pal·​ma·​ry | \ ˈpal-mə-rē How to pronounce palmary (audio) , ˈpä-, ˈpäl-, ˈpȯ-, ˈpȯl- How to pronounce palmary (audio) \

Definition of palmary

Did You Know?

English speakers have been using palmary since the 1600s, and its history stretches back even further than that. It was the ancient Romans who first used their palmarius to describe someone or something extraordinary. Palmarius literally translates as "deserving the palm." But what does that mean exactly? Was it inspired by palms of hands coming together in applause? That would be a good guess, but the direct inspiration for palmarius was the palm leaf given to a victor in a sports competition. That other palm, the one on the hand, is loosely related. The Romans thought the palm tree's leaves resembled an outstretched palm of the hand; they thus used their word palma for both meanings, just as we do with palm in English.

First Known Use of palmary

1657, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for palmary

Latin palmarius deserving the palm, from palma

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about palmary

Time Traveler for palmary

Time Traveler

The first known use of palmary was in 1657

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about palmary

Statistics for palmary

Cite this Entry

“Palmary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Comments on palmary

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


Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!