"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Paraphernalia and parapherna

If I were to enumerate my favourite sounding words paraphernalia would be on that list.  It is a noun meaning miscellaneous articles, especially the equipment needed for a particular activity; trappings associated with a particular institution or activity (often such as are regarded as superfluous).  

Its origins are as a legal word and in the mid-17th century it meant those articles of personal property which the law allowed a married woman to keep, and, to a certain extent, deal with as her own.  i.e. not a lot!! 

The Latin word parapherna meant, in Roman law meant a wife’s articles over and above her dowry – which remained her husband’s.  In the 18th century that word too came into English law to mean the same thing – the wife’s belongings that hadn’t come as her dowry.


  1. I like that word, too, and use it sometimes, although not in its original context.

  2. Very interesting, and totally agree that it is a lovely sounding word
    thanks for sharing