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A Sample Glossary from A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language

A small book with tiny print, Noah Webster’s A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language contained 37,000 entries, including thousands of words that were in daily use in America but not listed in any other dictionary (including a host of terms from medicine, law, chemistry, botany, geology, agriculture, and other sciences, as well as Native American loan words).


advocate verb: >to defend, plead in favor of

appellate adjective: >belonging to appeals

decedent noun: >one dead

lot noun: >a share or division of land, a field

Science and Mathematics

aeriform adjective: >having the form of air, as gas

caloric adjective: >pertaining to the matter of heat

decahedron noun: >a figure of ten sides

deliquesce verb: >to dissolve or soften in air

electrician noun: >one versed in electricity

foliar adjective: >pertaining to or growing from a leaf

galvanism noun: >the name given to effects resembling electricity, produced by metallic substances

ignescent adjective: >yielding fire or sparks

lignify verb: >to become or convert into wood

nutrient noun: >that which feeds or nourishes

psychology noun: >the doctrines of spirit or mind

sebaceous adjective: >fat, pertaining to fat

vaccine noun: >the cow pox, kine-pox

vaccinate verb: >to inoculate with the virus of the cow pox

vaporize verb: >to convert into vapor by heat


amendatory adjective: >containing an amendment

caucus noun: >cant name of secret meetings for electioneering purposes

census noun: >an enumeration of inhabitants, a register of people, etc.

constitutionality noun: >the state of being agreeable to the constitution, or of affecting the constitution

presidential adjective: >pertaining to a president

selectman noun: >a town official in New England

Agriculture and Industry

flume noun: >a channel or passage for water

folder noun: >a flat instrument to fold sheets of paper

gin verb: >to clean cotton of its seeds by a gin

unmalleable adjective: >not capable of being hammered into a plate

Plants and Animals

accipiters noun: >an order of fowls with hooked bills

butternut noun: >an American tree with an oblong nut, also the nut

cervine adjective: >pertaining to the deer

conchology noun: >the science of shellfish

cordiform adjective: >in form of a heart

dendroid adjective: >resembling a shrub

hickory noun: >a tree, a species of walnut

opossum noun: >a quadruped which carries her young in a bag under her belly

porcine adjective: >pertaining to swine

scarious adjective: >dry and rough to the touch

skunk noun: >a quadruped remarkable for its smell

winterkill verb: >to kill by means of winter, as grain


debit noun: >a debt, the debtor side of an account

deliverable adjective: >that may or ought to be delivered

unmarketable adjective: >not saleable or fit for the market

Food and Drink

chowder noun: >a dish of fish boiled with biscuit, etc.

hommony noun: >food made of maiz broken but coarse and boiled

succotash noun: >a mixture of new soft maiz and beans boiled

whiskey noun: >a spirit distilled from grain


Americanize verb: >to render American

caddy noun: >a small box for tea

checkers noun pl.: >a game

chore noun: >a small job, domestic work

demoralize verb: >to corrupt, undermine or destroy moral principles

emphasize verb: >to pronounce with a stress of voice

energize verb: >to give strength or vigor

flytrap noun: >a trap to catch flies

hydrant noun: >a pipe to conduct and deliver water

immigrant noun: >one who removes into a country

inapproachable adjective: >not to be approached

inexact adjective: >not exact or precise

insubordination noun: >disobedience or want of submission to authority

leanto noun: >the part of a building that appears to lean upon another

notice verb: >to see, regard, observe, attend

orthoepy noun: >the art of just pronunciation

penmanship noun: >the act, art, or use of writing

pry verb: >to look into with close inspection, to raise with a lever

publicity noun: >a public state, notoriety

sectarian adjective: >pertaining to a sect

skittles noun: >a game like ninepins

slang noun: >vulgar language, cant phrases [low]

slat noun: >a thin piece of timber connecting larger ones

slatternly adjective: >negligent in dress, sluttish

snowshoe noun: >a light frame to walk with on snow

spry adjective: >nimble, brisk, quick in action

surf noun: >waves or swell of the sea breaking on shore

velveteen noun: >a cloth made of cotten and linen