par·​a·​pher·​na·​lia | \ ˌper-ə-fər-ˈnāl-yə How to pronounce paraphernalia (audio) , ˌpa-rə-, -fə-ˈnāl-yə\

Definition of paraphernalia

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 : personal belongings
3a : articles of equipment : furnishings
b : accessory items : appurtenances

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Did You Know?

In current use, paraphernalia is typically encountered in its "equipment" sense in such contexts as "arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia." But the word hasn't always been used in that way. Originally, paraphernalia was property that a married woman owned herself-as opposed to her husband's property or the dowry she brought to the marriage. Paraphernalia came to English, via Medieval Latin, from Greek parapherna, meaning "bride's property beyond her dowry" (from para-, meaning "beyond," and phernē, meaning "dowry"). Although paraphernalia was plural in Medieval Latin, it can take either a singular or plural verb in English.

Examples of paraphernalia in a Sentence

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 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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web

The work entails arduous journeys by train, road, helicopter and boat, accompanied by porters who carry the briefcase-sized voting machines, registers, ink and other election paraphernalia on their backs. Amrit Dhillon, The Seattle Times, "Poll workers journey to reach India’s most remote voters," 14 Apr. 2019 The cast has also been seen rocking HU paraphernalia on their press tour for the movie. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "6 'Us' Easter Eggs You Were Probably Too Freaked Out to Notice," 25 Mar. 2019 Richie’s floor is adorned with tennis trophies and sports paraphernalia. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Channel Margot Tenenbaum With the New Scalamandré x The Inside Collaboration," 19 Feb. 2019 First, Steiner began designing and selling artistic Navy paraphernalia in his free time. Josh Snider, Popular Mechanics, "The Everything Workshop," 4 Dec. 2018 Drugs Leslye Berumen, 20, of the 0-100 block of Ash Street in Carpentersville, was charged July 6 with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia near Shorely Drive and Route 14. Todd Shields,, "South Barrington police: Man charged with unlawful weapon use," 9 July 2018 Dykstra is charged with third-degree making terroristic threats, third-degree charges for possession of cocaine and MDMA and disorderly persons charges for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Scott Boeck, USA TODAY, "Former New York Mets player Lenny Dykstra claims he was kidnapped by Uber driver," 8 June 2018 The 19-year-old Caldwell man was booked into the Canyon County Jail on charges of felony grand theft, felony possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting and obstructing officers. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Do you leave your car unattended while it warms up? Bad idea, Idaho police warn," 8 Jan. 2018 Police arrested an 18-year-old Houston man for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia April 16 in the 1900 block of Main Street. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Police investigate cases of criminal mischief," 30 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paraphernalia.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of paraphernalia

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for paraphernalia

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

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Statistics for paraphernalia

Last Updated

29 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for paraphernalia

The first known use of paraphernalia was in 1651

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More Definitions for paraphernalia



English Language Learners Definition of paraphernalia

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on paraphernalia

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paraphernalia

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for paraphernalia

Spanish Central: Translation of paraphernalia

Nglish: Translation of paraphernalia for Spanish Speakers

Comments on paraphernalia

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


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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