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 woman was charged with OVI and possession of drug paraphernalia., "Five arrested in undercover prostitution operation: Solon Police Blotter," 29 Aug. 2019 Fabian DeLaTorre, 20, of the 6900 block of Glenwood Lane, Hanover Park, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia at 1:16 a.m. Aug. 18 at Lake and Walnut streets. Graydon Megan,, "Elmhurst police blotter: Car with keys left inside stolen," 23 Aug. 2019 Police arrested a 38-year-old Alvin woman for shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia Aug. 10 in the 1900 block of Main Street. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Copper reported stolen from Pearland construction sites," 22 Aug. 2019 Wilkerson was arrested and booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail on charges of accessory after the fact to simple escape and possession of drug paraphernalia. Carol Robinson |, al, "Escaped Alabama prisoner captured in Louisiana after month on the run," 15 Aug. 2019 Hunt was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while license suspended or revoked, and resisting without violence. Tiffini Theisen,, "Florida scooter rider who ran from deputy into woods had meth, scale, cash: report," 23 July 2019 Thousands stood at the lower-level arrivals gate, greeting those who had just landed with protest slogans and paraphernalia. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "Order returns to Hong Kong airport, but tensions linger," 14 Aug. 2019 In January, Alexa was arrested for possession of Xanax and drug paraphernalia by the Irvine Police Department. Eric Todisco,, "Former RHOC Star Alexa Curtin Arrested 9 Days After Being Released from Jail: Report," 13 Aug. 2019 Police were investigating a photograph of Nazi paraphernalia allegedly sent online by one of the suspects. Washington Post, "Canada police: 2 teen fugitives died by suicides by gunfire," 13 Aug. 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

2 Sep 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

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