paraphernalia

noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction par·a·pher·na·lia \ ˌper-ə-fər-ˈnāl-yə , ˌpa-rə- , -fə-ˈnāl-yə \
Updated on: 6 Dec 2017

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

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Examples of paraphernalia in a Sentence

  1. 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 TrudeauNew York Times25 June 1991
  2. There were odd knickknacks (strange that the Hebrew naknik should mean sausage)— … shell ashtrays from Brighton, all my stepmother's paraphernalia. —Anthony BurgessWilson QuarterlySpring 1991
  3. 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 DickensAmerican Notes1842

Recent Examples of paraphernalia from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of paraphernalia

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


PARAPHERNALIA Defined for English Language Learners

paraphernalia

noun

Definition of paraphernalia for English Language Learners

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



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