Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

paraphernalia

play
noun plural but singular or plural in construction par·a·pher·na·lia \ˌper-ə-fə(r)-ˈnāl-yə, ˌpa-rə-\

Simple Definition of paraphernalia

  • : objects that are used to do a particular activity : objects of a particular kind

Full Definition of paraphernalia

  1. 1 :  the separate real or personal property of a married woman that she can dispose of by will and sometimes according to common law during her life

  2. 2 :  personal belongings

  3. 3 a :  articles of equipment :  furnishings b :  accessory items :  appurtenances

Examples of paraphernalia

  1. Mind if we pick through your personal effects? The King of Scrounge, an American serviceman, has crammed his local apartment with enough salvaged paraphernalia to equip a battalion. —Garry Trudeau, New York Times, 25 June 1991

  2. There were odd knickknacks (strange that the Hebrew naknik should mean sausage)—… shell ashtrays from Brighton, all my stepmother's paraphernalia. —Anthony Burgess, Wilson Quarterly, Spring 1991

  3. To an Englishman, accustomed to the paraphernalia of Westminster Hall, an American Court of Law is as odd a sight as, I suppose, an English Court of Law would be to an American. Except in the Supreme Court at Washington (where the judges wear a plain black robe), there is no such thing as a wig or gown connected with the administration of justice. —Charles Dickens, American Notes, 1842



Origin of paraphernalia

Medieval Latin, ultimately from Greek parapherna bride's property beyond her dowry, from para- + phernē dowry, from pherein to bear — more at bear


First Known Use: 1651

Rhymes with paraphernalia



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up paraphernalia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet kittly-benders pince-nez spindrift
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ