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.

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:

    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?


    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.