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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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

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The first known use of palmary was in 1657

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Cite this Entry

“Palmary.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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).


to express in a more acceptable way

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