2 a pill. 3 a a small mass of bones, feathers, etc.
regurgitated by a bird of prey. b a small hard piece of animal,
usu. rodent, excreta. 4 a a piece of small shot. b an
imitation bullet for a toy gun. --v.tr. (pelleted, pelleting)
1 make into a pellet or pellets. 2 hit with (esp. paper)
pellets. ЬЬpelletize v.tr. (also -ise). [ME f. OF pelote f. L
pellicle n. a thin skin, membrane, or film. ЬЬpellicular adj. [F
pellicule f. L pellicula, dimin. of pellis skin]
pellitory n. any of several wild plants, esp.: 1 (in full pellitory of
Spain) a composite plant, Anacyclus pyrethrum, with a
pungent-flavoured root, used as a local irritant etc. 2 (in
full pellitory of the wall) a low bushy plant, Parietaria
judaica, with greenish flowers growing on or at the foot of
walls. [(sense 1) alt. f. ME f. OF peletre, peretre f. L
pyrethrum f. Gk purethron feverfew: (sense 2) ult. f. OF
paritaire f. LL parietaria f. L paries -etis wall]
pell-mell adv., adj., & n. --adv. 1 headlong, recklessly (rushed
pell-mell out of the room). 2 in disorder or confusion (stuffed
the papers together pell-mell). --adj. confused, tumultous.
--n. confusion; a mixture. [F p€le-m€le, OF pesle mesle, mesle
pesle, etc., redupl. of mesle f. mesler mix]
Pelmanism n. 1 a system of memory-training orig. devised by the Pelman
Institute. 2 a card-game based on this. ЬЬPelmanize v.tr.
pelmet n. a narrow border of cloth, wood, etc. above esp. a window,
concealing the curtain rail. [prob. f. F PALMETTE]
pelorus n. a sighting device like a ship's compass for taking bearings.
[perh. f. Pelorus, reputed name of Hannibal's pilot]
pelota n. a Basque or Spanish game played in a walled court with a
ball and basket-like rackets attached to the hand. [Sp., =
ball, augment. of pella f. L pila]
pelt(1) v. & n. --v. 1 tr. (usu. foll. by with) a hurl many small
missiles at. b strike repeatedly with missiles. c assail (a
person etc.) with insults, abuse, etc. 2 intr. (usu. foll. by
down) (of rain etc.) fall quickly and torrentially. 3 intr. run
fast. 4 intr. (often foll. by at) fire repeatedly. --n. the
act or an instance of pelting. Ьat full pelt as fast as
possible. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
pelt(2) n. 1 the undressed skin of a fur-bearing mammal. 2 the skin of
a sheep, goat, etc. with short wool, or stripped ready for
tanning. 3 joc. the human skin. ЬЬpeltry n. [ME f. obs.
pellet skin, dimin. of pel f. AF pell, OF pel, or back-form. f.
peltry, AF pelterie, OF peleterie f. peletier furrier, ult. f.
L pellis skin]
pelta n. (pl. peltae) 1 a small light shield used by the ancient
Greeks, Romans, etc. 2 Bot. a shieldlike structure. ЬЬpeltate
adj. [L f. Gk pelte]
pelvic adj. of or relating to the pelvis. Ьpelvic girdle the bony or
cartilaginous structure in vertebrates to which the posterior
limbs are attached.
pelvis n. (pl. pelvises or pelves) 1 a basin-shaped cavity at the
lower end of the torso of most vertebrates, formed from the
innominate bone with the sacrum and other vertebrae. 2 the
basin-like cavity of the kidney. [L, = basin]
Pembs. abbr. Pembrokeshire (a former county in Wales).
pemmican n. 1 a cake of dried pounded meat mixed with melted fat, orig.
made by N. American Indians. 2 beef so treated and flavoured
with currants etc. for use by Arctic travellers etc. [Cree
pimecan f. pime fat]
pemphigus n. Med. the formation of watery blisters or eruptions on the
skin. ЬЬpemphigoid adj. pemphigous adj. [mod.L f. Gk pemphix
PEN abbr. International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors,
Essayists, and Novelists.
Pen. abbr. Peninsula.
pen(1) n. & v. --n. 1 an instrument for writing or drawing with ink,
orig. consisting of a shaft with a sharpened quill or metal nib,
now more widely applied. 2 a (usu. prec. by the) the occupation
of writing. b a style of writing. 3 Zool. the internal
feather-shaped cartilaginous shell of certain cuttlefish, esp.
squid. --v.tr. (penned, penning) 1 write. 2 compose and
write. Ьpen and ink n. 1 the instruments of writing. 2
writing. pen-and-ink adj. drawn or written with ink.
pen-feather a quill-feather of a bird's wing. pen-friend a
friend communicated with by letter only. pen-light a small
electric torch shaped like a fountain-pen. pen-name a literary
pseudonym. pen-pal colloq. = pen-friend. pen-pusher colloq.
derog. a clerical worker. pen-pushing colloq. derog.
clerical work. put pen to paper begin writing. [ME f. OF penne
f. L penna feather]
pen(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a small enclosure for cows, sheep, poultry,
etc. 2 a place of confinement. 3 an enclosure for sheltering
submarines. 4 a Jamaican farm or plantation. --v.tr. (penned,
penning) (often foll. by in, up) enclose or shut in a pen. [OE
penn, of unkn. orig.]
pen(3) n. a female swan. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
pen(4) n. US sl. = PENITENTIARY n. 1. [abbr.]
penal adj. 1 a of or concerning punishment or its infliction (penal
laws; a penal sentence; a penal colony). b (of an offence)
punishable, esp. by law. 2 extremely severe (penal taxation).
Ьpenal servitude hist. imprisonment with compulsory labour.
ЬЬpenally adv. [ME f. OF penal or L poenalis f. poena PAIN]
penalize v.tr. (also -ise) 1 subject (a person) to a penalty or
comparative disadvantage. 2 make or declare (an action) penal.
penalty n. (pl. -ies) 1 a a punishment, esp. a fine, for a breach of
law, contract, etc. b a fine paid. 2 a disadvantage, loss,
etc., esp. as a result of one's own actions (paid the penalty
for his carelessness). 3 a a disadvantage imposed on a
competitor or side in a game etc. for a breach of the rules etc.
b (attrib.) awarded against a side incurring a penalty (penalty
kick; penalty goal). 4 Bridge etc. points gained by opponents
when a contract is not fulfilled. Ьpenalty area Football the
ground in front of the goal in which a foul by defenders
involves the award of a penalty kick. penalty box Ice Hockey an
area reserved for penalized players and some officials. the
penalty of a disadvantage resulting from (a quality etc.).
penalty rate Austral. an increased rate of pay for overtime.
under (or on) penalty of under the threat of (dismissal etc.).
[AF penalte (unrecorded), F p‚nalit‚ f. med.L penalitas (as
penance n. & v. --n. 1 an act of self-punishment as reparation for
guilt. 2 a (in the RC and Orthodox Church) a sacrament
including confession of and absolution for a sin. b a penalty
imposed esp. by a priest, or undertaken voluntarily, for a sin.
--v.tr. impose a penance on. Ьdo penance perform a penance.
[ME f. OF f. L paenitentia (as PENITENT)]
adj. almost ringlike. [L paene almost + ANNULAR]
penates n.pl. (in Roman mythology) the household gods, esp. of the
storeroom (see LARES). [L f. penus provision of food]
pence pl. of PENNY.
penchant n. an inclination or liking (has a penchant for old films).
[F, pres. part. of pencher incline]
pencil n. & v. --n. 1 (often attrib.) a an instrument for writing or
drawing, usu. consisting of a thin rod of graphite etc. enclosed
in a wooden cylinder (a pencil sketch). b a similar instrument
with a metal or plastic cover and retractable lead. c a
cosmetic in pencil form. 2 (attrib.) resembling a pencil in
shape (pencil skirt). 3 Optics a set of rays meeting at a
point. 4 Geom. a figure formed by a set of straight lines
meeting at a point. 5 a draughtsman's art or style. --v.tr.
(pencilled, pencilling; US penciled, penciling) 1 tint or mark
with or as if with a pencil. 2 (usu. foll. by in) a write, esp.
tentatively or provisionally (have pencilled in the 29th for our
meeting). b (esp. as pencilled adj.) fill (an area) with soft
pencil strokes (pencilled in her eyebrows). Ьpencil-case a
container for pencils etc. pencil-sharpener a device for
sharpening a pencil by rotating it against a cutting edge.
ЬЬpenciller n. [ME f. OF pincel ult. f. L penicillum
paintbrush, dimin. of peniculus brush, dimin. of penis tail]
pendant n. (also pendent) 1 a hanging jewel etc., esp. one attached to
a necklace, bracelet, etc. 2 a light fitting, ornament, etc.,
hanging from a ceiling. 3 Naut. a a short rope hanging from
the head of a mast etc., used for attaching tackles. b =
PENNANT 1. 4 the shank and ring of a pocket-watch by which it
is suspended. 5 (usu. foll. by to) a match, companion,
parallel, complement, etc. [ME f. OF f. pendre hang f. L
pendent adj. (also pendant) 1 a hanging. b overhanging. 2 undecided;
pending. 3 Gram. (esp. of a sentence) incomplete; not having a
finite verb (pendent nominative). ЬЬpendency n. [ME (as
adv. Law during the progress of a suit. [L]
n. Archit. a curved triangle of vaulting formed by the
intersection of a dome with its supporting arches. [F pendentif
-ive (adj.) (as PENDANT)]
pending adj. & prep. --predic.adj. 1 awaiting decision or settlement,
undecided (a settlement was pending). 2 about to come into
existence (patent pending). --prep. 1 during (pending these
negotiations). 2 until (pending his return). Ьpending-tray a
tray for documents, letters, etc., awaiting attention. [after F
pendant (see PENDENT)]
pendragon n. hist. an ancient British or Welsh prince (often as a
title). [Welsh, = chief war-leader, f. pen head + dragon
penduline adj. 1 (of a nest) suspended. 2 (of a bird) of a kind that
builds such a nest. [F (as PENDULOUS)]
pendulum n. a weight suspended so as to swing freely, esp. a rod with a
weighted end regulating the movement of a clock's works. Ьswing
of the pendulum the tendency of public opinion to oscillate
between extremes, esp. between political parties. [L neut. adj.
peneplain n. Geol. a fairly flat area of land produced by erosion. [L
paene almost + PLAIN(1)]
n.pl. 1 innermost shrines or recesses. 2 secret or hidden
parts; mysteries. [L, neut. pl. of penetralis interior (as
penetrate v. 1 tr. a find access into or through, esp. forcibly. b
(usu. foll. by with) imbue (a person or thing) with; permeate.
2 tr. see into, find out, or discern (a person's mind, the
truth, a meaning, etc.). 3 tr. see through (darkness, fog,
etc.) (could not penetrate the gloom). 4 intr. be absorbed by
the mind (my hint did not penetrate). 5 tr. (as penetrating
adj.) a having or suggesting sensitivity or insight (a
penetrating remark). b (of a voice etc.) easily heard through
or above other sounds; piercing. 6 tr. (of a man) put the penis
into the vagina of (a woman). 7 intr. (usu. foll. by into,
through, to) make a way. ЬЬpenetrable adj. penetrability n.
penetrant adj. & n. penetratingly adv. penetration n.
penetrative adj. penetrator n. [L penetrare place or enter
within f. penitus interior]
penguin n. any flightless sea bird of the family Spheniscidae of the
southern hemisphere, with black upper-parts and white
under-parts, and wings developed into scaly flippers for
swimming underwater. [16th c., orig. = great auk: orig. unkn.]
penholder n. the esp. wooden shaft of a pen with a metal nib.
adj. Biol. 1 having or forming a small tuft or tufts. 2
marked with streaks as of a pencil or brush. [L penicillum: see
n. any of various antibiotics produced naturally by moulds of
the genus Penicillium, or synthetically, and able to prevent the
growth of certain disease-causing bacteria. [mod.L Penicillium
genus name f. L penicillum: see PENCIL]
penile adj. of or concerning the penis. [mod.L penilis]
penillion pl. of PENNILL.
peninsula n. a piece of land almost surrounded by water or projecting far
into a sea or lake etc. ЬЬpeninsular adj. [L paeninsula f.
paene almost + insula island]
penis n. (pl. penises or penes) 1 the male organ of copulation and
(in mammals) urination. 2 the male copulatory organ in lower
vertebrates. [L, = tail, penis]
penitent adj. & n. --adj. regretting and wishing to atone for sins etc.;
repentant. --n. 1 a repentant sinner. 2 a person doing
penance under the direction of a confessor. 3 (in pl.) various
RC orders associated for mutual discipline etc. ЬЬpenitence n.
penitently adv. [ME f. OF f. L paenitens f. paenitere repent]
adj. of or concerning penitence or penance. Ьpenitential
psalms seven psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143) expressing
penitence. ЬЬpenitentially adv. [OF penitencial f. LL
paenitentialis f. paenitentia penitence (as PENITENT)]
n. & adj. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 US a reformatory prison. 2 an
office in the papal court deciding questions of penance,
dispensations, etc. --adj. 1 of or concerning penance. 2 of
or concerning reformatory treatment. 3 US (of an offence)
making a culprit liable to a prison sentence. ЬGrand
Penitentiary a cardinal presiding over the penitentiary. [ME f.
med.L paenitentiarius (adj. & n.) (as PENITENT)]
penknife n. a small folding knife, esp. for carrying in a pocket.
penman n. (pl. -men) 1 a person who writes by hand with a specified
skill (a good penman). 2 an author. ЬЬpenmanship n.
Penn. abbr. (also Penna.) Pennsylvania.
pennant n. 1 Naut. a tapering flag, esp. that flown at the masthead of
a vessel in commission. 2 = PENDANT 3a. 3 = PENNON. 4 US a
flag denoting a sports championship etc. [blend of PENDANT and
penniless adj. having no money; destitute. ЬЬpennilessly adv.
pennill n. (pl. penillion) (usu. in pl.) an improvised stanza sung to
a harp accompaniment at an eisteddfod etc. [Welsh f. penn
pennon n. 1 a long narrow flag, triangular or swallow-tailed, esp. as
the military ensign of lancer regiments. 2 Naut. a long pointed
streamer on a ship. 3 a flag. ЬЬpennoned adj. [ME f. OF f. L
penn'orth var. of PENNYWORTH.
n. 1 a dialect of High German spoken by descendants of
17th-18th-c. German and Swiss immigrants to Pennsylvania etc.
2 (as pl.) these settlers or their descendants.
n. & adj. --n. 1 a native or inhabitant of Pennsylvania, a
State of the US. 2 (prec. by the) esp. US Geol. the upper
Carboniferous period or system. --adj. 1 of or relating to
Pennsylvania. 2 esp. US Geol. of or relating to the upper
Carboniferous period or system.
penny n. (pl. for separate coins -ies, for a sum of money pence) 1 a
British coin and monetary unit equal to one-hundredth of a
pound. °Abbr.: p. 2 hist. a former British bronze coin and
monetary unit equal to one-two-hundred-and-fortieth of a pound.
°Abbr.: d. 3 US colloq. a one-cent coin. 4 Bibl. a denarius.
Ьin for a penny, in for a pound an exhortation to total
commitment to an undertaking. like a bad penny continually
returning when unwanted. pennies from heaven unexpected
benefits. penny black the first adhesive postage stamp (1840,
value one penny). penny cress Bot. a plant, Thlaspi arvense,
with flat round pods. penny dreadful Brit. a cheap sensational
comic or story-book. the penny drops colloq. one begins to
understand at last. penny farthing Brit. an early type of
bicycle with one large and one small wheel. a penny for your
thoughts a request to a thoughtful person to confide in the
speaker. penny-in-the-slot (of a machine) activated by a coin
pushed into a slot. penny-pincher a niggardly person.
penny-pinching n. meanness. --adj. mean. penny post Brit.
hist. the system of carrying letters etc. at a standard charge
of 1d. regardless of distance. penny whistle a tin pipe with
six holes giving different notes. penny wise too careful in
saving small amounts. penny wise and pound foolish mean in
small expenditures but wasteful of large amounts. a pretty
penny a large sum of money. two a penny almost worthless though
easily obtained. [OE penig, penning f. Gmc, perh. rel. to
-penny comb. form Brit. forming attributive adjectives meaning
'costing ... pence' (esp. in pre-decimal currency) (fivepenny).
n. 1 a creeping mint, Mentha pulegium, cultivated for its
supposed medicinal properties. 2 US an aromatic plant, Hedeoma
pulegioides. [app. f. earlier puliol(e) ryall f. AF puliol, OF
pouliol ult. f. L pulegium + real ROYAL]
n. a unit of weight, 24 grains or one-twentieth of an ounce
pennywort n. any of several wild plants with rounded leaves, esp.: 1
(wall pennywort) Umbilicus rupestris, growing in crevices. 2
(marsh or water pennywort) Hydrocotyle vulgaris, growing in
marshy places. [ME, f. PENNY + WORT]
n. (also penn'orth) 1 as much as can be bought for a penny. 2
a bargain of a specified kind (a bad pennyworth). Ьnot a
pennyworth not the least bit.
penology n. the study of the punishment of crime and of prison
management. ЬЬpenological adj. penologist n. [L poena penalty
pens‚e n. a thought or reflection put into literary form; an aphorism.
pensile adj. 1 hanging down; pendulous. 2 (of a bird etc.) building a
pensile nest. [L pensilis f. pendere pens- hang]
n. & v. --n. 1 a a regular payment made by a government to
people above a specified age, to widows, or to the disabled. b
similar payments made by an employer etc. on the retirement of
an employee. 2 a a pension paid to a scientist, artist, etc.
for services to the state, or to fund work. b any pension paid
esp. by a government on charitable grounds. --v.tr. 1 grant a
pension to. 2 bribe with a pension. Ьpension off 1 dismiss
with a pension. 2 cease to employ or use. ЬЬpensionless adj.
[ME f. OF f. L pensio -onis payment f. pendere pens- pay]
n. a European, esp. French, boarding-house providing full or
half board at a fixed rate. Ь en pension as a boarder. [F: see
adj. 1 entitled to a pension. 2 (of a service, job, etc.)
entitling an employee to a pension. ЬЬpensionability n.
adj. & n. --adj. of or concerning a pension. --n. (pl. -ies)
1 a pensioner. 2 a creature; a hireling. ЬGrand Pensionary
hist. the first minister of Holland and Zealand (1619-1794).
[med.L pensionarius (as PENSION(1))]
pensioner n. a recipient of a pension, esp. the retirement pension. [ME
f. AF pensionner, OF pensionnier (as PENSION(1))]
pensive adj. 1 deep in thought. 2 sorrowfully thoughtful. ЬЬpensively
adv. pensiveness n. [ME f. OF pensif, -ive f. penser think f.
L pensare frequent. of pendere pens- weigh]
penstemon var. of PENTSTEMON.
penstock n. 1 a sluice; a floodgate. 2 US a channel for conveying water
to a water-wheel. [PEN(2) in sense 'mill-dam' + STOCK]
pent adj. (often foll. by in, up) closely confined; shut in (pent up
feelings). [past part. of pend var. of PEN(2) v.]
penta- comb. form 1 five. 2 Chem. (forming the names of compounds)
containing five atoms or groups of a specified kind
(pentachloride; pentoxide). [Gk f. pente five]
n. 1 a musical instrument with five strings. 2 a series of
five musical notes.
pentacle n. a figure used as a symbol, esp. in magic, e.g. a pentagram.
[med.L pentaculum (as PENTA-)]
pentad n. 1 the number five. 2 a group of five. [Gk pentas -ados f.
adj. Zool. having five toes or fingers.
pentagon n. 1 a plane figure with five sides and angles. 2 (the
Pentagon) a the pentagonal Washington headquarters of the US
defence forces. b the leaders of the US defence forces.
ЬЬpentagonal adj. [F pentagone or f. LL pentagonus f. Gk
pentagonon (as PENTA-, -GON)]
pentagram n. a five-pointed star formed by extending the sides of a
pentagon both ways until they intersect, formerly used as a
mystic symbol. [Gk pentagrammon (as PENTA-, -GRAM)]
adj. Bot. having five pistils.
n. a solid figure with five faces. ЬЬpentahedral adj.
adj. 1 Bot. having five parts in a flower-whorl. 2 Zool.
having five joints or parts.
n. 1 a verse of five feet, e.g. English iambic verse of ten
syllables. 2 a form of Gk or Latin dactylic verse composed of
two halves each of two feet and a long syllable, used in elegiac
verse. [L f. Gk pentametros (as PENTA-, -METER)]
adj. Bot. having five stamens.
pentane n. Chem. a hydrocarbon of the alkane series. °Chem. formula:
CH. [Gk pente five + ALKANE]
pentangle n. = PENTAGRAM. [ME perh. f. med.L pentaculum PENTACLE, assim.
to L angulus ANGLE]
n. Chem. a colourless liquid carboxylic acid used in making
n. a five-sided prism with two silvered surfaces used in a
viewfinder to obtain a constant deviation of all rays of light
n. the first five books of the Old Testament, traditionally
ascribed to Moses. ЬЬpentateuchal adj. [eccl.L pentateuchus f.
eccl.Gk pentateukhos (as PENTA-, teukhos implement, book)]
n. an athletic event comprising five different events for each
competitor. ЬЬpentathlete n. [Gk f. pente five + athlon
adj. Mus. 1 consisting of five notes. 2 relating to such a
adj. Chem. having a valency of five; quinquevalent.
Pentecost n. 1 a Whit Sunday. b a festival celebrating the descent of
the Holy Spirit on Whit Sunday. 2 a the Jewish harvest
festival, on the fiftieth day after the second day of Passover
(Lev. 23:15-16). b a synagogue ceremony on the anniversary of
the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. [OE pentecosten & OF
pentecoste, f. eccl.L pentecoste f. Gk pentekoste (hemera)
adj. & n. --adj. (also pentecostal) 1 of or relating to
Pentecost. 2 of or designating Christian sects and individuals
who emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, are often
fundamentalist in outlook, and express religious feelings by
clapping, shouting, dancing, etc. --n. a Pentecostalist.
ЬЬPentecostalism n. Pentecostalist adj. & n.
penthouse n. 1 a house or flat on the roof or the top floor of a tall
building. 2 a sloping roof, esp. of an outhouse built on to
another building. 3 an awning, a canopy. [ME pentis f. OF
apentis, -dis, f. med.L appendicium, in LL = appendage, f. L (as
APPEND): infl. by HOUSE]
n. (pl. pentimenti) the phenomenon of earlier painting showing
through a layer or layers of paint on a canvas. [It., =
n. (US pentobarbital) a narcotic and sedative barbiturate drug
formerly used to relieve insomnia. [PENTA-, BARBITONE,
pentode n. a thermionic valve having five electrodes. [Gk pente five +
pentose n. Biochem. any monosaccharide containing five carbon atoms,
including ribose. [PENTA- + -OSE(2)]
pent-roof n. a roof sloping in one direction only. [PENTHOUSE + ROOF]
n. (also penstemon) any American herbaceous plant of the genus
Penstemon, with showy flowers and five stamens, one of which is
sterile. [mod.L, irreg. f. PENTA- + Gk stemon warp, used for
pentyl n. = AMYL. [PENTANE + -YL]
penult n. & adj. --n. the last but one (esp. syllable). --adj. last
but one. [abbr. of L paenultimus (see PENULTIMATE) or of
adj. & n. --adj. last but one. --n. 1 the last but one. 2
the last syllable but one. [L paenultimus f. paene almost +
ultimus last, after ultimate]
penumbra n. (pl. penumbrae or penumbras) 1 a the partly shaded region
around the shadow of an opaque body, esp. that around the total
shadow of the moon or earth in an eclipse. b the less dark
outer part of a sunspot. 2 a partial shadow. ЬЬpenumbral adj.
[mod.L f. L paene almost + UMBRA shadow]
penury n. (pl. -ies) 1 destitution; poverty. 2 a lack; scarcity.
[ME f. L penuria, perh. rel. to paene almost]
peon n. 1 a a Spanish American day labourer or farm-worker. b a
poor or destitute South American. 2 an Indian office messenger,
attendant, or orderly. 3 a bullfighter's assistant. 4 hist. a
worker held in servitude in the southern US. ЬЬpeonage n.
[Port. peao & Sp. peon f. med.L pedo -onis walker f. L pes
pedis foot: cf. PAWN(1)]
peony n. (also paeony) (pl. -ies) any herbaceous plant of the genus
Paeonia, with large globular red, pink, or white flowers, often
double in cultivated varieties. [OE peonie f. L peonia f. Gk
paionia f. Paion, physician of the gods]
people n. & v. --n. 1 (usu. as pl.) a persons composing a community,
tribe, race, nation, etc. (the English people; a warlike
people; the peoples of the Commonwealth). b a group of persons
of a usu. specified kind (the chosen people; these people here;
right-thinking people). 2 (prec. by the; treated as pl.) a the
mass of people in a country etc. not having special rank or
position. b these considered as an electorate (the people will
reject it). 3 parents or other relatives (my people are
French). 4 a subjects, armed followers, a retinue, etc. b a
congregation of a parish priest etc. 5 persons in general
(people do not like rudeness). --v.tr. (usu. foll. by with) 1
fill with people, animals, etc.; populate. 2 (esp. as peopled
adj.) inhabit; occupy; fill (thickly peopled). Ьpeople's
democracy a political system, esp. in E. Europe, with power
regarded as invested in the people. [ME f. AF poeple, people,
OF pople, peuple, f. L populus]
PEP abbr. Brit. 1 Political and Economic Planning. 2 Personal
pep n. & v. colloq. --n. vigour; go; spirit. --v.tr. (pepped,
pepping) (usu. foll. by up) fill with vigour. Ьpep pill a pill
containing a stimulant drug. pep talk a usu. short talk
intended to enthuse, encourage, etc. [abbr. of PEPPER]
peperino n. a light porous (esp. brown) volcanic rock formed of small
grains of sand, cinders, etc. [It. f. pepere pepper]
peperoni var. of PEPPERONI.
peplum n. 1 a short flounce etc. at waist level, esp. of a blouse or
jacket over a skirt. 2 Gk Antiq. a woman's outer garment. [L
f. Gk peplos]
pepo n. (pl. -os) any fleshy fruit of the melon or cucumber type,
with numerous seeds and surrounded by a hard skin. [L, =
pumpkin, f. Gk pepon abbr. of pepon sikuos ripe gourd]
pepper n. & v. --n. 1 a a hot aromatic condiment from the dried
berries of certain plants used whole or ground. b any climbing
vine of the genus Piper, esp. P. nigrum, yielding these
berries. 2 anything hot or pungent. 3 a any plant of the genus
Capsicum, esp. C. annuum. b the fruit of this used esp. as a
vegetable or salad ingredient. 4 = CAYENNE. --v.tr. 1
sprinkle or treat with or as if with pepper. 2 a pelt with
missiles. b hurl abuse etc. at. 3 punish severely. Ьblack
pepper the unripe ground or whole berries of Piper nigrum as a
condiment. green pepper the unripe fruit of Capsicum annuum.
pepper-mill a device for grinding pepper by hand. pepper-pot 1
a small container with a perforated lid for sprinkling pepper.
2 a W. Indian dish of meat etc. stewed with cayenne pepper. 3
colloq. a Jamaican. red (or yellow) pepper the ripe fruit of
Capsicum annuum. sweet pepper a pepper with a relatively mild
taste. white pepper the ripe or husked ground or whole berries
of Piper nigrum as a condiment. [OE piper, pipor f. L piper f.
Gk peperi f. Skr. pippali- berry, peppercorn]
pepperbox n. = pepper-pot.
n. 1 the dried berry of Piper nigrum as a condiment. 2 (in
full peppercorn rent) a nominal rent.
n. 1 a a mint plant, Mentha piperita, grown for the
strong-flavoured oil obtained from its leaves. b the oil from
this. 2 a sweet flavoured with peppermint. 3 Austral. any of
various eucalyptuses yielding oil with a similar flavour.
pepperoni n. (also peperoni) beef and pork sausage seasoned with pepper.
[It. peperone chilli]
n. any cruciferous plant of the genus Lepidium, esp. garden
peppery adj. 1 of, like, or containing much, pepper. 2 hot-tempered.
3 pungent; stinging. ЬЬpepperiness n.
pepsin n. an enzyme contained in the gastric juice, which hydrolyses
proteins. [G f. Gk pepsis digestion]
peptic adj. concerning or promoting digestion. Ьpeptic glands glands
secreting gastric juice. peptic ulcer an ulcer in the stomach
or duodenum. [Gk peptikos able to digest (as PEPTONE)]
peptide n. Biochem. any of a group of organic compounds consisting of
two or more amino acids bonded in sequence. [G Peptid,
back-form. (as POLYPEPTIDE)]
peptone n. a protein fragment formed by hydrolysis in the process of
digestion. ЬЬpeptonize v.tr. (also -ise). [G Pepton f. Gk
peptos, neut. pepton cooked]
per prep. 1 for each; for every (two sweets per child; five miles
per hour). 2 by means of; by; through (per post; per rail). 3
(in full as per) in accordance with (as per instructions). 4
Heraldry in the direction of. Ьas per usual colloq. as usual.
per- prefix 1 forming verbs, nouns, and adjectives meaning: a
through; all over (perforate; perforation; pervade). b
completely; very (perfervid; perturb). c to destruction; to the
bad (pervert; perdition). 2 Chem. having the maximum of some
element in combination, esp.: a in the names of binary compounds
in -ide (peroxide). b in the names of oxides, acids, etc. in
-ic (perchloric; permanganic). c in the names of salts of these
acids (perchlorate; permanganate). [L per- (as PER)]
adv. & n. archaic or joc. --adv. perhaps. --n. uncertainty;
chance; conjecture; doubt (esp. beyond or without
peradventure). [ME f. OF per or par auenture by chance (as PER,
v. 1 tr. walk through, over, or about (streets, the country,
etc.). 2 intr. walk from place to place. 3 tr. a travel
through and inspect (territory). b formally establish the
boundaries of (a parish etc.) by walking round them.
ЬЬperambulation n. perambulatory adj. [L perambulare
perambulat- (as PER-, ambulare walk)]
n. Brit. formal = PRAM. [PERAMBULATE]
per annum adv. for each year. [L]
percale n. a closely woven cotton fabric like calico. [F, of uncert.
adv. & adj. (also per caput) for each person. [L, = by heads]
perceive v.tr. 1 apprehend, esp. through the sight; observe. 2 (usu.
foll. by that, how, etc. + clause) apprehend with the mind;
understand. 3 regard mentally in a specified manner (perceives
the universe as infinite). ЬЬperceivable adj. perceiver n.
[ME f. OF per‡oivre, f. L percipere (as PER-, capere take)]
per cent adv. & n. (US percent) --adv. in every hundred. --n. 1
percentage. 2 one part in every hundred (half a per cent). 3
(in pl.) Brit. public securities yielding interest of so much
per cent (three per cents).
n. 1 a rate or proportion per cent. 2 a proportion. 3 colloq.
personal benefit or advantage.
n. Statistics one of 99 values of a variable dividing a
population into 100 equal groups as regards the value of that
percept n. Philos. 1 an object of perception. 2 a mental concept
resulting from perceiving, esp. by sight. [L perceptum
perceived (thing), neut. past part. of percipere PERCEIVE, after
adj. capable of being perceived by the senses or intellect.
ЬЬperceptibility n. perceptibly adv. [OF perceptible or LL
perceptibilis f. L (as PERCEIVE)]
n. 1 a the faculty of perceiving. b an instance of this. 2
(often foll. by of) a the intuitive recognition of a truth,
aesthetic quality, etc. b an instance of this (a sudden
perception of the true position). 3 Philos. the ability of the
mind to refer sensory information to an external object as its
cause. ЬЬperceptional adj. perceptual adj. perceptually adv.
[ME f. L perceptio (as PERCEIVE)]
adj. 1 capable of perceiving. 2 sensitive; discerning;
observant (a perceptive remark). ЬЬperceptively adv.
perceptiveness n. perceptivity n. [med.L perceptivus (as
perch(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a usu. horizontal bar, branch, etc. used by a
bird to rest on. 2 a usu. high or precarious place for a person
or thing to rest on. 3 a measure of length, esp. for land, of
5« yards (see also ROD, POLE). --v.intr. & tr. (usu. foll. by
on) settle or rest, or cause to settle or rest on or as if on a
perch etc. (the bird perched on a branch; a town perched on a
hill). Ьknock a person off his perch 1 vanquish, destroy. 2
make less confident or secure. square perch 30¬ sq. yards. [ME
f. OF perche, percher f. L pertica pole]
perch(2) n. (pl. same or perches) any spiny-finned freshwater edible
fish of the genus Perca, esp. P. fluviatilis of Europe. [ME f.
OF perche f. L perca f. Gk perke]
perchance adv. archaic or poet. 1 by chance. 2 possibly; maybe. [ME f.
AF par chance f. par by, CHANCE]
percher n. any bird with feet adapted for perching; a passerine.
percheron n. a powerful breed of cart-horse. [F, orig. bred in le
Perche, a district of N. France]
n. Chem. a salt or ester of perchloric acid.
n. Chem. a strong liquid acid containing heptavalent chlorine.
[PER- + CHLORINE]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 able to perceive; conscious. 2 discerning;
observant. --n. a person who perceives, esp. something outside
the range of the senses. ЬЬpercipience n. percipiently adv.
[L (as PERCEIVE)]
percolate v. 1 intr. (often foll. by through) a (of liquid etc.) filter
or ooze gradually (esp. through a porous surface). b (of an
idea etc.) permeate gradually. 2 tr. prepare (coffee) by
repeatedly passing boiling water through ground beans. 3 tr.
ooze through; permeate. 4 tr. strain (a liquid, powder, etc.)
through a fine mesh etc. ЬЬpercolation n. [L percolare (as
PER-, colare strain f. colum strainer)]
n. a machine for making coffee by circulating boiling water
through ground beans.
adv. on the opposite side (of an account, assessment, etc.); on
the contrary. [It.]
percuss v.tr. Med. tap (a part of the body) gently with a finger or an
instrument as part of a diagnosis. [L percutere percuss- strike
(as PER-, cutere = quatere shake)]
n. 1 Mus. a (often attrib.) the playing of music by striking
instruments with sticks etc. (a percussion band). b the
section of such instruments in an orchestra (asked the
percussion to stay behind). 2 Med. the act or an instance of
percussing. 3 the forcible striking of one esp. solid body
against another. Ьpercussion cap a small amount of explosive
powder contained in metal or paper and exploded by striking,
used esp. in toy guns and formerly in some firearms.
ЬЬpercussionist n. percussive adj. percussively adv.
percussiveness n. [F percussion or L percussio (as PERCUSS)]
adj. esp. Med. made or done through the skin. [L per cutem
through the skin]
per diem adv., adj. & n. --adv. & adj. for each day. --n. an allowance
or payment for each day. [L]
perdition n. eternal death; damnation. [ME f. OF perdiciun or eccl.L
perditio f. L perdere destroy (as PER-, dere dit- = dare give)]
adj. formal permanent; eternal; durable. ЬЬperdurability n.
perdurably adv. [ME f. OF f. LL perdurabilis (as PER-,
pЉre n. (added to a surname to distinguish a father from a son) the
father, senior (cf. FILS). [F, = father]
PЉre David's deer
n. a large slender-antlered deer, Elaphurus davidianus. [after
Father A. David, Fr. missionary d. 1900]
v.intr. archaic or joc. travel; journey, esp. extensively or
at leisure. ЬЬperegrination n. peregrinator n. [L peregrinari
peregrine n. & adj. --n. (in full peregrine falcon) a kind of falcon much
used for hawking. --adj. archaic imported from abroad;
foreign; outlandish. [L peregrinus f. peregre abroad f. per
through + ager field]
adj. 1 (of a statement or command) admitting no denial or
refusal. 2 (of a person, a person's manner, etc.) dogmatic;
imperious; dictatorial. 3 Law not open to appeal or challenge;
final. 4 absolutely fixed; essential. Ьperemptory challenge
Law a defendant's objection to a proposed juror, made without
needing to give a reason. ЬЬperemptorily adv. peremptoriness
n. [AF peremptorie, OF peremptoire f. L peremptorius deadly,
decisive, f. perimere perempt- destroy, cut off (as PER-, emere
perennial adj. & n. --adj. 1 lasting through a year or several years. 2
(of a plant) lasting several years (cf. ANNUAL). 3 lasting a
long time or for ever. 4 (of a stream) flowing through all
seasons of the year. --n. a perennial plant (a herbaceous
perennial). ЬЬperenniality n. perennially adv. [L perennis
(as PER-, annus year)]
n. (in the Soviet Union) the policy or practice of
restructuring or reforming the economic and political system.
[Russ. perestroika = restructuring]
perfect adj., v., & n. --adj. 1 complete; not deficient. 2 faultless
(a perfect diamond). 3 very satisfactory (a perfect evening).
4 exact; precise (a perfect circle). 5 entire; unqualified (a
perfect stranger). 6 Math. (of a number) equal to the sum of
its divisors. 7 Gram. (of a tense) denoting a completed action
or event in the past, formed in English with have or has and the
past participle, as in they have eaten. 8 Mus. (of pitch)
absolute. 9 Bot. a (of a flower) having all four types of
whorl. b (of a fungus) in the stage where the sexual spores are
formed. 10 (often foll. by in) thoroughly trained or skilled
(is perfect in geometry). --v.tr. 1 make perfect; improve. 2
carry through; complete. 3 complete (a sheet) by printing the
other side. --n. Gram. the perfect tense. Ьperfect binding a
form of bookbinding in which the leaves are attached to the
spine by gluing rather than sewing. perfect interval Mus. a
fourth or fifth as it would occur in a major or minor scale
starting on the lower note of the interval, or octave. perfect
pitch = absolute pitch 1. ЬЬperfecter n. perfectible adj.
perfectibility n. perfectness n. [ME and OF parfit, perfet f.
L perfectus past part. of perficere complete (as PER-, facere
perfecta n. US a form of betting in which the first two places in a race
must be predicted in the correct order . [Amer. Sp. quiniela
perfecta perfect quinella]
n. 1 the act or process of making perfect. 2 the state of
being perfect; faultlessness, excellence. 3 a perfect person,
thing, or example. 4 an accomplishment. 5 full development;
completion. Ьto perfection exactly; completely. [ME f. OF f. L
perfectio -onis (as PERFECT)]
n. 1 the uncompromising pursuit of excellence. 2 Philos. the
belief that religious or moral perfection is attainable.
ЬЬperfectionist n. & adj. [PERFECT]
adj. & n. Gram. --adj. (of an aspect of a verb etc.)
expressing the completion of an action (opp. IMPERFECTIVE).
--n. the perfective aspect or form of a verb. [med.L
perfectivus (as PERFECT)]
perfectly adv. 1 completely; absolutely (I understand you perfectly). 2
quite, completely (is perfectly capable of doing it). 3 in a
perfecto n. (pl. -os) orig. US a large thick cigar pointed at each
end. [Sp., = perfect]
perfervid adj. literary very fervid. ЬЬperfervidly adv. perfervidness
n. [mod.L perfervidus (as PER-, FERVID)]
perfidy n. breach of faith; treachery. ЬЬperfidious adj. perfidiously
adv. [L perfidia f. perfidus treacherous (as PER-, fidus f.
adj. (of a plant) having the stalk apparently passing through
the leaf. [mod.L perfoliatus (as PER-, FOLIATE)]
perforate v. & adj. --v. 1 tr. make a hole or holes through; pierce. 2
tr. make a row of small holes in (paper etc.) so that a part may
be torn off easily. 3 tr. make an opening into; pass into or
extend through. 4 intr. (usu. foll. by into, through, etc.)
penetrate. --adj. perforated. ЬЬperforation n. perforative
adj. perforator n. [L perforare (as PER-, forare pierce)]
perforce adv. archaic unavoidably; necessarily. [ME f. OF par force by
perform v. 1 tr. (also absol.) carry into effect; be the agent of; do
(a command, promise, task, etc.). 2 tr. (also absol.) go
through, execute (a public function, play, piece of music,
etc.). 3 intr. act in a play; play music, sing, etc. (likes
performing). 4 intr. (of a trained animal) execute tricks etc.
at a public show. ЬЬperformable adj. performability n.
performatory adj. & n. (pl. -ies). performer n. performing
adj. [ME f. AF parfourmer f. OF parfournir (assim. to forme
FORM) f. par PER- + fournir FURNISH]
n. 1 (usu. foll. by of) a the act or process of performing or
carrying out. b the execution or fulfilment (of a duty etc.).
2 a staging or production (of a drama, piece of music, etc.)
(the afternoon performance). 3 a person's achievement under
test conditions etc. (put up a good performance). 4 colloq. a
fuss; a scene; a public exhibition (made such a performance
about leaving). 5 a the capabilities of a machine, esp. a car
or aircraft. b (attrib.) of high capability (a performance
adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to performance. 2 denoting
an utterance that effects an action by being spoken or written
(e.g. I bet, I apologize). --n. a performative utterance.
n.pl. the arts, such as drama, music, and dance, that require
performance for their realization.
perfume n. & v. --n. 1 a sweet smell. 2 fluid containing the essence
of flowers etc.; scent. --v.tr. also (usu. as perfumed adj.)
impart a sweet scent to; impregnate with a sweet smell.
ЬЬperfumy adj. [F parfum, parfumer f. obs. It. parfumare,
perfumare (as PER-, fumare smoke, FUME): orig. of smoke from a
perfumer n. a maker or seller of perfumes. ЬЬperfumery n. (pl. -ies).
adj. 1 done merely for the sake of getting through a duty. 2
superficial; mechanical. ЬЬperfunctorily adv. perfunctoriness
n. [LL perfunctorius careless f. L perfungi perfunct- (as PER-,
perfuse v.tr. 1 (often foll. by with) a besprinkle (with water etc.).
b cover or suffuse (with radiance etc.). 2 pour or diffuse
(water etc.) through or over. 3 Med. cause a fluid to pass
through (an organ etc.). ЬЬperfusion n. perfusive adj. [L
perfundere perfus- (as PER-, fundere pour)]
pergana var. of PARGANA.
pergola n. an arbour or covered walk, formed of growing plants trained
over trellis-work. [It. f. L pergula projecting roof f.
pergunnah var. of PARGANA.
perhaps adv. 1 it may be; possibly (perhaps it is lost). 2 introducing
a polite request (perhaps you would open the window?). [PER +
peri n. (pl. peris) 1 (in Persian mythology) a fairy; a good (orig.
evil) genius. 2 a beautiful or graceful being. [Pers. pari]
peri- prefix 1 round, about. 2 Astron. the point nearest to (perigee;
perihelion). [Gk peri around, about]
perianth n. the outer part of a flower. [F p‚rianthe f. mod.L
perianthium (as PERI- + Gk anthos flower)]
periapt n. a thing worn as a charm; an amulet. [F p‚riapte f. Gk
periapton f. hapto fasten]
n. (pl. pericardia) the membranous sac enclosing the heart.
ЬЬpericardiac adj. pericardial adj. pericarditis n. [mod.L f.
Gk perikardion (as PERI- + kardia heart)]
pericarp n. the part of a fruit formed from the wall of the ripened
ovary. [F p‚ricarpe f. Gk perikarpion pod, shell (as PERI-,
n. the membrane enveloping cartilage tissue (except at the
joints). [PERI- + Gk khondros cartilage]
periclase n. a pale mineral consisting of magnesia. [mod.L periclasia,
erron. f. Gk peri exceedingly + klasis breaking, from its
adj. Geol. (of a mound etc.) sloping down in all directions
from a central point. [Gk periklines sloping on all sides (as
pericope n. a short passage or paragraph, esp. a portion of Scripture
read in public worship. [LL f. Gk perikope (as PERI-, kope
cutting f. kopto cut)]
n. the membrane enveloping the skull. [mod.L f. Gk (as PERI-,
peridot n. a green variety of olivine, used esp. as a semiprecious
stone. [ME f. OF peritot, of unkn. orig.]
perigee n. the point in a celestial body's orbit where it is nearest
the earth (opp. APOGEE). ЬЬperigean adj. [F p‚rig‚e f. mod.L
f. Gk perigeion round the earth (as PERI-, ge earth)]
adj. of or relating to a region adjoining a glacier.
adj. (of stamens) situated around the pistil or ovary. [mod.L
perigynus (as PERI-, -GYNOUS)]
n. (pl. perihelia) the point of a planet's or comet's orbit
nearest to the sun's centre. [Graecized f. mod.L perihelium (as
PERI-, Gk helios sun)]
peril n. & v. --n. serious and immediate danger. --v.tr. (perilled,
perilling; US periled, periling) threaten; endanger. Ьat one's
peril at one's own risk. in peril of with great risk to (in
peril of your life). peril point US Econ. a critical threshold
or limit. [ME f. OF f. L peric(u)lum]
perilous adj. 1 full of risk; dangerous; hazardous. 2 exposed to
imminent risk of destruction etc. ЬЬperilously adv.
perilousness n. [ME f. OF perillous f. L periculosus f.
periculum: see PERIL]
perilune n. the point in a body's lunar orbit where it is closest to the
moon's centre (opp. APOLUNE). [PERI- + L luna moon, after
perilymph n. the fluid in the labyrinth of the ear.
perimeter n. 1 a the circumference or outline of a closed figure. b the
length of this. 2 a the outer boundary of an enclosed area. b
a defended boundary. 3 an instrument for measuring a field of
vision. ЬЬperimetric adj. [F p‚rimЉtre or f. L perimetrus f.
Gk perimetros (as PERI-, metros f. metron measure)]
perinatal adj. of or relating to the time immediately before and after
perineum n. the region of the body between the anus and the scrotum or
vulva. ЬЬperineal adj. [LL f. Gk perinaion]
period n. & adj. --n. 1 a length or portion of time (showers and
bright periods). 2 a distinct portion of history, a person's
life, etc. (the Georgian period; Picasso's Blue Period). 3
Geol. a time forming part of a geological era (the Quaternary
period). 4 a an interval between recurrences of an astronomical
or other phenomenon. b the time taken by a planet to rotate
about its axis. 5 the time allowed for a lesson in school. 6
an occurrence of menstruation. 7 a a complete sentence, esp.
one consisting of several clauses. b (in pl.) rhetorical
language. 8 esp. US a = full stop (see FULL(1)). b used at
the end of a sentence etc. to indicate finality, absoluteness,
etc. (we want the best, period). 9 a a set of figures marked
off in a large number to assist in reading. b a set of figures
repeated in a recurring decimal. c the smallest interval over
which a function takes the same value. 10 Chem. a sequence of
elements between two noble gases forming a row in the periodic
table. --adj. belonging to or characteristic of some past
period (period furniture). Ьof the period of the era under
discussion (the custom of the period). period piece an object
or work whose main interest lies in its historical etc.
associations. [ME f. OF periode f. L periodus f. Gk periodos
(as PERI-, odos = hodos way)]
periodate n. Chem. a salt or ester of periodic acid.
periodic adj. 1 appearing or occurring at regular intervals. 2 of or
concerning the period of a celestial body (periodic motion). 3
(of diction etc.) expressed in periods (see PERIOD n. 7a).
Ьperiodic decimal Math. a set of figures repeated in a
recurring decimal. periodic function Math. a function
returning to the same value at regular intervals. periodic
table an arrangement of elements in order of increasing atomic
number and in which elements of similar chemical properties
appear at regular intervals. ЬЬperiodicity n. [F p‚riodique or
L periodicus f. Gk periodikos (as PERIOD)]
n. Chem. a hygroscopic solid acid containing heptavalent
iodine. [PER- + IODINE]
n. & adj. --n. a newspaper, magazine, etc. issued at regular
intervals, usu. monthly or weekly. --adj. 1 published at
regular intervals. 2 periodic, occasional. ЬЬperiodically adv.
n. the division of history into periods.
n.pl. (treated as sing.) the branch of dentistry concerned with
the structures surrounding and supporting the teeth.
ЬЬperiodontal adj. periodontist n. [PERI- + Gk odous odont-
n. = PERIODONTICS.
n. (pl. periostea) a membrane enveloping the bones where no
cartilage is present. ЬЬperiosteal adj. periostitis n. [mod.L
f. Gk periosteon (as PERI-, osteon bone)]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a teacher) working in more than one
school or college etc. 2 going from place to place; itinerant.
3 (Peripatetic) Aristotelian (from Aristotle's habit of walking
in the Lyceum whilst teaching). --n. a peripatetic person, esp.
a teacher. ЬЬperipatetically adv. peripateticism n. [ME f. OF
peripatetique or L peripateticus f. Gk peripatetikos f.
peripateo (as PERI-, pateo walk)]
n. a sudden change of fortune in a drama or in life. [Gk (as
PERI-, pet- f. pipto fall)]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 of minor importance; marginal. 2 of the
periphery; on the fringe. 3 Anat. near the surface of the body,
with special reference to the circulation and nervous system. 4
(of equipment) used with a computer etc. but not an integral
part of it. --n. a peripheral device or piece of equipment.
Ьperipheral nervous system Anat. the nervous system outside the
brain and spinal cord. ЬЬperipherally adv.
periphery n. (pl. -ies) 1 the boundary of an area or surface. 2 an
outer or surrounding region (built on the periphery of the old
town). [LL peripheria f. Gk periphereia circumference (as
PERI-, phereia f. phero bear)]
n. (pl. periphrases) 1 a roundabout way of speaking;
circumlocution. 2 a roundabout phrase. [L f. Gk f. periphrazo
(as PERI-, phrazo declare)]
adj. Gram. 1 of or involving periphrasis. 2 (of a case,
tense, etc.) formed by combination of words rather than by
inflection (e.g. did go, of the people rather than went, the
people' s). ЬЬperiphrastically adv. [Gk periphrastikos (as
adj. (of a temple) surrounded by a single row of columns. [Gk
peripteron (as PERI-, Gk pteron wing)]
periscope n. an apparatus with a tube and mirrors or prisms, by which an
observer in a trench, submerged submarine, or at the rear of a
crowd etc., can see things otherwise out of sight.
adj. of a periscope. Ьperiscopic lens a lens allowing distinct
vision over a wide angle. ЬЬperiscopically adv.
perish v. 1 intr. be destroyed; suffer death or ruin. 2 a intr. (esp.
of rubber, a rubber object, etc.) lose its normal qualities;
deteriorate, rot. b tr. cause to rot or deteriorate. 3 tr. (in
passive) suffer from cold or exposure (we were perished standing
outside). Ьperish the thought an exclamation of horror against
an unwelcome idea. ЬЬperishless adj. [ME f. OF perir f. L
perire pass away (as PER-, ire go)]
adj. & n. --adj. liable to perish; subject to decay. --n. a
thing, esp. a foodstuff, subject to speedy decay.
ЬЬperishability n. perishableness n.
perisperm n. a mass of nutritive material outside the embryo-sac in some
seeds. [PERI- + Gk sperma seed]
n. an involuntary muscular wavelike movement by which the
contents of the alimentary canal etc. are propelled along.
ЬЬperistaltic adj. peristaltically adv. [mod.L f. Gk
peristello wrap around (as PERI-, stello place)]
peristome n. 1 Bot. a fringe of small teeth around the mouth of a capsule
in mosses and certain fungi. 2 Zool. the parts surrounding the
mouth of various invertebrates. [mod.L peristoma f. PERI- + Gk
peristyle n. a row of columns surrounding a temple, court, cloister,
etc.; a space surrounded by columns. [F p‚ristyle f. L
peristylum f. Gk peristulon (as PERI-, stulos pillar)]
n. (pl. peritoneums or peritonea) the double serous membrane
lining the cavity of the abdomen. ЬЬperitoneal adj. [LL f. Gk
peritonaion (as PERI-, tonaion f. -tonos stretched)]
n. an inflammatory disease of the peritoneum.
periwig n. esp. hist. a wig. ЬЬperiwigged adj. [alt. of PERUKE,
with -wi- for F -u- sound]
n. 1 any plant of the genus Vinca, esp. an evergreen trailing
plant with blue or white flowers. 2 a tropical shrub,
Catharanthus roseus, native to Madagascar. [ME f. AF pervenke,
OF pervenche f. LL pervinca, assim. to PERIWINKLE(2)]
n. = WINKLE. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
perjure v.refl. Law 1 wilfully tell an untruth when on oath. 2 (as
perjured adj.) guilty of or involving perjury. ЬЬperjurer n.
[ME f. OF parjurer f. L perjurare (as PER-, jurare swear)]
perjury n. (pl. -ies) Law 1 a breach of an oath, esp. the act of
wilfully telling an untruth when on oath. 2 the practice of
this. ЬЬperjurious adj. [ME f. AF perjurie f. OF parjurie f. L
perjurium (as PERJURE)]
perk(1) v. & adj. --v.tr. raise (one's head etc.) briskly. --adj.
perky; pert. Ьperk up 1 recover confidence, courage, life, or
zest. 2 restore confidence or courage or liveliness in (esp.
another person). 3 smarten up. [ME, perh. f. var. of PERCH(1)]
perk(2) n. Brit. colloq. a perquisite. [abbr.]
perk(3) v. colloq. 1 intr. (of coffee) percolate, make a bubbling
sound in the percolator. 2 tr. percolate (coffee). [abbr. of
perlite n. (also pearlite) a glassy type of vermiculite, expandable to
a solid form by heating, used for insulation etc. [F f. perle
perm(1) n. & v. --n. a permanent wave. --v.tr. give a permanent wave
to (a person or a person's hair). [abbr.]
perm(2) n. & v. colloq. --n. a permutation. --v.tr. make a
permutation of. [abbr.]
n. subsoil which remains below freezing-point throughout the
year, as in polar regions. [PERMANENT + FROST]
permalloy n. an alloy of nickel and iron that is easily magnetized and
demagnetized. [PERMEABLE + ALLOY]
permanent adj. lasting, or intended to last or function, indefinitely
(opp. TEMPORARY). Ьpermanent magnet a magnet retaining its
magnetic properties without continued excitation. Permanent
Secretary (or Under-secretary etc.) Brit. a senior grade in the
Civil Service, often a permanent adviser to a minister.
permanent set 1 the irreversible deformation of a substance
after being subjected to stress. 2 the amount of this.
permanent tooth a tooth succeeding a milk tooth in a mammal, and
lasting most of the mammal's life. permanent wave an artificial
wave in the hair, intended to last for some time. permanent way
Brit. the finished roadbed of a railway. ЬЬpermanence n.
permanency n. permanentize v.tr. (also -ise). permanently
adv. [ME f. OF permanent or L permanere (as PER-, manere
n. Chem. any salt of permanganic acid, esp. potassium
n. Chem. an acid containing heptavalent manganese. [PER- +
MANGANIC: see MANGANESE]
n. 1 the state or quality of being permeable. 2 a quantity
measuring the influence of a substance on the magnetic flux in
the region it occupies.
permeable adj. capable of being permeated. [L permeabilis (as PERMEATE)]
permeate v. 1 tr. penetrate throughout; pervade; saturate. 2 intr.
(usu. foll. by through, among, etc.) diffuse itself.
ЬЬpermeance n. permeant adj. permeation n. permeator n. [L
permeare permeat- (as PER-, meare pass, go)]
Permian adj. & n. Geol. --adj. of or relating to the last period of
the Palaeozoic era with evidence of the development of reptiles
and amphibians, and deposits of sandstone. °Cf. Appendix II.
--n. this period or system. [Perm in Russia]
per mille adv. (also per mil) in every thousand. [L]
adj. allowable. ЬЬpermissibility n. permissibly adv. [ME f.
F or f. med.L permissibilis (as PERMIT)]
n. (often foll. by to + infin.) consent; authorization. [ME
f. OF or f. L permissio (as PERMIT)]
adj. 1 tolerant; liberal, esp. in sexual matters (the
permissive society). 2 giving permission. Ьpermissive
legislation legislation giving powers but not enjoining their
use. ЬЬpermissively adv. permissiveness n. [ME f. OF (-if
-ive) or med.L permissivus (as PERMIT)]
permit v. & n. --v. (permitted, permitting) 1 tr. give permission or
consent to; authorize (permit me to say). 2 a tr. allow; give
an opportunity to (permit the traffic to flow again). b intr.
give an opportunity (circumstances permitting). 3 intr. (foll.
by of) admit; allow for. --n. 1 a a document giving permission
to act in a specified way (was granted a work permit). b a
document etc. which allows entry into a specified zone. 2
formal permission. ЬЬpermittee n. permitter n. [L permittere
(as PER-, mittere miss- let go)]
n. Electr. a quantity measuring the ability of a substance to
store electrical energy in an electric field.
permutate v.tr. change the order or arrangement of. [as PERMUTE, or
back-form. f. PERMUTATION]
n. 1 a an ordered arrangement or grouping of a set of numbers,
items, etc. b any one of the range of possible groupings. 2
any combination or selection of a specified number of things
from a larger group, esp. Brit. matches in a football pool.
ЬЬpermutational adj. [ME f. OF or f. L permutatio (as PERMUTE)]
permute v.tr. alter the sequence or arrangement of. [ME f. L permutare
(as PER-, mutare change)]
Permutit n. propr. an artificial zeolite used as an ion exchanger esp.
for the softening of water. [G f. L permutare to exchange]
adj. destructive; ruinous; fatal. Ьpernicious anaemia see
ANAEMIA. ЬЬperniciously adv. perniciousness n. [L perniciosus
f. pernicies ruin f. nex necis death]
adj. colloq. 1 fastidious. 2 precise or over-precise. 3
ticklish, requiring tact or careful handling. [19th-c. Sc.:
v.intr. formal pass or spend the night. ЬЬpernoctation n. [LL
pernoctatio f. L pernoctare pernoctat- (as PER-, noctare f. nox
peroneal adj. Anat. relating to or near the fibula. [mod.L peronaeus
peroneal muscle f. perone fibula f. Gk perone pin, fibula]
perorate v.intr. 1 sum up and conclude a speech. 2 speak at length. [L
perorare perorat- (as PER-, orare speak)]
n. the concluding part of a speech, forcefully summing up what
has been said.
n. Biochem. any of a class of enzymes found esp. in plants,
which catalyze the oxidation of a substrate by hydrogen
peroxide n. & v. --n. Chem. 1 a = hydrogen peroxide. b (often
attrib.) a solution of hydrogen peroxide used to bleach the hair
or as an antiseptic. 2 a compound of oxygen with another
element containing the greatest possible proportion of oxygen.
3 any salt or ester of hydrogen peroxide. --v.tr. bleach (the
hair) with peroxide. [PER- + OXIDE]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 a at right angles to the plane of the
horizon. b (usu. foll. by to) Geom. at right angles (to a given
line, plane, or surface). 2 upright, vertical. 3 (of a slope
etc.) very steep. 4 (Perpendicular) Archit. of the third stage
of English Gothic (15th-16th c.) with vertical tracery in large
windows. 5 joc. in a standing position. --n. 1 a
perpendicular line. 2 a plumb-rule or a similar instrument. 3
(prec. by the) a perpendicular line or direction (is out of the
perpendicular). ЬЬperpendicularity n. perpendicularly adv.
[ME f. L perpendicularis f. perpendiculum plumb-line f. PER- +
v.tr. commit or perform (a crime, blunder, or anything
outrageous). ЬЬperpetration n. perpetrator n. [L perpetrare
perpetrat- (as PER-, patrare effect)]
perpetual adj. 1 eternal; lasting for ever or indefinitely. 2
continuous, uninterrupted. 3 colloq. frequent, much repeated
(perpetual interruptions). 4 permanent during life (perpetual
secretary). Ьperpetual calendar a calendar which can be
adjusted to show any combination of day, month, and year.
perpetual check Chess the position of play when a draw is
obtained by repeated checking of the king. perpetual motion the
motion of a hypothetical machine which once set in motion would
run for ever unless subject to an external force or to wear.
ЬЬperpetualism n. perpetually adv. [ME f. OF perpetuel f. L
perpetualis f. perpetuus f. perpes -etis continuous]
v.tr. 1 make perpetual. 2 preserve from oblivion.
ЬЬperpetuance n. perpetuation n. perpetuator n. [L perpetuare
n. (pl. -ies) 1 the state or quality of being perpetual. 2 a
perpetual annuity. 3 a perpetual possession or position. Ьin
(or to or for) perpetuity for ever. [ME f. OF perpetuit‚ f. L
perpetuitas -tatis (as PERPETUAL)]
n. 1 = perpetual motion. 2 Mus. = MOTO PERPETUO. [L perpetuus
continuous + mobilis movable, after PRIMUM MOBILE]
perplex v.tr. 1 puzzle, bewilder, or disconcert (a person, a person's
mind, etc.). 2 complicate or confuse (a matter). 3 (as
perplexed adj.) archaic entangled, intertwined. ЬЬperplexedly
adv. perplexingly adv. [back-form. f. perplexed f. obs.
perplex (adj.) f. OF perplexe or L perplexus (as PER-, plexus
past part. of plectere plait)]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 bewilderment; the state of being perplexed. 2
a thing which perplexes. 3 archaic an entangled state. [ME f.
OF perplexit‚ or LL perplexitas (as PERPLEX)]
per pro. abbr. through the agency of (used in signatures). °The correct
sequence is A per pro. B, where B is signing on behalf of A. [L
n. 1 an extra profit or allowance additional to a main income
etc. 2 a customary extra right or privilege. 3 an incidental
benefit attached to employment etc. 4 a thing which has served
its primary use and to which a subordinate or servant has a
customary right. [ME f. med.L perquisitum f. L perquirere
search diligently for (as PER-, quaerere seek)]
Perrier n. propr. an effervescent natural mineral water. [the name of
a spring at VergЉze, France, its source]
perron n. an exterior staircase leading up to a main entrance to a
church or other (usu. large) building. [ME f. OF ult. f. L
perry n. (pl. -ies) Brit. a drink like cider, made from the
fermented juice of pears. [ME pereye etc. f. OF per‚, ult. f. L
per se adv. by or in itself; intrinsically. [L]
persecute v.tr. 1 subject (a person etc.) to hostility or ill-treatment,
esp. on the grounds of political or religious belief. 2
harass; worry. 3 (often foll. by with) bombard (a person) with
questions etc. ЬЬpersecutor n. persecutory adj. [ME f. OF
persecuter back-form. f. persecuteur persecutor f. LL
persecutor f. L persequi (as PER-, sequi secut- follow, pursue)]
n. the act or an instance of persecuting; the state of being
persecuted. Ьpersecution complex (or mania) an irrational
obsessive fear that others are scheming against one.
n. 1 the steadfast pursuit of an objective. 2 (often foll. by
in) constant persistence (in a belief etc.). [ME f. OF f. L
perseverantia (as PERSEVERE)]
v.intr. 1 continue action etc. for an unusually or excessively
long time. 2 Psychol. tend to prolong or repeat a response
after the original stimulus has ceased. ЬЬperseveration n. [L
perseverare (as PERSEVERE)]
persevere v.intr. (often foll. by in, at, with) continue steadfastly or
determinedly; persist. [ME f. OF perseverer f. L perseverare
persist f. perseverus very strict (as PER-, severus severe)]
Persian n. & adj. --n. 1 a a native or inhabitant of ancient or modern
Persia (now Iran). b a person of Persian descent. 2 the
language of ancient Persia or modern Iran. °With modern
reference the preferred terms are Iranian and Farsi. 3 (in full
Persian cat) a a cat of a breed with long silky hair and a thick
tail. b this breed. --adj. of or relating to Persia or its
people or language. ЬPersian carpet (or rug) a carpet or rug of
a traditional pattern made in Persia. Persian lamb the silky
tightly curled fur of a young karakul, used in clothing. [ME f.
OF persien f. med.L]
n.pl. window shutters, or outside blinds, with louvres. [F,
fem. pl. of obs. persien Persian]
n. light raillery, banter. [F persifler banter, formed as PER-
+ siffler whistle]
persimmon n. 1 any usu. tropical evergreen tree of the genus Diospyros
bearing edible tomato-like fruits. 2 the fruit of this.
[corrupt. of an Algonquian word]
persist v.intr. 1 (often foll. by in) continue firmly or obstinately
(in an opinion or a course of action) esp. despite obstacles,
remonstrance, etc. 2 (of an institution, custom, phenomenon,
etc.) continue in existence; survive. [L persistere (as PER-,
adj. 1 continuing obstinately; persisting. 2 enduring. 3
constantly repeated (persistent nagging). 4 Biol. (of horns,
leaves, etc.) remaining instead of falling off in the normal
manner. ЬЬpersistence n. persistency n. persistently adv.
person n. 1 an individual human being (a cheerful and forthright
person). 2 the living body of a human being (hidden about your
person). 3 Gram. any of three classes of personal pronouns,
verb-forms, etc.: the person speaking (first person); the person
spoken to (second person); the person spoken of (third person).
4 (in comb.) used to replace -man in offices open to either sex
(salesperson). 5 (in Christianity) God as Father, Son, or Holy
Ghost (three persons in one God). 6 euphem. the genitals
(expose one's person). 7 a character in a play or story. Ьin
one's own person oneself; as oneself. in person physically
present. person-to-person 1 between individuals. 2 (of a phone
call) booked through the operator to a specified person. [ME f.
OF persone f. L persona actor's mask, character in a play, human
persona n. (pl. personae) 1 an aspect of the personality as shown to
or perceived by others (opp. ANIMA). 2 Literary criticism an
author's assumed character in his or her writing. Ь persona
grata a person, esp. a diplomat, acceptable to certain others.
persona non grata a person not acceptable. [L (as PERSON)]
adj. pleasing in appearance and behaviour. ЬЬpersonableness n.
personage n. 1 a person, esp. of rank or importance. 2 a character in a
play etc. [ME f. PERSON + -AGE, infl. by med.L personagium
effigy & F personnage]
personal adj. 1 one's own; individual; private. 2 done or made in
person (made a personal appearance; my personal attention). 3
directed to or concerning an individual (a personal letter). 4
referring (esp. in a hostile way) to an individual's private
life or concerns (making personal remarks; no need to be
personal). 5 of the body and clothing (personal hygiene;
personal appearance). 6 existing as a person, not as an
abstraction or thing (a personal God). 7 Gram. of or denoting
one of the three persons (personal pronoun). Ьpersonal column
the part of a newspaper devoted to private advertisements or
messages. personal computer a computer designed for use by a
single individual, esp. in an office or business environment .
personal equation 1 the allowance for an individual person's
time of reaction in making observations, esp. in astronomy. 2 a
bias or prejudice. personal equity plan a scheme for limited
personal investment in shares, unit trusts, etc. personal
identification number a number allocated to an individual,
serving as a password esp. for a cash dispenser, computer, etc.
personal pronoun a pronoun replacing the subject, object, etc.,
of a clause etc., e.g. I, we, you, them, us. personal property
(or estate) Law all one's property except land and those
interests in land that pass to one's heirs (cf. REAL(1) adj.
3). personal service individual service given to a customer.
personal stereo a small portable audio cassette player, often
with radio, or compact disc player, used with lightweight
headphones. personal touch a way of treating a matter
characteristic of or designed for an individual. [ME f. OF f. L
personalis (as PERSON)]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 the distinctive character or qualities of a
person, often as distinct from others (an attractive
personality). 2 a famous person; a celebrity (a TV
personality). 3 a person who stands out from others by virtue
of his or her character (is a real personality). 4 personal
existence or identity; the condition of being a person. 5 (usu.
in pl.) personal remarks. Ьhave personality have a lively
character or noteworthy qualities. personality cult the extreme
adulation of an individual. [ME f. OF personalit‚ f. LL
personalitas -tatis (as PERSONAL)]
v.tr. (also -ise) 1 make personal, esp. by marking with one's
name etc. 2 personify. ЬЬpersonalization n.
adv. 1 in person (see to it personally). 2 for one's own part
(speaking personally). 3 as a person (a God existing
personally). 4 in a personal manner (took the criticism
n. (pl. -ies) Law one's personal property or estate (opp.
REALTY). [AF personalt‚ (as PERSONAL)]
personate v.tr. 1 play the part of (a character in a drama etc.; another
type of person). 2 pretend to be (another person), esp. for
fraudulent purposes; impersonate. ЬЬpersonation n. personator
n. [LL personare personat- (as PERSON)]
n. the quality or condition of being an individual person.
n. 1 the act of personifying. 2 (foll. by of) a person or
thing viewed as a striking example of (a quality etc.) (the
personification of ugliness).
personify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 attribute a personal nature to (an
abstraction or thing). 2 symbolize (a quality etc.) by a figure
in human form. 3 (usu. as personified adj.) embody (a quality)
in one's own person; exemplify typically (has always been
kindness personified). ЬЬpersonifier n. [F personnifier (as
personnel n. a body of employees, persons involved in a public
undertaking, armed forces, etc. Ьpersonnel carrier an armoured
vehicle for transporting troops etc. personnel department etc.
the part of an organization concerned with the appointment,
training, and welfare of employees. [F, orig. adj. = personal]
n. & adj. --n. 1 a the art of drawing solid objects on a
two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of
relative positions, size, etc. b a picture drawn in this way.
2 the apparent relation between visible objects as to position,
distance, etc. 3 a mental view of the relative importance of
things (keep the right perspective). 4 a geographical or
imaginary prospect. --adj. of or in perspective. Ьin
perspective 1 drawn or viewed according to the rules of
perspective. 2 correctly regarded in terms of relative
importance. ЬЬperspectival adj. perspectively adv. [ME f.
med.L perspectiva (ars art) f. perspicere perspect- (as PER-,
specere spect- look)]
Perspex n. propr. a tough light transparent acrylic thermoplastic used
instead of glass. [L perspicere look through (as PER-, specere
adj. having mental penetration or discernment.
ЬЬperspicaciously adv. perspicaciousness n. perspicacity n.
[L perspicax -acis (as PERSPEX)]
adj. 1 easily understood; clearly expressed. 2 (of a person)
expressing things clearly. ЬЬperspicuity n. perspicuously adv.
perspicuousness n. [ME, = transparent f. L perspicuus (as
perspire v. 1 intr. sweat or exude perspiration, esp. as the result of
heat, exercise, anxiety, etc. 2 tr. sweat or exude (fluid
etc.). [F perspirer f. L perspirare (as PER-, spirare breathe)]
persuade v.tr. & refl. 1 (often foll. by of, or that + clause) cause
(another person or oneself) to believe; convince (persuaded them
that it would be helpful; tried to persuade me of its value). 2
a (often foll. by to + infin.) induce (another person or
oneself) (persuaded us to join them; managed to persuade them at
last). b (foll. by away from, down to, etc.) lure, attract,
entice, etc. (persuaded them away from the pub). ЬЬpersuadable
adj. persuadability n. persuasible adj. [L persuadere (as
PER-, suadere suas- advise)]
persuader n. 1 a person who persuades. 2 sl. a gun or other weapon.
n. 1 persuading (yielded to persuasion). 2 persuasiveness (use
all your persuasion). 3 a belief or conviction (my private
persuasion). 4 a religious belief, or the group or sect holding
it (of a different persuasion). 5 colloq. any group or party
(the male persuasion). [ME f. L persuasio (as PERSUADE)]
adj. able to persuade. ЬЬpersuasively adv. persuasiveness n.
[F persuasif -ive or med.L persuasivus, (as PERSUADE)]
PERT abbr. programme evaluation and review technique.
pert adj. 1 saucy or impudent, esp. in speech or conduct. 2 (of
clothes etc.) neat and suggestive of jauntiness. 3 = PEART.
ЬЬpertly adv. pertness n. [ME f. OF apert f. L apertus past
part. of aperire open & f. OF aspert f. L expertus EXPERT]
pertain v.intr. 1 (foll. by to) a relate or have reference to. b
belong to as a part or appendage or accessory. 2 (usu. foll. by
to) be appropriate to. [ME f. OF partenir f. L pertinere (as
PER-, tenere hold)]
adj. stubborn; persistent; obstinate (in a course of action
etc.). ЬЬpertinaciously adv. pertinaciousness n. pertinacity
n. [L pertinax (as PER-, tenax tenacious)]
pertinent adj. 1 (often foll. by to) relevant to the matter in hand;
apposite. 2 to the point. ЬЬpertinence n. pertinency n.
pertinently adv. [ME f. OF pertinent or L pertinere (as
perturb v.tr. 1 throw into confusion or disorder. 2 disturb mentally;
agitate. 3 Physics & Math. subject (a physical system, or a set
of equations, or its solution) to a perturbation. ЬЬperturbable
adj. perturbative adj. perturbingly adv. [ME f. OF pertourber
f. L (as PER-, turbare disturb)]
n. 1 the act or an instance of perturbing; the state of being
perturbed. 2 a cause of disturbance or agitation. 3 Physics a
slight alteration of a physical system, e.g. of the electrons in
an atom, caused by a secondary influence. 4 Astron. a minor
deviation in the course of a celestial body, caused by the
attraction of a neighbouring body.
pertussis n. whooping cough. [mod.L f. PER- + L tussis cough]
peruke n. hist. a wig. [F perruque f. It. perrucca parrucca, of
peruse v.tr. 1 (also absol.) read or study, esp. thoroughly or
carefully. 2 examine (a person's face etc.) carefully.
ЬЬperusal n. peruser n. [ME, orig. = use up, prob. f. AL f.
Rmc (as PER-, USE)]
Peruvian n. & adj. --n. 1 a native or national of Peru. 2 a person of
Peruvian descent. --adj. of or relating to Peru. ЬPeruvian
bark the bark of the cinchona tree. [mod.L Peruvia Peru]
perv n. & v. (also perve) sl. --n. 1 a sexual pervert. 2 Austral.
an erotic gaze. --v.intr. 1 act like a sexual pervert. 2
(foll. by at, on) Austral. gaze with erotic interest. [abbr.]
pervade v.tr. 1 spread throughout, permeate. 2 (of influences etc.)
become widespread among or in. 3 be rife among or through.
ЬЬpervasion n. [L pervadere (as PER-, vadere vas- go)]
pervasive adj. 1 pervading. 2 able to pervade. ЬЬpervasively adv.
perve var. of PERV.
perverse adj. 1 (of a person or action) deliberately or stubbornly
departing from what is reasonable or required. 2 persistent in
error. 3 wayward; intractable; peevish. 4 perverted; wicked.
5 (of a verdict etc.) against the weight of evidence or the
judge's direction. ЬЬperversely adv. perverseness n.
perversity n. (pl. -ies). [ME f. OF pervers perverse f. L
perversus (as PERVERT)]
n. 1 an act of perverting; the state of being perverted. 2 a
perverted form of an act or thing. 3 a preference for an
abnormal form of sexual activity. b such an activity. [ME f. L
perversio (as PERVERT)]
pervert v. & n. --v.tr. 1 turn (a person or thing) aside from its
proper use or nature. 2 misapply or misconstrue (words etc.).
3 lead astray (a person, a person's mind, etc.) from right
opinion or conduct, or esp. religious belief. 4 (as perverted
adj.) showing perversion. --n. 1 a perverted person. 2 a
person showing sexual perversion. ЬЬperversive adj.
pervertedly adv. perverter n. [ME f. OF pervertir or f. L
pervertere (as PER-, vertere vers- turn): cf. CONVERT]
pervious adj. 1 permeable. 2 (usu. foll. by to) a affording passage. b
accessible (to reason etc.). ЬЬperviousness n. [L pervius (as
PER-, vius f. via way)]
Pesach n. the Passover festival. [Heb. Pesah]
peseta n. the chief monetary unit of Spain, orig. a silver coin.
[Sp., dimin. of pesa weight f. L pensa pl. of pensum: see
pesky adj. (peskier, peskiest) esp. US colloq. troublesome;
confounded; annoying. ЬЬpeskily adv. peskiness n. [18th c.:
perh. f. PEST]
peso n. (pl. -os) 1 the chief monetary unit of several Latin
American countries and of the Philippines. 2 a note or coin
worth one peso. [Sp., = weight, f. L pensum: see POISE(1)]
pessary n. (pl. -ies) Med. 1 a device worn in the vagina to support
the uterus or as a contraceptive. 2 a vaginal suppository. [ME
f. LL pessarium, pessulum f. pessum, pessus f. Gk pessos oval
pessimism n. 1 a tendency to take the worst view or expect the worst
outcome. 2 Philos. a belief that this world is as bad as it
could be or that all things tend to evil (opp. OPTIMISM).
ЬЬpessimist n. pessimistic adj. pessimistically adv. [L
pessimus worst, after OPTIMISM]
pest n. 1 a troublesome or annoying person or thing; a nuisance. 2
a destructive animal, esp. an insect which attacks crops,
livestock, etc. 3 archaic a pestilence; a plague. Ьpest-house
hist. a hospital for sufferers from the plague etc. [F peste
or L pestis plague]
pester v.tr. trouble or annoy, esp. with frequent or persistent
requests. ЬЬpesterer n. [prob. f. impester f. F empestrer
encumber: infl. by PEST]
pesticide n. a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms
harmful to cultivated plants or to animals. ЬЬpesticidal adj.
n. a fatal epidemic disease, esp. bubonic plague. [ME f. OF f.
L pestilentia (as PESTILENT)]
pestilent adj. 1 destructive to life, deadly. 2 harmful or morally
destructive. 3 colloq. troublesome; annoying. ЬЬpestilently
adv. [L pestilens, pestilentus f. pestis plague]
adj. 1 of or relating to pestilence. 2 dangerous; troublesome;
pestilent. ЬЬpestilentially adv. [ME f. med.L pestilentialis
f. L pestilentia (as PESTILENT)]
pestle n. & v. --n. 1 a club-shaped instrument for pounding
substances in a mortar. 2 an appliance for pounding etc. --v.
1 tr. pound with a pestle or in a similar manner. 2 intr. use a
pestle. [ME f. OF pestel f. L pistillum f. pinsare pist- to
pestology n. the scientific study of pests (esp. harmful insects) and of
methods of dealing with them. ЬЬpestological adj. pestologist
Pet. abbr. Peter (New Testament).
pet(1) n., adj., & v. --n. 1 a domestic or tamed animal kept for
pleasure or companionship. 2 a darling, a favourite (often as a
term of endearment). --attrib.adj. 1 kept as a pet (pet lamb).
2 of or for pet animals (pet food). 3 often joc. favourite or
particular (pet aversion). 4 expressing fondness or familiarity
(pet name). --v.tr. (petted, petting) 1 treat as a pet. 2
(also absol.) fondle, esp. erotically. ЬЬpetter n. [16th-c.
Sc. & N.Engl. dial.: orig. unkn.]
pet(2) n. a feeling of petty resentment or ill-humour (esp. be in a
pet). [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
peta- comb. form denoting a factor of 10(15). [perh. f. PENTA-]
petal n. each of the parts of the corolla of a flower. ЬЬpetaline
adj. petalled adj. (also in comb.). petal-like adj. petaloid
adj. [mod.L petalum, in LL metal plate f. Gk petalon leaf f.
petard n. hist. 1 a small bomb used to blast down a door etc. 2 a
kind of firework or cracker. Ьhoist with one's own petard
affected oneself by one's schemes against others. [F p‚tard f.
p‚ter break wind]
petasus n. 1 an ancient Greek hat with a low crown and broad brim, esp.
(in Greek mythology) as worn by Hermes. 2 the winged hat of
Hermes. [L f. Gk petasos]
petaurist n. any flying squirrel of the genus Petaurista, native to E.
Asia. [Gk petauristes performer on a springboard (petauron)]
Pete n. Ьfor Pete's sake see SAKE(1). [abbr. of the name Peter]
petechia n. (pl. petechiae) Med. a small red or purple spot as a
result of bleeding into the skin. ЬЬpetechial adj. [mod.L f.
It. petecchia a freckle or spot on one's face]
peter(1) v. & n. --v.intr. 1 (foll. by out) (orig. of a vein of ore
etc.) diminish, come to an end. 2 Bridge play an echo. --n.
Bridge an echo. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
peter(2) n. sl. 1 a prison cell. 2 a safe. [perh. f. the name Peter]
peterman n. (pl. -men) sl. a safe-breaker.
Peter Pan n. a person who retains youthful features, or who is immature.
[hero of J. M. Barrie's play of the same name (1904)]
n. joc. the principle that members of a hierarchy are promoted
until they reach the level at which they are no longer
competent. [L. J. Peter, its propounder, b. 1919]
petersham n. thick corded silk ribbon used for stiffening in dressmaking
etc. [Lord Petersham, Engl. army officer d. 1851]
n.pl. RC Ch. 1 hist. an annual tax of one penny, formerly paid
to the papal see. 2 (since 1860) a voluntary payment to the
papal treasury. [St Peter, as first pope]
pethidine n. a synthetic soluble analgesic used esp. in childbirth.
[perh. f. PIPERIDINE (from which the drug is derived) + ETHYL]
petiole n. the slender stalk joining a leaf to a stem. ЬЬpetiolar adj.
petiolate adj. [F p‚tiole f. L petiolus little foot, stalk]
petit adj. esp. Law petty; small; of lesser importance. Ьpetit jury
= petty jury. [ME f. OF, = small, f. Rmc, perh. imit. of
n. (pl. petits bourgeois pronunc. same) a member of the lower
middle classes. [F]
petite adj. (of a woman) of small and dainty build. Ь petite
bourgeoisie the lower middle classes. [F, fem. of PETIT]
n. (pl. petits fours) a very small fancy cake, biscuit, or
sweet. [F, = little oven]
petition n. & v. --n. 1 a supplication or request. 2 a formal written
request, esp. one signed by many people, appealing to authority
in some cause. 3 Law an application to a court for a writ etc.
--v. 1 tr. make or address a petition to (petition your MP). 2
intr. (often foll. by for, to) appeal earnestly or humbly.
ЬPetition of Right 1 hist. a parliamentary declaration of rights
and liberties of the people assented to by Charles I in 1628. 2
Law a common-law remedy against the crown for the recovery of
property. ЬЬpetitionable adj. petitionary adj. petitioner n.
[ME f. OF f. L petitio -onis]
n. a logical fallacy in which a conclusion is taken for granted
in the premiss; begging the question. [L, = assuming a
principle: see PETITION]
n. a dandy or coxcomb. [F, = little master]
petit mal n. a mild form of epilepsy with only momentary loss of
consciousness (cf. GRAND MAL). [F, = little sickness]
n. 1 embroidery on canvas using small stitches. 2 tent-stitch.
[F, = little point]
n.pl. small green peas. [F]
adj. denoting a sonnet of the kind used by the Italian poet
Petrarch (d. 1374), with an octave rhyming abbaabba, and a
sestet usu. rhyming cdcdcd or cdecde.
petrel n. any of various sea birds of the family Procellariidae or
Hydrobatidae, usu. flying far from land. [17th c. (also
pitteral), of uncert. orig.: later assoc. with St Peter (Matt.
n. a shallow covered dish used for the culture of bacteria etc.
[J. R. Petri, Ger. bacteriologist d. 1921]
n. 1 the process of fossilization whereby organic matter is
turned into a stony substance. 2 a petrified substance or mass.
3 a state of extreme fear or terror. [PETRIFY after
petrify v. (-ies, -ied) 1 tr. paralyse with fear, astonishment, etc. 2
tr. change (organic matter) into a stony substance. 3 intr.
become like stone. 4 tr. deprive (the mind, a doctrine, etc.)
of vitality; deaden. [F p‚trifier f. med.L petrificare f. L
petra rock f. Gk]
petro- comb. form 1 rock. 2 petroleum (petrochemistry). [Gk petros
stone or petra rock]
n. & adj. --n. a substance industrially obtained from petroleum
or natural gas. --adj. of or relating to petrochemistry or
n. 1 the chemistry of rocks. 2 the chemistry of petroleum.
n. a notional unit of currency earned by a petroleum-exporting
n. a rock-carving, esp. a prehistoric one. [PETRO- + Gk glyphe
n. the scientific description of the composition and formation
of rocks. ЬЬpetrographer n. petrographic adj. petrographical
petrol n. Brit. 1 refined petroleum used as a fuel in motor vehicles,
aircraft, etc. 2 (attrib.) concerned with the supply of petrol
(petrol pump; petrol station). Ьpetrol bomb a simple bomb made
of a petrol-filled bottle and a wick. [F p‚trole f. med.L
petroleum: see PETROLEUM]
n. US petroleum jelly. [mod.L f. PETROL + -atum]
petroleum n. a hydrocarbon oil found in the upper strata of the earth,
refined for use as a fuel for heating and in internal-combustion
engines, for lighting, dry-cleaning, etc. Ьpetroleum ether a
volatile liquid distilled from petroleum, consisting of a
mixture of hydrocarbons. petroleum jelly a translucent solid
mixture of hydrocarbons used as a lubricant, ointment, etc.
[med.L f. L petra rock f. Gk + L oleum oil]
petrolic adj. of or relating to petrol or petroleum.
petrology n. the study of the origin, structure, composition, etc., of
rocks. ЬЬpetrologic adj. petrological adj. petrologist n.
petrous adj. 1 Anat. denoting the hard part of the temporal bone
protecting the inner ear. 2 Geol. of, like, or relating to
rock. [L petrosus f. L petra rock f. Gk]
petticoat n. 1 a woman's or girl's skirted undergarment hanging from the
waist or shoulders. 2 sl. a a woman or girl. b (in pl.) the
female sex. 3 (attrib.) often derog. feminine; associated with
women (petticoat pedantry). ЬЬpetticoated adj. petticoatless
adj. [ME f. petty coat]
pettifog v.intr. (pettifogged, pettifogging) 1 practise legal deception
or trickery. 2 quibble or wrangle about petty points.
[back-form. f. PETTIFOGGER]
n. 1 a rascally lawyer; an inferior legal practitioner. 2 a
petty practitioner in any activity. ЬЬpettifoggery n.
pettifogging adj. [PETTY + fogger underhand dealer, prob. f.
Fugger family of merchants in Augsburg in the 15th-16th c.]
pettish adj. peevish, petulant; easily put out. ЬЬpettishly adv.
pettishness n. [PET(2) + -ISH(1)]
petty adj. (pettier, pettiest) 1 unimportant; trivial. 2 mean,
small-minded; contemptible. 3 minor; inferior; on a small scale
(petty princes). 4 Law (of a crime) of lesser importance (petty
sessions) (cf. COMMON, GRAND). Ьpetty bourgeois = PETIT
BOURGEOIS. petty bourgeoisie = petite bourgeoisie. petty cash
money from or for small items of receipt or expenditure. petty
jury a jury of 12 persons who try the final issue of fact in
civil or criminal cases and pronounce a verdict. petty officer
a naval NCO. petty treason see TREASON. ЬЬpettily adv.
pettiness n. [ME pety, var. of PETIT]
petulant adj. peevishly impatient or irritable. ЬЬpetulance n.
petulantly adv. [F p‚tulant f. L petulans -antis f. petere
petunia n. 1 any plant of the genus Petunia with white, purple, red,
etc., funnel-shaped flowers. 2 a dark violet or purple colour.
[mod.L f. F petun f. Guarani pety tobacco]
petuntse n. a white variable feldspathic mineral used for making
porcelain. [Chin. baidunzi f. bai white + dun stone + suffix
pew n. & v. --n. 1 (in a church) a long bench with a back; an
enclosed compartment. 2 Brit. colloq. a seat (esp. take a
pew). --v.tr. furnish with pews. ЬЬpewage n. pewless adj.
[ME pywe, puwe f. OF puye balcony f. L podia pl. of PODIUM]
pewit var. of PEEWIT.
pewter n. 1 a grey alloy of tin with lead, copper, or antimony or
various other metals. 2 utensils made of this. 3 sl. a tankard
etc. as a prize. ЬЬpewterer n. [ME f. OF peutre, peualtre f.
Rmc, of unkn. orig.]
peyote n. 1 any Mexican cactus of the genus Lophophora, esp. L.
williamsii having no spines and button-like tops when dried. 2
a hallucinogenic drug containing mescaline prepared from this.
[Amer. Sp. f. Nahuatl peyotl]
pH n. Chem. a logarithm of the reciprocal of the hydrogen-ion
concentration in moles per litre of a solution, giving a measure
of its acidity or alkalinity. [G, f. Potenz power + H (symbol
phaeton n. 1 a light open four-wheeled carriage, usu. drawn by a pair
of horses. 2 US a touring-car. [F pha‚ton f. L Phaethon f. Gk
Phaethon, son of Helios the sun god who was allowed to drive the
sun-chariot for a day, with disastrous results]
phage n. = BACTERIOPHAGE. [abbr.]
phagocyte n. a type of cell capable of engulfing and absorbing foreign
matter, esp. a leucocyte ingesting bacteria in the body.
ЬЬphagocytic adj. [Gk phag- eat + -CYTE]
n. the ingestion of bacteria etc. by phagocytes. ЬЬphagocytize
v.tr. (also -ise). phagocytose v.tr.
-phagous comb. form that eats (as specified) (ichthyophagous). [L
-phagus f. Gk -phagos f. phagein eat]
-phagy comb. form the eating of (specified food) (ichthyophagy). [Gk
-phagia (as -PHAGOUS)]
phalange n. 1 Anat. = PHALANX 4. 2 (Phalange) a right-wing activist
Maronite party in Lebanon (cf. FALANGE). [F f. L phalanx: see
adj. Anat. of or relating to a phalanx.
phalanger n. any of various marsupials of the family Phalangeridae,
including cuscuses and possums. [F f. Gk phalaggion spider's
web, f. the webbed toes of its hind feet]
phalanx n. (pl. phalanxes or phalanges) 1 Gk Antiq. a line of battle,
esp. a body of Macedonian infantry drawn up in close order. 2 a
set of people etc. forming a compact mass, or banded for a
common purpose. 3 a bone of the finger or toe. 4 Bot. a bundle
of stamens united by filaments. [L f. Gk phalagx -ggos]
phalarope n. any small wading or swimming bird of the subfamily
Phalaropodidae, with a straight bill and lobed feet. [F f.
mod.L Phalaropus, irreg. f. Gk phalaris coot + pous podos foot]
phalli pl. of PHALLUS.
phallic adj. 1 of, relating to, or resembling a phallus. 2 Psychol.
denoting the stage of male sexual development characterized by
preoccupation with the genitals. ЬЬphallically adv. [F
phallique & Gk phallikos (as PHALLUS)]
adj. centred on the phallus or on male attitudes.
ЬЬphallocentricity n. phallocentrism n.
phallus n. (pl. phalli or phalluses) 1 the (esp. erect) penis. 2 an
image of this as a symbol of generative power in nature.
ЬЬphallicism n. phallism n. [LL f. Gk phallos]
phanariot n. hist. a member of a class of Greek officials in
Constantinople under the Ottoman Empire. [mod.Gk phanariotes f.
Phanar the part of the city where they lived f. Gk phanarion
lighthouse (on the Golden Horn)]
n. Bot. a plant that has stamens and pistils, a flowering
plant (cf. CRYPTOGAM). ЬЬphanerogamic adj. phanerogamous adj.
[F phan‚rogame f. Gk phaneros visible + gamos marriage]
var. of FANTASIZE.
phantasm n. 1 an illusion, a phantom. 2 (usu. foll. by of) an illusory
likeness. 3 a supposed vision of an absent (living or dead)
person. ЬЬphantasmal adj. phantasmic adj. [ME f. OF fantasme
f. L f. Gk phantasma f. phantazo make visible f. phaino show]
n. 1 a shifting series of real or imaginary figures as seen in
a dream. 2 an optical device for rapidly varying the size of
images on a screen. ЬЬphantasmagoric adj. phantasmagorical
adj. [prob. f. F fantasmagorie (as PHANTASM + fanciful ending)]
phantast var. of FANTAST.
phantasy var. of FANTASY.
phantom n. & adj. --n. 1 a ghost; an apparition; a spectre. 2 a form
without substance or reality; a mental illusion. 3 Med. a model
of the whole or part of the body used to practise or demonstrate
operative or therapeutic methods. --adj. merely apparent;
illusory. Ьphantom circuit an arrangement of telegraph or other
electrical wires equivalent to an extra circuit. phantom limb a
continuing sensation of the presence of a limb which has been
amputated. phantom pregnancy Med. the symptoms of pregnancy in
a person not actually pregnant. [ME f. OF fantosme ult. f. Gk
phantasma (as PHANTASM)]
Pharaoh n. 1 the ruler of ancient Egypt. 2 the title of this ruler.
ЬPharaoh's serpent an indoor firework burning and uncoiling in
serpentine form. ЬЬPharaonic adj. [OE f. eccl.L Pharao f. Gk
Pharao f. Heb. par' oh f. Egypt. pr-' o great house]
Pharisee n. 1 a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by
strict observance of the traditional and written law, and
commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity. 2 a
self-righteous person; a hypocrite. ЬЬPharisaic adj.
Pharisaical adj. Pharisaism n. [OE fariseus & OF pharise f.
eccl.L pharisaeus f. Gk Pharisaios f. Aram. p' risayyѓ pl. f.
Heb. par–s separated]
adj. 1 of or engaged in pharmacy. 2 of the use or sale of
medicinal drugs. ЬЬpharmaceutically adv. pharmaceutics n. [LL
pharmaceuticus f. Gk pharmakeutikos f. pharmakeutes druggist f.
n. a person qualified to prepare and dispense drugs.
n. the science of drugs, esp. relating to medicinal products in
their natural or unprepared state. [Gk pharmakon drug + gnosis
n. the science of the action of drugs on the body.
ЬЬpharmacological adj. pharmacologically adv. pharmacologist
n. [mod.L pharmacologia f. Gk pharmakon drug]
n. 1 a book, esp. one officially published, containing a list
of drugs with directions for use. 2 a stock of drugs.
ЬЬpharmacopoeial adj. [mod.L f. Gk pharmakopoiia f.
pharmakopoios drug-maker (as PHARMACOLOGY + -poios making)]
pharmacy n. (pl. -ies) 1 the preparation and the (esp. medicinal)
dispensing of drugs. 2 a pharmacist's shop, a dispensary. [ME
f. OF farmacie f. med.L pharmacia f. Gk pharmakeia practice of
the druggist f. pharmakeus f. pharmakon drug]
pharos n. a lighthouse or a beacon to guide sailors. [L f. Gk Pharos
island off Alexandria where a famous lighthouse stood]
pharyngo- comb. form denoting the pharynx.
n. (pl. -ies) an incision into the pharynx.
pharynx n. (pl. pharynges) a cavity, with enclosing muscles and mucous
membrane, behind the nose and mouth, and connecting them to the
oesophagus. ЬЬpharyngal adj. pharyngeal adj. pharyngitis n.
[mod.L f. Gk pharugx -ggos]
phase n. & v. --n. 1 a distinct period or stage in a process of
change or development. 2 each of the aspects of the moon or a
planet, according to the amount of its illumination, esp. the
new moon, the first quarter, the last quarter, and the full
moon. 3 Physics a stage in a periodically recurring sequence,
esp. of alternating electric currents or light vibrations. 4 a
difficult or unhappy period, esp. in adolescence. 5 a genetic
or seasonal variety of an animal's coloration etc. 6 Chem. a
distinct and homogeneous form of matter separated by its surface
from other forms. --v.tr. carry out (a programme etc.) in
phases or stages. Ьin phase having the same phase at the same
time. out of phase not in phase. phase in (or out) bring
gradually into (or out of) use. phase rule Chem. a rule
relating numbers of phases, constituents, and degrees of
freedom. three-phase (of an electric generator, motor, etc.)
designed to supply or use simultaneously three separate
alternating currents of the same voltage, but with phases
differing by a third of a period. ЬЬphasic adj. [F phase & f.
earlier phasis f. Gk phasis appearance f. phaino phan- show]
phatic adj. (of speech etc.) used to convey general sociability rather
than to communicate a specific meaning, e.g. 'nice morning,
isn't it?'. [Gk phatos spoken f. phemi phan- speak]
Ph.D. abbr. Doctor of Philosophy. [L philosophiae doctor]
pheasant n. any of several long-tailed game-birds of the family
Phasianidae, orig. from Asia. ЬЬpheasantry n. (pl. -ies).
[ME f. AF fesaunt f. OF faisan f. L phasianus f. Gk phasianos
(bird) of the river Phasis in Asia Minor]
n. an acetyl derivative of phenol used to treat fever etc.
[PHENO- + ACETYL + -IN]
pheno- comb. form 1 Chem. derived from benzene (phenol; phenyl). 2
showing (phenocryst). [Gk phaino shine (with ref. to substances
used for illumination), show]
n. (US phenobarbital) a narcotic and sedative barbiturate drug
used esp. to treat epilepsy.
n. a large or conspicuous crystal in porphyritic rock. [F
ph‚nocryste (as PHENO-, CRYSTAL)]
phenol n. Chem. 1 the monohydroxyl derivative of benzene used in
dilute form as an antiseptic and disinfectant. Also called
CARBOLIC. °Chem. formula: CHOH. 2 any hydroxyl
derivative of an aromatic hydrocarbon. ЬЬphenolic adj. [F
ph‚nole f. phЉne benzene (formed as PHENO-)]
n. Chem. a white crystalline solid used in solution as an
acid-base indicator and medicinally as a laxative. [PHENOL +
phthal f. NAPHTHALENE + -IN]
phenomena pl. of PHENOMENON.
adj. 1 of the nature of a phenomenon. 2 extraordinary,
remarkable, prodigious. 3 perceptible by, or perceptible only
to, the senses. ЬЬphenomenalize v.tr. (also -ise).
n. Philos. 1 the doctrine that human knowledge is confined to
the appearances presented to the senses. 2 the doctrine that
appearances are the foundation of all our knowledge.
ЬЬphenomenalist n. phenomenalistic adj.
n. Philos. 1 the science of phenomena. 2 the description and
classification of phenomena. ЬЬphenomenological adj.
n. (pl. phenomena) 1 a fact or occurrence that appears or is
perceived, esp. one of which the cause is in question. 2 a
remarkable person or thing. 3 Philos. the object of a person's
perception; what the senses or the mind notice. [LL f. Gk
phainomenon neut. pres. part. of phainomai appear f. phaino
phenotype n. Biol. a set of observable characteristics of an individual
or group as determined by its genotype and environment.
ЬЬphenotypic adj. phenotypical adj. phenotypically adv. [G
Phaenotypus (as PHENO-, TYPE)]
phenyl n. Chem. the univalent radical formed from benzene by the
removal of a hydrogen atom. [PHENO- + -YL]
n. Biochem. an amino acid widely distributed in plant proteins
and essential in the human diet. [PHENYL + ALANINE]
n. an inherited inability to metabolize phenylalanine,
ultimately leading to mental deficiency if untreated. [PHENYL +
KETONE + -URIA]
pheromone n. a chemical substance secreted and released by an animal for
detection and response by another usu. of the same species.
ЬЬpheromonal adj. [Gk phero convey + HORMONE]
phew int. an expression of impatience, discomfort, relief,
astonishment, or disgust. [imit. of puffing]
phi n. the twenty-first letter of the Greek alphabet. ЬPhi Beta
Kappa 1 (in the US) an intercollegiate honorary society to which
distinguished scholars may be elected (from the initial letters
of a Greek motto, = philosophy is the guide to life). 2 a
member of this society. [Gk]
phial n. a small glass bottle, esp. for liquid medicine. [ME f. OF
fiole f. L phiola phiala f. Gk phiale, a broad flat vessel: cf.
n. any highly-scented deciduous flowering shrub of the genus
Philadelphus, esp. the mock orange. [mod.L f. Gk philadelphon]
philander v.intr. (often foll. by with) flirt or have casual affairs with
women; womanize. ЬЬphilanderer n. [philander (n.) used in Gk
literature as the proper name of a lover, f. Gk philandros fond
of men f. aner male person: see PHIL-]
n. = PHILANTHROPIST (see PHILANTHROPY). [Gk philanthropos (as
PHIL-, anthropos human being)]
n. 1 a love of mankind. 2 practical benevolence, esp. charity
on a large scale. ЬЬphilanthropism n. philanthropist n.
philanthropize v.tr. & intr. (also -ise). [LL philanthropia f.
Gk philanthropia (as PHILANTHROPE)]
philately n. the collection and study of postage stamps. ЬЬphilatelic
adj. philatelically adv. philatelist n. [F philat‚lie f. Gk
ateleia exemption from payment f. a- not + telos toll, tax]
-phile comb. form (also -phil) forming nouns and adjectives denoting
fondness for what is specified (bibliophile; Francophile). [Gk
philos dear, loving]
Philem. abbr. Philemon (New Testament).
adj. 1 fond of music. 2 used characteristically in the names
of orchestras, choirs, etc. (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra). [F
philharmonique f. It. filarmonico (as PHIL-, HARMONIC)]
n. (often attrib.) 1 a lover of Greece and Greek culture. 2
hist. a supporter of the cause of Greek independence.
ЬЬphilhellenic adj. philhellenism n. philhellenist n. [Gk
philellen (as PHIL-, HELLENE)]
-philia comb. form 1 denoting (esp. abnormal) fondness or love for what
is specified (necrophilia). 2 denoting undue inclination
(haemophilia). ЬЬ-philiac comb. form forming nouns and
adjectives. -philic comb. form forming adjectives. -philous
comb. form forming adjectives. [Gk f. philos loving]
philippic n. a bitter verbal attack or denunciation. [L philippicus f.
Gk philippikos the name of Demosthenes' speeches against Philip
II of Macedon and Cicero's against Mark Antony]
adj. of or relating to the Philippine Islands or their people;
Filipino. [Philip II of Spain]
n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of a people opposing the Israelites
in ancient Palestine. 2 (usu. philistine) a person who is
hostile or indifferent to culture, or one whose interests or
tastes are commonplace or material. --adj. hostile or
indifferent to culture, commonplace, prosaic. ЬЬphilistinism n.
[ME f. F Philistin or LL Philistinus f. Gk Philistinos =
Palaistinos f. Heb. pelistЊ]
Phillips n. (usu. attrib.) propr. denoting a screw with a cross-shaped
slot for turning, or a corresponding screwdriver. [name of the
original US manufacturer]
n. a collector of matchbox labels. ЬЬphillumeny n. [PHIL- + L
Philly n. US sl. Philadelphia. [abbr.]
philo- comb. form (also phil- before a vowel or h) denoting a liking
for what is specified.
n. (pl. philodendrons or philodendra) any tropical American
climbing plant of the genus Philodendron, with bright foliage.
[PHILO- + Gk dendron tree]
n. a person who likes or admires women. [PHILO- + Gk gune
philology n. 1 the science of language, esp. in its historical and
comparative aspects. 2 the love of learning and literature.
ЬЬphilologian n. philologist n. philological adj.
philologically adv. philologize v.intr. (also -ise). [F
philologie f. L philologia love of learning f. Gk (as PHILO-,
Philomel n. (also Philomela) poet. the nightingale. [earlier philomene
f. med.L philomena f. L philomela nightingale f. Gk philomela:
cap. with ref. to the myth of Philomela]
n. 1 a person engaged or learned in philosophy or a branch of
it. 2 a person who lives by philosophy. 3 a person who shows
philosophic calmness in trying circumstances. Ьphilosophers'
(or philosopher's) stone the supreme object of alchemy, a
substance supposed to change other metals into gold or silver.
[ME f. AF philosofre var. of OF, philosophe f. L philosophus f.
Gk philosophos (as PHILO-, sophos wise)]
adj. (also philosophic) 1 of or according to philosophy. 2
skilled in or devoted to philosophy or learning; learned
(philosophical society). 3 wise; serene; temperate. 4 calm in
adverse circumstances. ЬЬphilosophically adv. [LL
philosophicus f. L philosophia (as PHILOSOPHY)]
v. (also -ise) 1 intr. reason like a philosopher. 2 intr.
moralize. 3 intr. speculate; theorize. 4 tr. render
philosophic. ЬЬphilosophizer n. [app. f. F philosopher]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 the use of reason and argument in seeking
truth and knowledge of reality, esp. of the causes and nature of
things and of the principles governing existence, the material
universe, perception of physical phenomena, and human behaviour.
2 a a particular system or set of beliefs reached by this. b a
personal rule of life. 3 advanced learning in general (doctor
of philosophy). 4 serenity; calmness; conduct governed by a
particular philosophy. [ME f. OF filosofie f. L philosophia
wisdom f. Gk (as PHILO-, sophos wise)]
philtre n. (US philter) a drink supposed to excite sexual love in the
drinker. [F philtre f. L philtrum f. Gk philtron f. phileo to
-phily comb. form = -PHILIA.
phimosis n. a constriction of the foreskin, making it difficult to
retract. ЬЬphimotic adj. [mod.L f. Gk, = muzzling]
phiz n. (also phizog) Brit. colloq. 1 the face. 2 the expression
on a face. [abbr. of phiznomy = PHYSIOGNOMY]
phlebitis n. inflammation of the walls of a vein. ЬЬphlebitic adj.
[mod.L f. Gk f. phleps phlebos vein]
n. 1 the surgical opening or puncture of a vein. 2 esp. hist.
blood-letting as a medical treatment. ЬЬphlebotomist n.
phlebotomize v.tr. (also -ise). [ME f. OF flebothomi f. LL
phlebotomia f. Gk f. phleps phlebos vein + -TOMY]
phlegm n. 1 the thick viscous substance secreted by the mucous
membranes of the respiratory passages, discharged by coughing.
2 a coolness and calmness of disposition. b sluggishness or
apathy (supposed to result from too much phlegm in the
constitution). 3 archaic phlegm regarded as one of the four
bodily humours. ЬЬphlegmy adj. [ME & OF fleume f. LL phlegma
f. Gk phlegma -atos inflammation f. phlego burn]
phloem n. Bot. the tissue conducting food material in plants (cf.
XYLEM). [Gk phloos bark]
n. a substance formerly supposed to exist in all combustible
bodies, and to be released in combustion. [mod.L f. Gk phlogizo
set on fire f. phlox phlogos flame]
phlox n. any cultivated plant of the genus Phlox, with scented
clusters of esp. white, blue, and red flowers. [L f. Gk phlox,
the name of a plant (lit. flame)]
-phobe comb. form forming nouns and adjectives denoting fear or dislike
of what is specified (xenophobe). [F f. L -phobus f. Gk -phobos
f. phobos fear]
phobia n. an abnormal or morbid fear or aversion. ЬЬphobic adj. & n.
[-PHOBIA used as a separate word]
-phobia comb. form forming abstract nouns denoting fear or aversion of
what is specified (agoraphobia; xenophobia). ЬЬ-phobic comb.
form forming adjectives. [L f. Gk]
phoebe n. any American flycatcher of the genus Sayornis. [imit.:
infl. by the name]
n. & adj. --n. a member of a Semitic people of ancient
Phoenicia in S. Syria or of its colonies. --adj. of or relating
to Phoenicia. [ME f. OF phenicien f. L Phoenicia f. L Phoenice
f. Gk Phoinike Phoenicia]
phoenix n. 1 a mythical bird, the only one of its kind, that after
living for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, burnt
itself on a funeral pyre and rose from the ashes with renewed
youth to live through another cycle. 2 a unique person or
thing. [OE & OF fenix f. L phoenix f. Gk phoinix Phoenician,
pholas n. a piddock, esp. of the genus Pholas. [mod.L f. Gk pholas
that lurks in a hole (pholeos)]
phon n. a unit of the perceived loudness of sounds. [Gk phone
phonate v.intr. utter a vocal sound. ЬЬphonation n. phonatory adj.
[Gk phone voice]
phone(1) n. & v.tr. & intr. colloq. = TELEPHONE. Ьphone book =
telephone directory. phone-in n. a broadcast programme during
which the listeners or viewers telephone the studio etc. and
phone(2) n. a simple vowel or consonant sound. [formed as PHONEME]
-phone comb. form forming nouns and adjectives meaning: 1 an instrument
using or connected with sound (telephone; xylophone). 2 a
person who uses a specified language (anglophone). [Gk phone
phonecard n. a card containing prepaid units for use with a Cardphone.
phoneme n. any of the units of sound in a specified language that
distinguish one word from another (e.g. p, b, d, t as in pad,
pat, bad, bat, in English). ЬЬphonemic adj. phonemics n. [F
phonЉme f. Gk phonema sound, speech f. phoneo speak]
phonetic adj. 1 representing vocal sounds. 2 (of a system of spelling
etc.) having a direct correspondence between symbols and sounds.
3 of or relating to phonetics. ЬЬphonetically adv. phoneticism
n. phoneticist n. phoneticize v.tr. (also -ise). [mod.L
phoneticus f. Gk phonetikos f. phoneo speak]
phonetics n.pl. (usu. treated as sing.) 1 vocal sounds and their
classification. 2 the study of these. ЬЬphonetician n.
phonetist n. 1 a person skilled in phonetics. 2 an advocate of phonetic
phoney adj. & n. (also phony) colloq. --adj. (phonier, phoniest) 1
sham; counterfeit. 2 fictitious; fraudulent. --n. (pl. -eys
or -ies) a phoney person or thing. ЬЬphonily adv. phoniness n.
[20th c.: orig. unkn.]
phonic adj. & n. --adj. of sound; acoustic; of vocal sounds. --n. (in
pl.) a method of teaching reading based on sounds. ЬЬphonically
adv. [Gk phone voice]
phono- comb. form denoting sound. [Gk phone voice, sound]
phonogram n. a symbol representing a spoken sound.
n. 1 Brit. an early form of gramophone using cylinders and able
to record as well as reproduce sound. 2 US a gramophone.
n. 1 writing in esp. shorthand symbols, corresponding to the
sounds of speech. 2 the recording of sounds by phonograph.
phonology n. the study of sounds in a language. ЬЬphonological adj.
phonologically adv. phonologist n.
phonon n. Physics a quantum of sound or elastic vibrations. [Gk phone
sound, after PHOTON]
phony var. of PHONEY.
phooey int. an expression of disgust or disbelief. [imit.]
-phore comb. form forming nouns meaning 'bearer' (ctenophore;
semaphore). ЬЬ-phorous comb. form forming adjectives. [mod.L
f. Gk -phoros -phoron bearing, bearer f. phero bear]
phoresy n. Biol. an association in which one organism is carried by
another, without being a parasite. ЬЬphoretic adj. [F phor‚sie
f. Gk phoresis being carried]
phormium n. 1 a liliaceous plant, Phormium tenax, yielding a leaf-fibre
that is used commercially. 2 New Zealand flax. [mod.L f. Gk
phormion a species of plant]
phosgene n. a colourless poisonous gas (carbonyl chloride), formerly
used in warfare. °Chem. formula: COCl. [Gk phos light +
-GEN, with ref. to its orig. production by the action of
sunlight on chlorine and carbon monoxide]
n. Biochem. any enzyme that catalyses the synthesis or
hydrolysis of an organic phosphate.
phosphate n. 1 any salt or ester of phosphoric acid, esp. used as a
fertilizer. 2 an effervescent drink containing a small amount
of phosphate. ЬЬphosphatic adj. [F f. phosphore PHOSPHORUS]
phosphene n. the sensation of rings of light produced by pressure on the
eyeball due to irritation of the retina. [irreg. f. Gk phos
light + phaino show]
phosphide n. Chem. a binary compound of phosphorus with another element
phosphine n. Chem. a colourless ill-smelling gas, phosphorus trihydride.
°Chem. formula: PH. ЬЬphosphinic adj. [PHOSPHO- + -INE(4),
phosphite n. Chem. any salt or ester of phosphorous acid. [F (as
phospho- comb. form denoting phosphorus. [abbr.]
n. Biochem. any lipid consisting of a phosphate group and one
or more fatty acids.
phosphor n. 1 = PHOSPHORUS. 2 a synthetic fluorescent or phosphorescent
substance esp. used in cathode-ray tubes. Ьphosphor bronze a
tough hard bronze alloy containing a small amount of phosphorus,
used esp. for bearings. [G f. L phosphorus PHOSPHORUS]
v.tr. combine or impregnate with phosphorus.
n. 1 radiation similar to fluorescence but detectable after
excitation ceases. 2 the emission of light without combustion
or perceptible heat. ЬЬphosphoresce v.intr. phosphorescent
n. a non-crystalline form of apatite.
n. Chem. a non-metallic element occurring naturally in various
phosphate rocks and existing in allotropic forms, esp. as a
poisonous whitish waxy substance burning slowly at ordinary
temperatures and so appearing luminous in the dark, and a
reddish form used in matches, fertilizers, etc. °Symb.: P.
ЬЬphosphoric adj. phosphorous adj. [L, = morning star, f. Gk
phosphoros f. phos light + -phoros -bringing]
v.tr. Chem. introduce a phosphate group into (an organic
molecule etc.). ЬЬphosphorylation n.
n. colloq. hist. gangrene of the jawbone caused by phosphorus
phot n. a unit of illumination equal to one lumen per square
centimetre. [Gk phos photos light]
photic adj. 1 of or relating to light. 2 (of ocean layers) reached by
photism n. a hallucinatory sensation or vision of light. [Gk photismos
f. photizo shine f. phos photos light]
photo n. & v. --n. (pl. -os) = PHOTOGRAPH n. --v.tr. (-oes, -oed)
= PHOTOGRAPH v. Ьphoto-call an occasion on which theatrical
performers, famous personalities, etc., pose for photographers
by arrangement. photo finish a close finish of a race or
contest, esp. one where the winner is only distinguishable on a
photo- comb. form denoting: 1 light (photosensitive). 2 photography
(photocomposition). [Gk phos photos light, or as abbr. of
n. the study of the effects of light on living organisms.
photocell n. = photoelectric cell.
n. the study of the chemical effects of light. ЬЬphotochemical
n. = FILMSETTING.
n. conductivity due to the action of light. ЬЬphotoconductive
adj. photoconductor n.
n. a machine for producing photocopies.
photocopy n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) a photographic copy of printed or
written material produced by a process involving the action of
light on a specially prepared surface. --v.tr. (-ies, -ied)
make a photocopy of. ЬЬphotocopiable adj.
n. a semiconductor diode responding electrically to
adj. marked by or using emissions of electrons from substances
exposed to light. Ьphotoelectric cell a device using this
effect to generate current. ЬЬphotoelectricity n.
n. an electron emitted from an atom by interaction with a
photon, esp. one emitted from a solid surface by the action of
n. the emission of electrons from a surface by the action of
light incident on it. ЬЬphotoemitter n.
photofit n. a reconstructed picture of a person (esp. one sought by the
police) made from composite photographs of facial features (cf.
adj. 1 (esp. of a person) having an appearance that looks
pleasing in photographs. 2 Biol. producing or emitting light.
photogram n. 1 a picture produced with photographic materials but without
a camera. 2 archaic a photograph.
n. the use of photography for surveying. ЬЬphotogrammetrist n.
n. & v. --n. a picture taken by means of the chemical action of
light or other radiation on sensitive film. --v.tr. (also
absol.) take a photograph of (a person etc.). ЬЬphotographable
adj. photographer n. photographic adj. photographically adv.
n. the taking and processing of photographs.
n. 1 an image produced from a photographic negative transferred
to a metal plate and etched in. 2 this process . [F (as
PHOTO-, gravure engraving)]
n. the art or practice of relating news by photographs, with or
without an accompanying text, esp. in magazines etc.
n. (also photolitho) lithography using plates made
photographically. ЬЬphotolithographer n. photolithographic
adj. photolithographically adv.
n. decomposition or dissociation of molecules by the action of
light. ЬЬphotolyse v.tr. & intr. photolytic adj.
n. an instrument for measuring light. ЬЬphotometric adj.
n. a photograph of an image produced by a microscope.
photon n. a quantum of electromagnetic radiation energy, proportional
to the frequency of radiation. [Gk phos photos light, after
n. offset printing with plates made photographically.
n. the period of daily illumination which an organism receives.
n. the response of an organism to changes in the lengths of the
daily periods of light.
n. an abnormal fear of or aversion to light. ЬЬphotophobic
n. any living structure that responds to incident light.
adj. reacting chemically, electrically, etc., to light.
n. = FILMSETTING. ЬЬphotoset v.tr. (past and past part.
-set). photosetter n.
n. the luminous envelope of a star from which its light and
heat radiate. ЬЬphotospheric adj.
Photostat n. & v. --n. propr. 1 a type of machine for making
photocopies. 2 a copy made by this means. --v.tr. (photostat)
(-statted, -statting) make a Photostat of. ЬЬphotostatic adj.
n. the process in which the energy of sunlight is used by
organisms, esp. green plants to synthesize carbohydrates from
carbon dioxide and water. ЬЬphotosynthesize v.tr. & intr.
(also -ise). photosynthetic adj. photosynthetically adv.
n. a transistor that responds to incident light by generating
and amplifying an electric current.
n. the tendency of a plant etc. to bend or turn towards or away
from a source of light. ЬЬphototropic adj.
adj. relating to the production of electric current at the
junction of two substances exposed to light.
phrasal adj. Gram. consisting of a phrase. Ьphrasal verb an idiomatic
phrase consisting of a verb and an adverb (e.g. break down) or
a verb and a preposition (e.g. see to).
phrase n. & v. --n. 1 a group of words forming a conceptual unit, but
not a sentence. 2 an idiomatic or short pithy expression. 3 a
manner or mode of expression (a nice turn of phrase). 4 Mus. a
group of notes forming a distinct unit within a larger piece.
--v.tr. 1 express in words (phrased the reply badly). 2 (esp.
when reading aloud or speaking) divide (sentences etc.) into
units so as to convey the meaning of the whole. 3 Mus. divide
(music) into phrases etc. in performance. Ьphrase book a book
for tourists etc. listing useful expressions with their
equivalent in a foreign language. ЬЬphrasing n. [earlier
phrasis f. L f. Gk f. phrazo declare, tell]
n. a written symbol representing a phrase, esp. in shorthand.
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a choice or arrangement of words. 2 a mode of
expression. ЬЬphraseological adj. [mod.L phraseologia f. Gk
phraseon genit. pl. of phrasis PHRASE]
phreatic adj. Geol. 1 (of water) situated underground in the zone of
saturation; ground water. 2 (of a volcanic eruption or
explosion) caused by the heating and expansion of underground
water. [Gk phrear phreatos well]
phrenetic adj. 1 frantic. 2 fanatic. ЬЬphrenetically adv. [ME, var. of
phrenic adj. Anat. of or relating to the diaphragm. [F phr‚nique f.
Gk phren phrenos diaphragm, mind]
n. hist. the study of the shape and size of the cranium as a
supposed indication of character and mental faculties.
ЬЬphrenological adj. phrenologist n.
Phrygian n. & adj. --n. 1 a native or inhabitant of ancient Phrygia in
central Asia Minor. 2 the language of this people. --adj. of
or relating to Phrygia or its people or language. ЬPhrygian
bonnet (or cap) an ancient conical cap with the top bent
forwards, now identified with the cap of liberty. Phrygian mode
Mus. the mode represented by the natural diatonic scale E-E.
n. Chem. one of three isomeric dicarboxylic acids derived from
benzene. ЬЬphthalate n. [abbr. of NAPHTHALIC: see NAPHTHALENE]
phthisis n. any progressive wasting disease, esp. pulmonary
tuberculosis. ЬЬphthisic adj. phthisical adj. [L f. Gk f.
phthino to decay]
phut n. a dull abrupt sound as of an impact or explosion. Ьgo phut
colloq. (esp. of a scheme or plan) collapse, break down.
[perh. f. Hindi phatna to burst]
phycology n. the study of algae. ЬЬphycological adj. phycologist n.
[Gk phukos seaweed + -LOGY]
n. any of various fungi which typically form non-septate
mycelium. [Gk phukos seaweed + pl. of Gk mukes mushroom]
phyla pl. of PHYLUM.
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a small leather box containing Hebrew texts on
vellum, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to
keep the law. 2 an amulet; a charm. 3 a usu. ostentatious
religious observance. 4 a fringe; a border. [ME f. OF f. LL
phylacterium f. Gk phulakterion amulet f. phulasso guard]
phyletic adj. Biol. of or relating to the development of a species or
other group. [Gk phuletikos f. phuletes tribesman f. phule
phyllo- comb. form leaf. [Gk phullo- f. phullon leaf]
phyllode n. a flattened leaf-stalk resembling a leaf. [mod.L phyllodium
f. Gk phullodes leaflike (as PHYLLO-)]
adj. feeding on leaves.
n. one of the K vitamins, found in cabbage, spinach, and other
leafy green vegetables, and essential for the blood clotting
process. Also called vitamin K.
n. any bat of the family Phyllostomatidae having a nose leaf.
[PHYLLO- + Gk stoma mouth]
n. (also phyllotaxy) the arrangement of leaves on an axis or
stem. ЬЬphyllotactic adj.
n. any plant-louse of the genus Phylloxera, esp. of a species
attacking vines. [mod.L f. Gk phullon leaf + xeros dry]
phylo- comb. form Biol. denoting a race or tribe. [Gk phulon, phule]
n. (also phylogeny) 1 the evolutionary development of an
organism or groups of organisms. 2 a history of this.
ЬЬphylogenetic adj. phylogenic adj.
phylum n. (pl. phyla) Biol. a taxonomic rank below kingdom
comprising a class or classes and subordinate taxa. [mod.L f.
Gk phulon race]
physalis n. any plant of the genus Physalis, bearing fruit surrounded by
lantern-like calyxes (see Chinese lantern 2). [Gk physallis
bladder, with ref. to the inflated calyx]
physic n. & v. esp. archaic. --n. 1 a medicine (a dose of physic).
2 the art of healing. 3 the medical profession. --v.tr.
(physicked, physicking) dose with physic. Ьphysic garden a
garden for cultivating medicinal herbs etc. [ME f. OF fisique
medicine f. L physica f. Gk phusike (episteme) (knowledge) of
physical adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or concerning the body (physical
exercise; physical education). 2 of matter; material (both
mental and physical force). 3 a of, or according to, the laws
of nature (a physical impossibility). b belonging to physics
(physical science). --n. (in full physical examination) a
medical examination to determine physical fitness. Ьphysical
chemistry the application of physics to the study of chemical
behaviour. physical geography geography dealing with natural
features. physical jerks colloq. physical exercises. physical
science the sciences used in the study of inanimate natural
objects, e.g. physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc. physical
training exercises promoting bodily fitness and strength.
ЬЬphysicality n. physically adv. physicalness n. [ME f. med.L
physicalis f. L physica (as PHYSIC)]
physician n. 1 a a person legally qualified to practise medicine and
surgery. b a specialist in medical diagnosis and treatment. c
any medical practitioner. 2 a healer (work is the best
physician). [ME f. OF fisicien (as PHYSIC)]
physicist n. a person skilled or qualified in physics.
physico- comb. form 1 physical (and). 2 of physics (and). [Gk phusikos
adj. relating to physics and chemistry or to physical
physics n. the science dealing with the properties and interactions of
matter and energy. [pl. of physic physical (thing), after L
physica, Gk phusika natural things f. phusis nature]
physio n. (pl. -os) colloq. a physiotherapist. [abbr.]
physio- comb. form nature; what is natural. [Gk phusis nature]
n. (pl. -ies) hist. 1 government according to the natural
order, esp. as advocated by some 18th-c. economists. 2 a
society based on this. ЬЬphysiocrat n. physiocratic adj. [F
physiocratie (as PHYSIO-, -CRACY)]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a the cast or form of a person's features,
expression, body, etc. b the art of supposedly judging
character from facial characteristics etc. 2 the external
features of a landscape etc. 3 a characteristic, esp. moral,
aspect. ЬЬphysiognomic adj. physiognomical adj.
physiognomically adv. physiognomist n. [ME fisnomie etc. f. OF
phisonomie f. med.L phisonomia f. Gk phusiognomonia judging of a
man's nature (by his features) (as PHYSIO-, gnomon judge)]
n. the description of nature, of natural phenomena, or of a
class of objects; physical geography. ЬЬphysiographer n.
physiographic adj. physiographical adj. physiographically adv.
[F physiographie (as PHYSIO-, -GRAPHY)]
adj. (also physiologic) of or concerning physiology.
Ьphysiological salt solution a saline solution having a
concentration about equal to that of body fluids.
n. 1 the science of the functions of living organisms and their
parts. 2 these functions. ЬЬphysiologist n. [F physiologie or
L physiologia f. Gk phusiologia (as PHYSIO-, -LOGY)]
n. the treatment of disease, injury, deformity, etc., by
physical methods including manipulation, massage, infrared heat
treatment, remedial exercise, etc., not by drugs.
physique n. the bodily structure, development, and organization of an
individual (an undernourished physique). [F, orig. adj. (as
-phyte comb. form forming nouns denoting a vegetable or plantlike
organism (saprophyte; zoophyte). ЬЬ-phytic comb. form forming
adjectives. [Gk phuton plant f. phuo come into being]
phyto- comb. form denoting a plant.
n. the chemistry of plant products. ЬЬphytochemical adj.
n. Biochem. a blue-green pigment found in many plants, and
regulating various developmental processes according to the
nature and timing of the light it absorbs. [PHYTO- + Gk khroma
n. (also phytogeny) the science of the origin or evolution of
n. the geographical distribution of plants.
n. the study of plant diseases.
adj. feeding on plants.
n. plankton consisting of plants.
phytotomy n. the dissection of plants.
adj. poisonous to plants.
n. 1 any toxin derived from a plant. 2 a substance poisonous
or injurious to plants, esp. one produced by a parasite.
pi(1) n. 1 the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. 2 (as &pi.)
the symbol of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its
diameter (approx. 3.14159). Ьpi-meson = PION. [Gk: sense 2 f.
Gk periphereia circumference]
pi(2) adj. Brit. sl. pious. Ьpi jaw a long moralizing lecture or
pi(3) US var. of PIE(3).
piacular adj. formal 1 expiatory. 2 needing expiation. [L piacularis
f. piaculum expiation f. piare appease]
piaffe v.intr. (of a horse etc.) move as in a trot, but slower. [F
piaffer to strut]
piaffer n. the action of piaffing.
pia mater n. Anat. the delicate innermost membrane enveloping the brain
and spinal cord (see MENINX). [med.L, = tender mother, transl.
of Arab. al-' umm al-rakika: cf. DURA MATER]
piani pl. of PIANO(2).
pianism n. 1 the art or technique of piano-playing. 2 the skill or
style of a composer of piano music. ЬЬpianistic adj.
adj., adv., & n. Mus. --adj. performed very softly. --adv.
very softly. --n. (pl. -os or pianissimi) a passage to be
performed very softly. [It., superl. of PIANO(2)]
pianist n. the player of a piano. [F pianiste (as PIANO(1))]
piano(1) n. (pl. -os) a large musical instrument played by pressing
down keys on a keyboard and causing hammers to strike metal
strings, the vibration from which is stopped by dampers when the
keys are released. Ьpiano-accordion an accordion with the
melody played on a small vertical keyboard like that of a piano.
piano organ a mechanical piano constructed like a barrel-organ.
piano-player 1 a pianist. 2 a contrivance for playing a piano
automatically. [It., abbr. of PIANOFORTE]
piano(2) adj., adv., & n. --adj. 1 Mus. performed softly. 2 subdued.
--adv. 1 Mus. softly. 2 in a subdued manner. --n. (pl. -os
or piani) Mus. a piano passage . [It. f. L planus flat, (of
n. Mus. formal or archaic a piano. [It., earlier piano e
forte soft and loud, expressing its gradation of tone]
Pianola n. 1 propr. a kind of automatic piano; a player-piano. 2
(pianola) Bridge an easy hand needing no skill. 3 (pianola) an
easy task. [app. dimin. of PIANO(1)]
n. Archit. the main storey of a large house. [It., = noble
piassava n. 1 a stout fibre obtained from the leaf-stalks of various
American and African palm-trees. 2 any of these trees. [Port.
f. Tupi pia‡ ba]
piastre n. (US piaster) a small coin and monetary unit of several
Middle Eastern countries. [F piastre f. It. piastra
(d'argento) plate (of silver), formed as PLASTER]
piazza n. 1 a public square or market-place esp. in an Italian town.
2 US the veranda of a house. [It., formed as PLACE]
pibroch n. a series of esp. martial or funerary variations on a theme
for the bagpipes. [Gael. piobaireachd art of piping f.
piobair piper f. piob f. E PIPE]
pic n. colloq. a picture, esp. a cinema film. [abbr.]
pica(1) n. Printing 1 a unit of type-size (1/6 inch). 2 a size of
letters in typewriting (10 per inch). [AL pica 15th-c. book of
rules about church feasts, perh. formed as PIE(2)]
pica(2) n. Med. the eating of substances other than normal food.
[mod.L or med.L, = magpie]
picador n. a mounted man with a lance who goads the bull in a
bullfight. [Sp. f. picar prick]
adj. (of a style of fiction) dealing with the episodic
adventures of rogues etc. [F f. Sp. picaresco f. pЎcaro
picaroon n. 1 a a rogue. b a thief. 2 a a pirate. b a pirate ship.
[Sp. picarўn (as PICARESQUE)]
picayune n. & adj. US --n. 1 colloq. a small coin of little value, esp.
a 5-cent piece. 2 an insignificant person or thing. --adj.
mean; contemptible; petty. [F picaillon Piedmontese coin, cash,
f. Prov. picaioun, of unkn. orig.]
n. (pl. piccalillis) a pickle of chopped vegetables, mustard,
and hot spices. [18th c.: perh. f. PICKLE + CHILLI]
n. & adj. (US pickaninny) --n. (pl. -ies) often offens. a
small Black or Australian Aboriginal child. --adj. archaic
very small. [W.Ind. Negro f. Sp. peque¤o or Port. pequeno
piccolo n. (pl. -os) 1 a small flute sounding an octave higher than
the ordinary one. 2 its player. [It., = small (flute)]
n. (pl. -os) a small S. American armadillo, Chlamyphorus
truncatus. [Sp. pichiciego perh. f. Guarani pichey armadillo +
Sp. ciego blind f. L caecus]
pick(1) v. & n. --v.tr. 1 (also absol.) choose carefully from a number
of alternatives (picked the pink one; picked a team; picked the
right moment to intervene). 2 detach or pluck (a flower, fruit,
etc.) from a stem, tree, etc. 3 a probe (the teeth, nose, ears,
a pimple, etc.) with the finger, an instrument, etc. to remove
unwanted matter. b clear (a bone, carcass, etc.) of scraps of
meat etc. 4 (also absol.) (of a person) eat (food, a meal,
etc.) in small bits; nibble without appetite. 5 (also absol.)
esp. US pluck the strings of (a banjo etc.). 6 remove stalks
etc. from (esp. soft fruit) before cooking. 7 a select (a route
or path) carefully over difficult terrain by foot. b place
(one's steps etc.) carefully. 8 pull apart (pick oakum). 9 (of
a bird) take up (grains etc.) in the beak. --n. 1 the act or
an instance of picking. 2 a a selection or choice. b the right
to select (had first pick of the prizes). 3 (usu. foll. by of)
the best (the pick of the bunch). Ьpick and choose select
carefully or fastidiously. pick at 1 eat (food) without
interest; nibble. 2 = pick on 1 (see PICK(1)). pick a person's
brains extract ideas, information, etc., from a person for one's
own use. pick holes (or a hole) in 1 make holes in (material
etc.) by plucking, poking, etc. 2 find fault with (an idea
etc.). pick a lock open a lock with an instrument other than
the proper key, esp. with intent to steal. pick-me-up 1 a
tonic for the nerves etc. 2 a good experience, good news, etc.
that cheers. pick off 1 pluck (leaves etc.) off. 2 shoot
(people etc.) one by one without haste. 3 eliminate (opposition
etc.) singly. pick on 1 find fault with; nag at. 2 select.
pick out 1 take from a larger number (picked him out from the
others). 2 distinguish from surrounding objects or at a
distance (can just pick out the church spire). 3 play (a tune)
by ear on the piano etc. 4 (often foll. by in, with) a
highlight (a painting etc.) with touches of another colour. b
accentuate (decoration, a painting, etc.) with a contrasting
colour (picked out the handles in red). 5 make out (the meaning
of a passage etc.). pick over select the best from. pick a
person's pockets steal the contents of a person's pockets. pick
a quarrel start an argument or a fight deliberately. pick to
pieces = take to pieces (see PIECE). pick up 1 grasp and raise
(from the ground etc.) (picked up his hat). 2 gain or acquire
by chance or without effort (picked up a cold). 3 a fetch (a
person, animal, or thing) left in another person's charge. b
stop for and take along with one, esp. in a vehicle (pick me up
on the corner). 4 make the acquaintance of (a person) casually,
esp. as a sexual overture. 5 (of one's health, the weather,
share prices, etc.) recover, prosper, improve. 6 (of a motor
engine etc.) recover speed; accelerate. 7 (of the police etc.)
take into charge; arrest. 8 detect by scrutiny or with a
telescope, searchlight, radio, etc. (picked up most of the
mistakes; picked up a distress signal). 9 (often foll. by with)
form or renew a friendship. 10 accept the responsibility of
paying (a bill etc.). 11 (refl.) raise (oneself etc.) after a
fall etc. 12 raise (the feet etc.) clear of the ground. 13
Golf pick up one's ball, esp. when conceding a hole. pick-up 1
sl. a person met casually, esp. for sexual purposes. 2 a small
open motor truck. 3 a the part of a record-player carrying the
stylus. b a detector of vibrations etc. 4 a the act of picking
up. b something picked up. pick-your-own (usu. attrib.) (of
commercially grown fruit and vegetables) dug or picked by the
customer at the place of production. take one's pick make a
choice. ЬЬpickable adj. [ME, earlier pike, of unkn. orig.]
pick(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a long-handled tool having a usu. curved iron
bar pointed at one or both ends, used for breaking up hard
ground, masonry, etc. 2 colloq. a plectrum. 3 any instrument
for picking, such as a toothpick. --v.tr. 1 break the surface
of (the ground etc.) with or as if with a pick. 2 make (holes
etc.) in this way. [ME, app. var. of PIKE(2)]
pickaback var. of PIGGYBACK.
US var. of PICCANINNY.
pickaxe n. & v. (US pickax) --n. = PICK(2) n. 1. --v. 1 tr. break
(the ground etc.) with a pickaxe. 2 intr. work with a pickaxe.
[ME pikois f. OF picois, rel. to PIKE(2): assim. to AXE]
n. hist. a German soldier's spiked helmet. [G]
picker n. 1 a person or thing that picks. 2 (often in comb.) a person
who gathers or collects (hop-picker; rag-picker).
pickerel n. (pl. same or pickerels) a young pike. [ME, dimin. of
picket n. & v. --n. 1 a person or group of people outside a place of
work, intending to persuade esp. workers not to enter during a
strike etc. 2 a pointed stake or peg driven into the ground to
form a fence or palisade, to tether a horse, etc. 3 (also
picquet, piquet) Mil. a a small body of troops sent out to
watch for the enemy, held in readiness, etc. b a party of
sentries. c an outpost. d a camp-guard on police duty in a
garrison town etc. --v. (picketed, picketing) 1 a tr. & intr.
station or act as a picket. b tr. beset or guard (a factory,
workers, etc.) with a picket or pickets. 2 tr. secure (a place)
with stakes. 3 tr. tether (an animal). Ьpicket line a boundary
established by workers on strike, esp. at the entrance to the
place of work, which others are asked not to cross. ЬЬpicketer
n. [F piquet pointed stake f. piquer prick, f. pic PICK(2)]
pickle n. & v. --n. 1 a (often in pl.) food, esp. vegetables,
preserved in brine, vinegar, mustard, etc. and used as a relish.
b the brine, vinegar, etc. in which food is preserved. 2
colloq. a plight (a fine pickle we are in!). 3 Brit. colloq. a
mischievous child. 4 an acid solution for cleaning metal etc.
--v.tr. 1 preserve in pickle. 2 treat with pickle. 3 (as
pickled adj.) sl. drunk. [ME pekille, pykyl, f. MDu., MLG
pekel, of unkn. orig.]
pickler n. 1 a person who pickles vegetables etc. 2 a vegetable
suitable for pickling.
picklock n. 1 a person who picks locks. 2 an instrument for this.
n. a person who steals from the pockets of others.
adj. 1 of or like Mr Pickwick in Dickens's Pickwick Papers,
esp. in being jovial, plump, etc. 2 (of words or their sense)
misunderstood or misused, esp. to avoid offence.
picky adj. (pickier, pickiest) colloq. excessively fastidious;
choosy. ЬЬpickiness n.
picnic n. & v. --n. 1 an outing or excursion including a packed meal
eaten out of doors. 2 any meal eaten out of doors or without
preparation, tables, chairs, etc. 3 (usu. with neg.) colloq.
something agreeable or easily accomplished etc. (it was no
picnic organizing the meeting). --v.intr. (picnicked,
picnicking) take part in a picnic. ЬЬpicnicker n. picnicky
adj. colloq. [F pique-nique, of unkn. orig.]
pico- comb. form denoting a factor of 10(-12) (picometre). [Sp. pico
beak, peak, little bit]
picot n. a small loop of twisted thread in a lace edging etc. [F,
dimin. of pic peak, point]
picotee n. a type of carnation of which the flowers have a light ground
and dark-edged petals. [F picot‚ -‚e past part. of picoter
prick (as PICOT)]
picquet var. of PICKET 3.
n. a very bitter yellow compound used in dyeing and surgery and
in explosives. ЬЬpicrate n. [Gk pikros bitter]
Pict n. a member of an ancient people of N. Britain. ЬЬPictish adj.
[ME f. LL Picti perh. f. pingere pict- paint, tattoo]
n. (also pictogram) 1 a a pictorial symbol for a word or
phrase. b an ancient record consisting of these. 2 a pictorial
representation of statistics etc. on a chart, graph, etc.
ЬЬpictographic adj. pictography n. [L pingere pict- paint]
pictorial adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or expressed in a picture or pictures.
2 illustrated. 3 picturesque. --n. a journal, postage stamp,
etc., with a picture or pictures as the main feature.
ЬЬpictorially adv. [LL pictorius f. L pictor painter (as
picture n. & v. --n. 1 a (often attrib.) a painting, drawing,
photograph, etc., esp. as a work of art (picture frame). b a
portrait, esp. a photograph, of a person (does not like to have
her picture taken). c a beautiful object (her hat is a
picture). 2 a a total visual or mental impression produced; a
scene (the picture looks bleak). b a written or spoken
description (drew a vivid picture of moral decay). 3 a a film.
b (in pl.) Brit. a showing of films at a cinema (went to the
pictures). c (in pl.) films in general. 4 an image on a
television screen. 5 colloq. a esp. iron. a person or thing
exemplifying something (he was the picture of innocence). b a
person or thing resembling another closely (the picture of her
aunt). --v.tr. 1 represent in a picture. 2 (also refl.; often
foll. by to) imagine, esp. visually or vividly (pictured it to
herself). 3 describe graphically. Ьget the picture colloq.
grasp the tendency or drift of circumstances, information, etc.
in the picture fully informed or noticed. out of the picture
uninvolved, inactive; irrelevant. picture-book a book
containing many illustrations. picture-card a court-card.
picture-gallery a place containing an exhibition or collection
of pictures. picture-goer a person who frequents the cinema.
picture hat a woman's wide-brimmed highly decorated hat as in
pictures by Reynolds and Gainsborough. picture-moulding 1
woodwork etc. used for framing pictures. 2 a rail on a wall
used for hanging pictures from. picture-palace (or -theatre)
Brit. archaic a cinema. picture postcard a postcard with a
picture on one side. picture window a very large window
consisting of one pane of glass. picture-writing a mode of
recording events etc. by pictorial symbols as in early
hieroglyphics etc. [ME f. L pictura f. pingere pict- paint]
adj. 1 (of landscape etc.) beautiful or striking, as in a
picture. 2 (of language etc.) strikingly graphic; vivid.
ЬЬpicturesquely adv. picturesqueness n. [F pittoresque f. It.
pittoresco f. pittore painter f. L (as PICTORIAL): assim. to
piddle v. & n. --v.intr. 1 colloq. urinate (used esp. to or by
children). 2 work or act in a trifling way. 3 (as piddling
adj.) colloq. trivial; trifling. --n. colloq. 1 urination. 2
urine (used esp. to or by children). ЬЬpiddler n. [sense 1
prob. f. PISS + PUDDLE: sense 2 perh. f. PEDDLE]
piddock n. any rock-boring bivalve mollusc of the family Pholadidae,
used for bait. [18th c.: orig. unkn.]
pidgin n. a simplified language containing vocabulary from two or more
languages, used for communication between people not having a
common language. Ьpidgin English a pidgin in which the chief
language is English, used orig. between Chinese and Europeans.
[corrupt. of business]
pi-dog var. of PYE-DOG.
pie(1) n. 1 a baked dish of meat, fish, fruit, etc., usu. with a top
and base of pastry. 2 anything resembling a pie in form (a mud
pie). Ьeasy as pie very easy. pie chart a circle divided into
sectors to represent relative quantities. pie-eater Austral.
sl. a person of little account. pie-eyed sl. drunk. pie in
the sky an unrealistic prospect of future happiness after
present suffering; a misleading promise. [ME, perh. = PIE(2) f.
miscellaneous contents compared to objects collected by a
pie(2) n. archaic 1 a magpie. 2 a pied animal. [ME f. OF f. L pica]
pie(3) n. & v. (US pi) --n. 1 a confused mass of printers' type. 2
chaos. --v.tr. (pieing) muddle up (type). [perh. transl. F
P&AC.T&EA. = PIE(1)]
pie(4) n. hist. a former monetary unit of India equal to one-twelfth
of an anna. [Hind. etc. pa' i f. Skr. pad, padi quarter]
piebald adj. & n. --adj. 1 (usu. of an animal, esp. a horse) having
irregular patches of two colours, esp. black and white. 2
motley; mongrel. --n. a piebald animal, esp. a horse.
piece n. & v. --n. 1 a (often foll. by of) one of the distinct
portions forming part of or broken off from a larger object; a
bit; a part (a piece of string). b each of the parts of which a
set or category is composed (a five-piece band; a piece of
furniture). 2 a coin of specified value (50p piece). 3 a a
usu. short literary or musical composition or a picture. b a
theatrical play. 4 an item, instance, or example (a piece of
impudence; a piece of news). 5 a any of the objects used to
make moves in board-games. b a chessman (strictly, other than a
pawn). 6 a definite quantity in which a thing is sold. 7
(often foll. by of) an enclosed portion (of land etc.). 8
derog. sl. a woman. 9 US (foll. by of) sl. a financial share
or investment in (has a piece of the new production). --v.tr.
1 (usu. foll. by together) form into a whole; put together; join
(finally pieced his story together). 2 (usu. foll. by out) a
eke out. b form (a theory etc.) by combining parts etc. 3
(usu. foll. by up) patch. 4 join (threads) in spinning. Ьbreak
to pieces break into fragments. by the piece (paid) according
to the quantity of work done. go to pieces collapse
emotionally; suffer a breakdown. in one piece 1 unbroken. 2
unharmed. in pieces broken. of a piece (often foll. by with)
uniform, consistent, in keeping. piece-goods fabrics, esp.
Lancashire cottons, woven in standard lengths. a piece of cake
see CAKE. piece of eight hist. a Spanish dollar, equivalent to
8 reals. piece of goods sl. derog. a woman. a piece of one's
mind a sharp rebuke or lecture. piece of water a small lake
etc. piece of work a thing made by working (cf. nasty piece of
work). piece-rates a rate paid according to the amount
produced. piece-work work paid for by the amount produced. say
one's piece give one's opinion or make a prepared statement.
take to pieces 1 break up or dismantle. 2 criticize harshly.
ЬЬpiecer n. (in sense 4 of v.). [ME f. AF pece, OF piece f.
Rmc, prob. of Gaulish orig.: cf. PEAT]
piЉce de r‚sistance
n. (pl. piЉces de r‚sistance pronunc. same) 1 the most
important or remarkable item. 2 the most substantial dish at a
piecemeal adv. & adj. --adv. piece by piece; gradually. --adj. partial;
gradual; unsystematic. [ME f. PIECE + - meal f. OE m‘lum
(instr. dative pl. of m‘l MEAL(1))]
piecrust n. the baked pastry crust of a pie. Ьpiecrust table a table
with an indented edge like a piecrust.
pied adj. particoloured. ЬPied Piper a person enticing followers
esp. to their doom. [ME f. PIE(2), orig. of friars]
n. (pl. pieds-…-terre pronunc. same) a usu. small flat, house,
etc. kept for occasional use. [F, lit. 'foot to earth']
piedmont n. a gentle slope leading from the foot of mountains to a
region of flat land. [It. piemonte mountain foot, name of a
region at the foot of the Alps]
pie-dog var. of PYE-DOG.
pieman n. (pl. -men) a pie seller.
pier n. 1 a a structure of iron or wood raised on piles and leading
out to sea, a lake, etc., used as a promenade and landing-stage,
and often with entertainment arcades etc. b a breakwater; a
mole. 2 a a support of an arch or of the span of a bridge; a
pillar. b solid masonry between windows etc. Ьpier-glass a
large mirror, used orig. to fill wall-space between windows.
[ME per f. AL pera, of unkn. orig.]
pierce v. 1 tr. a (of a sharp instrument etc.) penetrate the surface
of. b (often foll. by with) prick with a sharp instrument, esp.
to make a hole in. c make (a hole etc.) (pierced a hole in the
belt). d (of cold, grief, etc.) affect keenly or sharply. e
(of a light, glance, sound, etc.) penetrate keenly or sharply.
2 (as piercing adj.) (of a glance, intuition, high noise, bright
light, etc.) keen, sharp, or unpleasantly penetrating. 3 tr.
force (a way etc.) through or into (something) (pierced their
way through the jungle). 4 intr. (usu. foll. by through, into)
penetrate. ЬЬpiercer n. piercingly adv. [ME f. OF percer f. L
pertundere bore through (as PER-, tundere tus- thrust)]
pierrot n. (fem. pierrette) Theatr. 1 a white-faced entertainer in
pier shows etc. with a loose white clown's costume. 2 a French
pantomime character so dressed. [F, dimin. of Pierre Peter]
piet… n. a picture or sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding the dead
body of Christ on her lap or in her arms. [It. f. L (as PIETY)]
pietas n. respect due to an ancestor, a forerunner, etc. [L: see
pietism n. 1 a pious sentiment. b an exaggerated or affected piety. 2
(esp. as Pietism) hist. a movement for the revival of piety in
the Lutheran Church in the 17th c. ЬЬpietist n. pietistic adj.
pietistical adj. [G Pietismus (as PIETY)]
piety n. (pl. -ies) 1 the quality of being pious. 2 a pious act.
[ME f. OF piet‚ f. L pietas -tatis dutifulness (as PIOUS)]
n. electric polarization in a substance resulting from the
application of mechanical stress, esp. in certain crystals.
ЬЬpiezoelectric adj. piezoelectrically adv. [Gk piezo press +
n. an instrument for measuring the magnitude or direction of
piffle n. & v. colloq. --n. nonsense; empty speech. --v.intr. talk
or act feebly; trifle. ЬЬpiffler n. [imit.]
piffling adj. colloq. trivial; worthless.
pig n. & v. --n. 1 a any omnivorous hoofed bristly mammal of the
family Suidae, esp. a domesticated kind, Sus scrofa. b US a
young pig; a piglet. c (often in comb.) any similar animal
(guinea-pig). 2 the flesh of esp. a young or sucking pig as
food (roast pig). 3 colloq. a a greedy, dirty, obstinate,
sulky, or annoying person. b an unpleasant, awkward, or
difficult thing, task, etc. 4 an oblong mass of metal (esp.
iron or lead) from a smelting-furnace. 5 sl. derog. a
policeman. --v. (pigged, pigging) 1 tr. (also absol.) (of a
sow) bring forth (piglets). 2 tr. colloq. eat (food) greedily.
3 intr. herd together or behave like pigs. Ьbleed like a pig
(or stuck pig) bleed copiously. buy a pig in a poke buy,
accept, etc. something without knowing its value or esp. seeing
it. in pig (of a sow) pregnant. in a pig's eye colloq.
certainly not. make a pig of oneself overeat. make a pig's ear
of colloq. make a mess of; bungle. pig in the middle a person
who is placed in an awkward situation between two others (after
a ball game for three with one in the middle). pig-iron crude
iron from a smelting-furnace. Pig Island Austral. & NZ sl. New
Zealand. pig it live in a disorderly, untidy, or filthy
fashion. pig-jump Austral. sl. n. a jump made by a horse
from all four legs. --v.intr. (of a horse) jump in this manner.
pig Latin a made-up jargon. pig-meat Brit. pork, ham, or
bacon. pig out (often foll. by on) esp. US sl. eat
gluttonously. pigs might fly iron. an expression of disbelief.
pig-sticker a long sharp knife. pig's wash = PIGSWILL.
ЬЬpiggish adj. piggishly adv. piggishness n. piglet n.
piglike adj. pigling n. [ME pigge f. OE pigga (unrecorded)]
pigeon(1) n. 1 any of several large usu. grey and white birds of the
family Columbidae, esp. Columba livia, often domesticated and
bred and trained to carry messages etc.; a dove (cf.
rock-pigeon). 2 a person easily swindled; a simpleton.
Ьpigeon-breast (or -chest) a deformed human chest with a
projecting breastbone. pigeon-breasted (or -chested) having a
pigeon-breast. pigeon-fancier a person who keeps and breeds
fancy pigeons. pigeon-fancying this pursuit. pigeon-hawk =
MERLIN. pigeon-hearted cowardly. pigeon-hole n. 1 each of a
set of compartments in a cabinet or on a wall for papers,
letters, etc. 2 a small recess for a pigeon to nest in.
--v.tr. 1 deposit (a document) in a pigeon-hole. 2 put (a
matter) aside for future consideration or to forget it. 3
assign (a person or thing) to a preconceived category. pigeon
pair Brit. 1 boy and girl twins. 2 a boy and girl as sole
children. pigeon's milk 1 a secretion from the oesophagus with
which pigeons feed their young. 2 an imaginary article for
which children are sent on a fool's errand. pigeon-toed (of a
person) having the toes turned inwards. ЬЬpigeonry n. (pl.
-ies). [ME f. OF pijon f. LL pipio -onis (imit.)]
pigeon(2) n. 1 = PIDGIN. 2 colloq. a particular concern, job, or
business (that's not my pigeon).
piggery n. (pl. -ies) 1 a pig-breeding farm etc. 2 = PIGSTY. 3
piggy n. & adj. --n. (also piggie) colloq. 1 a little pig. 2 a a
child's word for a pig. b a child's word for a toe. 3 Brit.
the game of tipcat. --adj. (piggier, piggiest) 1 like a pig.
2 (of features etc.) like those of a pig (little piggy eyes).
Ьpiggy bank a pig-shaped money box. piggy in the middle = pig
in the middle.
piggyback n. & adv. (also pickaback) --n. a ride on the back and
shoulders of another person. --adv. 1 on the back and
shoulders of another person. 2 on the back or top of a larger
object. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
pigheaded adj. obstinate. ЬЬpigheadedly adv. pigheadedness n.
pigment n. & v. --n. 1 colouring-matter used as paint or dye, usu. as
an insoluble suspension. 2 the natural colouring-matter of
animal or plant tissue, e.g. chlorophyll, haemoglobin. --v.tr.
colour with or as if with pigment. ЬЬpigmental adj. pigmentary
adj. [ME f. L pigmentum f. pingere paint]
n. 1 the natural colouring of plants, animals, etc. 2 the
excessive colouring of tissue by the deposition of pigment.
pigmy var. of PYGMY.
pignut n. = earth-nut.
pigpen n. US = PIGSTY.
pigskin n. 1 the hide of a pig. 2 leather made from this. 3 US a
n. 1 the hunting of wild boar with a spear on horseback. 2 the
butchering of pigs.
pigsty n. (pl. -ies) 1 a pen or enclosure for a pig or pigs. 2 a
filthy house, room, etc.
pigswill n. kitchen refuse and scraps fed to pigs.
pigtail n. 1 a plait of hair hanging from the back of the head, or
either of a pair at the sides. 2 a thin twist of tobacco.
pigwash n. = PIGSWILL.
pigweed n. any herb of the genus Amaranthus, grown for grain or fodder.
pika n. any small rabbit-like mammal of the genus Ochotona, with
small ears and no tail. [Tungus piika]
pike(1) n. (pl. same) 1 a large voracious freshwater fish, Esox lucius,
with a long narrow snout and sharp teeth. 2 any other fish of
the family Esocidae. Ьpike-perch any of various pikelike
perches of the genus Lucioperca or Stizostedion. [ME, = PIKE(2)
(because of its pointed jaw)]
pike(2) n. & v. --n. 1 hist. an infantry weapon with a pointed steel
or iron head on a long wooden shaft. 2 N.Engl. the peaked top
of a hill, esp. in names of hills in the Lake District. --v.tr.
thrust through or kill with a pike. Ьpike on colloq. withdraw
timidly from. [OE pic point, prick: sense 2 perh. f. ON]
pike(3) n. 1 a toll-gate; a toll. 2 a turnpike road. [abbr. of
pike(4) n. a jackknife position in diving or gymnastics. [20th c.:
pikelet n. N.Engl. a thin kind of crumpet. [Welsh (bara) pyglyd
pikeman n. (pl. -men) the keeper of a turnpike.
piker n. a cautious, timid, or mean person.
pikestaff n. 1 the wooden shaft of a pike. 2 a walking-stick with a
metal point. Ьplain as a pikestaff quite plain or obvious
(orig. packstaff, a smooth staff used by a pedlar).
pilaster n. a rectangular column, esp. one projecting from a wall.
ЬЬpilastered adj. [F pilastre f. It. pilastro f. med.L
pilastrum f. L pila pillar]
pilau n. (also pilaff, pilaw) a Middle Eastern or Indian dish of
spiced rice or wheat with meat, fish, vegetables, etc. [Turk.
pilch n. archaic a baby's usu. waterproof garment worn over a nappy.
[OE pyl(e)ce f. LL pellicia: see PELISSE]
pilchard n. a small marine fish, Sardinia pilchardus of the herring
family (see SARDINE). [16th-c. pilcher etc.: orig. unkn.]
pile(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a heap of things laid or gathered upon one
another (a pile of leaves). 2 a a large imposing building (a
stately pile). b a large group of tall buildings. 3 colloq. a
a large quantity. b a large amount of money; a fortune (made
his pile). 4 a a series of plates of dissimilar metals laid one
on another alternately to produce an electric current. b =
atomic pile. 5 a funeral pyre. --v. 1 tr. a (often foll. by
up, on) heap up (piled the plates on the table). b (foll. by
with) load (piled the bed with coats). 2 intr. (usu. foll. by
in, into, on, out of, etc.) crowd hurriedly or tightly (all
piled into the car; piled out of the restaurant). Ьpile arms
hist. place (usu. four) rifles with their butts on the ground
and the muzzles together. pile it on colloq. exaggerate. pile
on the agony colloq. exaggerate for effect or to gain sympathy
etc. pile up 1 accumulate; heap up. 2 colloq. run (a ship)
aground or cause (a vehicle etc.) to crash. pile-up n. colloq.
a multiple crash of road vehicles. [ME f. OF f. L pila pillar,
pile(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a heavy beam driven vertically into the bed of
a river, soft ground, etc., to support the foundations of a
superstructure. 2 a pointed stake or post. 3 Heraldry a
wedge-shaped device. --v.tr. 1 provide with piles. 2 drive
(piles) into the ground etc. Ьpile-driver a machine for driving
piles into the ground. pile-dwelling a dwelling built on piles,
esp. in a lake. [OE pil f. L pilum javelin]
pile(3) n. 1 the soft projecting surface on velvet, plush, etc., or
esp. on a carpet; nap. 2 soft hair or down, or the wool of a
sheep. [ME prob. f. AF pyle, peile, OF poil f. L pilus hair]
piles n.pl. colloq. haemorrhoids. [ME prob. f. L pila ball, f. the
globular form of external piles]
pileus n. (pl. pilei) the caplike part of a mushroom or other fungus.
ЬЬpileate adj. pileated adj. [L, = felt cap]
pilewort n. the lesser celandine. [PILES, f. its reputed efficacy
pilfer v.tr. (also absol.) steal (objects) esp. in small quantities.
ЬЬpilferage n. pilferer n. [ME f. AF & OF pelfrer pillage, of
unkn. orig.: assoc. with archaic pill plunder: PELF]
pilgrim n. & v. --n. 1 a person who journeys to a sacred place for
religious reasons. 2 a person regarded as journeying through
life etc. 3 a traveller. --v.intr. (pilgrimed, pilgriming)
wander like a pilgrim. ЬPilgrim Fathers English Puritans who
founded the colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.
ЬЬpilgrimize v.intr. (also -ise). [ME pilegrim f. Prov.
pelegrin f. L peregrinus stranger: see PEREGRINE]
n. & v. --n. 1 a pilgrim's journey (go on a pilgrimage). 2
life viewed as a journey. 3 any journey taken for nostalgic or
sentimental reasons. --v.intr. go on a pilgrimage. [ME f.
Prov. pilgrinatge (as PILGRIM)]
Pilipino n. the national language of the Philippines. [Tagalog f. Sp.
pill n. 1 a solid medicine formed into a ball or a flat disc for
swallowing whole. b (usu. prec. by the) colloq. a contraceptive
pill. 2 an unpleasant or painful necessity; a humiliation (a
bitter pill; must swallow the pill). 3 colloq. or joc. a ball,
e.g. a football, a cannon-ball. Ьsugar (or sweeten) the pill
make an unpleasant necessity acceptable. [MDu., MLG pille prob.
f. L pilula dimin. of pila ball]
pillage v. & n. --v.tr. (also absol.) plunder; sack (a place or a
person). --n. the act or an instance of pillaging, esp. in war.
ЬЬpillager n. [ME f. OF f. piller plunder]
pillar n. 1 a a usu. slender vertical structure of wood, metal, or
esp. stone used as a support for a roof etc. b a similar
structure used for ornament. c a post supporting a structure.
2 a person regarded as a mainstay or support (a pillar of the
faith; a pillar of strength). 3 an upright mass of air, water,
rock, etc. (pillar of salt). 4 a solid mass of coal etc. left
to support the roof of a mine. Ьfrom pillar to post (driven
etc.) from one place to another; to and fro. pillar-box Brit.
a public postbox shaped like a pillar. pillar-box red a bright
red colour, as of pillar-boxes. Pillars of Hercules 1 two rocks
on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar. 2 the ultimate
limit. ЬЬpillared adj. pillaret n. [ME & AF piler, OF pilier
ult. f. L pila pillar]
pillbox n. 1 a small shallow cylindrical box for holding pills. 2 a
hat of a similar shape. 3 Mil. a small partly underground
enclosed concrete fort used as an outpost.
pillion n. 1 seating for a passenger behind a motor cyclist. 2 hist.
a a woman's light saddle. b a cushion attached to the back of a
saddle for a usu. female passenger. Ьride pillion travel seated
behind a motor cyclist etc. [Gael. pillean, pillin dimin. of
pell cushion f. L pellis skin]
n. hist. an instrument of torture used for squeezing the
fingers. [ME pyrwykes, pyrewinkes, of unkn. orig.]
pillock n. Brit. sl. a stupid person; a fool. [16th c., = penis
(var. of pillicock): 20th c. in sense defined]
pillory n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) hist. a wooden framework with holes
for the head and hands, enabling the public to assault or
ridicule a person so imprisoned. --v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 expose
(a person) to ridicule or public contempt. 2 hist. put in the
pillory. [ME f. AL pillorium f. OF pilori etc.: prob. f. Prov.
espilori of uncert. orig.]
pillow n. & v. --n. 1 a a usu. oblong support for the head, esp. in
bed, with a cloth cover stuffed with feathers, flock, foam
rubber, etc. b any pillow-shaped block or support. 2 =
lace-pillow. --v.tr. 1 rest (the head etc.) on or as if on a
pillow (pillowed his head on his arms). 2 serve as a pillow for
(moss pillowed her head). Ьpillow-fight a mock fight with
pillows, esp. by children. pillow-lace lace made on a
lace-pillow. pillow lava lava forming rounded masses. pillow
talk romantic or intimate conversation in bed. ЬЬpillowy adj.
[OE pyle, pylu, ult. f. L pulvinus cushion]
n. a washable cotton etc. cover for a pillow.
n. = PILLOWCASE.
pillule var. of PILULE.
pillwort n. an aquatic fern, Pilularia globulifera, with small globular
pilose adj. (also pilous) covered with hair. ЬЬpilosity n. [L
pilosus f. pilus hair]
pilot n. & v. --n. 1 a person who operates the flying controls of an
aircraft. 2 a person qualified to take charge of a ship
entering or leaving harbour. 3 (usu. attrib.) an experimental
undertaking or test, esp. in advance of a larger one (a pilot
project). 4 a guide; a leader. 5 archaic a steersman. --v.tr.
(piloted, piloting) 1 act as a pilot on (a ship) or of (an
aircraft). 2 conduct, lead, or initiate as a pilot (piloted the
new scheme). Ьpilot balloon a small balloon used to track air
currents etc. pilot-bird a rare dark-brown Australian babbler,
Pycnoptilus floccosus, with a distinctive loud cry. pilot chute
a small parachute used to bring the main one into operation.
pilot-cloth thick blue woollen cloth for seamen's coats etc.
pilot-fish a small fish, Naucrates ductor, said to act as a
pilot leading a shark to food. pilot-house = wheel-house.
pilot-jacket = PEA-JACKET. pilot-light 1 a small gas burner
kept alight to light another. 2 an electric indicator light or
control light. pilot officer Brit. the lowest commissioned
rank in the RAF. ЬЬpilotage n. pilotless adj. [F pilote f.
med.L pilotus, pedot(t)a f. Gk pedon oar]
Pilsner n. (also Pilsener) a lager beer brewed or like that brewed at
Pilsen (Plzen) in Czechoslovakia.
pilule n. (also pillule) a small pill. ЬЬpilular adj. pilulous adj.
[F f. L pilula: see PILL]
pimento n. (pl. -os) 1 a small tropical tree, Pimenta dioica, native
to Jamaica. 2 the unripe dried berries of this, usu. crushed
for culinary use. Also called ALLSPICE. 3 = PIMIENTO. [Sp.
pimiento (as PIMIENTO)]
pimiento n. (pl. -os) = sweet pepper (see PEPPER). [Sp. f. L pigmentum
PIGMENT, in med.L = spice]
pimp n. & v. --n. a man who lives off the earnings of a prostitute
or a brothel; a pander; a ponce. --v.intr. act as a pimp.
[17th c.: orig. unkn.]
pimpernel n. any plant of the genus Anagallis, esp. = scarlet pimpernel.
[ME f. OF pimpernelle, piprenelle ult. f. L piper PEPPER]
pimping adj. 1 small or mean. 2 sickly. [17th c.: orig. unkn.]
pimple n. 1 a small hard inflamed spot on the skin. 2 anything
resembling a pimple, esp. in relative size. ЬЬpimpled adj.
pimply adj. [ME nasalized f. OE piplian break out in pustules]
PIN n. personal identification number (as issued by a bank etc. to
validate electronic transactions). [abbr.]
pin n. & v. --n. 1 a a small thin pointed piece of esp. steel wire
with a round or flattened head used (esp. in sewing) for holding
things in place, attaching one thing to another, etc. b any of
several types of pin (drawing-pin; safety pin; hairpin). c a
small brooch (diamond pin). d a badge fastened with a pin. 2 a
peg of wood or metal for various purposes, e.g. a wooden skittle
in bowling. 3 something of small value (don't care a pin; for
two pins I'd resign). 4 (in pl.) colloq. legs (quick on his
pins). 5 Med. a steel rod used to join the ends of fractured
bones while they heal. 6 Chess a position in which a piece is
pinned to another. 7 Golf a stick with a flag placed in a hole
to mark its position. 8 Mus. a peg round which one string of a
musical instrument is fastened. 9 a half-firkin cask for beer.
--v.tr. (pinned, pinning) 1 a (often foll. by to, up, together)
fasten with a pin or pins (pinned up the hem; pinned the papers
together). b transfix with a pin, lance, etc. 2 (usu. foll. by
on) fix (blame, responsibility, etc.) on a person etc. (pinned
the blame on his friend). 3 (often foll. by against, on, etc.)
seize and hold fast. 4 Chess prevent (an opposing piece) from
moving except by exposing a more valuable piece to capture. Ьon
pins and needles in an agitated state of suspense. pin down 1
(often foll. by to) bind (a person etc.) to a promise,
arrangement, etc. 2 force (a person) to declare his or her
intentions. 3 restrict the actions or movement of (an enemy
etc.). 4 specify (a thing) precisely (could not pin down his
unease to a particular cause). 5 hold (a person etc.) down by
force. pin one's faith (or hopes etc.) on rely implicitly on.
pin-feather Zool. an ungrown feather. pin-high Golf (of a
ball) at the same distance ahead as the pin. pin-money 1 hist.
an allowance to a woman for dress etc. from her husband. 2 a
very small sum of money, esp. for spending on inessentials (only
works for pin-money). pins and needles a tingling sensation in
a limb recovering from numbness. pin-table a table used in
playing pinball. pin-tuck a very narrow ornamental tuck.
pin-up 1 a photograph of a popular or sexually attractive
person, designed to be hung on the wall. 2 a person shown in
such a photograph. pin-wheel a small Catherine wheel. split
pin a metal cotter pin passed through a hole and held in place
by its gaping split end. [OE pinn f. L pinna point etc., assoc.
with penna PEN(1)]
n. a drink made from pineapple juice, rum, and coconut. [Sp.,
lit. 'strained pineapple']
pinafore n. esp. Brit. 1 a an apron, esp. with a bib. b a woman's
sleeveless wraparound washable covering for the clothes, tied at
the back. 2 (in full pinafore dress) a collarless sleeveless
dress worn over a blouse or jumper. [PIN + AFORE (because orig.
pinned on the front of a dress)]
pinaster n. = cluster pine. [L, = wild pine f. pinus pine + -ASTER]
pinball n. a game in which small metal balls are shot across a board
and score points by striking pins with lights etc.
pince-nez n. (pl. same) a pair of eyeglasses with a nose-clip instead of
earpieces. [F, lit. = pinch-nose]
pincers n.pl. 1 (also pair of pincers) a gripping-tool resembling
scissors but with blunt usu. concave jaws to hold a nail etc.
for extraction. 2 the front claws of lobsters and some other
crustaceans. Ьpincer movement Mil. a movement by two wings of
an army converging on the enemy. [ME pinsers, pinsours f. AF f.
OF pincier PINCH]
pincette n. small pincers; tweezers. [F]
pinch v. & n. --v. 1 tr. a grip (esp. the skin of part of the body
or of another person) tightly, esp. between finger and thumb
(pinched my finger in the door; stop pinching me). b (often
absol.) (of a shoe, garment, etc.) constrict (the flesh)
painfully. 2 tr. (of cold, hunger, etc.) grip (a person)
painfully (she was pinched with cold). 3 tr. sl. a steal;
take without permission. b arrest (a person) (pinched him for
loitering). 4 (as pinched adj.) (of the features) drawn, as
with cold, hunger, worry, etc. 5 a tr. (usu. foll. by in, of,
for, etc.) stint (a person). b intr. be niggardly with money,
food, etc. 6 tr. (usu. foll. by out, back, down) Hort. remove
(leaves, buds, etc.) to encourage bushy growth. 7 intr. sail
very close to the wind. --n. 1 the act or an instance of
pinching etc. the flesh. 2 an amount that can be taken up with
fingers and thumb (a pinch of snuff). 3 the stress or pain
caused by poverty, cold, hunger, etc. 4 sl. a an arrest. b a
theft. Ьat (or in) a pinch in an emergency; if necessary. feel
the pinch experience the effects of poverty. pinch-hitter US 1
a baseball player who bats instead of another in an emergency.
2 a person acting as a substitute. [ME f. AF & ONF pinchier
(unrecorded), OF pincier, ult. f. L pungere punct- prick]
pinchbeck n. & adj. --n. an alloy of copper and zinc resembling gold and
used in cheap jewellery etc. --adj. 1 counterfeit; sham. 2
cheap; tawdry. [C. Pinchbeck, Engl. watchmaker d. 1732]
n. (pl. -ies) (also attrib.) a miserly person.
n. a small cushion for holding pins.
pine(1) n. 1 any evergreen tree of the genus Pinus native to northern
temperate regions, with needle-shaped leaves growing in
clusters. 2 the soft timber of this, often used to make
furniture. Also called DEAL(2). 3 (attrib.) made of pine. 4 =
PINEAPPLE. Ьpine cone the cone-shaped fruit of the pine tree.
pine marten a weasel-like mammal, Martes martes, native to
Europe and America, with a dark brown coat and white throat and
stomach. pine nut the edible seed of various pine trees.
ЬЬpinery n. (pl. -ies). [ME f. OE pin & OF pin f. L pinus]
pine(2) v.intr. 1 (often foll. by away) decline or waste away, esp.
from grief, disease, etc. 2 (usu. foll. by for, after, or to +
infin.) long eagerly; yearn. [OE pinian, rel. to obs. E pine
punishment, f. Gmc f. med.L pena, L poena]
pineal adj. shaped like a pine cone. Ьpineal body (or gland) a
pea-sized conical mass of tissue behind the third ventricle of
the brain, secreting a hormone-like substance in some mammals.
[F pin‚al f. L pinea pine cone: see PINE(1)]
pineapple n. 1 a tropical plant, Ananas comosus, with a spiral of
sword-shaped leaves and a thick stem bearing a large fruit
developed from many flowers. 2 the fruit of this, consisting of
yellow flesh surrounded by a tough segmented skin and topped
with a tuft of stiff leaves. [PINE(1), from the fruit's
resemblance to a pine cone]
pinetum n. (pl. pineta) a plantation of pine-trees or other conifers
for scientific or ornamental purposes. [L f. pinus pine]
pinfold n. & v. --n. a pound for stray cattle etc. --v.tr. confine
(cattle) in a pinfold. [OE pundfald (as POUND(3), FOLD(2))]
ping n. & v. --n. a single short high ringing sound. --v.intr. make
a ping. [imit.]
pinger n. 1 a device that transmits pings at short intervals for
purposes of detection or measurement etc. 2 a device to ring a
pingo n. (pl. -os) Geol. a dome-shaped mound found in permafrost
ping-pong n. = table tennis. [imit. f. the sound of a bat striking a
pinguid adj. formal or joc. fat, oily, or greasy. [L pinguis fat]
pinhead n. 1 the flattened head of a pin. 2 a very small thing. 3
colloq. a stupid or foolish person.
pinheaded adj. colloq. stupid, foolish. ЬЬpinheadedness n.
pinhole n. 1 a hole made by a pin. 2 a hole into which a peg fits.
Ьpinhole camera a camera with a pinhole aperture and no lens.
pinion(1) n. & v. --n. 1 the outer part of a bird's wing, usu. including
the flight feathers. 2 poet. a wing; a flight-feather. --v.tr.
1 cut off the pinion of (a wing or bird) to prevent flight. 2 a
bind the arms of (a person). b (often foll. by to) bind (the
arms, a person, etc.) esp. to a thing. [ME f. OF pignon ult. f.
L pinna: see PIN]
pinion(2) n. 1 a small cog-wheel engaging with a larger one. 2 a cogged
spindle engaging with a wheel. [F pignon alt. f. obs. pignol
f. L pinea pine-cone (as PINE(1))]
pink(1) n. & adj. --n. 1 a pale red colour (decorated in pink). 2 a
any cultivated plant of the genus Dianthus, with sweet-smelling
white, pink, crimson, etc. flowers. b the flower of this plant.
3 (prec. by the) the most perfect condition etc. (the pink of
elegance). 4 (also hunting-pink) a a fox-hunter's red coat. b
the cloth for this. c a fox-hunter. --adj. 1 (often in comb.)
of a pale red colour of any of various shades (rose-pink;
salmon-pink). 2 esp. derog. tending to socialism. Ьin the
pink colloq. in very good health. pink-collar (usu. attrib.)
(of a profession etc.) traditionally associated with women (cf.
white-collar, blue-collar (see BLUE(1))). pink disease a
disease of young children with pink discoloration of the
extremities. pink elephants colloq. hallucinations caused by
alcoholism. pink-eye 1 a contagious fever in horses. 2
contagious ophthalmia in humans and some livestock. pink-gin
gin flavoured with angostura bitters. ЬЬpinkish adj. pinkly
adv. pinkness n. pinky adj. [perh. f. dial. pink-eyed having
pink(2) v.tr. 1 pierce slightly with a sword etc. 2 cut a scalloped or
zigzag edge on. 3 (often foll. by out) ornament (leather etc.)
with perforations. 4 adorn; deck. Ьpinking shears (or
scissors) a dressmaker's serrated shears for cutting a zigzag
edge. [ME, perh. f. LG or Du.: cf. LG pinken strike, peck]
pink(3) v.intr. (of a vehicle engine) emit a series of high-pitched
explosive sounds caused by faulty combustion. [imit.]
pink(4) n. hist. a sailing-ship, esp. with a narrow stern, orig. small
and flat-bottomed. [ME f. MDu. pin(c)ke, of unkn. orig.]
pink(5) n. a yellowish lake pigment made by combining vegetable
colouring matter with a white base (brown pink; French pink).
[17th c.: orig. unkn.]
pink (6) n. Brit. 1 a young salmon. 2 dial. a minnow. [15th c.
penk, of unkn. orig.]
pinkie n. esp. US & Sc. the little finger. [cf. dial. pink small,
Pinkster n. US Whitsuntide. Ьpinkster flower the pink azalea,
Rhododendron nudiflorum. [Du., = Pentecost]
pinna n. (pl. pinnae or pinnas) 1 the auricle; the external part of
the ear. 2 a primary division of a pinnate leaf. 3 a fin or
finlike structure, feather, wing, etc. [L, = penna feather,
pinnace n. Naut. a warship's or other ship's small boat, usu.
motor-driven, orig. schooner-rigged or eight-oared. [F
pinnace, pinasse ult. f. L pinus PINE(1)]
pinnacle n. & v. --n. 1 the culmination or climax (of endeavour,
success, etc.). 2 a natural peak. 3 a small ornamental turret
usu. ending in a pyramid or cone, crowning a buttress, roof,
etc. --v.tr. 1 set on or as if on a pinnacle. 2 form the
pinnacle of. 3 provide with pinnacles. [ME pinacle f. OF
pin(n)acle f. LL pinnaculum f. pinna wing, point (as PIN,
pinnae pl. of PINNA.
pinnate adj. 1 (of a compound leaf) having leaflets arranged on either
side of the stem, usu. in pairs opposite each other. 2 having
branches, tentacles, etc., on each side of an axis. ЬЬpinnated
adj. pinnately adv. pinnation n. [L pinnatus feathered (as
pinni- comb. form wing, fin. [L pinna]
pinniped adj. & n. --adj. denoting any aquatic mammal with limbs ending
in fins. --n. a pinniped mammal. [L pinna fin + pes ped- foot]
pinnule n. 1 the secondary division of a pinnate leaf. 2 a part or
organ like a small wing or fin. ЬЬpinnular adj. [L pinnula
dimin. of pinna fin, wing]
pinny n. (pl. -ies) colloq. a pinafore. [abbr.]
pinochle n. US 1 a card-game with a double pack of 48 cards (nine to ace
only). 2 the combination of queen of spades and jack of
diamonds in this game. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
pinole n. US flour made from parched cornflour, esp. mixed with sweet
flour made of mesquite beans, sugar, etc. [Amer. Sp. f. Aztec
pi¤on n. 1 a pine, Pinus cembra, bearing edible seeds. 2 the seed of
this, a type of pine nut. [Sp. f. L pinea pine cone]
pinpoint n. & v. --n. 1 the point of a pin. 2 something very small or
sharp. 3 (attrib.) a very small. b precise, accurate. --v.tr.
locate with precision (pinpointed the target).
pinprick n. 1 a prick caused by a pin. 2 a trifling irritation.
pinstripe n. 1 a very narrow stripe in (esp. worsted or serge) cloth. 2
a fabric or garment with this.
pint n. 1 a measure of capacity for liquids etc., one-eighth of a
gallon or 20 fluid oz. (0.568 litre). 2 Brit. a colloq. a pint
of beer. b a pint of a liquid, esp. milk. 3 Brit. a measure of
shellfish, being the amount containable in a pint mug (bought a
pint of whelks). Ьpint-pot a pot, esp. of pewter, holding one
pint, esp. of beer. pint-sized colloq. very small, esp. of a
person. [ME f. OF pinte, of unkn. orig.]
pinta n. Brit. colloq. a pint of milk. [corrupt. of pint of]
pintail n. a duck, esp. Anas acuta, or grouse with a pointed tail.
pintle n. a pin or bolt, esp. one on which some other part turns. [OE
pintel penis, of unkn. orig.: cf. OFris. etc. pint]
pinto adj. & n. US --adj. piebald. --n. (pl. -os) a piebald horse.
[Sp., = mottled, ult. f. L pictus past part. of pingere paint]
pinworm n. a small parasitic nematode worm, Enterobius vermicularis, of
which the female has a pointed tail.
piny adj. of, like, or full of pines.
Pinyin n. a system of romanized spelling for transliterating Chinese.
[Chin. pin-yin, lit. 'spell sound']
piolet n. a two-headed ice-axe for mountaineering. [F]
pion n. Physics a meson having a mass approximately 270 times that
of an electron. Also called pi meson (see PI(1)). ЬЬpionic
adj. [PI(1) (the letter used as a symbol for the particle) +
pioneer n. & v. --n. 1 an initiator of a new enterprise, an inventor,
etc. 2 an explorer or settler; a colonist. 3 Mil. a member of
an infantry group preparing roads, terrain, etc. for the main
body of troops. --v. 1 a tr. initiate or originate (an
enterprise etc.). b intr. act or prepare the way as a pioneer.
2 tr. Mil. open up (a road etc.) as a pioneer. 3 tr. go
before, lead, or conduct (another person or persons). [F
pionnier foot-soldier, pioneer, OF paonier, peon(n)ier (as
pious adj. 1 devout; religious. 2 hypocritically virtuous;
sanctimonious. 3 dutiful. Ьpious fraud a deception intended to
benefit those deceived, esp. religiously. ЬЬpiously adv.
piousness n. [L pius dutiful, pious]
pip(1) n. & v. --n. the seed of an apple, pear, orange, grape, etc.
--v.tr. (pipped, pipping) remove the pips from (fruit etc.).
ЬЬpipless adj. [abbr. of PIPPIN]
pip(2) n. Brit. a short high-pitched sound, usu. mechanically
produced, esp. as a radio time signal. [imit.]
pip(3) n. 1 any of the spots on a playing-card, dice, or domino. 2
Brit. a star (1-3 according to rank) on the shoulder of an army
officer's uniform. 3 a single blossom of a clustered head of
flowers. 4 a diamond-shaped segment of the surface of a
pineapple. 5 an image of an object on a radar screen. [16th c.
peep, of unkn. orig.]
pip(4) n. 1 a disease of poultry etc. causing thick mucus in the
throat and white scale on the tongue. 2 colloq. a fit of
disgust or bad temper (esp. give one the pip). [ME f. MDu.
pippe, MLG pip prob. ult. f. corrupt. of L pituita slime]
pip(5) v.tr. (pipped, pipping) Brit. colloq. 1 hit with a shot. 2
defeat. 3 blackball. Ьpip at the post defeat at the last
moment. pip out die. [PIP(2) or PIP(1)]
pipa n. an aquatic toad, Pipa pipa, having a flat body with long
webbed feet, the female of which carries her eggs and tadpoles
in pockets on her back. Also called SURINAM TOAD. [Surinam
Negro pip l (masc.), pip (fem.)]
pipal var. of PEEPUL.
pipe n. & v. --n. 1 a tube of metal, plastic, wood, etc. used to
convey water, gas, etc. 2 (also tobacco-pipe) a a narrow wooden
or clay etc. tube with a bowl at one end containing burning
tobacco, the smoke from which is drawn into the mouth. b the
quantity of tobacco held by this (smoked a pipe). 3 Mus. a a
wind instrument consisting of a single tube. b any of the tubes
by which sound is produced in an organ. c (in pl.) = BAGPIPES.
d (in pl.) a set of pipes joined together, e.g. pan-pipes. 4 a
tubal organ, vessel, etc. in an animal's body. 5 a high note or
song, esp. of a bird. 6 a cylindrical vein of ore. 7 a cavity
in cast metal. 8 a a boatswain's whistle. b the sounding of
this. 9 a cask for wine, esp. as a measure of two hogsheads,
usu. equivalent to 105 gallons (about 477 litres). 10 archaic
the voice, esp. in singing. --v.tr. 1 (also absol.) play (a
tune etc.) on a pipe or pipes. 2 a convey (oil, water, gas,
etc.) by pipes. b provide with pipes. 3 transmit (music, a
radio programme, etc.) by wire or cable. 4 (usu. foll. by up,
on, to, etc.) Naut. a summon (a crew) to a meal, work, etc. b
signal the arrival of (an officer etc.) on board. 5 utter in a
shrill voice; whistle. 6 a arrange (icing, cream, etc.) in
decorative lines or twists on a cake etc. b ornament (a cake
etc.) with piping. 7 trim (a dress etc.) with piping. 8 lead
or bring (a person etc.) by the sound of a pipe. 9 propagate
(pinks etc.) by taking cuttings at the joint of a stem. Ьpipe
away give a signal for (a boat) to start. pipe-cleaner a piece
of flexible covered wire for cleaning a tobacco-pipe. pipe down
1 colloq. be quiet or less insistent. 2 Naut. dismiss from
duty. pipe-fish any of various long slender fish of the family
Syngnathidae, with an elongated snout. pipe-light a spill for
lighting a pipe. pipe major an NCO commanding regimental
pipers. pipe-organ Mus. an organ using pipes instead of or as
well as reeds. pipe-rack a rack for holding tobacco-pipes.
pipe-rolls hist. the annual records of the British Exchequer
from the 12th-19th c. prob. because subsidiary documents were
rolled in pipe form. pipe-stem the shaft of a tobacco-pipe.
pipe-stone a hard red clay used by US Indians for tobacco-pipes.
pipe up begin to play, sing, speak, etc. put that in your pipe
and smoke it colloq. a challenge to another to accept something
frank or unwelcome. ЬЬpipeful n. (pl. -fuls). pipeless adj.
pipy adj. [OE pipe, pipian & OF piper f. Gmc ult. f. L pipare
pipeclay n. & v. --n. a fine white clay used for tobacco-pipes,
whitening leather, etc. --v.tr. 1 whiten (leather etc.) with
this. 2 put in order.
pipedream n. an unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme. [orig. as
experienced when smoking an opium pipe]
pipeline n. 1 a long, usu. underground, pipe for conveying esp. oil. 2
a channel supplying goods, information, etc. Ьin the pipeline
awaiting completion or processing.
pip emma adv. & n. Brit. colloq. = P.M. [formerly signallers' names
for letters PM]
piper n. 1 a bagpipe-player. 2 a person who plays a pipe, esp. an
itinerant musician. [OE pipere (as PIPE)]
n. Chem. a peppery-smelling liquid formed by the reduction of
pyridine. [L piper pepper + -IDE + -INE(4)]
pipette n. & v. --n. a slender tube for transferring or measuring small
quantities of liquids esp. in chemistry. --v.tr. transfer or
measure (a liquid) using a pipette. [F, dimin. of pipe PIPE]
piping n. & adj. --n. 1 the act or an instance of piping, esp.
whistling or singing. 2 a thin pipelike fold used to edge hems
or frills on clothing, seams on upholstery, etc. 3 ornamental
lines of icing, cream, potato, etc. on a cake or other dish. 4
lengths of pipe, or a system of pipes, esp. in domestic use.
--adj. (of a noise) high; whistling. Ьpiping hot very or
suitably hot (esp. as required of food, water, etc.).
n. any bat of the genus Pipistrellus, native to temperate
regions and feeding on insects . [F f. It. pipistrello, vip-,
f. L vespertilio bat f. vesper evening]
pipit n. 1 any of various birds of the family Motacillidae, esp. of
the genus Anthus, found worldwide and having brown plumage often
heavily streaked with a lighter colour. 2 = meadow pipit.
pipkin n. a small earthenware pot or pan. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
pippin n. 1 a an apple grown from seed. b a red and yellow dessert
apple. 2 colloq. an excellent person or thing; a beauty. [ME
f. OF pepin, of unkn. orig.]
pipsqueak n. colloq. an insignificant or contemptible person or thing.
piquant adj. 1 agreeably pungent, sharp, or appetizing. 2 pleasantly
stimulating, or disquieting, to the mind. ЬЬpiquancy n.
piquantly adv. [F, pres. part. of piquer (as PIQUE(1))]
pique(1) v. & n. --v.tr. (piques, piqued, piquing) 1 wound the pride
of, irritate. 2 arouse (curiosity, interest, etc.). 3 (refl.;
usu. foll. by on) pride or congratulate oneself. --n.
ill-feeling; enmity; resentment (in a fit of pique). [F piquer
prick, irritate, f. Rmc]
pique(2) n. & v. --n. the winning of 30 points on cards and play in
piquet before one's opponent scores anything. --v. (piques,
piqued, piquing) 1 tr. score a pique against. 2 intr. score a
pique. [F pic, of unkn. orig.]
piqu‚ n. a stiff ribbed cotton or other fabric. [F, past part. of
piquer: see PIQUE(1)]
piquet(1) n. a game for two players with a pack of 32 cards (seven to ace
only). [F, of unkn. orig.]
piquet(2) var. of PICKET 3.
piracy n. (pl. -ies) 1 the practice or an act of robbery of ships at
sea. 2 a similar practice or act in other forms, esp.
hijacking. 3 the infringement of copyright. [med.L piratia f.
Gk pirateia (as PIRATE)]
piragua n. 1 a long narrow canoe made from a single tree-trunk. 2 a
two-masted sailing barge. [Sp. f. Carib, = dug-out]
piranha n. (also piraya) any of various freshwater predatory fish of
the genera Pygocentrus, Rooseveltiella, or Serrasalmus, native
to S. America and having sharp cutting teeth. [Port. f. Tupi,
var. of piraya scissors]
pirate n. & v. --n. 1 a a person who commits piracy. b a ship used
by pirates. 2 a person who infringes another's copyright or
other business rights; a plagiarist. 3 (often attrib.) a
person, organization, etc., that broadcasts without official
authorization (pirate radio station). --v.tr. 1 appropriate or
reproduce (the work or ideas etc. of another) without
permission, for one's own benefit. 2 plunder. ЬЬpiratic adj.
piratical adj. piratically adv. [ME f. L pirata f. Gk peirates
f. peirao attempt, assault]
piraya var. of PIRANHA.
piripiri n. (pl. piripiris) NZ a rosaceous plant, Acaena anserinifolia,
native to New Zealand and having prickly burs. [Maori]
pirogue n. = PIRAGUA. [F, prob. f. Galibi]
pirouette n. & v. --n. a dancer's spin on one foot or the point of the
toe. --v.intr. perform a pirouette. [F, = spinning-top]
pis aller n. a course of action followed as a last resort. [F f. pis
worse + aller go]
piscary n. Ьcommon of piscary the right of fishing in another's water
in common with the owner and others. [ME f. med.L piscaria
neut. pl. of L piscarius f. piscis fish]
piscatory adj. 1 of or concerning fishermen or fishing. 2 addicted to
fishing. [L piscatorius f. piscator fisherman f. piscis fish]
Pisces n. (pl. same) 1 a constellation, traditionally regarded as
contained in the figure of fishes . 2 a the twelfth sign of the
zodiac (the Fishes). b a person born when the sun is in this
sign. ЬЬPiscean n. & adj. [ME f. L, pl. of piscis fish]
n. the artificial rearing of fish. ЬЬpiscicultural adj.
pisciculturist n. [L piscis fish, after agriculture etc.]
piscina n. (pl. piscinae or piscinas) 1 a stone basin near the altar
in RC and pre-Reformation churches for draining water used in
the Mass. 2 a fish-pond. 3 hist. a Roman bathing-pond. [L f.
adj. of or concerning fish. [L piscis fish]
n. a bathing-pool. [F (as PISCINA)]
adj. fish-eating. [L piscis fish + -VOROUS]
pish int. an expression of contempt, impatience, or disgust.
pisiform adj. pea-shaped. Ьpisiform bone a small bone in the wrist in
the upper row of the carpus. [mod.L pisiformis f. pisum pea]
pismire n. dial. an ant. [ME f. PISS (from smell of anthill) + obs.
piss v. & n. coarse sl. °Usually considered a taboo word. --v. 1
intr. urinate. 2 tr. a discharge (blood etc.) when urinating.
b wet with urine. 3 tr. (as pissed adj.) Brit. drunk. --n. 1
urine. 2 an act of urinating. Ьpiss about fool or mess about.
piss artist 1 a drunkard. 2 a person who fools about. 3 a glib
person. piss down rain heavily. piss off Brit. 1 go away. 2
(often as pissed off adj.) annoy; depress. piss-pot a
chamber-pot. piss-taker a person who mocks. piss-taking
mockery. piss-up a drinking spree. take the piss (often foll.
by out of) mock; deride. [ME f. OF pisser (imit.)]
pissoir n. a public urinal. [F]
pistachio n. (pl. -os) 1 an evergreen tree, Pistacia vera, bearing small
brownish-green flowers and ovoid reddish fruit. 2 (in full
pistachio nut) the edible pale-green seed of this. 3 a pale
green colour. [It. pistaccio and Sp. pistacho f. L pistacium
f. Gk pistakion f. Pers. pistah]
piste n. a ski-run of compacted snow. [F, = racetrack]
pistil n. the female organs of a flower, comprising the stigma, style,
and ovary. ЬЬpistillary adj. pistilliferous adj. pistilline
adj. [F pistile or L pistillum PESTLE]
adj. 1 having pistils. 2 having pistils but no stamens.
pistol n. & v. --n. 1 a small hand-held firearm. 2 anything of a
similar shape. --v.tr. (pistolled, pistolling; US pistoled,
pistoling) shoot with a pistol. Ьhold a pistol to a person's
head coerce a person by threats. pistol-grip a handle shaped
like a pistol-butt. pistol-shot 1 the range of a pistol. 2 a
shot fired from a pistol. pistol-whip (-whipped, -whipping)
beat with a pistol. [obs. F f. G Pistole f. Czech pist' al]
pistole n. hist. a foreign (esp. Spanish) gold coin. [F pistole abbr.
of pistolet, of uncert. orig.]
pistoleer n. a soldier armed with a pistol.
piston n. 1 a disc or short cylinder fitting closely within a tube in
which it moves up and down against a liquid or gas, used in an
internal-combustion engine to impart motion, or in a pump to
receive motion. 2 a sliding valve in a trumpet etc.
Ьpiston-ring a ring on a piston sealing the gap between the
piston and the cylinder wall. piston-rod a rod or crankshaft
attached to a piston to drive a wheel or to impart motion. [F
f. It. pistone var. of pestone augment. of pestello PESTLE]
pit(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a a usu. large deep hole in the ground. b a
hole made in digging for industrial purposes, esp. for coal
(chalk pit; gravel pit). c a covered hole as a trap for esp.
wild animals. 2 a an indentation left after smallpox, acne,
etc. b a hollow in a plant or animal body or on any surface. 3
Brit. Theatr. a = orchestra pit. b usu. hist. seating at the
back of the stalls. c the people in the pit. 4 a (the pit or
bottomless pit) hell. b (the pits) sl. a wretched or the worst
imaginable place, situation, person, etc. 5 a an area at the
side of a track where racing cars are serviced and refuelled. b
a sunken area in a workshop floor for access to a car's
underside. 6 US the part of the floor of an exchange allotted
to special trading (wheat-pit). 7 = COCKPIT. 8 Brit. sl. a
bed. --v. (pitted, pitting) 1 tr. (usu. foll. by against) a
set (one's wits, strength, etc.) in opposition or rivalry. b
set (a cock, dog, etc.) to fight, orig. in a pit, against
another. 2 tr. (usu. as pitted adj.) make pits, esp. scars, in.
3 intr. (of the flesh etc.) retain the impression of a finger
etc. when touched. 4 tr. Hort. put (esp. vegetables etc. for
storage) into a pit. Ьdig a pit for try to ensnare. pit-head 1
the top of a mineshaft. 2 the area surrounding this. pit of
the stomach 1 the floor of the stomach. 2 the depression below
the bottom of the breastbone. pit pony hist. a pony kept
underground for haulage in coal-mines. pit-prop a balk of wood
used to support the roof of a coal mine. pit-saw a large saw
for use in a saw-pit. pit viper any US snake of the family
Crotalidae with a pit between the eye and the nostril. [OE pytt
ult. f. L puteus well]
pit(2) n. & v. US --n. the stone of a fruit. --v.tr. (pitted,
pitting) remove pits from (fruit). [perh. Du., rel. to PITH]
pita var. of PITTA.
pit-a-pat adv. & n. (also pitter-patter) --adv. 1 with a sound like
quick light steps. 2 with a faltering sound (heart went
pit-a-pat). --n. such a sound. [imit.]
pitch(1) v. & n. --v. 1 tr. (also absol.) erect and fix (a tent, camp,
etc.). 2 tr. a throw; fling. b (in games) throw (a flat
object) towards a mark. 3 tr. fix or plant (a thing) in a
definite position. 4 tr. express in a particular style or at a
particular level (pitched his argument at the most basic level).
5 intr. (often foll. by against, into, etc.) fall heavily, esp.
headlong. 6 intr. (of a ship etc.) plunge in a longitudinal
direction (cf. ROLL v. 8a). 7 tr. Mus. set at a particular
pitch. 8 intr. (of a roof etc.) slope downwards. 9 intr.
(often foll. by about) move with a vigorous jogging motion, as
in a train, carriage, etc. 10 Cricket a tr. cause (a bowled
ball) to strike the ground at a specified point etc. b intr.
(of a bowled ball) strike the ground. 11 tr. colloq. tell (a
yarn or a tale). 12 tr. Golf play (a ball) with a pitch shot.
13 tr. pave (a road) with stones. --n. 1 a the area of play in
a field-game. b Cricket the area between the creases. 2
height, degree, intensity, etc. (the pitch of despair; nerves
were strung to a pitch). 3 a the steepness of a slope, esp. of
a roof, stratum, etc. b the degree of such a pitch. 4 Mus. a
that quality of a sound which is governed by the rate of
vibrations producing it; the degree of highness or lowness of a
tone. b = concert pitch. 5 the pitching motion of a ship etc.
6 Cricket the act or mode of delivery in bowling, or the spot
where the ball bounces. 7 colloq. a salesman's advertising or
selling approach. 8 Brit. a place where a street vendor sells
wares, has a stall, etc. 9 (also pitch shot) Golf a high
approach shot with a short run. 10 Mech. the distance between
successive corresponding points or lines, e.g. between the teeth
of a cog-wheel etc. 11 the height to which a falcon etc. soars
before swooping on its prey. 12 the delivery of a baseball by a
pitcher. Ьpitch-and-toss a gambling game in which coins are
pitched at a mark and then tossed. pitched battle 1 a vigorous
argument etc. 2 Mil. a battle planned beforehand and fought on
chosen ground. pitched roof a sloping roof. pitch in colloq.
set to work vigorously. pitch into colloq. 1 attack forcibly
with blows, words, etc. 2 assail (food, work, etc.) vigorously.
pitch on (or upon) happen to select. pitch-pipe Mus. a small
pipe blown to set the pitch for singing or tuning. pitch up
Cricket bowl (a ball) to bounce near the batsman. pitch wickets
Cricket fix the stumps in the ground and place the bails. [ME
pic(c)he, perh. f. OE picc(e)an (unrecorded: cf. picung
pitch(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a sticky resinous black or dark-brown substance
obtained by distilling tar or turpentine, semi-liquid when hot,
hard when cold, and used for caulking the seams of ships etc. 2
any of various bituminous substances including asphalt. --v.tr.
cover, coat, or smear with pitch. Ьpitch-black (or -dark) very
or completely dark. pitch-pine any of various pine-trees, esp.
Pinus rigida or P. palustris, yielding much resin. [OE pic f.
Gmc f. L pix picis]
n. a mineral form of uranium oxide occurring in pitchlike
masses and yielding radium. [G Pechblende (as PITCH(2),
n. 1 a large usu. earthenware jug with a lip and a handle, for
holding liquids. 2 a modified leaf in pitcher form. 3 (in pl.)
broken pottery crushed and reused. Ьpitcher-plant any of
various plants, esp. of the family Nepenthaceae or
Sarraceniaceae, with pitcher leaves that can hold liquids, trap
insects, etc. ЬЬpitcherful n. (pl. -fuls). [ME f. OF
pichier, pechier, f. Frank.]
n. 1 a person or thing that pitches. 2 Baseball a player who
delivers the ball to the batter. 3 a stone used for paving.
pitchfork n. & v. --n. a long-handled two-pronged fork for pitching hay
etc. --v.tr. 1 throw with or as if with a pitchfork. 2 (usu.
foll. by into) thrust (a person) forcibly into a position,
office, etc. [in ME pickfork, prob. f. PICK(1) + FORK, assoc.
n. obsidian etc. resembling pitch.
pitchy adj. (pitchier, pitchiest) of, like, or dark as pitch.
piteous adj. deserving or causing pity; wretched. ЬЬpiteously adv.
piteousness n. [ME pito(u)s etc. f. AF pitous, OF pitos f. Rmc
pitfall n. 1 an unsuspected snare, danger, or drawback. 2 a covered
pit for trapping animals etc.
pith n. & v. --n. 1 spongy white tissue lining the rind of an
orange, lemon, etc. 2 the essential part; the quintessence
(came to the pith of his argument). 3 Bot. the spongy cellular
tissue in the stems and branches of dicotyledonous plants. 4 a
physical strength; vigour. b force; energy. 5 archaic spinal
marrow. --v.tr. 1 remove the pith or marrow from. 2 slaughter
or immobilize (an animal) by severing the spinal cord. Ьpith
helmet a lightweight sun-helmet made from the dried pith of the
sola etc. ЬЬpithless adj. [OE pitha f. WG]
n. any prehistoric apelike human of the extinct genus
Pithecanthropus, now considered to be part of the genus Homo
(see also JAVA MAN). [Gk pithekos ape + anthropos man]
pithos n. (pl. pithoi) Archaeol. a large storage jar. [Gk]
pithy adj. (pithier, pithiest) 1 (of style, speech, etc.) condensed,
terse, and forcible. 2 of, like, or containing much pith.
ЬЬpithily adv. pithiness n.
pitiable adj. 1 deserving or causing pity. 2 contemptible.
ЬЬpitiableness n. pitiably adv. [ME f. OF piteable, pitoiable
pitiless adj. showing no pity (the pitiless heat of the desert).
ЬЬpitilessly adv. pitilessness n.
pitman n. 1 (pl. -men) a collier. 2 US (pl. -mans) a connecting rod
piton n. a peg or spike driven into a rock or crack to support a
climber or a rope. [F, = eye-bolt]
n. a device consisting of an open-ended right-angled tube used
to measure the speed or flow of a fluid. [H. Pitot, Fr.
physicist d. 1771]
pitpan n. a Central American boat made from a tree-trunk. [Miskito]
pitta n. (also pita) a flat hollow unleavened bread which can be
split and filled with salad etc. [mod.Gk, = a cake]
pittance n. 1 a scanty or meagre allowance, remuneration, etc. (paid him
a mere pittance). 2 a small number or amount. 3 hist. a pious
bequest to a religious house for extra food etc. [ME f. OF
pitance f. med.L pi(e)tantia f. L pietas PITY]
var. of PIT-A-PAT.
n. any evergreen shrub of the family Pittosporaceae, chiefly
native to Australasia with many species having fragrant foliage.
[Gk pitta PITCH(2) + sporos seed]
pituitary n. & adj. --n. (pl. -ies) (also pituitary gland or body) a
small ductless gland at the base of the brain secreting various
hormones essential for growth and other bodily functions.
--adj. of or relating to this gland. [L pituitarius secreting
phlegm f. pituita phlegm]
pity n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 sorrow and compassion aroused by
another's condition (felt pity for the child). 2 something to
be regretted; grounds for regret (what a pity!; the pity of it
is that he didn't mean it). --v.tr. (-ies, -ied) feel (often
contemptuous) pity for (they are to be pitied; I pity you if you
think that). Ьfor pity's sake an exclamation of urgent
supplication, anger, etc. more's the pity so much the worse.
take pity on feel or act compassionately towards. ЬЬpitying
adj. pityingly adv. [ME f. OF pit‚ f. L pietas (as PIETY)]
n. any of a group of skin diseases characterized by the
shedding of branlike scales. [mod.L f. Gk pituriasis f.
pi— adv. Mus. more (pi— piano). [It.]
pivot n. & v. --n. 1 a short shaft or pin on which something turns
or oscillates. 2 a crucial or essential person, point, etc., in
a scheme or enterprise. 3 Mil. the man or men about whom a body
of troops wheels. --v. (pivoted, pivoting) 1 intr. turn on or
as if on a pivot. 2 intr. (foll. by on, upon) hinge on; depend
on. 3 tr. provide with or attach by a pivot. ЬЬpivotable adj.
pivotability n. pivotal adj. [F, of uncert. orig.]
pizazz n. (also pizzazz, pzazz etc.) sl. verve, energy, liveliness,
pizza n. a flat round base of dough with a topping of tomatoes,
cheese, onions, etc. [It., = pie]
pizzeria n. a place where pizzas are made or sold. [It. (as PIZZA)]
pizzicato adv., adj., & n. Mus. --adv. plucking the strings of a violin
etc. with the finger. --adj. (of a note, passage, etc.)
performed pizzicato. --n. (pl. pizzicatos or pizzicati) a
note, passage, etc. played pizzicato. [It., past part. of
pizzicare twitch f. pizzare f. pizza edge]
pizzle n. esp. Austral. the penis of an animal, esp. a bull,
formerly used as a whip. [LG pesel, dimin. of MLG pese, MDu.
pl. abbr. 1 plural. 2 place. 3 plate. 4 esp. Mil. platoon.
PLA abbr. (in the UK) Port of London Authority.
placable adj. easily placated; mild; forgiving. ЬЬplacability n.
placably adv. [ME f. OF placable or L placabilis f. placare
placard n. & v. --n. a printed or handwritten poster esp. for
advertising. --v.tr. also 1 set up placards on (a wall etc.).
2 advertise by placards. 3 display (a poster etc.) as a
placard. [ME f. OF placquart f. plaquier to plaster f. MDu.
place n. & v. --n. 1 a a particular portion of space. b a portion
of space occupied by a person or thing (it has changed its
place). c a proper or natural position (he is out of his place;
take your places). 2 a city, town, village, etc. (was born in
this place). 3 a residence; a dwelling (has a place in the
country; come round to my place). 4 a a group of houses in a
town etc., esp. a square. b a country house with its
surroundings. 5 a person's rank or status (know their place; a
place in history). 6 a space, esp. a seat, for a person (two
places in the coach). 7 a building or area for a specific
purpose (place of worship; bathing-place). 8 a a point reached
in a book etc. (lost my place). b a passage in a book. 9 a
particular spot on a surface, esp. of the skin (a sore place on
his wrist). 10 a employment or office, esp. government
employment (lost his place at the Ministry). b the duties or
entitlements of office etc. (is his place to hire staff). 11 a
position as a member of a team, a student in a college, etc. 12
Brit. any of the first three or sometimes four positions in a
race, esp. other than the winner (backed it for a place). 13
the position of a figure in a series indicated in decimal or
similar notation (calculated to 50 decimal places). --v.tr. 1
put (a thing etc.) in a particular place or state; arrange. 2
identify, classify, or remember correctly (cannot place him). 3
assign to a particular place; locate. 4 a appoint (a person,
esp. a member of the clergy) to a post. b find a situation,
living, etc. for. c (usu. foll. by with) consign to a person's
care etc. (placed her with her aunt). 5 assign rank,
importance, or worth to (place him among the best teachers). 6
a dispose of (goods) to a customer. b make (an order for goods
etc.). 7 (often foll. by in, on, etc.) have (confidence etc.).
8 invest (money). 9 Brit. state the position of (any of the
first three or sometimes four runners) in a race. 10 tr. (as
placed adj.) a Brit. among the first three or sometimes four in
a race. b US second in a race. 11 Football get (a goal) by a
place-kick. Ьall over the place in disorder; chaotic. give
place to 1 make room for. 2 yield precedence to. 3 be
succeeded by. go places colloq. be successful. in place in
the right position; suitable. in place of in exchange for;
instead of. in places at some places or in some parts, but not
others. keep a person in his or her place suppress a person's
pretensions. out of place 1 in the wrong position. 2
unsuitable. place-bet 1 Brit. a bet on a horse to come first,
second, third, or sometimes fourth in a race. 2 US a bet on a
horse to come second. place-brick an imperfectly burnt brick
from the windward side of the kiln. place card a card marking a
person's place at a table etc. place in the sun a favourable
situation, position, etc. place-kick Football a kick made when
the ball is previously placed on the ground. place-mat a small
mat on a table underneath a person's plate. place-name the name
of a town, village, hill, field, lake, etc. place-setting a set
of plates, cutlery, etc. for one person at a meal. put oneself
in another's place imagine oneself in another's position. put a
person in his or her place deflate or humiliate a person. take
place occur. take one's place go to one's correct position, be
seated, etc. take the place of be substituted for; replace.
ЬЬplaceless adj. placement n. [ME f. OF f. L platea f. Gk
plateia (hodos) broad (way)]
placebo n. (pl. -os) 1 a a pill, medicine, etc. prescribed for
psychological reasons but having no physiological effect. b a
placebo used as a control in testing new drugs etc. c a blank
sample in a test. 2 RC Ch. the opening antiphon of the vespers
for the dead. [L, = I shall be acceptable or pleasing f.
placere please, first word of Ps. 114:9]
placenta n. (pl. placentae or placentas) 1 a flattened circular organ
in the uterus of pregnant mammals nourishing and maintaining the
foetus through the umbilical cord and expelled after birth. 2
(in flowers) part of the ovary wall carrying the ovules.
ЬЬplacental adj. [L f. Gk plakous -ountos flat cake f. the root
of plax plakos flat plate]
placer n. a deposit of sand, gravel, etc., in the bed of a stream
etc., containing valuable minerals in particles. [Amer. Sp.,
rel. to placel sandbank f. plaza PLACE]
placet n. an affirmative vote in a church or university assembly. [L,
= it pleases]
placid adj. 1 (of a person) not easily aroused or disturbed; peaceful.
2 mild; calm; serene. ЬЬplacidity n. placidly adv. placidness
n. [F placide or L placidus f. placere please]
placket n. 1 an opening or slit in a garment, for fastenings or access
to a pocket. 2 the flap of fabric under this. [var. of
placoid adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a fish-scale) consisting of a hard base
embedded in the skin and a spiny backward projection (cf.
CTENOID). 2 (of a fish) covered with these scales. --n. a
placoid fish, e.g. a shark. [Gk plax plakos flat plate]
plafond n. 1 a an ornately decorated ceiling. b such decoration. 2 an
early form of contract bridge. [F f. plat flat + fond bottom]
plagal adj. Mus. (of a church mode) having sounds between the
dominant and its octave (cf. AUTHENTIC). Ьplagal cadence (or
close) a cadence in which the chord of the subdominant
immediately precedes that of the tonic. [med.L plagalis f.
plaga plagal mode f. L plagius f. med. Gk plagios (in anc. Gk =
oblique) f. Gk plagos side]
plage n. 1 Astron. an unusually bright region on the sun. 2 a sea
beach, esp. at a fashionable resort. [F, = beach]
n. 1 the act or an instance of plagiarizing. 2 something
plagiarized. ЬЬplagiarist n. plagiaristic adj.
v.tr. (also -ise) (also absol.) 1 take and use (the thoughts,
writings, inventions, etc. of another person) as one's own. 2
pass off the thoughts etc. of (another person) as one's own.
ЬЬplagiarizer n. [L plagiarius kidnapper f. plagium a
kidnapping f. Gk plagion]
plagio- comb. form oblique. [Gk plagios oblique f. plagos side]
n. a series of feldspar minerals forming glassy crystals.
[PLAGIO- + Gk klasis cleavage]
plague n., v., & int. --n. 1 a deadly contagious disease spreading
rapidly over a wide area. 2 (foll. by of) an unusual
infestation of a pest etc. (a plague of frogs). 3 a great
trouble. b an affliction, esp. as regarded as divine
punishment. 4 colloq. a nuisance. --v.tr. (plagues, plagued,
plaguing) 1 affect with plague. 2 colloq. pester or harass
continually. --int. joc. or archaic a curse etc. (a plague on
it!). ЬЬplaguesome adj. [ME f. L plaga stroke, wound prob. f.
Gk plaga, plege]
plaice n. (pl. same) 1 a European flatfish, Pleuronectes platessa,
having a brown back with orange spots and a white underside,
much used for food. 2 (in full American plaice) a N. Atlantic
fish, Hippoglossoides platessoides. [ME f. OF pla‹z f. LL
platessa app. f. Gk platus broad]
plaid n. 1 (often attrib.) chequered or tartan, esp. woollen, twilled
cloth (a plaid skirt). 2 a long piece of plaid worn over the
shoulder as part of Highland Scottish costume. ЬЬplaided adj.
[Gael. plaide, of unkn. orig.]
plain(1) adj., adv., & n. --adj. 1 clear; evident (is plain to see). 2
readily understood; simple (in plain words). 3 a (of food,
sewing, decoration, etc.) uncomplicated; not elaborate;
unembellished; simple. b without a decorative pattern. 4 (esp.
of a woman or girl) ugly. 5 outspoken; straightforward. 6 (of
manners, dress, etc.) unsophisticated; homely (a plain man). 7
(of drawings etc.) not coloured (penny plain, twopence
coloured). 8 not in code. --adv. 1 clearly; unequivocally (to
speak plain, I don't approve). 2 simply (that is plain stupid).
--n. 1 a level tract of esp. treeless country. 2 a basic
knitting stitch made by putting the needle through the back of
the stitch and passing the wool round the front of the needle
(opp. PURL(1)). Ьbe plain with speak bluntly to. plain card
neither a trump nor a court-card. plain chocolate dark
chocolate without added milk. plain clothes ordinary clothes
worn esp. as a disguise by policemen etc. plain-clothes
(attrib.) wearing plain clothes. plain cook a person competent
in plain English cooking. plain dealing candour;
straightforwardness. plain sailing 1 sailing a straightforward
course. 2 an uncomplicated situation or course of action.
plain service Eccl. a church service without music.
plain-spoken outspoken; blunt. plain suit a suit that is not
trumps. plain text a text not in cipher or code. plain time
time not paid for at overtime rates. plain weaving weaving with
the weft alternately over and under the warp. ЬЬplainly adv.
plainness n. [ME f. OF plain (adj. & n.) f. L planus (adj.),
plain(2) v.intr. archaic or poet. 1 mourn. 2 complain. 3 make a
plaintive sound. [ME f. OF plaindre (stem plaign-) f. L
plangere planct- lament]
n. = PLAINSONG.
plainsman n. (pl. -men) a person who lives on a plain, esp. in N.
plainsong n. unaccompanied church music sung in unison in medieval modes
and in free rhythm corresponding to the accentuation of the
words (cf. GREGORIAN CHANT).
plaint n. 1 Brit. Law an accusation; a charge. 2 literary or archaic
a complaint; a lamentation. [ME f. OF plainte fem. past part.
of plaindre, and OF plaint f. L planctus (as PLAIN(2))]
plaintiff n. Law a person who brings a case against another into court
(opp. DEFENDANT). [ME f. OF plaintif (adj.) (as PLAINTIVE)]
plaintive adj. 1 expressing sorrow; mournful. 2 mournful-sounding.
ЬЬplaintively adv. plaintiveness n. [ME f. OF (-if, -ive) f.
plainte (as PLAINT)]
plait n. & v. --n. 1 a length of hair, straw, etc., in three or more
interlaced strands. 2 = PLEAT. --v.tr. form (hair etc.) into a
plait. [ME f. OF pleit fold ult. f. L plicare fold]
plan n. & v. --n. 1 a a formulated and esp. detailed method by
which a thing is to be done; a design or scheme. b an intention
or proposed proceeding (my plan was to distract them; plan of
campaign). 2 a drawing or diagram made by projection on a
horizontal plane, esp. showing a building or one floor of a
building (cf. ELEVATION). 3 a large-scale detailed map of a
town or district. 4 a a table etc. indicating times, places,
etc. of intended proceedings. b a scheme or arrangement
(prepared the seating plan). 5 an imaginary plane perpendicular
to the line of vision and containing the objects shown in a
picture. --v. (planned, planning) 1 tr. (often foll. by that +
clause or to + infin.) arrange (a procedure etc.) beforehand;
form a plan (planned to catch the evening ferry). 2 tr. a
design (a building, new town, etc.). b make a plan of (an
existing building, an area, etc.). 3 tr. (as planned adj.) in
accordance with a plan (his planned arrival; planned
parenthood). 4 intr. make plans. Ьplanning permission Brit.
formal permission for building development etc., esp. from a
local authority. plan on colloq. aim at doing; intend.
ЬЬplanning n. [F f. earlier plant, f. It. pianta plan of
building: cf. PLANT]
planar adj. Math. of, relating to, or in the form of a plane.
planarian n. any flatworm of the class Turbellaria, usu. living in fresh
water. [mod.L Planaria the genus-name, fem. of L planarius
planchet n. a plain metal disc from which a coin is made. [dimin. of
planch slab of metal f. OF planche: see PLANK]
n. a small usu. heart-shaped board on castors with a pencil
that is supposedly caused to write spirit messages when a
person's fingers rest lightly on it. [F, dimin. of planche
n. (also Planck constant) a fundamental constant, equal to the
energy of quanta of electromagnetic radiation divided by its
frequency, with a value of 6.626 x 10(-34) joules. [M. Planck,
Ger. physicist d. 1947]
plane(1) n., adj., & v. --n. 1 a a flat surface on which a straight
line joining any two points on it would wholly lie. b an
imaginary flat surface through or joining etc. material objects.
2 a level surface. 3 colloq. = AEROPLANE. 4 a flat surface
producing lift by the action of air or water over and under it
(usu. in comb.: hydroplane). 5 (often foll. by of) a level of
attainment, thought, knowledge, etc. 6 a flat thin object such
as a tabletop. --adj. 1 (of a surface etc.) perfectly level.
2 (of an angle, figure, etc.) lying in a plane. --v.intr. 1
(often foll. by down) travel or glide in an aeroplane. 2 (of a
speedboat etc.) skim over water. 3 soar. Ьplane chart a chart
on which meridians and parallels of latitude are represented by
equidistant straight lines, used in plane sailing. plane
polarization a process restricting the vibrations of
electromagnetic radiation, esp. light, to one direction. plane
sailing 1 the practice of determining a ship's position on the
theory that she is moving on a plane. 2 = plain sailing (see
PLAIN(1)). plane-table a surveying instrument used for direct
plotting in the field, with a circular drawing-board and pivoted
alidade. [L planum flat surface, neut. of planus PLAIN(1)
(different. f. PLAIN(1) in 17th c.): adj. after F plan, plane]
plane(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a tool consisting of a wooden or metal block
with a projecting steel blade, used to smooth a wooden surface
by paring shavings from it. 2 a similar tool for smoothing
metal. --v.tr. 1 smooth (wood, metal, etc.) with a plane. 2
(often foll. by away, down) pare (irregularities) with a plane.
3 archaic level (plane the way). [ME f. OF var. of plaine f. LL
plana f. L planus PLAIN(1)]
plane(3) n. (in full plane-tree) any tree of the genus Platanus often
growing to great heights, with maple-like leaves and bark which
peels in uneven patches. [ME f. OF f. L platanus f. Gk platanos
f. platus broad]
planet n. 1 a celestial body moving in an elliptical orbit round a
star; the earth. 2 esp. Astrol. hist. a celestial body
distinguished from the fixed stars by having an apparent motion
of its own (including the moon and sun), esp. with reference to
its supposed influence on people and events. ЬЬplanetology n.
[ME f. OF planete f. LL planeta, planetes f. Gk planetes
wanderer, planet f. planaomai wander]
n. (pl. planetariums or planetaria) 1 a domed building in
which images of stars, planets, constellations, etc. are
projected for public entertainment or education. 2 the device
used for such projection. 3 = ORRERY. [mod.L (as PLANET)]
planetary adj. 1 of or like planets (planetary influence). 2
terrestrial; mundane. 3 wandering; erratic. Ьplanetary nebula
a ring-shaped nebula formed by an expanding shell of gas round a
star. [LL planetarius (as PLANET)]
n. any of a vast number of minute planets or planetary bodies.
Ьplanetesimal hypothesis the theory that planets were formed by
the accretion of planetesimals in a cold state. [PLANET, after
planetoid n. = ASTEROID.
plangent adj. 1 (of a sound) loud and reverberating. 2 (of a sound)
plaintive; sad. ЬЬplangency n. [L plangere plangent- lament]
n. an instrument for mechanically measuring the area of a plane
figure. ЬЬplanimetric adj. planimetrical adj. planimetry n.
[F planimЉtre f. L planus level]
planish v.tr. flatten (sheet metal, coining-metal, etc.) with a
smooth-faced hammer or between rollers. ЬЬplanisher n. [ME f.
OF planir smooth f. plain PLANE(1) adj.]
n. a map formed by the projection of a sphere or part of a
sphere on a plane, esp. to show the appearance of the heavens at
a specific time or place. ЬЬplanispheric adj. [ME f. med.L
planisphaerium (as PLANE(1), SPHERE): infl. by F planisphЉre]
plank n. & v. --n. 1 a long flat piece of timber used esp. in
building, flooring, etc. 2 an item of a political or other
programme (cf. PLATFORM). --v.tr. 1 provide, cover, or floor,
with planks. 2 (usu. foll. by down; also absol.) esp. US
colloq. a put (a thing, person, etc.) down roughly or
violently. b pay (money) on the spot or abruptly (planked down
њ5). Ьplank bed a bed of boards without a mattress, esp. in
prison. walk the plank hist. (of a pirate's captive etc.) be
made to walk blindfold along a plank over the side of a ship to
one's death in the sea. [ME f. ONF planke, OF planche f. LL
planca board f. plancus flat-footed]
planking n. planks as flooring etc.
plankton n. the chiefly microscopic organisms drifting or floating in
the sea or fresh water (see BENTHOS, NEKTON). ЬЬplanktonic adj.
[G f. Gk plagktos wandering f. plazomai wander]
planner n. 1 a person who controls or plans the development of new
towns, designs buildings, etc. 2 a person who makes plans. 3 a
list, table, etc., with information helpful in planning.
plano- comb. form level, flat. [L planus flat]
adj. (of a lens etc.) with one surface plane and the other
adj. (of a lens etc.) with one surface plane and the other
adj. relating to or produced by a process in which printing is
done from a plane surface. ЬЬplanography n.
n. a flat plate used as a gauge for plane surfaces in
plant n. & v. --n. 1 a any living organism of the kingdom Plantae,
usu. containing chlorophyll enabling it to live wholly on
inorganic substances and lacking specialized sense organs and
the power of voluntary movement. b a small organism of this
kind, as distinguished from a shrub or tree. 2 a machinery,
fixtures, etc., used in industrial processes. b a factory. 3
colloq. something, esp. incriminating or compromising,
positioned or concealed so as to be discovered later. --v.tr.
1 place (a seed, bulb, or growing thing) in the ground so that
it may take root and flourish. 2 (often foll. by in, on, etc.)
put or fix in position. 3 deposit (young fish, spawn, oysters,
etc.) in a river or lake. 4 station (a person etc.), esp. as a
spy or source of information. 5 refl. take up a position
(planted myself by the door). 6 cause (an idea etc.) to be
established esp. in another person's mind. 7 deliver (a blow,
kiss, etc.) with a deliberate aim. 8 sl. position or conceal
(something incriminating or compromising) for later discovery.
9 a settle or people (a colony etc.). b found or establish (a
city, community, etc.). 10 bury. Ьplant-louse a small insect
that infests plants, esp. an aphis. plant out transfer (a
plant) from a pot or frame to the open ground; set out
(seedlings) at intervals. ЬЬplantable adj. plantlet n.
plantlike adj. [OE plante & F plante f. L planta sprout, slip,
adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to the kings of England from
Henry II to Richard II. --n. any of these kings. [= sprig of
broom (L planta genista) worn as a distinctive mark, the origin
of their surname]
n. any shrub of the genus Plantago, with broad flat leaves
spread out close to the ground and seeds used as food for birds
and as a mild laxative. Ьplantain lily = HOSTA. [ME f. OF f. L
plantago -ginis f. planta sole of the foot (from its broad
n. 1 a banana plant, Musa paradisiaca, widely grown for its
fruit. 2 the starchy fruit of this containing less sugar than a
dessert banana and chiefly used in cooking. [earlier platan f.
Sp. pl (n)tano plane-tree, prob. assim. f. Galibi palatana
plantar adj. of or relating to the sole of the foot. [L plantaris f.
n. 1 an estate on which cotton, tobacco, etc. is cultivated,
esp. in former colonies, formerly by slave labour. 2 an area
planted with trees etc. 3 hist. a colony; colonization.
Ьplantation song a song of the kind formerly sung by Blacks on
American plantations. [ME f. OF plantation or L plantatio (as
planter n. 1 a person who cultivates the soil. 2 the manager or
occupier of a coffee, cotton, tobacco, etc. plantation. 3 a
large container for decorative plants. 4 a machine for planting
seeds etc. (potato-planter).
adj. & n. --adj. (of an animal) walking on the soles of its
feet. --n. a plantigrade animal, e.g. humans or bears (cf.
DIGITIGRADE). [F f. mod.L plantigradus f. L planta sole +
plaque n. 1 an ornamental tablet of metal, porcelain, etc., esp.
affixed to a building in commemoration. 2 a deposit on teeth
where bacteria proliferate. 3 Med. a a patch or eruption of
skin etc. as a result of damage. b a fibrous lesion in
atherosclerosis. 4 a small badge of rank in an honorary order.
ЬЬplaquette n. [F f. Du. plak tablet f. plakken stick]
plash(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a splash; a plunge. 2 a a marshy pool. b a
puddle. --v. 1 tr. & intr. splash. 2 tr. strike the surface
of (water). ЬЬplashy adj. [OE pl‘sc, prob. imit.]
plash(2) v.tr. 1 bend down and interweave (branches, twigs, etc.) to
form a hedge. 2 make or renew (a hedge) in this way. [ME f. OF
pla(i)ssier ult. f. L plectere plait: cf. PLEACH]
plasma n. (also plasm) 1 the colourless fluid part of blood, lymph, or
milk, in which corpuscles or fat-globules are suspended. 2 =
PROTOPLASM. 3 a gas of positive ions and free electrons with an
approximately equal positive and negative charge. 4 a green
variety of quartz used in mosaic and for other decorative
purposes. ЬЬplasmatic adj. plasmic adj. [LL, = mould f. Gk
plasma -atos f. plasso to shape]
n. (pl. plasmodesmata) a narrow thread of cytoplasm that
passes through cell walls and affords communication between
plant cells. [PLASMA + Gk desma bond, fetter]
n. (pl. plasmodia) 1 any parasitic protozoan of the genus
Plasmodium, including those causing malaria in man. 2 a form
within the life cycle of various micro-organisms including slime
moulds, usu. consisting of a mass of naked protoplasm containing
many nuclei. ЬЬplasmodial adj. [mod.L f. PLASMA(1) + - odium:
v.intr. & tr. (US plasmolyze) undergo or subject to
n. contraction of the protoplast of a plant cell as a result of
loss of water from the cell. [mod.L (as PLASMA, -LYSIS)]
plaster n. & v. --n. 1 a soft pliable mixture esp. of lime putty with
sand or Portland cement etc. for spreading on walls, ceilings,
etc., to form a smooth hard surface when dried. 2 Brit. =
sticking-plaster (see STICK(2)). 3 hist. a curative or
protective substance spread on a bandage etc. and applied to
the body (mustard plaster). --v.tr. 1 cover (a wall etc.) with
plaster or a similar substance. 2 (often foll. by with) coat
thickly or to excess; bedaub (plastered the bread with jam; the
wall was plastered with slogans). 3 stick or apply (a thing)
thickly like plaster (plastered glue all over it). 4 (often
foll. by down) make (esp. hair) smooth with water, cream, etc.;
fix flat. 5 (as plastered adj.) sl. drunk. 6 apply a medical
plaster or plaster cast to. 7 sl. bomb or shell heavily.
Ьplaster cast 1 a bandage stiffened with plaster of Paris and
applied to a broken limb etc. 2 a statue or mould made of
plaster. plaster of Paris fine white plaster made of gypsum and
used for making plaster casts etc. plaster saint iron. a
person regarded as being without moral faults or human frailty.
ЬЬplasterer n. plastery adj. [ME f. OE & OF plastre or F
plastrer f. med.L plastrum f. L emplastrum f. Gk emplastron]
n. two boards with a filling of plaster used to form or line
the inner walls of houses etc.
plastic n. & adj. --n. 1 any of a number of synthetic polymeric
substances that can be given any required shape. 2 (attrib.)
made of plastic (plastic bag). --adj. 1 capable of being
moulded; pliant; supple. 2 moulding or giving form to clay,
wax, etc. 3 Biol. exhibiting an adaptability to environmental
changes. 4 (esp. in philosophy) formative, creative. Ьplastic
arts art forms involving modelling or moulding, e.g. sculpture
and ceramics, or art involving the representation of solid
objects with three-dimensional effects. plastic bomb a bomb
containing plastic explosive. plastic explosive a putty-like
explosive capable of being moulded by hand. plastic surgeon a
qualified practitioner of plastic surgery. plastic surgery the
process of reconstructing or repairing parts of the body by the
transfer of tissue, either in the treatment of injury or for
cosmetic reasons. ЬЬplastically adv. plasticity n. plasticize
v.tr. (also -ise). plasticization n. plasticizer n.
plasticky adj. [F plastique or L plasticus f. Gk plastikos f.
n. propr. a soft plastic material used, esp. by children, for
modelling. [PLASTIC + -INE(4)]
plastid n. any small organelle in the cytoplasm of a plant cell,
containing pigment or food. [G f. Gk plastos shaped]
plastron n. 1 a a fencer's leather-covered breastplate. b a lancer's
breast-covering of facings-cloth. 2 a an ornamental front on a
woman's bodice. b a man's starched shirt-front. 3 a the
ventral part of the shell of a tortoise or turtle. b the
corresponding part in other animals. 4 hist. a steel
breastplate. ЬЬplastral adj. [F f. It. piastrone augment. of
piastra breastplate, f. L emplastrum PLASTER]
plat(1) n. US 1 a plot of land. 2 a plan of an area of land. [16th
c.: collateral form of PLOT]
plat(2) n. & v. --n. = PLAIT n. 1. --v.tr. (platted, platting) =
platan n. = PLANE(3). [ME f. L platanus: see PLANE(3)]
plat du jour
n. a dish specially featured on a day's menu. [F, = dish of
plate n. & v. --n. 1 a a shallow vessel, usu. circular and of
earthenware or china, from which food is eaten or served. b the
contents of this (ate a plate of sandwiches). 2 a similar
vessel usu. of metal or wood, used esp. for making a collection
in a church etc. 3 US a main course of a meal, served on one
plate. 4 Austral. & NZ a contribution of cakes, sandwiches,
etc., to a social gathering. 5 (collect.) a utensils of silver,
gold, or other metal. b objects of plated metal. 6 a piece of
metal with a name or inscription for affixing to a door,
container, etc. 7 an illustration on special paper in a book.
8 a thin sheet of metal, glass, etc., coated with a sensitive
film for photography. 9 a flat thin usu. rigid sheet of metal
etc. with an even surface and uniform thickness, often as part
of a mechanism. 10 a a smooth piece of metal etc. for
engraving. b an impression made from this. 11 a a silver or
gold cup as a prize for a horse-race etc. b a race with this as
a prize. 12 a a thin piece of plastic material, moulded to the
shape of the mouth and gums, to which artificial teeth or
another orthodontic appliance are attached. b colloq. a
complete denture or orthodontic appliance. 13 Geol. each of
several rigid sheets of rock thought to form the earth's outer
crust. 14 Biol. a thin flat organic structure or formation. 15
a light shoe for a racehorse. 16 a stereotype, electrotype, or
plastic cast of a page of composed movable types, or a metal or
plastic copy of filmset matter, from which sheets are printed.
17 US Baseball a flat piece of whitened rubber marking the
station of a batter or pitcher. 18 US the anode of a thermionic
valve. 19 a horizontal timber laid along the top of a wall to
support the ends of joists or rafters (window-plate). --v.tr.
1 apply a thin coat esp. of silver, gold, or tin to (another
metal). 2 cover (esp. a ship) with plates of metal, esp. for
protection. 3 make a plate of (type etc.) for printing. Ьon a
plate colloq. available with little trouble to the recipient.
on one's plate for one to deal with or consider. plate armour
armour of metal plates, for a man, ship, etc. plate glass thick
fine-quality glass for shop windows etc., orig. cast in plates.
plate-rack Brit. a rack in which plates are placed to drain.
plate tectonics Geol. the study of the earth's surface based on
the concept of moving 'plates' (see sense 13 of n.) forming its
structure. plate tracery Archit. tracery with perforations in
otherwise continuous stone. ЬЬplateful n. (pl. -fuls).
plateless adj. plater n. [ME f. OF f. med.L plata plate armour
f. platus (adj.) ult. f. Gk platus flat]
plateau n. & v. --n. (pl. plateaux or plateaus) 1 an area of fairly
level high ground. 2 a state of little variation after an
increase. --v.intr. (plateaus, plateaued) (often foll. by out)
reach a level or stable state after an increase. [F f. OF
platel dimin. of plat flat surface]
n. Brit. a person employed in fixing and repairing railway
platelet n. a small colourless disc of protoplasm found in blood and
involved in clotting.
platen n. 1 a plate in a printing-press which presses the paper
against the type. 2 a cylindrical roller in a typewriter
against which the paper is held. [OF platine a flat piece f.
adj. richly ornamented in a style suggesting silverware. [Sp.
plateresco f. platero silversmith f. plata silver]
platform n. 1 a raised level surface; a natural or artificial terrace.
2 a raised surface from which a speaker addresses an audience.
3 Brit. a raised elongated structure along the side of a track
in a railway station. 4 the floor area at the entrance to a
bus. 5 a thick sole of a shoe. 6 the declared policy of a
political party. Ьplatform ticket a ticket allowing a
non-traveller access to a station platform. [F plateforme
ground-plan f. plate flat + forme FORM]
plating n. 1 a coating of gold, silver, etc. 2 racing for plates.
platinic adj. of or containing (esp. tetravalent) platinum.
platinize v.tr. (also -ise) coat with platinum. ЬЬplatinization n.
platinoid n. an alloy of copper, zinc, nickel, and tungsten.
platinum n. Chem. a ductile malleable silvery-white metallic element
occurring naturally in nickel and copper ores, unaffected by
simple acids and fusible only at a very high temperature, used
in making jewellery and laboratory apparatus. °Symb.: Pt.
Ьplatinum black platinum in powder form like lampblack.
platinum blonde (or blond) adj. silvery-blond. --n. a person
with silvery-blond hair. platinum metal any metallic element
found with and resembling platinum e.g. osmium, iridium, and
palladium. [mod.L f. earlier platina f. Sp., dimin. of plata
platitude n. 1 a trite or commonplace remark, esp. one solemnly
delivered. 2 the use of platitudes; dullness, insipidity.
ЬЬplatitudinize v.intr. (also -ise). platitudinous adj. [F f.
plat flat, after certitude, multitudinous, etc.]
Platonic adj. 1 of or associated with the Greek philosopher Plato (d.
347 BC) or his ideas. 2 (platonic) (of love or friendship)
purely spiritual, not sexual. 3 (platonic) confined to words or
theory; not leading to action; harmless. ЬPlatonic solid (or
body) any of the five regular solids (tetrahedron, cube,
octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron). ЬЬPlatonically adv. [L
Platonicus f. Gk Platonikos f. Platon Plato]
Platonism n. the philosophy of Plato or his followers. ЬЬPlatonist n.
platoon n. 1 Mil. a subdivision of a company, a tactical unit commanded
by a lieutenant and usu. divided into three sections. 2 a group
of persons acting together. [F peloton small ball, dimin. of
pelote: see PELLET, -OON]
n. S.Afr. remote country districts. ЬЬplattelander n.
[Afrik., = flat land]
platter n. 1 a large flat dish or plate, esp. for food. 2 colloq. a
gramophone record. Ьon a platter = on a plate (see PLATE). [ME
& AF plater f. AF plat PLATE]
platy- comb. form broad, flat. [Gk platu- f. platus broad, flat]
n. any invertebrate of the phylum Platyhelminthes, including
flatworms, flukes, and tapeworms.
platypus n. an Australian aquatic egg-laying mammal, Ornithorhynchus
anatinus, having a pliable ducklike bill, webbed feet, and sleek
grey fur. Also called DUCKBILL.
adj. & n. --adj. (of primates) having nostrils far apart and
directed forwards or sideways (cf. CATARRHINE). --n. such an
animal. [PLATY- + Gk rhis rhin- nose]
plaudit n. (usu. in pl.) 1 a round of applause. 2 an emphatic
expression of approval. [shortened f. L plaudite applaud,
imper. pl. of plaudere plaus- applaud, said by Roman actors at
the end of a play]
plausible adj. 1 (of an argument, statement, etc.) seeming reasonable or
probable. 2 (of a person) persuasive but deceptive.
ЬЬplausibility n. plausibly adv. [L plausibilis (as PLAUDIT)]
play v. & n. --v. 1 intr. (often foll. by with) occupy or amuse
oneself pleasantly with some recreation, game, exercise, etc. 2
intr. (foll. by with) act light-heartedly or flippantly (with
feelings etc.). 3 tr. a perform on or be able to perform on (a
musical instrument). b perform (a piece of music etc.). c
cause (a record, record-player, etc.) to produce sounds. 4 a
intr. (foll. by in) perform a role in (a drama etc.). b tr.
perform (a drama or role) on stage, or in a film or broadcast.
c tr. give a dramatic performance at (a particular theatre or
place). 5 tr. act in real life the part of (play truant; play
the fool). 6 tr. (foll. by on) perform (a trick or joke etc.)
on (a person). 7 tr. (foll. by for) regard (a person) as
(something specified) (played me for a fool). 8 intr. colloq.
participate, cooperate; do what is wanted (they won't play). 9
intr. gamble. 10 tr. gamble on. 11 tr. a take part in (a game
or recreation). b compete with (another player or team) in a
game. c occupy (a specified position) in a team for a game. d
(foll. by in, on, at, etc.) assign (a player) to a position. 12
tr. move (a piece) or display (a playing-card) in one's turn in
a game. 13 tr. (also absol.) strike (a ball etc.) or execute (a
stroke) in a game. 14 intr. move about in a lively or
unrestrained manner. 15 intr. (often foll. by on) a touch
gently. b emit light, water, etc. (fountains gently playing).
16 tr. allow (a fish) to exhaust itself pulling against a line.
17 intr. (often foll. by at) a engage in a half-hearted way (in
an activity). b pretend to be. 18 intr. (of a cricket ground
etc.) be conducive to play as specified (the pitch is playing
fast). 19 intr. colloq. act or behave (as specified) (play
fair). 20 tr. (foll. by in, out, etc.) accompany (a person)
with music (were played out with bagpipes). --n. 1 recreation,
amusement, esp. as the spontaneous activity of children and
young animals. 2 a the playing of a game. b the action or
manner of this. c the status of the ball etc. in a game as
being available to be played according to the rules (in play;
out of play). 3 a dramatic piece for the stage etc. 4 activity
or operation (are in full play; brought into play). 5 a freedom
of movement. b space or scope for this. 6 brisk, light, or
fitful movement. 7 gambling. 8 an action or manoeuvre, esp. in
or as in a game. Ьat play engaged in recreation. in play for
amusement; not seriously. make play act effectively. make a
play for colloq. make a conspicuous attempt to acquire. make
play with use ostentatiously. play about (or around) behave
irresponsibly. play along pretend to cooperate. play back play
(sounds recently recorded), esp. to monitor recording quality
etc. play-back n. a playing back of a sound or sounds. play
ball see BALL(1). play by ear 1 perform (music) without the aid
of a score. 2 (also play it by ear) proceed instinctively or
step by step according to results and circumstances. play one's
cards right (or well) make good use of opportunities; act
shrewdly. play down minimize the importance of. play ducks and
drakes with see DUCK(1). played out exhausted of energy or
usefulness. play false act, or treat a (person), deceitfully or
treacherously. play fast and loose act unreliably; ignore one's
obligations. play the field see FIELD. play for time seek to
gain time by delaying. play the game see GAME(1). play God see
GOD. play havoc with see HAVOC. play hell with see HELL. play
hookey see HOOKEY. play into a person's hands act so as
unwittingly to give a person an advantage. play it cool colloq.
1 affect indifference. 2 be relaxed or unemotional. play the
man = be a man (see MAN). play the market speculate in stocks
etc. play off (usu. foll. by against) 1 oppose (one person
against another), esp. for one's own advantage. 2 play an extra
match to decide a draw or tie. play-off n. a match played to
decide a draw or tie. play on 1 continue to play. 2 take
advantage of (a person's feelings etc.). play oneself in become
accustomed to the prevailing conditions in a game etc. play on
words a pun. play-pen a portable enclosure for young children
to play in. play possum see POSSUM. play safe (or for safety)
avoid risks. play-suit a garment for a young child. play to
the gallery see GALLERY. play up 1 behave mischievously. 2
cause trouble; be irritating (my rheumatism is playing up
again). 3 obstruct or annoy in this way (played the teacher
up). 4 put all one's energy into a game. play up to flatter,
esp. to win favour. play with fire take foolish risks.
ЬЬplayable adj. playability n. [OE plega (n.), pleg(i)an (v.),
orig. = (to) exercise]
playa n. a flat dried-up area, esp. a desert basin from which water
evaporates quickly. [Sp., = beach, f. LL plagia]
play-act v. 1 intr. act in a play. 2 intr. behave affectedly or
insincerely. 3 tr. act (a scene, part, etc.). ЬЬplay-acting n.
playbill n. 1 a poster announcing a theatrical performance. 2 US a
playboy n. an irresponsible pleasure-seeking man, esp. a wealthy one.
player n. 1 a person taking part in a sport or game. 2 a person
playing a musical instrument. 3 a person who plays a part on
the stage; an actor. 4 = record-player. Ьplayer-piano a piano
fitted with an apparatus enabling it to be played automatically.
[OE plegere (as PLAY)]
n. a playmate.
playful adj. 1 fond of or inclined to play. 2 done in fun; humorous,
jocular. ЬЬplayfully adv. playfulness n.
playgoer n. a person who goes often to the theatre.
n. an outdoor area for children to play on.
playgroup n. a group of preschool children who play regularly together at
a particular place under supervision.
playhouse n. 1 a theatre. 2 a toy house for children to play in.
n. each of a set of usu. 52 oblong pieces of card or other
material with an identical pattern on one side and different
values represented by numbers and symbols on the other, used to
play various games.
n. a field used for outdoor team games.
playlet n. a short play or dramatic piece.
playmate n. a child's companion in play.
plaything n. 1 a toy or other thing to play with. 2 a person treated as
playtime n. time for play or recreation.
n. a person who writes plays.
plaza n. a market-place or open square (esp. in a Spanish town).
[Sp., = place]
plc abbr. (also PLC) Public Limited Company.
plea n. 1 an earnest appeal or entreaty. 2 Law a formal statement
by or on behalf of a defendant. 3 an argument or excuse. Ьplea
bargaining US an arrangement between prosecutor and defendant
whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in the
expectations of leniency. [ME & AF ple, plai, OF plait, plaid
agreement, discussion f. L placitum a decree, neut. past part.
of placere to please]
pleach v.tr. entwine or interlace (esp. branches to form a hedge).
[ME pleche f. OF (as PLASH(2))]
plead v. (past and past part. pleaded or esp. US, Sc., & dial.
pled) 1 intr. (foll. by with) make an earnest appeal to. 2
intr. Law address a lawcourt as an advocate on behalf of a
party. 3 tr. maintain (a cause) esp. in a lawcourt. 4 tr. Law
declare to be one's state as regards guilt in or responsibility
for a crime (plead guilty; plead insanity). 5 tr. offer or
allege as an excuse (pleaded forgetfulness). 6 intr. make an
appeal or entreaty. ЬЬpleadable adj. pleader n. pleadingly
adv. [ME f. AF pleder, OF plaidier (as PLEA)]
pleading n. (usu. in pl.) a formal statement of the cause of an action
pleasance n. a secluded enclosure or part of a garden, esp. one attached
to a large house. [ME f. OF plaisance (as PLEASANT)]
pleasant adj. (pleasanter, pleasantest) pleasing to the mind, feelings,
or senses. ЬЬpleasantly adv. pleasantness n. [ME f. OF
plaisant (as PLEASE)]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a pleasant or amusing remark, esp. made in
casual conversation. 2 a humorous manner of speech. 3
jocularity. [F plaisanterie (as PLEASANT)]
please v. 1 tr. (also absol.) be agreeable to; make glad; give
pleasure to (the gift will please them; anxious to please). 2
tr. (in passive) a (foll. by to + infin.) be glad or willing to
(am pleased to help). b (often foll. by about, at, with) derive
pleasure or satisfaction (from). 3 tr. (with it as subject;
usu. foll. by to + infin.) be the inclination or wish of (it did
not please them to attend). 4 intr. think fit; have the will or
desire (take as many as you please). 5 tr. (short for may it
please you) used in polite requests (come in, please). Ьif you
please if you are willing, esp. iron. to indicate
unreasonableness (then, if you please, we had to pay). pleased
as Punch see PUNCH(4). please oneself do as one likes.
ЬЬpleased adj. pleasing adj. pleasingly adv. [ME plaise f. OF
plaisir f. L placere]
adj. causing pleasure; agreeable. ЬЬpleasurableness n.
pleasurably adv. [PLEASURE + -ABLE, after comfortable]
pleasure n. & v. --n. 1 a feeling of satisfaction or joy. 2 enjoyment.
3 a source of pleasure or gratification (painting was my chief
pleasure; it is a pleasure to talk to them). 4 formal a
person's will or desire (what is your pleasure?). 5 sensual
gratification or enjoyment (a life of pleasure). 6 (attrib.)
done or used for pleasure (pleasure-ground). --v. 1 tr. give
(esp. sexual) pleasure to. 2 intr. (often foll. by in) take
pleasure. Ьtake pleasure in like doing. with pleasure gladly.
[ME & OF plesir, plaisir PLEASE, used as a noun]
pleat n. & v. --n. a fold or crease, esp. a flattened fold in cloth
doubled upon itself. --v.tr. make a pleat or pleats in. [ME,
var. of PLAIT]
pleb n. colloq. usu. derog. an ordinary insignificant person.
ЬЬplebby adj. [abbr. of PLEBEIAN]
plebeian n. & adj. --n. a commoner, esp. in ancient Rome. --adj. 1 of
low birth; of the common people. 2 uncultured. 3 coarse,
ignoble. ЬЬplebeianism n. [L plebeius f. plebs plebis the
n. 1 the direct vote of all the electors of a State etc. on an
important public question, e.g. a change in the constitution. 2
the public expression of a community's opinion, with or without
binding force. 3 Rom.Hist. a law enacted by the plebeians'
assembly. ЬЬplebiscitary adj. [F pl‚biscite f. L plebiscitum
f. plebs plebis the common people + scitum decree f. sciscere
plectrum n. (pl. plectrums or plectra) 1 a thin flat piece of plastic
or horn etc. held in the hand and used to pluck a string, esp.
of a guitar. 2 the corresponding mechanical part of a
harpsichord etc. [L f. Gk plektron f. plesso strike]
pled see PLEAD.
pledge n. & v. --n. 1 a solemn promise or undertaking. 2 a thing
given as security for the fulfilment of a contract, the payment
of a debt, etc., and liable to forfeiture in the event of
failure. 3 a thing put in pawn. 4 a thing given as a token of
love, favour, or something to come. 5 the drinking of a
person's health; a toast. 6 a solemn undertaking to abstain
from alcohol (sign the pledge). 7 the state of being pledged
(goods lying in pledge). --v.tr. 1 a deposit as security. b
pawn. 2 promise solemnly by the pledge of (one's honour, word,
etc.). 3 (often refl.) bind by a solemn promise. 4 drink to
the health of. Ьpledge one's troth see TROTH. ЬЬpledgeable
adj. pledger n. pledgor n. [ME plege f. OF plege f. LL
plebium f. plebire assure]
pledgee n. a person to whom a pledge is given.
pledget n. a small wad of lint etc. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
pleiad n. a brilliant group of (usu. seven) persons or things. [named
Pleiades n.pl. a cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, usu.
known as 'the Seven Sisters'. [ME f. L Ple‹as f. Gk Pleias
adj. & n. Geol. --adj. of or relating to the first epoch of
the Quaternary period marked by great fluctuations in
temperature with glacial periods followed by interglacial
periods. --n. this epoch or system. Also called Ice age. °Cf.
Appendix II. [Gk pleistos most + kainos new]
plenary adj. 1 entire, unqualified, absolute (plenary indulgence). 2
(of an assembly) to be attended by all members. [LL plenarius
f. plenus full]
n. & adj. --n. (pl. -ies) a person (esp. a diplomat) invested
with the full power of independent action. --adj. 1 having
this power. 2 (of power) absolute. [med.L plenipotentiarius f.
plenus full + potentia power]
plenitude n. literary 1 fullness, completeness. 2 abundance. [ME f. OF
f. LL plenitudo f. plenus full]
plenteous adj. poet. plentiful. ЬЬplenteously adv. plenteousness n.
[ME f. OF plentivous f. plentif -ive f. plent‚ PLENTY: cf.
plentiful adj. abundant, copious. ЬЬplentifully adv. plentifulness n.
plenty n., adj., & adv. --n. (often foll. by of) a great or sufficient
quantity or number (we have plenty; plenty of time). --adj.
colloq. existing in an ample quantity. --adv. colloq. fully,
entirely (it is plenty large enough). [ME plenteth, plente f.
OF plentet f. L plenitas -tatis f. plenus full]
plenum n. 1 a full assembly of people or a committee etc. 2 Physics
space filled with matter. [L, neut. of plenus full]
adj. showing different colours when viewed in different
directions. ЬЬpleochroism n. [Gk pleion more + -khroos f.
n. Biol., Chem., & Mineral. the occurrence of more than one
distinct form. ЬЬpleomorphic adj. [Gk pleion more + morphe
pleonasm n. the use of more words than are needed to give the sense
(e.g. see with one's eyes). ЬЬpleonastic adj. pleonastically
adv. [LL pleonasmus f. Gk pleonasmos f. pleonazo be
n. (also plesiosaur) any of a group of extinct marine reptiles
with a broad flat body, short tail, long flexible neck, and
large paddle-like limbs. [mod.L f. Gk plesios near + sauros
plessor var. of PLEXOR.
plethora n. 1 an oversupply, glut, or excess. 2 Med. a an abnormal
excess of red corpuscles in the blood. b an excess of any body
fluid. ЬЬplethoric also adj. plethorically adv. [LL f. Gk
plethore f. pletho be full]
pleura(1) n. (pl. pleurae) 1 each of a pair of serous membranes lining
the thorax and enveloping the lungs in mammals. 2 lateral
extensions of the body-wall in arthropods. ЬЬpleural adj.
[med.L f. Gk, = side of the body, rib]
pleura(2) pl. of PLEURON.
pleurisy n. inflammation of the pleura, marked by pain in the chest or
side, fever, etc. ЬЬpleuritic adj. [ME f. OF pleurisie f. LL
pleurisis alt. f. L pleuritis f. Gk (as PLEURA(1))]
pleuro- comb. form 1 denoting the pleura. 2 denoting the side.
pleuron n. (pl. pleura) = PLEURA(1) 2. [Gk, = side of the body, rib]
n. pneumonia complicated with pleurisy.
Plexiglas n. propr. = PERSPEX. [formed as PLEXOR + GLASS]
plexor n. (also plessor) Med. a small hammer used to test reflexes
and in percussing. [irreg. f. Gk plexis percussion + -OR(1)]
plexus n. (pl. same or plexuses) 1 Anat. a network of nerves or
vessels in an animal body (gastric plexus). 2 any network or
weblike formation. ЬЬplexiform adj. [L f. plectere plex-
pliable adj. 1 bending easily; supple. 2 yielding, compliant.
ЬЬpliability n. pliableness n. pliably adv. [F f. plier
bend: see PLY(1)]
pliant adj. = PLIABLE 1. ЬЬpliancy n. pliantly adv. [ME f. OF (as
plicate adj. Biol. & Geol. folded, crumpled, corrugated. ЬЬplicated
adj. [L plicatus past part. of plicare fold]
plication n. 1 the act of folding. 2 a fold; a folded condition. [ME f.
med.L plicatio or L plicare fold, after complication]
pli‚ n. Ballet a bending of the knees with the feet on the ground.
[F, past part. of plier bend: see PLY(1)]
pliers n.pl. pincers with parallel flat usu. serrated surfaces for
holding small objects, bending wire, etc. [(dial.) ply bend
plight(1) n. a condition or state, esp. an unfortunate one. [ME & AF
plit = OF pleit fold: see PLAIT: -gh- by confusion with
plight(2) v. & n. archaic --v.tr. 1 pledge or promise solemnly (one's
faith, loyalty, etc.). 2 (foll. by to) engage, esp. in
marriage. --n. an engagement or act of pledging. Ьplight one's
troth see TROTH. [orig. as noun, f. OE pliht danger f. Gmc]
plimsoll n. (also plimsole) Brit. a rubber-soled canvas sports shoe.
[prob. from the resemblance of the side of the sole to a
n. (also Plimsoll mark) a marking on a ship's side showing the
limit of legal submersion under various conditions. [S.
Plimsoll, Engl. politician d. 1898, promoter of the Merchant
Shipping Act of 1876]
plinth n. 1 the lower square slab at the base of a column. 2 a base
supporting a vase or statue etc. [F plinthe or L plinthus f. Gk
plinthos tile, brick, squared stone]
Pliocene adj. & n. Geol. --adj. of or relating to the last epoch of the
Tertiary period with evidence of the extinction of many mammals,
and the development of hominids. --n. this epoch or system.
°Cf. Appendix II. [Gk pleion more + kainos new]
pliss‚ adj. & n. --adj. (of cloth etc.) treated so as to cause
permanent puckering. --n. material treated in this way. [F,
past part. of plisser pleat]
PLO abbr. Palestine Liberation Organization.
plod v. & n. --v. (plodded, plodding) 1 intr. (often foll. by
along, on, etc.) walk doggedly or laboriously; trudge. 2 intr.
(often foll. by at) work slowly and steadily. 3 tr. tread or
make (one's way) laboriously. --n. the act or a spell of
plodding. ЬЬplodder n. ploddingly adv. [16th c.: prob. imit.]
-ploid comb. form Biol. forming adjectives denoting the number of sets
of chromosomes in a cell (diploid; polyploid). [after HAPLOID]
ploidy n. the number of sets of chromosomes in a cell. [after
DIPLOIDY, POLYPLOIDY , etc.]
plonk(1) v. & n. --v.tr. 1 set down hurriedly or clumsily. 2 (usu.
foll. by down) set down firmly. --n. 1 an act of plonking. 2
a heavy thud. [imit.]
plonk(2) n. colloq. cheap or inferior wine. [orig. Austral.: prob.
corrupt. of blanc in F vin blanc white wine]
plop n., v., & adv. --n. 1 a sound as of a smooth object dropping
into water without a splash. 2 an act of falling with this
sound. --v. (plopped, plopping) intr. & tr. fall or drop with
a plop. --adv. with a plop. [19th c.: imit.]
plosion n. Phonet. the sudden release of breath in the pronunciation
of a stop consonant. [EXPLOSION]
plosive adj. & n. Phonet. --adj. pronounced with a sudden release of
breath. --n. a plosive sound. [EXPLOSIVE]
plot n. & v. --n. 1 a defined and usu. small piece of ground. 2
the interrelationship of the main events in a play, novel, film,
etc. 3 a conspiracy or secret plan, esp. to achieve an unlawful
end. 4 esp. US a graph or diagram. 5 a graph showing the
relation between two variables. --v. (plotted, plotting) tr.
1 make a plan or map of (an existing object, a place or thing to
be laid out, constructed, etc.). 2 (also absol.) plan or
contrive secretly (a crime, conspiracy, etc.). 3 mark (a point
or course etc.) on a chart or diagram. 4 a mark out or allocate
(points) on a graph. b make (a curve etc.) by marking out a
number of points. ЬЬplotless adj. plotlessness n. plotter n.
[OE and f. OF complot secret plan: both of unkn. orig.]
plough n. & v. (esp. US plow) --n. 1 an implement with a cutting
blade fixed in a frame drawn by a tractor or by horses, for
cutting furrows in the soil and turning it up. 2 an implement
resembling this and having a comparable function (snowplough).
3 ploughed land. 4 (the Plough) the constellation Ursa Major or
its seven bright stars. --v. 1 tr. (also absol.) turn up (the
earth) with a plough, esp. before sowing. 2 tr. (foll. by out,
up, down, etc.) turn or extract (roots, weeds, etc.) with a
plough. 3 tr. furrow or scratch (a surface) as if with a
plough. 4 tr. produce (a furrow or line) in this way. 5 intr.
(foll. by through) advance laboriously, esp. through work, a
book, etc. 6 intr. (foll. by through, into) move like a plough
violently. 7 intr. & tr. Brit. colloq. fail in an
examination. Ьplough back 1 plough (grass etc.) into the soil
to enrich it. 2 reinvest (profits) in the business producing
them. Plough Monday the first Monday after the Epiphany. put
one's hand to the plough undertake a task (Luke 9:62).
ЬЬploughable adj. plougher n. [OE ploh f. ON plўgr f. Gmc]
ploughman n. (pl. -men) a person who uses a plough. Ьploughman's lunch
a meal of bread and cheese with pickle or salad. ploughman's
spikenard a composite fragrant plant, Inula conyzae, with
n. the cutting blade of a plough.
plover n. any plump-breasted wading bird of the family Charadriidae,
including the lapwing, usu. having a pigeon-like bill. [ME & AF
f. OF plo(u)vier ult. f. L pluvia rain]
plow US var. of PLOUGH.
ploy n. colloq. a stratagem; a cunning manoeuvre to gain an
advantage. [orig. Sc., 18th c.: orig. unkn.]
PLP abbr. (in the UK) Parliamentary Labour Party.
PLR abbr. (in the UK) Public Lending Right.
pluck v. & n. --v. 1 tr. (often foll. by out, off, etc.) remove by
picking or pulling out or away. 2 tr. strip (a bird) of
feathers. 3 tr. pull at, twitch. 4 intr. (foll. by at) tug or
snatch at. 5 tr. sound (the string of a musical instrument)
with the finger or plectrum etc. 6 tr. plunder. 7 tr. swindle.
--n. 1 courage, spirit. 2 an act of plucking; a twitch. 3 the
heart, liver, and lungs of an animal as food. Ьpluck up summon
up (one's courage, spirits, etc.). ЬЬplucker n. pluckless adj.
[OE ploccian, pluccian, f. Gmc]
plucky adj. (pluckier, pluckiest) brave, spirited. ЬЬpluckily adv.
plug n. & v. --n. 1 a piece of solid material fitting tightly into
a hole, used to fill a gap or cavity or act as a wedge or
stopper. 2 a a device of metal pins in an insulated casing
fitting into holes in a socket for making an electrical
connection, esp. between an appliance and the mains. b colloq.
an electric socket. 3 = sparking-plug (see SPARK(1)). 4
colloq. a piece of (often free) publicity for an idea, product,
etc. 5 a mass of solidified lava filling the neck of a volcano.
6 a cake or stick of tobacco; a piece of this for chewing. 7 =
fire-plug. --v. (plugged, plugging) 1 tr. (often foll. by up)
stop (a hole etc.) with a plug. 2 tr. sl. shoot or hit (a
person etc.). 3 tr. colloq. seek to popularize (an idea,
product, etc.) by constant recommendation. 4 intr. colloq.
(often foll. by at) work steadily away (at). Ьplug in connect
electrically by inserting a plug in a socket. plug-in adj.
able to be connected by means of a plug. plug-ugly US sl. n.
(pl. -ies) a thug or ruffian. --adj. villainous-looking.
ЬЬplugger n. [MDu. & MLG plugge, of unkn. orig.]
plum n. 1 a an oval fleshy fruit, usu. purple or yellow when ripe,
with sweet pulp and a flattish pointed stone. b any deciduous
tree of the genus Prunus bearing this. 2 a reddish-purple
colour. 3 a dried grape or raisin used in cooking. 4 colloq.
the best of a collection; something especially prized (often
attrib.: a plum job). Ьplum cake a cake containing raisins,
currants, etc. plum duff a plain flour pudding with raisins or
currants. plum pudding a rich boiled suet pudding with raisins,
currants, spices, etc. [OE plume f. med.L pruna f. L prunum]
plumage n. a bird's feathers. ЬЬplumaged adj. (usu. in comb.). [ME f.
OF (as PLUME)]
n. a person who trades or works in ornamental feathers. [F f.
plumasse augment. of plume PLUME]
plumb(1) n., adv., adj., & v. --n. a ball of lead or other heavy
material, esp. one attached to the end of a line for finding the
depth of water or determining the vertical on an upright
surface. --adv. 1 exactly (plumb in the centre). 2
vertically. 3 US sl. quite, utterly (plumb crazy). --adj. 1
vertical. 2 downright, sheer (plumb nonsense). 3 Cricket (of
the wicket) level, true. --v.tr. 1 a measure the depth of
(water) with a plumb. b determine (a depth). 2 test (an
upright surface) to determine the vertical. 3 reach or
experience in extremes (plumb the depths of fear). 4 learn in
detail the facts about (a matter). Ьout of plumb not vertical.
plumb-line a line with a plumb attached. plumb-rule a mason's
plumb-line attached to a board. [ME, prob. ult. f. L plumbum
lead, assim. to OF plomb lead]
plumb(2) v. 1 tr. provide (a building or room etc.) with plumbing. 2
tr. (often foll. by in) fit as part of a plumbing system. 3
intr. work as a plumber. [back-form. f. PLUMBER]
plumbago n. (pl. -os) 1 = GRAPHITE. 2 any plant of the genus Plumbago,
with grey or blue flowers. Also called LEADWORT. [L f. plumbum
plumbeous adj. 1 of or like lead. 2 lead-glazed. [L plumbeus f.
plumber n. a person who fits and repairs the apparatus of a
water-supply, heating, etc. [ME plummer etc. f. OF plommier f.
L plumbarius f. plumbum LEAD(2)]
plumbic adj. 1 Chem. containing lead esp. in its tetravalent form. 2
Med. due to the presence of lead. ЬЬplumbism n. (in sense 2).
[L plumbum lead]
plumbing n. 1 the system or apparatus of water-supply, heating, etc., in
a building. 2 the work of a plumber. 3 colloq. lavatory
plumbless adj. (of a depth of water etc.) that cannot be plumbed.
plumbous n. Chem. containing lead in its divalent form.
plume n. & v. --n. 1 a feather, esp. a large one used for ornament.
2 an ornament of feathers etc. attached to a helmet or hat or
worn in the hair. 3 something resembling this (a plume of
smoke). 4 Zool. a feather-like part or formation. --v. 1 tr.
decorate or provide with a plume or plumes. 2 refl. (foll. by
on, upon) pride (oneself on esp. something trivial). 3 tr. (of
a bird) preen (itself or its feathers). ЬЬplumeless adj.
plumelike adj. plumery n. [ME f. OF f. L pluma down]
plummet n. & v. --n. 1 a plumb or plumb-line. 2 a sounding-line. 3 a
weight attached to a fishing-line to keep the float upright.
--v.intr. (plummeted, plummeting) fall or plunge rapidly. [ME
f. OF plommet dimin. (as PLUMB(1))]
plummy adj. (plummier, plummiest) 1 abounding or rich in plums. 2
colloq. (of a voice) sounding affectedly rich or deep in tone.
3 colloq. good, desirable.
plump(1) adj. & v. --adj. (esp. of a person or animal or part of the
body) having a full rounded shape; fleshy; filled out. --v.tr.
& intr. (often foll. by up, out) make or become plump; fatten.
ЬЬplumpish adj. plumply adv. plumpness n. plumpy adj. [ME
plompe f. MDu. plomp blunt, MLG plump, plomp shapeless etc.]
plump(2) v., n., adv., & adj. --v. 1 intr. & tr. (often foll. by down)
drop or fall abruptly (plumped down on the chair; plumped it on
the floor). 2 intr. (foll. by for) decide definitely in favour
of (one of two or more possibilities). 3 tr. (often foll. by
out) utter abruptly; blurt out. --n. an abrupt plunge; a heavy
fall. --adv. colloq. 1 with a sudden or heavy fall. 2
directly, bluntly (I told him plump). --adj. colloq. direct,
unqualified (answered with a plump 'no'). [ME f. MLG plumpen,
MDu. plompen: orig. imit.]
plumule n. 1 the rudimentary shoot or stem of an embryo plant. 2 a
down feather on a young bird. ЬЬplumulaceous adj. (in sense 2).
plumular adj. (in sense 1). [F plumule or L plumula, dimin. (as
plunder v. & n. --v.tr. 1 rob (a place or person) forcibly of goods,
e.g. as in war. 2 rob systematically. 3 (also absol.) steal or
embezzle (goods). --n. 1 the violent or dishonest acquisition
of property. 2 property acquired by plundering. 3 colloq.
profit, gain. ЬЬplunderer n. [LG plЃndern lit. 'rob of
household goods' f. MHG plunder clothing etc.]
plunge v. & n. --v. 1 (usu. foll. by in, into) a tr. thrust
forcefully or abruptly. b intr. dive; propel oneself forcibly.
c intr. & tr. enter or cause to enter a certain condition or
embark on a certain course abruptly or impetuously (they plunged
into a lively discussion; the room was plunged into darkness).
2 tr. immerse completely. 3 intr. a move suddenly and
dramatically downward. b (foll. by down, into, etc.) move with
a rush (plunged down the stairs). c diminish rapidly (share
prices have plunged). 4 intr. (of a horse) start violently
forward. 5 intr. (of a ship) pitch. 6 intr. colloq. gamble
heavily; run into debt. --n. a plunging action or movement; a
dive. Ьplunging (or plunge) neckline a low-cut neckline. take
the plunge colloq. commit oneself to a (usu. risky) course of
action. [ME f. OF plungier ult. f. L plumbum plummet]
plunger n. 1 a part of a mechanism that works with a plunging or
thrusting movement. 2 a rubber cup on a handle for clearing
blocked pipes by a plunging and sucking action. 3 colloq. a
plunk n. & v. --n. 1 the sound made by the sharply plucked string of
a stringed instrument. 2 US a heavy blow. 3 US = PLONK(1) n.
--v. 1 intr. & tr. sound or cause to sound with a plunk. 2 tr.
US hit abruptly. 3 tr. US = PLONK(1) v. [imit.]
adj. & n. Gram. --adj. (of a tense) denoting an action
completed prior to some past point of time specified or implied,
formed in English by had and the past participle, as: he had
gone by then. --n. the pluperfect tense. [mod.L plusperfectum
f. L plus quam perfectum more than perfect]
plural adj. & n. --adj. 1 more than one in number. 2 Gram. (of a
word or form) denoting more than one, or (in languages with dual
number) more than two. --n. Gram. 1 a plural word or form. 2
the plural number. ЬЬplurally adv. [ME f. OF plurel f. L
pluralis f. plus pluris more]
pluralism n. 1 holding more than one office, esp. an ecclesiastical
office or benefice, at a time. 2 a form of society in which the
members of minority groups maintain their independent cultural
traditions. 3 Philos. a system that recognizes more than one
ultimate principle (cf. MONISM 2). ЬЬpluralist n. pluralistic
adj. pluralistically adv.
plurality n. (pl. -ies) 1 the state of being plural. 2 = PLURALISM 1.
3 a large or the greater number. 4 US a majority that is not
absolute. [ME f. OF pluralit‚ f. LL pluralitas (as PLURAL)]
pluralize v. (also -ise) 1 tr. & intr. make or become plural. 2 tr.
express in the plural. 3 intr. hold more than one
ecclesiastical office or benefice.
pluri- comb. form several. [L plus pluris more, plures several]
plus prep., adj., n., & conj. --prep. 1 Math. with the addition of
(3 plus 4 equals 7). °Symbol: +. 2 (of temperature) above zero
(plus 2ш C). 3 colloq. with; having gained; newly possessing
(returned plus a new car). --adj. 1 (after a number) at least
(fifteen plus). 2 (after a grade etc.) rather better than (beta
plus). 3 Math. positive. 4 having a positive electrical
charge. 5 (attrib.) additional, extra (plus business). --n. 1
= plus sign. 2 Math. an additional or positive quantity. 3 an
advantage (experience is a definite plus). --conj. colloq.
disp. also; and furthermore (they arrived late, plus they were
hungry). Ьplus sign the symbol +, indicating addition or a
positive value. [L, = more]
n. long wide men's knickerbockers usu. worn for golf etc.
[20th c.: so named because the overhang at the knee requires an
extra four inches]
plush n. & adj. --n. cloth of silk or cotton etc., with a long soft
nap. --adj. 1 made of plush. 2 plushy. ЬЬplushly adv.
plushness n. [obs. F pluche contr. f. peluche f. OF peluchier
f. It. peluzzo dimin. of pelo f. L pilus hair]
plushy adj. (plushier, plushiest) colloq. stylish, luxurious.
plutarchy n. (pl. -ies) plutocracy. [Gk ploutos wealth + -arkhia -rule]
Pluto n. the outermost known planet of the solar system. [L f. Gk
Plouton god of the underworld]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a government by the wealthy. b a State
governed in this way. 2 a wealthy ‚lite or ruling class.
ЬЬplutocratic adj. plutocratically adv. [Gk ploutokratia f.
ploutos wealth + -CRACY]
plutocrat n. derog. or joc. 1 a member of a plutocracy or wealthy ‚lite.
2 a wealthy and influential person.
pluton n. Geol. a body of plutonic rock. [back-form. f. PLUTONIC]
Plutonian adj. 1 infernal. 2 of the infernal regions. [L Plutonius f.
Gk Ploutonios (as PLUTO)]
plutonic adj. 1 Geol. (of rock) formed as igneous rock by solidification
below the surface of the earth. 2 (Plutonic) = PLUTONIAN.
[formed as PLUTONIAN]
plutonium n. Chem. a dense silvery radioactive metallic transuranic
element of the actinide series, used in some nuclear reactors
and weapons. °Symb.: Pu. [PLUTO (as the next planet beyond
Neptune) + -IUM]
pluvial adj. & n. --adj. 1 of rain; rainy. 2 Geol. caused by rain.
--n. a period of prolonged rainfall. ЬЬpluvious adj. (in sense
1). [L pluvialis f. pluvia rain]
n. a rain-gauge. ЬЬpluviometric adj. pluviometrical adj.
pluviometrically adv. [L pluvia rain + -METER]
ply(1) n. (pl. -ies) 1 a thickness or layer of certain materials,
esp. wood or cloth (three-ply). 2 a strand of yarn or rope etc.
[ME f. F pli f. plier, pleier f. L plicare fold]
ply(2) v. (-ies, -ied) 1 tr. use or wield vigorously (a tool, weapon,
etc.). 2 tr. work steadily at (one's business or trade). 3 tr.
(foll. by with) a supply (a person) continuously (with food,
drink, etc.). b approach repeatedly (with questions, demands,
etc.). 4 a intr. (often foll. by between) (of a vehicle etc.)
travel regularly (to and fro between two points). b tr. work (a
route) in this way. 5 intr. (of a taxi-driver, boatman, etc.)
attend regularly for custom (ply for trade). 6 intr. sail to
windward. [ME plye, f. APPLY]
n.pl. a strict Calvinistic religious body formed at Plymouth in
Devon c.1830, having no formal creed and no official order of
plywood n. a strong thin board consisting of two or more layers glued
and pressed together with the direction of the grain
pneumatic adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to air or wind. 2
containing or operated by compressed air. 3 connected with or
containing air cavities esp. in the bones of birds or in fish.
Ьpneumatic drill a drill driven by compressed air, for breaking
up a hard surface. pneumatic trough a shallow container used in
laboratories to collect gases in jars over the surface of water
or mercury. ЬЬpneumatically adv. pneumaticity n. [F
pneumatique or L pneumaticus f. Gk pneumatikos f. pneuma wind
f. pneo breathe]
n.pl. (treated as sing.) the science of the mechanical
properties of gases.
pneumato- comb. form denoting: 1 air. 2 breath. 3 spirit. [Gk f.
pneuma (as PNEUMATIC)]
n. 1 the branch of theology concerned with the Holy Ghost and
other spiritual concepts. 2 archaic psychology.
n. 1 the gaseous cavity of various hydrozoa, such as the
Portuguese man-of-war. 2 an aerial root specialized for gaseous
exchange found in various plants growing in swampy areas.
pneumo- comb. form denoting the lungs. [abbr. of pneumono- f. Gk
n. a lung disease caused by inhalation of dust or small
particles. [PNEUMO- + Gk konis dust]
adj. of or relating to the lungs and stomach.
n. (pl. -ies) Surgery the surgical removal of a lung or part
of a lung.
pneumonia n. a bacterial inflammation of one lung (single pneumonia) or
both lungs (double pneumonia) causing the air sacs to fill with
pus and become solid. ЬЬpneumonic adj. [L f. Gk f. pneumon
n. inflammation of the lungs usu. caused by a virus.
n. the presence of air or gas in the cavity between the lungs
and the chest wall.
PO abbr. 1 Post Office. 2 postal order. 3 Petty Officer. 4
Po symb. Chem. the element polonium.
po n. (pl. pos) Brit. colloq. a chamber-pot.
POA abbr. (in the UK) Prison Officers' Association.
poach(1) v.tr. 1 cook (an egg) without its shell in or over boiling
water. 2 cook (fish etc.) by simmering in a small amount of
liquid. ЬЬpoacher n. [ME f. OF pochier f. poche POKE(2)]
poach(2) v. 1 tr. (also absol.) catch (game or fish) illegally. 2 intr.
(often foll. by on) trespass or encroach (on another's property,
ideas, etc.). 3 tr. appropriate illicitly or unfairly (a
person, thing, idea, etc.). 4 tr. Tennis etc. take (a shot) in
one's partner's portion of the court. 5 a tr. trample or cut up
(turf) with hoofs. b intr. (of land) become sodden by being
trampled. ЬЬpoacher n. [earlier poche, perh. f. F pocher put
in a pocket (as POACH(1))]
pochard n. any duck of the genus Aythya, esp. A. ferina, the male of
which has a bright reddish-brown head and neck and a grey
breast. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
pochette n. a woman's envelope-shaped handbag. [F, dimin. of poche
pocket: see POKE(2)]
pock n. (also pock-mark) 1 a small pus-filled spot on the skin, esp.
caused by chickenpox or smallpox. 2 a mark resembling this.
Ьpock-marked bearing marks resembling or left by such spots.
ЬЬpocky adj. [OE poc f. Gmc]
pocket n. & v. --n. 1 a small bag sewn into or on clothing, for
carrying small articles. 2 a pouchlike compartment in a
suitcase, car door, etc. 3 one's financial resources (it is
beyond my pocket). 4 an isolated group or area (a few pockets
of resistance remain). 5 a a cavity in the earth containing
ore, esp. gold. b a cavity in rock, esp. filled with foreign
matter. 6 a pouch at the corner or on the side of a billiard-
or snooker-table into which balls are driven. 7 = air pocket.
8 (attrib.) a of a suitable size and shape for carrying in a
pocket. b smaller than the usual size. --v.tr. (pocketed,
pocketing) 1 put into one's pocket. 2 appropriate, esp.
dishonestly. 3 confine as in a pocket. 4 submit to (an injury
or affront). 5 conceal or suppress (one's feelings). 6
Billiards etc. drive (a ball) into a pocket. Ьin pocket 1
having gained in a transaction. 2 (of money) available. in a
person's pocket 1 under a person's control. 2 close to or
intimate with a person. out of pocket having lost in a
transaction. out-of-pocket expenses the actual outlay of cash
incurred. pocket battleship hist. a warship armoured and
equipped like, but smaller than, a battleship. pocket borough
Brit. hist. a borough in which the election of political
representatives was controlled by one person or family. pocket
gopher = GOPHER(1) 1. pocket knife a knife with a folding blade
or blades, for carrying in the pocket. pocket money 1 money for
minor expenses. 2 Brit. an allowance of money made to a child.
put one's hand in one's pocket spend or provide money.
ЬЬpocketable adj. pocketless adj. pockety adj. (in sense 5 of
n.). [ME f. AF poket(e) dimin. of poke POKE(2)]
n. 1 a notebook. 2 a booklike case for papers or money carried
in a pocket. 3 US a purse or handbag. 4 US a paperback or
other small book.
pocketful n. (pl. -fuls) as much as a pocket will hold.
poco adv. Mus. a little; rather (poco adagio). [It.]
pod n. & v. --n. 1 a long seed-vessel esp. of a leguminous plant,
e.g. a pea. 2 the cocoon of a silkworm. 3 the case surrounding
locust eggs. 4 a narrow-necked eel-net. 5 a compartment
suspended under an aircraft for equipment etc. --v. (podded,
podding) 1 intr. bear or form pods. 2 tr. remove (peas etc.)
from pods. Ьin pod colloq. pregnant. [back-form. f. dial.
podware, podder field crops, of unkn. orig.]
podagra n. Med. gout of the foot, esp. the big toe. ЬЬpodagral adj.
podagric adj. podagrous adj. [L f. Gk pous podos foot + agra
podgy adj. (podgier, podgiest) 1 (of a person) short and fat. 2 (of
a face etc.) plump, fleshy. ЬЬpodginess n. [19th c.: f. podge
a short fat person]
podiatry n. US = CHIROPODY. ЬЬpodiatrist n. [Gk pous podos foot +
podium n. (pl. podiums or podia) 1 a continuous projecting base or
pedestal round a room or house etc. 2 a raised platform round
the arena of an amphitheatre. 3 a platform or rostrum. [L f.
Gk podion dimin. of pous pod- foot]
podzol n. (also podsol) a soil with minerals leached from its surface
layers into a lower stratum. ЬЬpodzolize v.tr. & intr. (also
-ise). [Russ. f. pod under, zola ashes]
poem n. 1 a metrical composition, usu. concerned with feeling or
imaginative description. 2 an elevated composition in verse or
prose. 3 something with poetic qualities (a poem in stone). [F
poЉme or L poema f. Gk poema = poiema f. poieo make]
poesy n. archaic 1 poetry. 2 the art or composition of poetry. [ME
f. OF poesie ult. f. L poesis f. Gk poesis = poiesis making,
poetry (as POEM)]
poet n. (fem. poetess) 1 a writer of poems. 2 a person possessing
high powers of imagination or expression etc. ЬPoet Laureate
(in the UK) a poet appointed to write poems for State occasions.
Poets' Corner part of Westminster Abbey where several poets are
buried or commemorated. [ME f. OF poete f. L poeta f. Gk poetes
= poietes maker, poet (as POEM)]
poetaster n. a paltry or inferior poet. [mod.L (as POET): see -ASTER]
poetic adj. (also poetical) 1 a of or like poetry or poets. b written
in verse. 2 elevated or sublime in expression. Ьpoetic justice
well-deserved unforeseen retribution or reward. poetic licence
a writer's or artist's transgression of established rules for
effect. ЬЬpoetically adv. [F po‚tique f. L poeticus f. Gk
poetikos (as POET)]
poeticize v.tr. (also -ise) make (a theme) poetic.
poetics n. 1 the art of writing poetry. 2 the study of poetry and its
poetize v. (also -ise) 1 intr. play the poet. 2 intr. compose poetry.
3 tr. treat poetically. 4 tr. celebrate in poetry. [F po‚tiser
poetry n. 1 the art or work of a poet. 2 poems collectively. 3 a
poetic or tenderly pleasing quality. 4 anything compared to
poetry. [ME f. med.L poetria f. L poeta POET, prob. after
po-faced adj. 1 solemn-faced, humourless. 2 smug. [20th c.: perh. f.
PO, infl. by poker-faced]
pogo n. (pl. -os) (also pogo stick) a toy consisting of a
spring-loaded stick with rests for the feet, for springing about
on. [20th c.: orig. uncert.]
pogrom n. an organized massacre (orig. of Jews in Russia). [Russ., =
devastation f. gromit' destroy]
poignant adj. 1 painfully sharp to the emotions or senses; deeply
moving. 2 arousing sympathy. 3 sharp or pungent in taste or
smell. 4 pleasantly piquant. ЬЬpoignance n. poignancy n.
poignantly adv. [ME f. OF, pres. part. of poindre prick f. L
n. an organism that regulates its body temperature by
behavioural means, such as basking or burrowing; a cold-blooded
organism (cf. HOMOEOTHERM). ЬЬpoikilothermal adj.
poikilothermia n. poikilothermic adj. poikilothermy n. [Gk
poikilos multicoloured, changeable + therme heat]
poilu n. hist. a French private soldier, esp. as a nickname. [F,
lit. hairy f. poil hair]
poinciana n. any tropical tree of the genus Poinciana, with bright showy
red flowers. [mod.L f. M. de Poinci, 17th-c. governor in the
West Indies + -ana fem. suffix]
poind v. & n. Sc. --v.tr. distrain upon; impound. --n. 1 an act of
poinding. 2 an animal or chattel poinded. [ME f. OE pyndan
n. a shrub, Euphorbia pulcherrima, with large showy scarlet or
pink bracts surrounding small yellow flowers. [mod.L f. J. R.
Poinsett, Amer. diplomat d. 1851]
point n. & v. --n. 1 the sharp or tapered end of a tool, weapon,
pencil, etc. 2 a tip or extreme end. 3 that which in geometry
has position but not magnitude, e.g. the intersection of two
lines. 4 a particular place or position (Bombay and points
east; point of contact). 5 a a precise or particular moment (at
the point of death). b the critical or decisive moment (when it
came to the point, he refused). 6 a very small mark on a
surface. 7 a a dot or other punctuation mark, esp. = full
point = FULL(1). b a dot or small stroke used in Semitic
languages to indicate vowels or distinguish consonants. 8 =
decimal point. 9 a stage or degree in progress or increase
(abrupt to the point of rudeness; at that point we gave up). 10
a level of temperature at which a change of state occurs
(freezing-point). 11 a single item; a detail or particular (we
differ on these points; it is a point of principle). 12 a a
unit of scoring in games or of measuring value etc. b an
advantage or success in less quantifiable contexts such as an
argument or discussion. c a unit of weight (2 mg) for diamonds.
d a unit (of varying value) in quoting the price of stocks etc.
13 a (usu. prec. by the) the significant or essential thing;
what is actually intended or under discussion (that was the
point of the question). b (usu. with neg. or interrog.; often
foll. by in) sense or purpose; advantage or value (saw no point
in staying). c (usu. prec. by the) a salient feature of a
story, joke, remark, etc. (don't see the point). 14 a
distinctive feature or characteristic (it has its points; tact
is not his good point). 15 pungency, effectiveness (their
comments lacked point). 16 a each of 32 directions marked at
equal distances round a compass. b the corresponding direction
towards the horizon. 17 (usu. in pl.) Brit. a junction of two
railway lines, with a pair of linked tapering rails that can be
moved laterally to allow a train to pass from one line to the
other. 18 Brit. = power point. 19 (usu. in pl.) each of a set
of electrical contacts in the distributor of a motor vehicle.
20 Cricket a a fielder on the off side near the batsman. b this
position. 21 the tip of the toe in ballet. 22 a promontory.
23 the prong of a deer's antler. 24 the extremities of a dog,
horse, etc. 25 Printing a unit of measurement for type bodies
(in the UK and US 0.0138 in., in Europe 0.0148 in.). 26 Hunting
a a spot to which a straight run is made. b such a run. 27
Heraldry any of nine particular positions on a shield used for
specifying the position of charges etc. 28 Boxing the tip of
the chin as a spot for a knockout blow. 29 Mil. a small leading
party of an advanced guard. 30 hist. a tagged lace for lacing a
bodice, attaching a hose to a doublet, etc. 31 Naut. a short
piece of cord at the lower edge of a sail for tying up a reef.
32 the act or position of a dog in pointing. --v. 1 (usu.
foll. by to, at) a tr. direct or aim (a finger, weapon, etc.).
b intr. direct attention in a certain direction (pointed to the
house across the road). 2 intr. (foll. by at, towards) a aim or
be directed to. b tend towards. 3 intr. (foll. by to)
indicate; be evidence of (it all points to murder). 4 tr. give
point or force to (words or actions). 5 tr. fill in or repair
the joints of (brickwork) with smoothly finished mortar or
cement. 6 tr. a punctuate. b insert points in (written Hebrew
etc.). c mark (Psalms etc.) with signs for chanting. 7 tr.
sharpen (a pencil, tool, etc.). 8 tr. (also absol.) (of a dog)
indicate the presence of (game) by acting as pointer. Ьat all
points in every part or respect. at the point of (often foll.
by verbal noun) on the verge of; about to do (the action
specified). beside the point irrelevant or irrelevantly. case
in point an instance that is relevant or (prec. by the) under
consideration. have a point be correct or effective in one's
contention. in point apposite, relevant. in point of fact see
FACT. make (or prove) a (or one's) point establish a
proposition; prove one's contention. make a point of (often
foll. by verbal noun) insist on; treat or regard as essential.
nine points nine tenths, i.e. nearly the whole (esp. possession
is nine points of the law). on (or upon) the point of (foll. by
verbal noun) about to do (the action specified). point-duty the
positioning of a police officer or traffic warden at a crossroad
or other point to control traffic. point lace thread lace made
wholly with a needle. point of honour an action or circumstance
that affects one's reputation. point of no return a point in a
journey or enterprise at which it becomes essential or more
practical to continue to the end. point of order a query in a
debate etc. as to whether correct procedure is being followed.
point-of-sale (usu. attrib.) denoting publicity etc. associated
with the place at which goods are retailed. point of view 1 a
position from which a thing is viewed. 2 a particular way of
considering a matter. point out (often foll. by that + clause)
indicate, show; draw attention to. point-to-point a
steeplechase over a marked course for horses used regularly in
hunting. point up emphasize; show as important. score points
off get the better of in an argument etc. take a person's point
concede that a person has made a valid contention. to the point
relevant or relevantly. up to a point to some extent but not
completely. win on points Boxing win by scoring more points,
not by a knockout. [ME f. OF point, pointer f. L punctum f.
pungere punct- prick]
adj. & adv. --adj. 1 a (of a shot) aimed or fired horizontally
at a range very close to the target. b (of a distance or range)
very close. 2 (of a remark, question, etc.) blunt, direct.
--adv. 1 at very close range. 2 directly, bluntly. [prob. f.
POINT + BLANK = white spot in the centre of a target]
pointed adj. 1 sharpened or tapering to a point. 2 (of a remark etc.)
having point; penetrating, cutting. 3 emphasized; made evident.
ЬЬpointedly adv. pointedness n.
pointer n. 1 a thing that points, e.g. the index hand of a gauge etc.
2 a rod for pointing to features on a map, chart, etc. 3
colloq. a hint, clue, or indication. 4 a a dog of a breed that
on scenting game stands rigid looking towards it. b this breed.
5 (in pl.) two stars in the Great Bear in line with the pole
n. Art a technique of impressionist painting using tiny dots of
various pure colours, which become blended in the viewer's eye.
ЬЬpointillist n. & adj. pointillistic adj. [F pointillisme f.
pointiller mark with dots]
pointing n. 1 cement or mortar filling the joints of brickwork. 2
facing produced by this. 3 the process of producing this.
pointless adj. 1 without a point. 2 lacking force, purpose, or meaning.
3 (in games) without a point scored. ЬЬpointlessly adv.
pointsman n. (pl. -men) Brit. 1 a person in charge of railway points.
2 a policeman or traffic warden on point-duty.
pointy adj. (pointier, pointiest) having a noticeably sharp end;
poise(1) n. & v. --n. 1 composure or self-possession of manner. 2
equilibrium; a stable state. 3 carriage (of the head etc.).
--v. 1 tr. balance; hold suspended or supported. 2 tr. carry
(one's head etc. in a specified way). 3 intr. be balanced;
hover in the air etc. [ME f. OF pois, peis, peser ult. f. L
pensum weight f. pendere pens- weigh]
poise(2) n. Physics a unit of dynamic viscosity, such that a tangential
force of one dyne per square centimetre causes a velocity change
one centimetre per second between two parallel planes in a
liquid separated by one centimetre. [J. L. M. Poiseuille, Fr.
physician d. 1869]
poised adj. 1 composed, self-assured. 2 (often foll. by for, or to +
infin.) ready for action.
poison n. & v. --n. 1 a substance that when introduced into or
absorbed by a living organism causes death or injury, esp. one
that kills by rapid action even in a small quantity. 2 colloq.
a harmful influence or principle etc. 3 Physics & Chem. a
substance that interferes with the normal progress of a nuclear
reaction, chain reaction, catalytic reaction, etc. --v.tr. 1
administer poison to (a person or animal). 2 kill or injure or
infect with poison. 3 infect (air, water, etc.) with poison. 4
(esp. as poisoned adj.) treat (a weapon) with poison. 5 corrupt
or pervert (a person or mind). 6 spoil or destroy (a person's
pleasure etc.). 7 render (land etc.) foul and unfit for its
purpose by a noxious application etc. Ьpoison gas = GAS n. 4.
poison ivy a N. American climbing plant, Rhus toxicodendron,
secreting an irritant oil from its leaves. poison-pen letter an
anonymous libellous or abusive letter. ЬЬpoisoner n. poisonous
adj. poisonously adv. [ME f. OF poison, poisonner (as POTION)]
n. Statistics a discrete frequency distribution which gives the
probability of events occurring in a fixed time. [S. D.
Poisson, French mathematician d. 1840]
poke(1) v. & n. --v. 1 (foll. by in, up, down, etc.) a tr. thrust or
push with the hand, point of a stick, etc. b intr. be thrust
forward. 2 intr. (foll. by at etc.) make thrusts with a stick
etc. 3 tr. thrust the end of a finger etc. against. 4 tr.
(foll. by in) produce (a hole etc. in a thing) by poking. 5 tr.
thrust forward, esp. obtrusively. 6 tr. stir (a fire) with a
poker. 7 intr. a (often foll. by about, around) move or act
desultorily; potter. b (foll. by about, into) pry; search
casually. 8 tr. coarse sl. have sexual intercourse with. 9
tr. (foll. by up) colloq. confine (esp. oneself) in a poky
place. --n. 1 the act or an instance of poking. 2 a thrust or
nudge. 3 a device fastened on cattle etc. to prevent them
breaking through fences. 4 a a projecting brim or front of a
woman's bonnet or hat. b (in full poke-bonnet) a bonnet having
this. Ьpoke fun at ridicule, tease. poke one's nose into
colloq. pry or intrude into (esp. a person's affairs). [ME f.
MDu. and MLG poken, of unkn. orig.]
poke(2) n. dial. a bag or sack. Ьbuy a pig in a poke see PIG. [ME f.
ONF poke, poque = OF poche: cf. POUCH]
poker(1) n. a stiff metal rod with a handle for stirring an open fire.
Ьpoker-work 1 the technique of burning designs on white wood
etc. with a heated metal rod. 2 a design made in this way.
poker(2) n. a card-game in which bluff is used as players bet on the
value of their hands. Ьpoker-dice dice with card designs from
ace to nine instead of spots. poker-face 1 the impassive
countenance appropriate to a poker-player. 2 a person with
this. poker-faced having a poker-face. [19th c.: orig. unkn.:
cf. G pochen to brag, Pochspiel bragging game]
pokeweed n. a tall hardy American plant, Phytolacca americana, with
spikes of cream flowers and purple berries that yield emetics
and purgatives. [poke, Amer. Ind. word + WEED]
pokey n. US sl. prison. [perh. f. POKY]
poky adj. (pokier, pokiest) (of a room etc.) small and cramped.
ЬЬpokily adv. pokiness n. [POKE(1) (in colloq. sense
'confine') + -Y(1)]
polack n. US sl. offens. a person of Polish origin. [F Polaque and
G Polack f. Pol. Polak]
polar 1 adj. a of or near a pole of the earth or a celestial body, or
of the celestial sphere. b (of a species or variety) living in
the north polar region. 2 having magnetic polarity. 3 a (of a
molecule) having a positive charge at one end and a negative
charge at the other. b (of a compound) having electric charges.
4 Geom. of or relating to a pole. 5 directly opposite in
character or tendency. Ьpolar bear a white bear, Ursus
maritimus, of the Arctic regions. polar body a small cell
produced from an oocyte during the formation of an ovum, which
does not develop further. polar circle each of the circles
parallel to the equator at a distance of 23ш 27° from either
pole. polar coordinates a system by which a point can be
located with reference to two angles. polar curve a curve
related in a particular way to a given curve and to a fixed
point called a pole. polar distance the angular distance of a
point on a sphere from the nearest pole. polar star = POLESTAR.
ЬЬpolarly adv. [F polaire or mod.L polaris (as POLE(2))]
polari- comb. form polar. [mod.L polaris (as POLAR)]
n. an instrument used to measure the polarization of light or
the effect of a substance on the rotation of the plane of
polarized light. ЬЬpolarimetric adj. polarimetry n.
n. = POLARIMETER. ЬЬpolariscopic adj.
polarity n. (pl. -ies) 1 the tendency of a lodestone, magnetized bar,
etc., to point with its extremities to the magnetic poles of the
earth. 2 the condition of having two poles with contrary
qualities. 3 the state of having two opposite tendencies,
opinions, etc. 4 the electrical condition of a body (positive
or negative). 5 a magnetic attraction towards an object or
polarize v. (also -ise) 1 tr. restrict the vibrations of (a transverse
wave, esp. light) to one direction. 2 tr. give magnetic or
electric polarity to (a substance or body). 3 tr. reduce the
voltage of (an electric cell) by the action of electrolysis
products. 4 tr. & intr. divide into two groups of opposing
opinion etc. ЬЬpolarizable adj. polarization n. polarizer n.
n. Chem. the analysis by measurement of current-voltage
relationships in electrolysis between mercury electrodes.
Polaroid n. propr. 1 material in thin plastic sheets that produces a
high degree of plane polarization in light passing through it.
2 a type of camera with internal processing that produces a
finished print rapidly after each exposure. 3 (in pl.)
sunglasses with lenses made from Polaroid. [POLARI- + -OID]
polder n. a piece of low-lying land reclaimed from the sea or a river,
esp. in the Netherlands. [MDu. polre, Du. polder]
Pole n. 1 a native or national of Poland. 2 a person of Polish
descent. [G f. Pol. Polanie, lit. field-dwellers f. pole
pole(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a long slender rounded piece of wood or metal,
esp. with the end placed in the ground as a support etc. 2 a
wooden shaft fitted to the front of a vehicle and attached to
the yokes or collars of the draught animals. 3 = PERCH(1).
--v.tr. 1 provide with poles. 2 (usu. foll. by off) push off
(a punt etc.) with a pole. Ьpole position the most favourable
position at the start of a motor race (orig. next to the inside
boundary-fence). pole-vault (or -jump) n. the athletic sport
of vaulting over a high bar with the aid of a long flexible pole
held in the hands and giving extra spring. --v.intr. take part
in this sport. pole-vaulter a person who pole-vaults. under
bare poles Naut. with no sail set. up the pole sl. 1 crazy,
eccentric. 2 in difficulty. [OE pal ult. f. L palus stake]
pole(2) n. 1 (in full north pole, south pole) a each of the two points
in the celestial sphere about which the stars appear to revolve.
b each of the extremities of the axis of rotation of the earth
or another body. c see magnetic pole. °The spelling is North
Pole and South Pole when used as geographical designations. 2
each of the two opposite points on the surface of a magnet at
which magnetic forces are strongest. 3 each of two terminals
(positive and negative) of an electric cell or battery etc. 4
each of two opposed principles or ideas. 5 Geom. each of two
points in which the axis of a circle cuts the surface of a
sphere. 6 a fixed point to which others are referred. 7 Biol.
an extremity of the main axis of any spherical or oval organ.
Ьbe poles apart differ greatly, esp. in nature or opinion.
ЬЬpoleward adj. polewards adj. & adv. [ME f. L polus f. Gk
polos pivot, axis, sky]
poleaxe n. & v. --n. 1 a battleaxe. 2 a butcher's axe. --v.tr. hit
or kill with or as if with a poleaxe . [ME pol(l)ax, -ex f.
MDu. pol(l)aex, MLG pol(l)exe (as POLL(1), AXE)]
polecat n. 1 Brit. a small European brownish-black fetid flesh-eating
mammal, Mustela putorius, of the weasel family. 2 US a skunk.
[pole (unexplained) + CAT]
polemic n. & adj. --n. 1 a controversial discussion. 2 Polit. a
verbal or written attack, esp. on a political opponent. --adj.
(also polemical) involving dispute; controversial.
ЬЬpolemically adv. polemicist n. polemicize v.tr. (also
-ise). polemize v.tr. (also -ise). [med.L polemicus f. Gk
polemikos f. polemos war]
polemics n.pl. the art or practice of controversial discussion.
polenta n. porridge made of maize meal etc. [It. f. L, = pearl barley]
polestar n. 1 Astron. a star in Ursa Minor now about 1ш distant from the
celestial north pole. 2 a a thing or principle serving as a
guide. b a centre of attraction.
police n. & v. --n. 1 (usu. prec. by the) the civil force of a State,
responsible for maintaining public order. 2 (as pl.) the
members of a police force (several hundred police). 3 a force
with similar functions of enforcing regulations (military
police; railway police). --v.tr. 1 control (a country or area)
by means of police. 2 provide with police. 3 keep order in;
control. Ьpolice constable see CONSTABLE. police dog a dog,
esp. an Alsatian, used in police work. police officer a
policeman or policewoman. police State a totalitarian State
controlled by political police supervising the citizens'
activities. police station the office of a local police force.
[F f. med.L politia POLICY(1)]
policeman n. (pl. -men; fem. policewoman, pl. -women) a member of a
policy(1) n. (pl. -ies) 1 a course or principle of action adopted or
proposed by a government, party, business, or individual etc. 2
prudent conduct; sagacity. [ME f. OF policie f. L politia f. Gk
politeia citizenship f. polites citizen f. polis city]
policy(2) n. (pl. -ies) 1 a contract of insurance. 2 a document
containing this. [F police bill of lading, contract of
insurance, f. Prov. poliss(i)a prob. f. med.L apodissa,
apodixa, f. L apodixis f. Gk apodeixis evidence, proof (as APO-,
n. a person or body holding an insurance policy.
polio n. = POLIOMYELITIS. [abbr.]
n. Med. an infectious viral disease that affects the central
nervous system and which can cause temporary or permanent
paralysis. [mod.L f. Gk polios grey + muelos marrow]
Polish adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to Poland. 2 of the Poles
or their language. --n. the language of Poland. ЬPolish
notation Math. a system of formula notation without brackets
and punctuation. [POLE + -ISH(1)]
polish v. & n. --v. 1 tr. & intr. make or become smooth or glossy by
rubbing. 2 (esp. as polished adj.) refine or improve; add
finishing touches to. --n. 1 a substance used for polishing.
2 smoothness or glossiness produced by friction. 3 the act or
an instance of polishing. 4 refinement or elegance of manner,
conduct, etc. Ьpolish off finish (esp. food) quickly. polish
up revise or improve (a skill etc.). ЬЬpolishable adj.
polisher n. [ME f. OF polir f. L polire polit-]
politburo n. (pl. -os) the principal policy-making committee of a
Communist party, esp. in the USSR. [Rus. politbyuro f.
politЎcheskoe byurў political bureau]
polite adj. (politer, politest) 1 having good manners; courteous. 2
cultivated, cultured. 3 refined, elegant (polite letters).
ЬЬpolitely adv. politeness n. [L politus (as POLISH)]
politesse n. formal politeness. [F f. It. politezza, pulitezza f.
politic adj. & v. --adj. 1 (of an action) judicious, expedient. 2 (of
a person) prudent, sagacious. 3 political (now only in body
politic). --v.intr. (politicked, politicking) engage in
politics. ЬЬpoliticly adv. [ME f. OF politique f. L politicus
f. Gk politikos f. polites citizen f. polis city]
political adj. 1 a of or concerning the State or its government, or
public affairs generally. b of, relating to, or engaged in
politics. c belonging to or forming part of a civil
administration. 2 having an organized form of society or
government. 3 taking or belonging to a side in politics. 4
relating to or affecting interests of status or authority in an
organization rather than matters of principle (a political
decision). Ьpolitical asylum see ASYLUM. political economist a
student of or expert in political economy. political economy
the study of the economic aspects of government. political
geography that dealing with boundaries and the possessions of
States. political prisoner a person imprisoned for political
beliefs or actions. political science the study of the State
and systems of government. political scientist a specialist in
political science. ЬЬpolitically adv. [L politicus (as
n. 1 a person engaged in or concerned with politics, esp. as a
practitioner. 2 a person skilled in politics. 3 US derog. a
person with self-interested political concerns.
v. (also -ise) 1 tr. a give a political character to. b make
politically aware. 2 intr. engage in or talk politics.
politico n. (pl. -os) colloq. a politician or political enthusiast.
[Sp. or It. (as POLITIC)]
politico- comb. form 1 politically. 2 political and (politico-social).
[Gk politikos: see POLITIC]
politics n.pl. 1 (treated as sing. or pl.) a the art and science of
government. b public life and affairs as involving authority
and government. 2 (usu. treated as pl.) a a particular set of
ideas, principles, or commitments in politics (what are their
politics?). b activities concerned with the acquisition or
exercise of authority or government. c an organizational
process or principle affecting authority, status, etc. (the
politics of the decision).
polity n. (pl. -ies) 1 a form or process of civil government or
constitution. 2 an organized society; a State as a political
entity. [L politia f. Gk politeia f. polites citizen f. polis
polka n. & v. --n. 1 a lively dance of Bohemian origin in duple
time. 2 the music for this. --v.intr. (polkas, polkaed or
polka'd, polkaing) dance the polka. Ьpolka dot a round dot as
one of many forming a regular pattern on a textile fabric etc.
[F and G f. Czech pulka half-step f. pul half]
poll(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a the process of voting at an election. b the
counting of votes at an election. c the result of voting. d
the number of votes recorded (a heavy poll). 2 = GALLUP POLL,
opinion poll. 3 a a human head. b the part of this on which
hair grows (flaxen poll). 4 a hornless animal, esp. one of a
breed of hornless cattle. --v. 1 tr. a take the vote or votes
of. b (in passive) have one's vote taken. c (of a candidate)
receive (so many votes). d give (a vote). 2 tr. record the
opinion of (a person or group) in an opinion poll. 3 intr. give
one's vote. 4 tr. cut off the top of (a tree or plant), esp.
make a pollard of. 5 tr. (esp. as polled adj.) cut the horns
off (cattle). 6 tr. Computing check the status of (a computer
system) at intervals. Ьpoll tax 1 hist. a tax levied on every
adult. 2 = community charge. ЬЬpollee n. (in sense 2 of n.).
pollster n. [ME, perh. f. LG or Du.]
poll(2) n. a tame parrot (Pretty poll!). Ьpoll parrot a user of
conventional or clich‚d phrases and arguments. [Poll, a
conventional name for a parrot, alt. f. Moll, a familiar form
pollack n. (also pollock) a European marine fish, Pollachius
pollachius, with a characteristic protruding lower jaw, used for
food. [earlier (Sc.) podlock: orig. unkn.]
pollan n. a freshwater fish, Coregonus pollan, found in Irish lakes.
[perh. f. Ir. poll deep water]
pollard n. & v. --n. 1 an animal that has lost or cast its horns; an
ox, sheep, or goat of a hornless breed. 2 a tree whose branches
have been cut off to encourage the growth of new young branches,
esp. a riverside willow. 3 a the bran sifted from flour. b a
fine bran containing some flour. --v.tr. make (a tree) a
pollard. [POLL(1) + -ARD]
pollen n. the fine dustlike grains discharged from the male part of a
flower containing the gamete that fertilizes the female ovule.
Ьpollen analysis = PALYNOLOGY. pollen count an index of the
amount of pollen in the air, published esp. for the benefit of
those allergic to it. ЬЬpollenless adj. pollinic adj. [L
pollen pollinis fine flour, dust]
pollex n. (pl. pollices) the innermost digit of a forelimb, usu. the
thumb in primates. [L, = thumb or big toe]
pollie var. of POLLY(2).
pollinate v.tr. (also absol.) sprinkle (a stigma) with pollen.
ЬЬpollination n. pollinator n.
polling n. the registering or casting of votes. Ьpolling-booth a
compartment in which a voter stands to mark the ballot-paper.
polling-day the day of a local or general election.
polling-station a building, often a school, where voting takes
place during an election.
pollinic see POLLEN.
adj. bearing or producing pollen.
polliwog n. (also pollywog) US dial. a tadpole. [earlier polwigge,
polwygle f. POLL(1) + WIGGLE]
pollock var. of POLLACK.
pollute v.tr. 1 contaminate or defile (the environment). 2 make foul
or filthy. 3 destroy the purity or sanctity of. ЬЬpollutant
adj. & n. polluter n. pollution n. [ME f. L polluere pollut-]
polly(1) n. (pl. -ies) colloq. a bottle or glass of Apollinaris water.
polly(2) n. (also pollie) (pl. -ies) Austral. & US a politician.
Pollyanna n. a cheerful optimist; an excessively cheerful person.
ЬЬPollyannaish adj. Pollyannaism n. [character in a novel
(1913) by E. Porter]
pollywog var. of POLLIWOG.
polo n. a game of Eastern origin like hockey played on horseback
with a long-handled mallet. Ьpolo-neck a high round turned-over
collar. polo-stick a mallet for playing polo. [Balti, = ball]
polonaise n. & adj. --n. 1 a dance of Polish origin in triple time. 2
the music for this. 3 hist. a woman's dress consisting of a
bodice and a skirt open from the waist downwards to show an
underskirt. --adj. cooked in a Polish style. [F, fem. of
polonais Polish f. med.L Polonia Poland]
polonium n. Chem. a rare radioactive metallic element, occurring
naturally in uranium ores. °Symb.: Po. [F & mod.L f. med.L
Polonia Poland (the discoverer's native country) + -IUM]
polony n. (pl. -ies) Brit. = BOLOGNA SAUSAGE. [app. corrupt.]
n. a noisy mischievous ghost, esp. one manifesting itself by
physical damage. [G f. poltern create a disturbance + Geist
poltroon n. a spiritless coward. ЬЬpoltroonery n. [F poltron f. It.
poltrone perh. f. poltro sluggard]
poly n. (pl. polys) colloq. polytechnic. [abbr.]
poly-(1) comb. form denoting many or much. [Gk polu- f. polus much,
poly-(2) comb. form Chem. polymerized (polyunsaturated). [POLYMER]
adj. Bot. having numerous stamens grouped into three or more
polyamide n. Chem. any of a class of condensation polymers produced from
the interaction of an amino group of one molecule and a
carboxylic acid group of another, and which includes many
synthetic fibres such as nylon.
polyandry n. 1 polygamy in which a woman has more than one husband. 2
Bot. the state of having numerous stamens. ЬЬpolyandrous adj.
[POLY-(1) + andry f. Gk aner andros male]
n. (pl. polyanthuses) a flower cultivated from hybridized
primulas. [mod.L, formed as POLY-(1) + Gk anthos flower]
n. any of a class of polymers in which the units are linked
through a carbonate group, mainly used as moulding materials.
n. any aquatic annelid worm of the class Polychaeta, including
lugworms and ragworms, having numerous bristles on the fleshy
lobes of each body segment. ЬЬpolychaetan adj. polychaetous
adj. 1 many coloured. 2 (of radiation) containing more than
one wavelength. ЬЬpolychromatism n.
adj. & n. --adj. painted, printed, or decorated in many
colours. --n. 1 a work of art in several colours, esp. a
coloured statue. 2 varied colouring. ЬЬpolychromic adj.
polychromous adj. [F f. Gk polukhromos as POLY-(1), khroma
n. the art of painting in several colours, esp. as applied to
ancient pottery, architecture, etc. [F polychromie (as
n. a clinic devoted to various diseases; a general hospital.
adj. (of a solid substance) consisting of many crystalline
parts at various orientations, e.g. a metal casting.
adj. Chem. having more than one ring of atoms in the molecule.
adj. & n. --adj. (of an animal) having more than five fingers
or toes. --n. a polydactyl animal.
polyester n. any of a group of condensation polymers used to form
synthetic fibres such as Terylene or to make resins.
n. Chem. = POLYTHENE.
n. = POLYTHENE.
adj. 1 having more than one wife or husband at the same time.
2 having more than one mate. 3 bearing some flowers with
stamens only, some with pistils only, some with both, on the
same or different plants. ЬЬpolygamic adj. polygamist n.
polygamously adv. polygamy n. [Gk polugamos (as POLY-(1),
polygene n. Biol. each of a group of independent genes that
collectively affect a characteristic.
n. the (usu. postulated) origination of a race or species from
several independent stocks. ЬЬpolygenetic adj.
polygeny n. the theory that mankind originated from several independent
pairs of ancestors. ЬЬpolygenism n. polygenist n.
polyglot adj. & n. --adj. 1 of many languages. 2 (of a person)
speaking or writing several languages. 3 (of a book, esp. the
Bible) with the text translated into several languages. --n. 1
a polyglot person. 2 a polyglot book, esp. a Bible.
ЬЬpolyglottal adj. polyglottic adj. polyglottism n. [F
polyglotte f. Gk poluglottos (as POLY-(1), glotta tongue)]
polygon n. a plane figure with many (usu. a minimum of three) sides and
angles. Ьpolygon of forces a polygon that represents by the
length and direction of its sides all the forces acting on a
body or point. ЬЬpolygonal adj. [LL polygonum f. Gk polugonon
(neut. adj.) (as POLY-(1) + - gonos angled)]
polygonum n. any plant of the genus Polygonum, with small bell-shaped
flowers. Also called KNOTGRASS, KNOTWEED. [mod.L f. Gk
polygraph n. a machine designed to detect and record changes in
physiological characteristics (e.g. rates of pulse and
breathing), used esp. as a lie-detector.
polygyny n. polygamy in which a man has more than one wife.
ЬЬpolygynous adj. [POLY-(1) + gyny f. Gk gune woman]
n. (pl. polyhedra) a solid figure with many (usu. more than
six) faces. ЬЬpolyhedral adj. polyhedric adj. [Gk poluedron
neut. of poluedros (as POLY-(1), hedra base)]
n. = POLYMATH.
polymath n. 1 a person of much or varied learning. 2 a great scholar.
ЬЬpolymathic adj. polymathy n. [Gk polumathes (as POLY-(1),
math- stem manthano learn)]
polymer n. a compound composed of one or more large molecules that are
formed from repeated units of smaller molecules. ЬЬpolymeric
adj. polymerism n. polymerize v.intr. & tr. (also -ise).
polymerization n. [G f. Gk polumeros having many parts (as
POLY-(1), meros share)]
adj. Biol. having many parts.
n. 1 a Biol. the existence of various different forms in the
successive stages of the development of an organism. b =
PLEOMORPHISM. 2 Chem. = ALLOTROPY. ЬЬpolymorphic adj.
adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to Polynesia, a group of
Pacific islands including New Zealand, Hawaii, Samoa, etc. --n.
1 a a native of Polynesia. b a person of Polynesian descent. 2
the family of languages including Maori, Hawaiian, and Samoan.
[as POLY-(1) + Gk nesos island]
n. any disorder that affects many of the peripheral nerves.
n. & adj. Math. --n. an expression of more than two algebraic
terms, esp. the sum of several terms that contain different
powers of the same variable(s). --adj. of or being a
polynomial. [POLY-(1) after multinomial]
polynya n. a stretch of open water surrounded by ice, esp. in the
Arctic seas. [Russ. f. pole field]
polyp n. 1 Zool. an individual coelenterate. 2 Med. a small usu.
benign growth protruding from a mucous membrane. [F polype (as
polypary n. (pl. -ies) the common stem or support of a colony of
polyps. [mod.L polyparium (as POLYPUS)]
n. Biochem. a peptide formed by the combination of about ten
or more amino acids. [G Polypeptid (as POLY-(2), PEPTONE)]
adj. Zool. able to feed on various kinds of food.
polyphase adj. Electr. (of a device or circuit) designed to supply or
use simultaneously several alternating currents of the same
voltage but with different phases.
polyphone n. Phonet. a symbol or letter that represents several
adj. 1 Mus. (of vocal music etc.) in two or more relatively
independent parts; contrapuntal. 2 Phonet. (of a letter etc.)
representing more than one sound. ЬЬpolyphonically adv. [Gk
poluphonos (as POLY-(1), phone voice, sound)]
polyphony n. (pl. -ies) 1 Mus. a polyphonic style in musical
composition; counterpoint. b a composition written in this
style. 2 Philol. the symbolization of different vocal sounds by
the same letter or character. ЬЬpolyphonous adj.
polypi pl. of POLYPUS.
polyploid n. & adj. Biol. --n. a nucleus or organism that contains more
than two sets of chromosomes. --adj. of or being a polyploid.
ЬЬpolyploidy n. [G (as POLY-(1), -PLOID)]
polypod adj. & n. Zool. --adj. having many feet. --n. a polypod
animal. [F polypode (adj.) f. Gk (as POLYPUS)]
polypody n. (pl. -ies) any fern of the genus Polypodium, usu. found in
woods growing on trees, walls, and stones. [ME f. L polypodium
f. Gk polupodion (as POLYPUS)]
polypoid adj. of or like a polyp. ЬЬpolypous adj.
n. = POLYPROPYLENE.
n. Chem. any of various polymers of propylene including
thermoplastic materials used for films, fibres, or moulding
materials. Also called POLYPROPENE.
polypus n. (pl. polypi or polypuses) Med. = POLYP 2. [ME f. L
polypus f. Gk polupos, polupous cuttlefish, polyp (as POLY-(1),
pous podos foot)]
n. any of a group of carbohydrates whose molecules consist of
long chains of monosaccharides.
polysemy n. Philol. the existence of many meanings (of a word etc.).
ЬЬpolysemic adj. polysemous adj. [POLY-(1) + Gk sema sign]
n. a thermoplastic polymer of styrene, usu. hard and colourless
or expanded with a gas to produce a lightweight rigid white
substance, used for insulation and in packaging.
adj. 1 (of a word) having many syllables. 2 characterized by
the use of words of many syllables. ЬЬpolysyllabically adv.
n. a polysyllabic word.
n. & adj. --n. an institution of higher education offering
courses in many (esp. vocational) subjects at degree level or
below. --adj. dealing with or devoted to various vocational or
technical subjects. [F polytechnique f. Gk polutekhnos (as
POLY-(1) tekhne art)]
n. Chem. a tough translucent polymer resistant to chemicals
and used to coat cooking utensils etc. °Abbr.: PTFE. [POLY-(2)
+ TETRA- + FLUORO- + ETHYLENE]
n. the belief in or worship of more than one god. ЬЬpolytheist
n. polytheistic adj. [F polyth‚isme f. Gk polutheos of many
gods (as POLY-(1), theos god)]
polythene n. Chem. a tough light thermoplastic polymer of ethylene, usu.
translucent and flexible or opaque and rigid, used for packaging
and insulating materials. Also called POLYETHYLENE, POLYETHENE.
n. Mus. the simultaneous use of two or more keys in a
composition. ЬЬpolytonal adj.
adj. Chem. (of a compound, esp. a fat or oil molecule)
containing several double or triple bonds and therefore capable
of further reaction.
n. any polymer containing the urethane group, used in
adhesives, paints, plastics, rubbers, foams, etc.
adj. Chem. having a valency of more than two, or several
valencies. ЬЬpolyvalence n.
n. Chem. a soft plastic polymer used in paints and adhesives.
n. a tough transparent solid polymer of vinyl chloride, easily
coloured and used for a wide variety of products including
pipes, flooring, etc. °Abbr.: PVC.
polyzoan n. = BRYOZOAN.
pom n. 1 a Pomeranian dog. 2 Austral. & NZ sl. offens. = POMMY.
pomace n. 1 the mass of crushed apples in cider-making before or after
the juice is pressed out. 2 the refuse of fish etc. after the
oil has been extracted, generally used as a fertilizer. [ME f.
med.L pomacium cider f. L pomum apple]
pomade n. & v. --n. scented dressing for the hair and the skin of the
head. --v.tr. anoint with pomade. [F pommade f. It. pomata f.
med.L f. L pomum apple (from which it was orig. made)]
pomander n. 1 a ball of mixed aromatic substances placed in a cupboard
etc. or hist. carried in a box, bag, etc. as a protection
against infection. 2 a (usu. spherical) container for this. 3
a spiced orange etc. similarly used. [earlier pom(e)amber f. AF
f. OF pome d'embre f. med.L pomum de ambra apple of ambergris]
pomatum n. & v.tr. = POMADE. [mod.L f. L pomum apple]
pome n. a firm-fleshed fruit in which the carpels from the central
core enclose the seeds, e.g. the apple, pear, and quince.
ЬЬpomiferous adj. [ME f. OF ult. f. poma pl. of L pomum fruit,
n. 1 a an orange-sized fruit with a tough golden-orange outer
skin containing many seeds in a red pulp. b the tree bearing
this fruit, Punica granatum, native to N. Africa and W. Asia. 2
an ornamental representation of a pomegranate. [ME f. OF pome
grenate (as POME, L granatum having many seeds f. granum seed)]
pomelo n. (pl. -os) 1 = SHADDOCK. 2 US = GRAPEFRUIT. [19th c.:
n. 1 a small dog with long silky hair, a pointed muzzle, and
pricked ears. 2 this breed. [Pomerania in Germany and Poland]
pomfret n. 1 any of various fish of the family Stromateidae of the
Indian and Pacific Oceans. 2 a dark-coloured deep-bodied marine
fish, Brama brama, used as food. [app. f. Port. pampo]
n. (also Pontefract-cake) Brit. a small round flat liquorice
sweetmeat orig. made at Pontefract (earlier Pomfret) in
n. fruit-growing. [L pomum fruit + CULTURE]
pommel n. & v. --n. 1 a knob, esp. at the end of a sword-hilt. 2 the
upward projecting front part of a saddle. --v.tr. (pommelled,
pommelling; US pommeled, pommeling) = PUMMEL. Ьpommel horse a
vaulting horse fitted with a pair of curved handgrips . [ME f.
OF pomel f. Rmc pomellum (unrecorded), dimin. of L pomum fruit,
pommy n. (also pommie) (pl. -ies) Austral. & NZ sl. offens. a
British person, esp. a recent immigrant. [20th c.: orig.
pomology n. the science of fruit-growing. ЬЬpomological adj.
pomologist n. [L pomum fruit + -LOGY]
pomp n. 1 a splendid display; splendour. 2 (often in pl.) vainglory
(the pomps and vanities of this wicked world). [ME f. OF pompe
f. L pompa f. Gk pompe procession, pomp f. pempo send]
pompadour n. a woman's hairstyle with the hair in a high turned-back roll
round the face. [f. Marquise de Pompadour, the mistress of
Louis XV of France d. 1764]
pompano n. (pl. -os) any of various fish of the family Carangidae or
Stromateidae of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, used as food.
[Sp. p mpano]
pom-pom n. an automatic quick-firing gun esp. on a ship. [imit.]
pompon n. (also pompom) 1 an ornamental ball or bobble made of wool,
silk, or ribbons, usu. worn on women's or children's hats or
clothing. 2 the round tuft on a soldier's cap, the front of a
shako, etc. 3 (often attrib.) a dahlia or chrysanthemum with
small tightly-clustered petals. [F, of unkn. orig.]
pompous n. 1 self-important, affectedly grand or solemn. 2 (of
language) pretentious; unduly grand in style. 3 archaic
magnificent; splendid. ЬЬpomposity n. (pl. -ies). pompously
adv. pompousness n. [ME f. OF pompeux f. LL pomposus (as
'pon prep. archaic = UPON. [abbr.]
ponce n. & v. Brit. sl. --n. 1 a man who lives off a prostitute's
earnings; a pimp. 2 offens. a homosexual; an effeminate man.
--v.intr. act as a ponce. Ьponce about move about effeminately
or ineffectually. ЬЬponcey adj. (also poncy) (in sense 2 of
n.). [perh. f. POUNCE(1)]
poncho n. (pl. -os) 1 a S. American cloak made of a blanket-like
piece of cloth with a slit in the middle for the head. 2 a
garment in this style. [S.Amer. Sp., f. Araucanian]
pond n. & v. --n. 1 a fairly small body of still water formed
naturally or by hollowing or embanking. 2 joc. the sea. --v.
1 tr. hold back, dam up (a stream etc.). 2 intr. form a pond.
Ьpond-life animals (esp. invertebrates) that live in ponds. [ME
var. of POUND(3)]
ponder v. 1 tr. weigh mentally; think over; consider. 2 intr. (usu.
foll. by on, over) think; muse. [ME f. OF ponderer f. L
ponderare f. pondus -eris weight]
adj. literary having appreciable weight or significance.
ЬЬponderability n. [LL ponderabilis (as PONDER)]
n. literary the act or an instance of weighing, balancing, or
considering. [L ponderatio (as PONDER)]
ponderosa n. US 1 a N. American pine-tree, Pinus ponderosa. 2 the red
timber of this tree. [mod.L, fem. of L ponderosus: see
ponderous adj. 1 heavy; unwieldy. 2 laborious. 3 (of style etc.) dull;
tedious. ЬЬponderosity n. ponderously adv. ponderousness n.
[ME f. L ponderosus f. pondus -eris weight]
pondweed n. any of various aquatic plants, esp. of the genus
Potamogeton, growing in still or running water.
pone(1) n. US 1 unleavened maize bread, esp. as made by N. American
Indians. 2 a fine light bread made with milk, eggs, etc. 3 a
cake or loaf of this. [Algonquian, = bread]
pone(2) n. the dealer's opponent in two-handed card games. [L, 2nd
sing. imper. of ponere place]
pong n. & v. Brit. colloq. --n. an unpleasant smell. --v.intr.
stink. ЬЬpongy adj. (pongier, pongiest). [20th c.: orig.
pongal n. 1 the Tamil New Year festival at which new rice is cooked.
2 a dish of cooked rice. [Tamil ponkal boiling]
pongee n. 1 a soft usu. unbleached type of Chinese silk fabric. 2 an
imitation of this in cotton etc. [perh. f. Chin. dial. pun-chi
own loom, i.e. home-made]
pongid n. & adj. --n. any ape of the family Pongidae, including
gorillas, chimpanzees, and orang-utans. --adj. of or relating
to this family. [mod.L Pongidae f. Pongo the genus-name: see
pongo(1) n. (pl. -os) 1 an orang-utan. 2 Naut. sl. a soldier.
[Congolese mpongo, orig. of African apes]
pongo(2) n. (pl. -os) Austral. & NZ sl. offens. an Englishman. [20th
c.: orig. unkn.]
poniard n. literary a small slim dagger. [F poignard f. OF poignal f.
med.L pugnale f. L pugnus fist]
pons n. (pl. pontes) Anat. (in full pons Varolii) the part of the
brain stem that links the medulla oblongata and the thalamus.
Ьpons asinorum any difficult proposition, orig. a rule of
geometry from Euclid ('bridge of asses'). [L, = bridge: Varolii
f. C. Varoli, It. anatomist d. 1575]
pont n. S.Afr. a flat-bottomed ferry-boat. [Du.]
var. of POMFRET-CAKE.
pontes pl. of PONS.
pontifex n. (pl. pontifices) 1 = PONTIFF. 2 Rom. Antiq. a member of
the principal college of priests in Rome. ЬPontifex Maximus the
head of this. [L pontifex -ficis f. pons pontis bridge + -fex
f. facere make]
pontiff n. RC Ch. (in full sovereign or supreme pontiff) the Pope. [F
pontife (as PONTIFEX)]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 RC Ch. of or befitting a pontiff; papal. 2
pompously dogmatic; with an attitude of infallibility. --n. 1
an office-book of the Western Church containing rites to be
performed by the Pope or bishops. 2 (in pl.) the vestments and
insignia of a bishop, cardinal, or abbot. Ьpontifical mass a
high mass, usu. celebrated by a cardinal, bishop, etc.
ЬЬpontifically adv. [ME f. F pontifical or L pontificalis (as
v. & n. --v.intr. 1 a play the pontiff; pretend to be
infallible. b be pompously dogmatic. 2 RC Ch. officiate as
bishop, esp. at mass. --n. 1 the office of pontifex, bishop,
or pope. 2 the period of this. [L pontificatus (as PONTIFEX)]
pl. of PONTIFEX.
n. Brit. 1 a card-game in which players try to acquire cards
with a face value totalling 21 and no more. 2 = NATURAL n. 4a.
n. & v. --n. 1 a flat-bottomed boat. 2 each of several boats,
hollow metal cylinders, etc., used to support a temporary
bridge. 3 = CAISSON 1, 2. --v.tr. cross (a river) by means of
pontoons. [F ponton f. L ponto -onis f. pons pontis bridge]
pony n. (pl. -ies) 1 a horse of any small breed. 2 a small
drinking-glass. 3 (in pl.) sl. racehorses. 4 Brit. sl. њ25.
Ьpony-tail a person's hair drawn back, tied, and hanging down
like a pony's tail. pony-trekker a person who travels across
country on a pony for pleasure. pony-trekking this as a hobby
or activity. [perh. f. poulney (unrecorded) f. F poulenet
dimin. of poulain foal]
pooch n. esp. US sl. a dog. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
poodle n. 1 a a dog of a breed with a curly coat that is usually
clipped. b this breed. 2 a lackey or servile follower. [G
Pudel(hund) f. LG pud(d)eln splash in water: cf. PUDDLE]
poof n. (also pouf, poove) Brit. sl. derog. 1 an effeminate man.
2 a male homosexual. ЬЬpoofy adj. [19th c.: cf. PUFF in sense
poofter n. sl. derog. = POOF.
pooh int. & n. --int. expressing impatience or contempt. --n. sl.
Pooh-Bah n. (also pooh-bah) a holder of many offices at once. [a
character in W. S. Gilbert's The Mikado (1885)]
pooh-pooh v.tr. express contempt for; ridicule; dismiss (an idea etc.)
scornfully. [redupl. of POOH]
pooja var. of PUJA.
pooka n. Ir. a hobgoblin. [Ir. pЈca]
pool(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a small body of still water, usu. of natural
formation. 2 a small shallow body of any liquid. 3 =
swimming-pool (see SWIM). 4 a deep place in a river. --v. 1
tr. form into a pool. 2 intr. (of blood) become static. [OE
pol, MLG, MDu. pol, OHG pfuol f. WG]
pool(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a (often attrib.) a common supply of persons,
vehicles, commodities, etc. for sharing by a group of people (a
typing pool; a pool car). b a group of persons sharing duties
etc. 2 a the collective amount of players' stakes in gambling
etc. b a receptacle for this. 3 a a joint commercial venture,
esp. an arrangement between competing parties to fix prices and
share business to eliminate competition. b the common funding
for this. 4 a US a game on a billiard-table with usu. 16 balls.
b Brit. a game on a billiard-table in which each player has a
ball of a different colour with which he tries to pocket the
others in fixed order, the winner taking all of the stakes. 5 a
group of contestants who compete against each other in a
tournament for the right to advance to the next round. --v.tr.
1 put (resources etc.) into a common fund. 2 share (things) in
common. 3 (of transport or organizations etc.) share (traffic,
receipts). 4 Austral. sl. a involve (a person) in a scheme
etc., often by deception. b implicate, inform on. Ьthe pools
Brit. = football pool. [F poule (= hen) in same sense: assoc.
poolroom n. US 1 a betting shop. 2 a place for playing pool.
poon n. any E. Indian tree of the genus Calophyllum. Ьpoon oil an
oil from the seeds of this tree, used in medicine and for lamps.
poop(1) n. & v. --n. the stern of a ship; the aftermost and highest
deck. --v.tr. 1 (of a wave) break over the stern of (a ship).
2 (of a ship) receive (a wave) over the stern. [ME f. OF pupe,
pope ult. f. L puppis]
poop(2) v.tr. (esp. as pooped adj.) US colloq. exhaust; tire out.
[20th c.: orig. unkn.]
poor adj. 1 lacking adequate money or means to live comfortably. 2
(foll. by in) deficient in (a possession or quality) (the poor
in spirit). 3 a scanty, inadequate (a poor crop). b less good
than is usual or expected (poor visibility; is a poor driver; in
poor health). c paltry; inferior (poor condition; came a poor
third). 4 a deserving pity or sympathy; unfortunate (you poor
thing). b with reference to a dead person (as my poor father
used to say). 5 spiritless; despicable (is a poor creature). 6
often iron. or joc. humble; insignificant (in my poor opinion).
Ьpoor-box a collection-box, esp. in church, for the relief of
the poor. poor law hist. a law relating to the support of
paupers. poor man's an inferior or cheaper substitute for.
poor man's weather-glass the pimpernel. poor-rate hist. a rate
or assessment for relief or support of the poor. poor relation
an inferior or subordinate member of a family or any other
group. poor-spirited timid; cowardly. poor White offens.
(esp. used by Blacks) a member of a socially inferior group of
White people. take a poor view of regard with disfavour or
pessimism. [ME & OF pov(e)re, poure f. L pauper]
poorhouse n. hist. = WORKHOUSE 1.
poorly adv. & adj. --adv. 1 scantily; defectively. 2 with no great
success. 3 meanly; contemptibly. --predic.adj. unwell.
poorness n. 1 defectiveness. 2 the lack of some good quality or
poove var. of POOF.
POP abbr. Post Office Preferred (size of envelopes etc.).
pop(1) n., v., & adv. --n. 1 a sudden sharp explosive sound as of a
cork when drawn. 2 colloq. an effervescent sweet drink. --v.
(popped, popping) 1 intr. & tr. make or cause to make a pop. 2
intr. & tr. (foll. by in, out, up, down, etc.) go, move, come,
or put unexpectedly or in a quick or hasty manner (pop out to
the shops; pop in for a visit; pop it on your head). 3 a intr.
& tr. burst, making a popping sound. b tr. heat (popcorn etc.)
until it pops. 4 intr. (often foll. by at) colloq. fire a gun
(at birds etc.). 5 tr. sl. pawn. 6 tr. sl. inject (a drug
etc.). 7 intr. (often foll. by up) (of a cricket-ball) rise
sharply off the pitch. --adv. with the sound of a pop (heard it
go pop). Ьin pop Brit. sl. in pawn. pop off colloq. 1 die.
2 quietly slip away (cf. sense 2 of v.). pop the question
colloq. propose marriage. pop-shop Brit. sl. a pawnbroker's
shop. pop-up 1 (of a toaster etc.) operating so as to move the
object (toast when ready etc.) quickly upwards. 2 (of a book,
greetings card, etc.) containing three-dimensional figures,
illustrations, etc., that rise up when the page is turned. 3
Computing (of a menu) able to be superimposed on the screen
being worked on and suppressed rapidly. [ME: imit.]
pop(2) adj. & n. colloq. --adj. 1 in a popular or modern style. 2
performing popular music etc. (pop group; pop star). --n. 1
pop music. 2 a pop record or song (top of the pops). Ьpop art
art based on modern popular culture and the mass media, esp. as
a critical comment on traditional fine art values. pop festival
a festival at which popular music etc. is performed. [abbr.]
pop(3) n. esp. US colloq. father. [abbr. of POPPA]
pop. abbr. population.
popadam var. of POPPADAM.
popcorn n. 1 Indian corn which bursts open when heated. 2 these
kernels when popped.
pope(1) n. 1 (as title usu. Pope) the head of the Roman Catholic
Church (also called the Bishop of Rome). 2 the head of the
Coptic Church. 3 = RUFF(2). Ьpope's eye 1 a lymphatic gland
surrounded with fat in the middle of a sheep's leg. 2 Sc. a cut
of steak. ЬЬpopedom n. popeless adj. [OE f. eccl.L papa
bishop, pope f. eccl.Gk papas = Gk pappas father: cf. PAPA]
pope(2) n. a parish priest of the Orthodox Church in Russia etc.
[Russ. pop f. OSlav. popu f. WG f. eccl.Gk (as POPE(1))]
popery n. derog. the papal system; the Roman Catholic Church.
popgun n. 1 a child's toy gun which shoots a pellet etc. by the
compression of air with a piston. 2 derog. an inefficient
popinjay n. 1 a fop, a conceited person, a coxcomb. 2 a archaic a
parrot. b hist. a figure of a parrot on a pole as a mark to
shoot at. [ME f. AF papeiaye, OF papingay etc. f. Sp. papagayo
f. Arab. babaga: assim. to JAY]
popish adj. derog. Roman Catholic. ЬЬpopishly adv.
poplar n. 1 any tree of the genus Populus, with a usu. rapidly growing
trunk and tremulous leaves. 2 US = tulip-tree. [ME f. AF
popler, OF poplier f. pople f. L populus]
poplin n. a plain-woven fabric usu. of cotton, with a corded surface.
[obs. F papeline perh. f. It. papalina (fem.) PAPAL, f. the
papal town Avignon where it was made]
popliteal adj. of the hollow at the back of the knee. [mod.L popliteus
f. L poples -itis this hollow]
poppa n. US colloq. father (esp. as a child's word). [var. of PAPA]
poppadam n. (also poppadom, popadam) Ind. a thin, crisp, spiced bread
eaten with curry etc. [Tamil pappadam]
popper n. 1 Brit. colloq. a press-stud. 2 a person or thing that
pops. 3 colloq. a small vial of amyl nitrite used for
poppet n. 1 Brit. colloq. (esp. as a term of endearment) a small or
dainty person. 2 (in full poppet-head) the head of a lathe. 3
a small square piece of wood fitted inside the gunwale or
washstrake of a boat. Ьpoppet-head Brit. the frame at the top
of a mine-shaft supporting pulleys for the ropes used in
hoisting. poppet-valve Engin. a mushroom-shaped valve, lifted
bodily from its seat rather than hinged. [ME popet(te), ult. f.
L pup(p)a: cf. PUPPET]
n. Cricket a line four feet in front of and parallel to the
wicket, within which the batsman must keep the bat or one foot
grounded to avoid the risk of being stumped. [POP(1), perh. in
obs. sense 'strike']
popple v. & n. --v.intr. (of water) tumble about, toss to and fro.
--n. the act or an instance of rolling, tossing, or rippling of
water. ЬЬpopply adj. [ME prob. f. MDu. popelen murmur,
quiver, of imit. orig.]
poppy n. (pl. -ies) any plant of the genus Papaver, with showy often
red flowers and a milky sap with narcotic properties. ЬPoppy
Day = Remembrance Sunday. poppy-head 1 the seed capsule of the
poppy. 2 an ornamental top on the end of a church pew.
ЬЬpoppied adj. [OE popig, pap‘g, etc. f. med.L papauum f. L
poppycock n. sl. nonsense. [Du. dial. pappekak]
popsy n. (also popsie) (pl. -ies) colloq. (usu. as a term of
endearment) a young woman. [shortening of POPPET]
populace n. 1 the common people. 2 derog. the rabble. [F f. It.
popolaccio f. popolo people + -accio pejorative suffix]
popular adj. 1 liked or admired by many people or by a specified group
(popular teachers; a popular hero). 2 a of or carried on by the
general public (popular meetings). b prevalent among the
general public (popular discontent). 3 adapted to the
understanding, taste, or means of the people (popular science;
popular medicine). Ьpopular front a party or coalition
representing left-wing elements. popular music songs, folk
tunes, etc., appealing to popular tastes. ЬЬpopularism n.
popularity n. popularly adv. [ME f. AF populer, OF populeir or
L popularis f. populus people]
v.tr. (also -ise) 1 make popular. 2 cause (a person,
principle, etc.) to be generally known or liked. 3 present (a
technical subject, specialized vocabulary, etc.) in a popular
or readily understandable form. ЬЬpopularization n.
populate v.tr. 1 inhabit; form the population of (a town, country,
etc.). 2 supply with inhabitants; people (a densely populated
district). [med.L populare populat- (as PEOPLE)]
n. 1 a the inhabitants of a place, country, etc. referred to
collectively. b any specified group within this (the Irish
population of Liverpool). 2 the total number of any of these (a
population of eight million; the seal population). 3 the act or
process of supplying with inhabitants (the population of forest
areas). 4 Statistics any finite or infinite collection of items
under consideration. Ьpopulation explosion a sudden large
increase of population. [LL populatio (as PEOPLE)]
populist n. & adj. --n. a member or adherent of a political party
seeking support mainly from the ordinary people. --adj. of or
relating to such a political party. ЬЬpopulism n. populistic
adj. [L populus people]
populous adj. thickly inhabited. ЬЬpopulously adv. populousness n.
[ME f. LL populosus (as PEOPLE)]
porbeagle n. a large shark, Lamna nasus, having a pointed snout.
[18th-c. Corn. dial., of unkn. orig.]
porcelain n. 1 a hard vitrified translucent ceramic. 2 objects made of
this. Ьporcelain clay kaolin. porcelain-shell cowrie.
ЬЬporcellaneous adj. porcellanous adj. [F porcelaine cowrie,
porcelain f. It. porcellana f. porcella dimin. of porca sow (a
cowrie being perh. likened to a sow's vulva) f. L porca fem. of
porch n. 1 a covered shelter for the entrance of a building. 2 US a
veranda. 3 (the Porch) = the Stoa (see STOA 2). ЬЬporched adj.
porchless adj. [ME f. OF porche f. L porticus (transl. Gk stoa)
f. porta passage]
porcine adj. of or like pigs. [F porcin or f. L porcinus f. porcus
porcupine n. 1 any rodent of the family Hystricidae native to Africa,
Asia, and SE Europe, or the family Erethizontidae native to
America, having defensive spines or quills. 2 (attrib.)
denoting any of various animals or other organisms with spines.
Ьporcupine fish a marine fish, Diodon hystrix, covered with
sharp spines and often distending itself into a spherical shape.
ЬЬporcupinish adj. porcupiny adj. [ME f. OF porc espin f.
Prov. porc espi(n) ult. f. L porcus pig + spina thorn]
pore(1) n. esp. Biol. a minute opening in a surface through which
gases, liquids, or fine solids may pass. [ME f. OF f. L porus
f. Gk poros passage, pore]
pore(2) v.intr. (foll. by over) 1 be absorbed in studying (a book
etc.). 2 meditate on, think intently about (a subject). [ME
pure etc. perh. f. OE purian (unrecorded): cf. PEER(1)]
porgy n. (pl. -ies) US any usu. marine fish of the family Sparidae,
used as food. Also called sea bream. [18th c.: orig. uncert.:
cf. Sp. & Port. pargo]
porifer n. any aquatic invertebrate of the phylum Porifera, including
sponges. [mod.L Porifera f. L porus PORE(1) + - fer bearing]
pork n. the (esp. unsalted) flesh of a pig, used as food.
Ьpork-barrel US colloq. government funds as a source of
political benefit. pork-butcher a person who slaughters pigs
for sale, or who sells pork rather than other meats. pork pie a
pie of minced pork etc. eaten cold. pork pie hat a hat with a
flat crown and a brim turned up all round. [ME porc f. OF porc
f. L porcus pig]
porker n. 1 a pig raised for food. 2 a young fattened pig.
porkling n. a young or small pig.
porky(1) adj. (porkier, porkiest) 1 colloq. fleshy, fat. 2 of or like
porky(2) n. (pl. -ies) US colloq. a porcupine. [abbr.]
porn n. colloq. pornography. [abbr.]
porno n. & adj. colloq. --n. pornography. --adj. pornographic.
n. 1 the explicit description or exhibition of sexual activity
in literature, films, etc., intended to stimulate erotic rather
than aesthetic or emotional feelings. 2 literature etc.
characterized by this. ЬЬpornographer n. pornographic adj.
pornographically adv. [Gk pornographos writing of harlots f.
porne prostitute + grapho write]
porous adj. 1 full of pores. 2 letting through air, water, etc. 3
(of an argument, security system, etc.) leaky, admitting
infiltration. ЬЬporosity n. porously adv. porousness n. [ME
f. OF poreux f. med.L porosus f. L porus PORE(1)]
porphyria n. any of a group of genetic disorders associated with abnormal
metabolism of various pigments. [mod.L f. porphyrin purple
substance excreted by porphyria patients f. Gk porphura purple]
porphyry n. (pl. -ies) 1 a hard rock quarried in ancient Egypt,
composed of crystals of white or red feldspar in a red matrix.
2 Geol. an igneous rock with large crystals scattered in a
matrix of much smaller crystals. ЬЬporphyritic adj. [ME ult.
f. med.L porphyreum f. Gk porphurites f. porphura purple]
porpoise n. any of various small toothed whales of the family
Phocaenidae, esp. of the genus Phocaena, with a low triangular
dorsal fin and a blunt rounded snout. [ME porpays etc. f. OF
po(u)rpois etc. ult. f. L porcus pig + piscis fish]
porridge n. 1 a dish consisting of oatmeal or another meal or cereal
boiled in water or milk. 2 sl. imprisonment. ЬЬporridgy adj.
[16th c.: alt. of POTTAGE]
porringer n. a small bowl, often with a handle, for soup, stew, etc.
[earlier pottinger f. OF potager f. potage (see POTTAGE): -n-
as in messenger etc.]
port(1) n. 1 a harbour. 2 a place of refuge. 3 a town or place
possessing a harbour, esp. one where customs officers are
stationed. Ьport of call a place where a ship or a person stops
on a journey. Port of London Authority the corporate body
controlling the London harbour and docks. [OE f. L portus & ME
prob. f. OF f. L portus]
port(2) n. (in full port wine) a strong, sweet, dark-red (occas. brown
or white) fortified wine of Portugal. [shortened form of
Oporto, city in Portugal from which port is shipped]
port(3) n. & v. --n. the left-hand side (looking forward) of a ship,
boat, or aircraft (cf. STARBOARD). --v.tr. (also absol.) turn
(the helm) to port. Ьport tack