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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The driver was arrested for drug abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia. John Benson, cleveland, "Resident in need of antivirus security software is victim of online scam: Brooklyn Police Blotter," 5 May 2021 During the internal probe, his coworkers searched his vehicle and found a wealth of unmarked evidence, including 42 pieces of drug paraphernalia, 10 baggies of meth and five baggies of marijuana. Jeff Burlew, USA TODAY, "Former Florida deputy indicted for planting drugs during traffic stops gets 24 new charges," 27 Apr. 2021 During an inventory of the car, police found marijuana and drug paraphernalia; the driver was cited for speeding and possession. Cheryl Higley, cleveland, "Man flashes firearm at bar employee: North Ridgeville Police Blotter," 24 Apr. 2021 Kitchens are prone to collecting a hodgepodge of paraphernalia, and pets bring their own unique brand of clutter into the space. Janice Costa, House Beautiful, "How to Design a Pet-Friendly Kitchen," 21 Apr. 2021 Teague also was charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree, Detective Annette Shelton said. Brynn Gingras And Anna Sturla, CNN, "Ohio teen arrested with AK-47 in Times Square subway station, police say," 17 Apr. 2021 He was also charged with a count of possession of paraphernalia. Lawrence Andrea, The Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis man charged after woman's body found beaten, buried in Pike Township woods," 14 Apr. 2021 His bond, however, was revoked late last year after authorities said he was found in a vehicle near First Baptist Church Trussville and arrested on new charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Carol Robinson |, al, "Trussville teen indicted in rifle slaying of high school classmate," 1 Apr. 2021 Minneapolis police searched his home and found two more guns, more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition, more than three ounces of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia, according to the charges. Andy Mannix, Star Tribune, "Blaine man already accused of rioting arrested on federal gun charge," 30 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about paraphernalia

Time Traveler for paraphernalia

Time Traveler

The first known use of paraphernalia was in 1651

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about paraphernalia

Statistics for paraphernalia

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paraphernalia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for paraphernalia



English Language Learners Definition of paraphernalia

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

More from Merriam-Webster on paraphernalia

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!