from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Personal belongings.
  • The articles used in a particular activity; equipment: a photographer's paraphernalia. See Synonyms at equipment.
  • A married woman's personal property exclusive of her dowry, according to common law.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Miscellaneous items, especially the set of equipment required for a particular activity; stuff.
  • n. Things a woman owns, apart from her dowry.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Something reserved to a wife, over and above her dower, being chiefly apparel and ornaments suited to her degree.
  • Personal belongings; ornaments; finery; sundry objects carried about for personal convenience.
  • The appendages, apparatus, or equipment used in a particular activity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In law, those personal articles which the common law recognized the right of a married woman to own and keep, notwithstanding the marital right of her husband to her personal property in general.
  • n. Personal ornaments or accessories of attire; trappings; equipments, especially such as are used on parade, or for ostentatious display, as the symbolic garments, ornaments, weapons, etc., used by freemasons or the like.
  • n. Miscellaneous possessions, as the numerous small conveniences of a traveler, small decorative objects, and the like.
  • n. Ornaments, or ornamental accessories, collectively.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. equipment consisting of miscellaneous articles needed for a particular operation or sport etc.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Medieval Latin paraphernālia, neuter pl. of paraphernālis, pertaining to the parapherna, a married woman's property exclusive of her dowry, from Greek : para-, beyond; see para-1 + phernē, dowry; see bher-1 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

The origin of the word is Ancient Greek παρά (para) + φερνή (phernē) (“things additional to a dowry”). In the propertied classes, a dowry was placed under the control of the husband, while the 'paraphernalia' which she brought with her remained the wife’s property.


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