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

Protest paraphernalia, including googles and saline solution to combat teargas, were found on the woman’s bed, her friends and family said. Time Staff, Time, "Another Hong Kong Protester Fell to Her Death After Leaving a Message for the Government," 5 July 2019 Back on the Trump side, the crowd gradually thickened, converging at the Washington Monument into a sea of people wearing Trump paraphernalia. Elizabeth Williamson, New York Times, "Two Americas, Celebrating Separately in One Place," 4 July 2019 The conditions of his probation include absolute sobriety, random drug tests and no use or possession of alcohol, controlled substances or drug paraphernalia. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former Brookfield Central High School star athlete Julian Banda has been sentenced to probation in drug case," 1 July 2019 He is charged with drug trafficking, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and certain persons forbidden to carry a firearm. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al.com, "$1.5 million bond set for west Alabama man arrested on meth, gun charges," 1 July 2019 Die Tagung in Berlin Friedrichshain is part bar, part shrine to Socialist paraphernalia. Michelle Hackman And Georgia Wells, WSJ, "The Quirkiest Dining Scene in Berlin? Communist Comfort Food," 28 June 2019 Investigators also reportedly found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Tips lead to birds apparently part of cockfighting operation in central Indiana," 26 June 2019 The 24-year-old was cited for running a stoplight, obstructing official business, drug abuse, paraphernalia and failing to provide a license. cincinnati.com, "From the Editor: Until you experience it, it's hard to comprehend the hidden costs of being poor," 13 June 2019 The presence of northern military paraphernalia in the form of these skulls may point to a loss of control by local leaders. Gabriel D. Wrobel, The Conversation, "Trophies made from human skulls hint at regional conflicts around the time of Maya civilization’s mysterious collapse," 10 June 2019

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

8 Jul 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

paraphernalia

noun

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

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