Word of the Day : December 26, 2013


noun pair-uh-fuh-NAIL-yuh


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

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.


"Pearls and jewels, even though only worn on state occasions, may go to the widow as paraphernalia,-but with a limit." - From Anthony Trollope's 1872 novel The Eustace Diamonds

"Over the years, he's been into stained glass window-making, hiking, grilling and smoking meat, golfing, collecting bar paraphernalia, and kayak fishing." - From an article by Michael Warren in The Weekly Standard, November 11, 2013

Test Your Memory

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