paraphernalia

LV4-26

Senior Member
Good afternoon folks,

The woman I was talking about yesterday (the one that lives in a teepee) uses that word a lot. I kind of understand what it means. I was just wondering how common it is. It looks fairly complicated (apparently made of Greek roots) for a word to be used commonly.

e.g.
1....all the paraphernalia that you need to make dinner....
2(context : the people who tried living in a teepee but quickly gave up)
..and then, 3 days later, they were carrying all these kid toys and paraphernalia across the field and they were leaving...

Is paraphernalia a word that you use of hear frequently?
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    From Merriam Webster dictionary:

    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=paraphernalia

    Main Entry: par·a·pher·na·lia
    Pronunciation: "per-&-f&(r)-'nAl-y&, "pa-r&-
    Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
    Etymology: Medieval Latin, ultimately from Greek parapherna bride's property beyond her dowry, from para- + phernE dowry, from pherein to bear -- more at BEAR
    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


    I don't hear or use it often, but it's certainly part of my working vocabulary. I believe most people would understand it.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hm. Here it looks like a fancy word for "stuff", and although the usage is fine, I admit it's the sort of thing I'd expect from a person who is prone to hypercorrection: who says "she gave the books to Jean-Michel and I," for example. (I should not be used as a direct object, but it's not uncommon.)

    That's terribly judgmental of me, isn't it?
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Thanks for your help.
    Some of your inputs make me think that it might be some kind of a "linguistic twitch" on her part. (she uses the word at least 3 or 4 times). Alternatively, my first idea, is that it was common in her geographical/family environment.
     
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