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

Definition of palmary

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It was the ancient Romans who first used 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. Now, when we award a noun with the modifier palmary, it signifies that thing as the choicest among possible examples.

First Known Use of palmary

1657, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for palmary

Latin palmarius deserving the palm, from palma

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The first known use of palmary was in 1657

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Dictionary Entries Near palmary

palmarosa oil



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Cite this Entry

“Palmary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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