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Meaning > Meaning, Glossary and Acronym of General Words

Meaning of General Words
Meaning of General Words
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The aam was a Dutch and German liquid measure of varying capacity, from 170 to 200 litres, once used in England for Rhine wine.


Ab is the fifth month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, and the eleventh month of the Jewish civil year. It coincides nearly with August.


An abac is a two dimensional matrix or table that shows the distances between major towns etc. Abacs are often found at the back of a road atlas.


Abacination is a form of torture in which the victim is blinded by a red-hot metal plate held before his or her eyes.


Abaction is the legal term for carrying away by force, and is especially applied to animals and was formerly a term referring to large-scale cattle rustling.


In old law, the term abactor was applied to one who stole and drove away cattle or beasts by herds or droves.


Abaculi are small cubes of coloured glass, enamel, stone or other material used in marquetry and mosaic work.


An abacus is a counting frame with balls sliding on wires. It was first used before the adoption of the ten digit numeric system and is still widely used in China.


Abaiser is ivory black or animal charcoal.


In law, an abandonee is one to whom anything is legally abandoned.


In law, the term abandum refers to anything forfeited or confiscated.


In law, the term abatable refers to something that may be reduced, diminished, discontinued, or ended.


In law, the term abate means 'to put an end to'.


In English law, abatement refers to legal proceedings that are formerly abated, or ended, on the marriage, death or bankruptcy of one party, or some change of interest in the matter in dispute.


In law, an abator is someone who abates a nuisance. Formerly, in law, the term abator referred to a person who, without right, entered a freehold on the death of the last possessor, before the heir or devisee.


Abature is the name given to the path created by a stag when grass and sprigs are beaten or trampled down by it passing through them.


An abatvoix is the sounding-board over a pulpit or rostrum.


Abba is a devotional expression for the Divine Fatherhood, and, apparently, the chief appellation of God used by Jesus in prayer. The name was also adopted by a Swedish seventies music group from their initials.


An abbey is a body of monks or a monastic building.


The Abbey Theatre is a theatre in Dublin, Ireland, that was home to the Irish Nationalist movement in the early 1900s. The building itself was purchased by Miss A.E.F. Horniman to house Frank and W. G. Fay's Irish National Dramatic Society. The Irish Nationalist movement embraced naturalism, ensemble acting, and plays about Irish life. It premiered many plays by Irish authors such as W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge and Sean O'Casey.


The Abbotsford Club was founded in 1834 on the model of the Bannatyne and Maitland Clubs and printed works of history and antiquities having relation to Scott and the Waverley Novels. Between 1835 and 1864 the club issued thrity-four volumes before it closed.


Abbreviate means make shorter.


An abbreviation is a short form of a word or words.


Abdest is the Islamic ritual of purification by washing the hands before prayer.


Abdicate means to renounce one's thrown.


An abditory is a place for hiding or preserving articles of value.


Abduct means to take away by force or fraud.


In logic abduction is a syllogism or form of argument in which the major is evident, but the minor is only probable.


An abecedarian is someone who is learning the alphabet. The term was also given to someone engaged in teaching the alphabet.


The Aberdeen Act was introduced by the earl of Aberdeen, and passed in 1845, to enforce the observance of a convention made with Brazil in 1826 to put down the slave trade. It was repealed in 1869.


In geometry, the aberrancy of curvature is the deviation of a curve from a circular form.


Aberration is another word for error.


Abet is a legal term meaning to encourage another to commit a crime.


An abettor is someone who encourages another to commit a crime (someone who abets).


Abeyance is a state of inactivity or suspension.


Abib is the Jewish first month of the ecclesiastical year, when the feast of the Passover is celebrated. It was later named Nisan.


An abigail is a lady's maid.


Abingdon Law is an expression for summary execution, without trial. The term takes its name from the town of Abingdon then in Berkshire now in Oxfordshire, England. In 1644 and again in 1645, the town was attacked, unsuccessfuly, and the defenders executed every prisoner taken, without trial.


Abington Law is an English equivalent of Jeddart Justice - that is of hanging a man in haste, and trying him at leisure. The term comes from the summary hanging of a man at Abington by Major-General Brown.


In law, the term abjudicate refers to depriving a person of something by court order or remove by order of court.


In the grammar of certain inflected languages, such as Latin, the ablative case is the form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective used to indicate the agent in passive sentences or the instrument, manner, or place of the action described by the verb.


Ablution is ceremonial washing.


In law, the term abnegate means to 'give up' to 'surrender' or to 'renounce'.


Abnormal means deviating from normal.


Abode is a place where something lives.


Abort means to terminate early.


In law, an abortifacient is something used to cause an abortion.


Abortion is the expulsion of the foetus from the uterus.


Abracadabra is a qabbalistic magic word used by the Gnostics and others of the second century and later as a spell to secure the assistance of good spirits against evil. It was written in the shape of a triangle and worn around the neck for nine days to act as a charm against fevers etc. The word first occurs in a poem by Sammonicus.


Abrasion is a form of sexual activity involving the stimulation of the surface of the body with abrasive materials, such as rough silk, chamois leather, fine sandpaper, brushes or wire wool.


Abridge means to shorten by condensing. In literary terms, abridge means to shorten a work, and yet preserve its essence, by using more succinct language.


An abridgment is a shortened version of a document or book, which retains the general essence of the original.


In law, the term abrogate means to repeal, or render void.


ABSCAM was an investigation conducted by the FBI from 1978 to 1980 into corruption within the US Congress. FBI agents posed as an Arab sheikh and his associates and filmed government officials accepting bribes. Seven Congressmen and several state and local officials were subsequently charged and convicted of bribery, corruption, conspiracy and related offences.


An abscess is a pus filled infection of an animal.


In co-ordinate geometry, the abscissa is the x-coordinate of a point (the horizontal distance of that point from the vertical or y-axis). For example, a point with the coordinates (9, 6) has an abscissa of 9.


In mountaineering, abseil means to descend using a rope.


Something that is absolute is freed from relation, limitation or dependence. As an adjective, it is therefore applied to the essence of a thing apart from its relations or appearances, and to the complete or perfect state of being. Hence comes its substantial meaning of 'The Absolute' as the self-existent, self-sufficient Being, that which is free from all limitation, the all-inclusive Reality. The absolute in one form or another forms a central feature in the philosophical systems of Spinoza, Schelling and Hegel.


Absolutism or Absolute Monarchy is a system of government where the hereditary ruler, usually a king, has complete power to decide a country's internal and external policy without having to consult anyone. A good example of an absolute monarchy was Louis XIV of France. The French Revolution heralded the end of absolutism, and in the nineteenth century absolute monarchies everywhere gave place to constitutional monarchies or republics.


Abstract means theoretical rather than practical.


The abyssal zone is the lower depths of the ocean below approximately 2000 metres, where there is effectively no light penetration. Abyssal organisms are adapted for living under high pressures in cold dark conditions.


The AC Ace was a series of British sportscars built between 1953 and 1963. The AC Ace was made with various engines: the AC, the Bristol and the Ford, in capacities of 1991, 1971 and 2553 cc providing power between 102 and 170 bhp. The AC Ace was fitted with a four-speed transmission with optional overdrive and had a top speed of 187 kmh.


The AC Cobra (known in the USA as the Shelby Cobra and the Ford Cobra) was a British sportscar built between 1962 and 1968. The AC Cobra resulted after the Texan racer, Carroll Shelby, approached AC Cars with an idea for fitting a 4.2 litre Ford V-eight engine into the light AC Ace sportscar to make a competition racing car. The AC Cobra was produced with various engines between 4261 and 6997 cc capacity with power between 164 and 490 bhp providing a top speed of between 218 and 290 kmh. In 1967 the AC Cobra with seven-litre engine, won the record as the fastest accelerating production car, reaching 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds.


The Academy of Art and Letters is a group of American citizens qualified by notable achievements in art, literature, or music. The members are selected from the membership of its parent body, the National Institute of Arts and Letters. The academy's aim is the furtherance of literature and the fine arts in the USA and has its headquarters in New York. It gives awards in art, literature, and music, jointly with the National Institute of Arts and Letters. The academy maintains a library of 15,000 volumes; a museum for book and manuscript exhibitions and storage of a permanent manuscript collection; an art gallery; and a permanent exhibition of the work of American painters Childe Hassam and Eugene Speicher. The academy awards the Howells Medal for the Novel (every five years); the Award of Merit Medal; and a prize of 1000 dollars annually. It holds exhibitions of works of art, manuscripts, books, and music scores. Paintings by American artists are purchased from the Childe Hassam Fund and Speicher Fund for distribution to museums.


The Accademia della Cruscaor Furfuratorum is an Italian academy founded in Florence in 1582 by the writer Antonio Francesco Grazzini. It aimed at purifying and cultivating Italian language and literature, and its Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca (first published in 1612) is still a model for works of the kind. The French Academy was modelled on this one.


An accent is a local mode of pronunciation in speech.


An acceptance test is a test operation of a new or modified device or system before usage by customers; ascertaining performance is to specifications. The FCC equivalent is 'Proof of Performance Testing'.


Accion Democratica is a Venezuelan political party founded in 1945 by Romulo Betancourt, which advocates agrarian reform and industrial development.


Accolade is the ceremony by which knighthood is conferred. Originally it was an embrace around the neck, today is a gentle blow on the shoulders with the flat of a sword. An accolade is given by a Sovereign or his representative.


An accomplice is someone associated with somebody else in the committing of a crime.


The accusative is the case of a noun or pronoun that is the object of a verb or is governed by a preposition. For example: 'He stroked the dog' 'I worked in the shed'. Here, 'dog' and 'shed' are both in the accusative case. 'Dog' is the object of the verb 'stroked'; 'shed' is governed by the preposition 'in'. In the grammar of some inflected languages, such as Latin, Greek, and Russian, the accusative case is the form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective used when it is the direct object of a verb. The accusative is also used for the object of certain prepositions.


An ace is a playing card with one pip.


The Acmeist movement was a movement in early 20th-century Russian poetry reacting against Symbolism. Acmeists developed a neo-classical emphasis on clear words about demystified realities. Major figures include Osip Mandelshtam, Anna Akhmatova, and Nikolay Gumilyov, founder of the Acmeist organ Apollon.


Acousticophilia is the sexual arousal by sound or music.


An acre is an ancient measurement of land area being (since 1824) 4840 square yards. Prior to the 1824 standardisation, the acre had been previously standardised by Edward I in 1305.


An acronym is a word formed from the initials or syllables of other words and intended as a pronounceable abbreviation.


Acrophilia is the sexual arousal by heights, high altitudes.


An acrostic is a poem in which the first or last letters of each line, read downwards, form a word or sentence. Double acrostics became very popular in 1867.


Acrotomophilia is the sexual attraction to people who have lost a limb - amputees.


The Act of Mediation was the Swiss constitution of February the 19th 1803, which Bonaparte substituted for that of the Helvetic republic, which lasted to the end of 1813. In it, the name 'Switzerland' was first officially used as the name of the Swiss confederation.


The Act of Succession in 1534 declared the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon null and void. In doing so it settled the succession to the throne on the heirs of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn.


An actor is a dramatic performer. One who performs in plays.


The Actor's Studio is an acting school in New York that taught an Americanised version of Stanislavsky's Method and was very influential in 1950s and 60s American drama. It was founded in 1947-48 either by Lee Strasberg or by Elia Kazan and Cheryl Crawford, depending on which source you consult. Strasberg served as artistic director of the school until his death in 1982. Many notable American actors of the 1950s and 1960s were graduates, including Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, James Dean, Montgomery Clift and Eva Marie-Saint.


The Acts of Supremacy were passed in 1534 enacting that the King (then Henry VIII) was the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England. The acts gave the king power to redress all heresies and abuses.


The Adams family are a major London crime gang specialising in drugs and extortion. The gang have a reputation for hiring Afro-Caribbeans to carry out the murder of informants and competitors. In July 1991 Frankie Fraser, former enforcer for the Richardson gang was shot at point-blank range as he left 'Turnmill's Nite Club' in Clerkenwell, London, on orders from the Adams family. The Adams family are known to regularly bribe a quantity of Metropolitan Police officers.


Addiscombe College was a college near Croydon, Surrey, which was purchased by the East India Company in 1809, for the education of candidates for scientific branches of the Indian army. It was closed in 1861.


The Additional Forces Act was passed in Britain by Pitt, owing to the imminent danger of the invasion of the country by Napoleon in 1803 and the following years. The act legalised the formation of second battalions to the regular regiments then serving abroad. The United Kingdom was divided up into districts, which were required by the act to furnish quotas of 3000 men each. The act was repealed after the death of Pitt.


An adit is the horizontal entrance to a mine.


An adjective is a grammatical part of speech for words that describe nouns (for example, new and beautiful, as in 'a new hat' and 'a beautiful day'). Adjectives generally have three degrees: the positive degree (new, beautiful), the comparative degree (newer, more beautiful), and the superlative degree (newest, most beautiful). Some adjectives do not normally need comparative and superlative forms; one person cannot be 'more asleep' than someone else, a lone action is unlikely to be 'the most single-handed action ever seen', and many people dislike the expression 'most unique' or 'almost unique', because something unique is supposed to be the only one that exists. For purposes of emphasis or style these conventions may be set aside ('I don't know who is more unique; they are both remarkable people'). Double comparatives such as 'more bigger' are not grammatical in Standard English, but Shakespeare used a double superlative ('the most unkindest cut of all'). Some adjectives may have both comparative and both superlative forms (commoner and more common; commonest and most common); shorter words usually take on the suffixes -er/-est but occasionally they may be given the more/most forms for emphasis or other reasons ('Which of them is the most clear?'). When an adjective comes before a noun it is attributive; when it comes after noun and verb (for example, 'It looks good') it is predicative. Some adjectives can only be used predicatively ('The child was asleep', but not 'the asleep child'). The participles of verbs are regularly used adjectivally ('a sleeping child', 'boiled milk'), often in compound forms ('a quick-acting medicine', 'a glass-making factory', 'a hard-boiled egg', ' well-trained teachers'). Adjectives are often formed by adding suffixes to nouns (for example sand: sandy; nation: national).


In law, adjournment is the postponement of the hearing of a case for later consideration. If a hearing is adjourned sine die ('without day') it is postponed for an indefinite period. If a party requests an adjournment, the court may find the costs of the adjournment have been unnecessarily incurred and make an order for costs against that party.


An adult is a fully grown being.


An adverb is the grammatical part of speech for words that modify or describe verbs (for example ' she ran quickly'). Most adverbs are formed from adjectives or past participles by adding -ly (quick: quickly) or -ally (automatic: automatically). Sometimes adverbs are formed by adding -wise (likewise and clockwise, as in 'moving clockwise'; in 'a clockwise direction', clockwise is an adjective). Some adverbs have a distinct form from their partnering adjective; for example, good/ well ('it was good work; they did it well'). Others do not derive from adjectives (very, in 'very nice'; tomorrow, in 'I'll do it tomorrow'), and some are unadapted adjectives (pretty, as in 'It's pretty good'). Sentence adverbs modify whole sentences or phrases: 'Generally, it rains a lot here'; 'Usually, the town is busy at this time of year.' Sometimes there is controversy in such matters. Hopefully is universally accepted in sentences like 'He looked at them hopefully' ('He looked at them full of hope'), but some people dislike it in 'Hopefully, we'll see you again next year' ('We hope that we'll see you again next year').


An adytum is the inner most part of a temple.


An adze is a carpenter's instrument consisting of an arched cutting blade mounted on a handle in a transverse arrangement, rather in the parallel arrangement of an axe. The adze is used for cutting away horizontal surfaces of wood.


The Aelfric Society was founded in 1842 to publish the Homilies of Aelfric, archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglo-Saxon works. It closed in 1856.


The Aeneid is Virgil's epic poem in twelve books, setting forth the wanderings of Aeneas. The poem has been translated into English several times, among others by Gawin Douglas in 1513, Dryden in 1697 and William Morris in 1876.


An aeon is an immeasurable period.


Aeromancy is divination by the air. It later evolved into weather-forecasting.


The Aetolian League was a confederacy of independent tribes of Aetolia in central Greece. It was formed in the 4th cetury BC and expanded in the 3rd century BC to include Thrace, Epirus, Peloponnesus and Asia Minor. By 220 BC it controlled most of central Greece and was the main rival to Macedonia. The League resisted attacks from Philip V of Macedonia, but was defeated by an alliance of Antiochus of Syria and the Romans in 189 BC. The League was dissolved in 167 BC.


An affidavit is a sworn written statement by a person (the deponent), who signs it in the presence of a commissioner for oaths. It sets out facts known to the deponent. In certain cases, particularly proceedings in the Chancery division of the High Court, evidence may be taken by affidavit rather than by the witness appearing in person.


Afrikaans, togther with English, is an official language of the Republic of South Africa and Namibia. Afrikaans is spoken mainly by the Afrikaners and is a variety of the Dutch language, modified by circumstance and the influence of German, French, other immigrant and local languages. Afrikaans became a standardised written language about 1875.


Agalmatophilia is the sexual fetish of being attracted to mannequins or statues.


Age of consent is a term for an age that depends upon the legal circumstances to which it refers. For commercial purposes, it is set at 18 years by the Family Law Reform Act (1969). A contract signed by a minor (i.e. someone below the age of consent) cannot always be enforced.


An agenda is a list of tasks.


Agglutinative languages are languages that combine into a single word various linguistic elements, each of which has a distinct fixed connotation and a separate existence. For example, in Basque the word ponetekilakoaekin means 'with him who has a ponet'. The principal agglutinative languages include Turkish, Japanese, Finnish, Hungarian, Swahili, and Native American languages. English has agglutinating features in such compound words as ungodliness and unavoidably.


Agonophilia is the sexual activity of pseudo-rape, a common form of foreplay involving a pretended struggle before the partner is overpowered.


Originally, an agony column was a column in newspapers in which advertisements regarding missing relatives and friends, secret correspondence etc. were inserted. The name derived from the distress betrayed in many of the adverts. Today, an agony column is more associated with a column in a newspaper or magazine in which readers ask for advice on difficult and usually controversial situations (such as having an affair with a married person). The advice is given by an 'agony aunt', a regular columnist working for the newspaper.


Agoraphilia is sexualual arousal from open, public spaces.


Agrexophilia is sexual arousal from the knowledge that other people may become aware of the lovemaking, for example by being overheard or seen.


Agricultural Hall is a building in Islington, London. Work commenced on it in 1861, and it opened in 1862 for an exhibition of dogs. It was constructed chiefly for the meetings of the Smithfield Club.


Aid trade provision (ATP) is a major component of the British aid programme, which seeks to combine aid to developing countries with creating business for UK companies. Subsidised loans and credits are offered to developing countries on condition that goods and services are purchased from UK- based enterprises.


Airspace is the space that lies above a state's land and sea territory and is subject to its exclusive jurisdiction.


An aisle is a passage between rows of seats.


Akan is a language spoken by the Akan people of southern Ghana. Akan is divided into two main varieties: Twi and Fante.


The Albert Medal was a British Naval decoration established in 1866 for gallantry in the saving of life at sea.


Albion Market was an English television soap-opera created as a rival to the BBC's 'Eastenders' and similarly set in the East End of London and following the lives of a fictional community. Albion Market was first aired in 1985 but after 100 episodes and negligble viewers was scrapped.


Aldebaran is the chief star of the constellation of Taurus.


Alectryomancy is a form of divination using a cock and grains of corn.


Aleuromancy is divination by flour.


The Aleutian low is a sub-arctic belt of low pressure that stretches across the North Pacific and is centred over the Aleutian Islands. It is separated by an area of relatively high pressure over the North Pole from a similar North Atlantic low pressure belt centred over Iceland. The Aleutian lows are most intense during mid- winter.


The Alexandrian liturgy is a liturgy of the ancient Egyptian Church, especially the eucharistic rite ascribed traditionally to St Mark.


The Alfa 33 was a five door hatchback and estate model car made by Alfa Romeo from 1984 to 1994. The Alfa 33 came in three engine sizes: 1.5 litres with 98 BHP, 1.7 litres with 107 to 110 BHP and a 1.7 litre 16 valve edition providing 132 to 137 BHP, all of which provided about 30 mpg. The Alfa 33 was criticised for its heavy steering, poor comfort and unreliable gearchange, and has subsequently proved to be at high risk to rusting.


Alfa Romeo is an Italian motor-car manufacturer. The company was founded in 1906 as 'Societa Italiana Automobili Darracq' with the aim of manufacturing low cost Darracq motor cars. That company quickly ran into difficulties when the once booming car market began to falter. In 1910 the Darracq factory that had been built in the Portello district of Milan was sold to a group of Italian car enthusiasts who called themselves 'Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili' (ALFA). Success was to be short lived, because the company went into liquidation in 1915, and was then taken over by an engineer and entrepreneur called Nicola Romeo. After the Great War the company changed its name to 'Societa Anonima Ing. Nicola Romeo & Co.' having taken over several smaller firms: Officine Meccaniche di Saronno, Officine Meccaniche Tabanelli of Rome and Officine Ferroviarie Meridionali of Naples. Formally constituted by the notary, Federico Guasti, in Milan on February the 3rd 1918, the new company proclaimed its purpose to be 'the construction and management of engineering, steel, agricultural, mining, chemical and quarrying companies, with particular emphasis on military, aviation, marine and agricultural equipment, internal combustion engines for all possible applications: aeroplanes, automobiles, locomotive and other wheeled transport.' Today Alfa Romeo is known for its range of sporty motor-cars.


The Alfa Romeo 8C was an Italian sportscar of the early 1930s. The Alfa Romeo 8C was powered by a 2300 cc in-line eight-cylinder engine providing between 140 and 175 hp, varying with model, and a top speed of 170 kmh. The Alfa Romeo 8C was a successful racing car during the 1930s, winning Grand Prix races and the Le Mans 24 hour race.


The Alfa Romeo Spider was a sportscar produced from 1966 to 1993 designed by Battista Pininfarina and produced by the Alfa Romeo company. The Alfa Romeo Spider had a 1962 cc 4-cylinder DOHC engine providing 131 bhp and a top speed of 199 kmh. A few variations were made, with slightly differing body shapes, all renowned for their smooth steering and slick gear changing.


The Alfa Sprint is a sporty front-wheel drive coupe automobile plagued by a poor quality body and powered by a 1500 or 1700 CC engine giving roughly 30 mpg.


Algebra is a division of mathematics dealing with relations.


See "Algebra"


Algol is a star in the constellation of Perseus. It was catalogued by Ptolemy as the lucida of the Gorgon. It is the model 'eclipse star' varying in brightness over a two day period through the interpositions of a revolving dark satellite. The light-changes of Algol were noticed by Montanari in 1669 and methodically observed and explained by Goodricke in 1783.


Algolagnia (algophilia) is a psychological term for the love of pain in sex.


See "Algolagnia"


An algorithm is a set of rules.


Algraphy is a printing process in which aluminium plates are used.


The plea of alibi in a criminal prosecution means that the person accused was elsewhere (alibi) at the time of the commission of the crime. If proved, it is conclusive, however it is a plea easily and frequently fabricated.


In law, alienation is the transfer of the title to property from one person to another by conveyance, and not by inheritance.


In Scottish law, aliment is the maintenance of children and other persons who are entitled to claim on the grounds of relationship or marriage.


All Saints' Day is a Christian feast day, held on November the 1st, held in honour of all saints. It was instituted by Gregory III.


All Souls' Day is a festival of the Roman Catholic Church on November the 2nd, offering prayers to the faithful dead. It was instituted in 998 in the monastery of Clugny.


The Allard J2/J2X was a British sportscar produced in 1949 by Sydney Allard of south London. They were powered by a 5420 cc Ford V-eight engine providing 180 bhp and a top speed of 209 kmh and acceleration of 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds.


An alley is a narrow street.


Allgemeine Zeitung is a German newspaper. It was founded in 1778 by Johann Cota in Stuttgart.


Alluvium is river transported deposits of mud, sand and gravel that accumulate to form distinctive features such as levees, flood plains and deltas.


An alpenstock is a stout staff, iron-tipped, used by mountain climbers. The names of ascended peaks are often branded onto its shaft.


Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet.


An alphabet is an ordered series of letters used in language.


The Alphonsine Tables were astronomical tables composed by Spanish and Arab astronomers, and collected in 1253 under the direction of Alphonso X of Castile. The tables were reprinted on the orders of the Spanish government in 1863.


The Alpine Club was an English society formed in London in 1857 to bring together those people interested in mountain climbing.


The Alpine Journal was the magazine published by the Alpine Club. The magazine was founded in 1863.


alt.sex.bondage (also known as asb or a.s.b.) is an old, and well established mixed sex and sexuality Usenet newsgroup concerned with a wide range of SM activities including bondage.


An altar is a block used for making offerings to a deity.


The Althing is the parliament of Iceland, it was created in 928 on the lines of the previously existing Norse Thing and is the oldest parliamentary assembly in the world. It was dissolved in 1800, revived in 1843 as an advisory body and it's modern form was constituted in 1874 as a legislative body.


Altitude is height above mean sea level.


Altocalciphilia is the sexual fetish for high heels.


Altocumulus is a cloud formation at between 10000 and 25000 feet, made up of many patches of small, white coloured clouds.


Altostratus is a cloud formation at between 10000 and 25000 feet, made up of wide expanses of flat, grey coloured clouds.


Altruism is the act of doing something for someone else's benefit, with no benefit for the person conducting the act, popularly known as being 'unselfish'. Some argue that true altruism must be an act that not only benefits another person, but does so to the detriment of the person conducting the altuistic act. This self-sacrifice is of course contrary to the basic principles of survival, and as such many psychologists argue that no human act is ever truly altruistic, but is indeed self-serving. A typical example cited is a parent risking their life to save their child. In this example the parent is actually serving their basic instinct to protect the genes which they have passed on and are being carried by the child. Similarly, an adult risking their life to save a stranger, it is argued, follows the same pattern. The human race developed from a small family and as such we all share some genes, the stranger is part of our family, albeit remotely, and we are simply acting - unconciously - to save our own genes. Other apparently altruistic acts, such as being kind to someone, it is argued are done with a view to some future payback. The stranger may help us in the future, or may help someone else who helps someone untill the kindness goes full circle and someone is kind to us. An act which hopes for a benefit for the perpetrator of the act, such as a future kindeness being received, or securing a place in a holy after-life, is not altruistic, but selfish, no matter how kind it may be.


The Alvis TF was a luxurious British Graber-styled car produced in 1965. The Alvis TF was powered by a triple-carburretor 2993 cc straight six engine providing 150 bhp and a top speed of 193 kmh.


Amaurophilia is sexual arousal by a partner who is unable to see one due to artificial means, such as being blindfolded or having sex in total darkness.


Ambaree is a fibre similar to jute and largely used in India. It is obtained from Hibiscus cannabinus.


Ambidextrous is having the facility to use the left hand as effectively as the right.


The Ambrosian Library is a famous library in Milan, founded in 1602 by Carlos Borromeo, and named in honour of St Ambrose, the patron saint of the city.


An ambry was a cupboard or chest designed to contain the tools of one's profession. Ina church, the ambry was a niche or cupboard near the altar designed to hold the utensils requisite for conducting worship.


An ambulance is a wagon, litter or other means of transport used for the conveyance of the sick and disabled.


American is a term referring to someone or something that comes from, or is found in, America.


The American Arbitration Association is a non-profit organization that provides arbitrators for the arbitration of disputes.


The Amharic language is a language spoken in Ethiopia since the 13th century when it succeeded Geez or Ethiopic. It is Semitic in origin and written right to left.


Amicus curiae is a legal term for a barrister advising the court in a legal case as a neutral person, not representing either side. In England and Wales, for example, where the public interest is concerned, the Attorney General (or his or her representative) may be asked to express an opinion. Professional bodies such as the Law Society may be represented to give an opinion on matters affecting their members. In the USA, a person with a strong interest in or views on the subject matter of an action, but who is not a party to it, may be given the court's permission to act as amicus curiae, usually only in matters of broad public interest.


Amnesty is an act granting forgiveness (literally, forgetfulness) to political and other offenders.


Amok is a Malay term denoting a sudden frenzy that seizes an individual, sometimes because of intoxicants, but often unaccountably.


An amphitheatre is a circular or ovular arena surrounded by tiers of seats.


An amphora was a Roman two-handled vessel, generally made of clay, used for holding, wine, oil, honey and the bones or ashes of the dead. The amphora was a Roman unit of liquid measure containing 48 sectari, equivalent to about six gallons.


The amphoreus was an ancient Greek unit of liquid measure equivalent to about nine gallons.


The Anabaptists were a 16th century Christian sect, so called because they rejected infant baptism in reference of adult baptism. They were a fanatical sect led by Nicholas Storck who intended reorganisation of German society based upon civil and political equality.


See "Anabaptist"


Anarchists (from the Greek word anarchia, meaning nonrule) believe that every form of government is evil. Towards the end of the last century anarchists assassinated Czar Alexander of Russia and other political leaders to draw attention to their theories. There was a strong anarchist movement in Spain during the 1930s.


Anasteemaphilia is the preference for sexual partners of a different height to oneself.


Ancient lights is a legal term for light enjoyed for 20 years or more through a defined aperture (such as a window) in a building. Under the Prescription Act (1832) the owner of the building has a right to such light, which may not thereafter be obstructed. Before the passing of this Act it was very difficult to obtain rights to any light, as the common law recognises no natural right to light.


The Ancient Mariner is a poem by Coleridge, published in 'Lyrical Ballads' in 1798. The idea appears to have been taken from Captain Shelvocke's ' Voyage Round the World' published in 1757.


An andiron (fire-dog) is a metal utensil consisting of two upright and generaly ornamental pillars set at some distance from each other with a horizontal bar connecting them. They were originally designed to prop up the extremities of logs of wood while they were being burnt. Later they were used to support the ends of a spit.


Anglicanism is a family of Christian churches. The family includes the Church of England, the US Episcopal Church, and those holding the same essential doctrines. Anglicanism holds the Lambeth Quadrilateral 1888 Holy Scripture as the basis of all doctrine, the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, and the historic episcopate.


The Anglo-Japanese Treaty was a treaty signed by Great Britain and Japan on January 30th 1902, by which the two powers agreed to safeguard their common interests in China and Korea. In the event of one of them being at war with a foreign power, the other would maintain a strict neutrality, but would assist her ally if a second foreign power joined the first. The treaty also stated that neither party would enter into agreements without the consent of the other and would confide fully in the other if common interests were endangered. The treaty was agreed for five years.


Animal training are sex games in which one or more partners, take on the role of an animal, such as a horse (pony girl) or dog. The 'animal' may imitate animal behaviour, wearing items such as collars, leads, bridles and so on, or carry out tasks associated with the animal, such as pulling a vehicle.


The anker was a measurement used in Britain and Germany for beer, spirits and the like. It was equivalent to 8.5 gallons. The Scottish anker contained 20 Scottish pints.


Annatto is a yellow-red colouring obtained from the Aploppas and used for colouring foods and by the South American Indians as body paint.


Anolinctus is the sex act of stimulating the anus with the tongue.


Anolingus is the sex act of inserting the tongue into the anus.


ANSI is the American National Standards Institute. The official repository of standards for the USA.


In September 2001 the USA was attacked by letters containg the phrases 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel' infected with anthrax being sent through the post. Five people died, 18 more were injured, and 35000 were forced to take precautionary antibiotics. Official reports suggested that the anthrax was released by the Muslim al-Qaeda terrorist movement, but investigations by forensic scientists at the FBI revealed that the sender of the poisoned letters was most likely a member of the American CIA, probably trying to encourage support for President Bush's 'war on terrorism' by spreading terror and paranoia throughout the western world directed at the more fundamental Islamic countries. The FBI's conclusion was further proved when on the 17th of June, 2003 the head of the British intelligence service, MI5 Ms Manningham-Buller, warned that an attack on a Western city was 'only a matter of time', and went on to say 'We are faced with a realistic possibility of a form of unconventional attack that could include chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN)'. 'It is only a matter of time before a crude version of a CBRN is launched on a Western city.' Clearly indicating that to date no such terrorist attack had taken place, and that the FBI were correct in their finding that the Anthrax attack had been carried out by a member of the CIA, though suggesting that he was not a rogue criminal at all.


Anthropophagy is the scientific term for cannibalism.


Anthroposcopy is divination by observing facial features.


The Anti-Corn Law League was an organisation formed in 1838 with its headquarters at Manchester, to effect the repeal of the corn laws in Britain. It was led by Cobden, Bright, Villiers, Joseph Hume and Roebuck. The league held meetings, oratories and published a paper (the League) and was an organised, aggressive and effective body. With its objectives achieved by the royal assent given to repeal the corn laws in 1846 to 1849 the league was dissolved.


Anti-rentism was a movement among the leaseholders of certain counties in New York State, USA during 1839 to 1847 to resist the feudal dues appertaining to the Dutch manorial and patroonship rights still remaining, though virtually abolished in 1775. In 1839 the heirs of one of the largest landowners in Albany county tried to evict those tenants who had not paid the feudal rents. The tenants resisted, the movement spread, ant-rent associations were formed and disturbances occurred. Repressive measures were adopted, and the resistance was put down. In 1846 feudal tenures of all kinds were abolished, and agricultural leases were limited to a maximum period of twelve years.


The Anti-Vivisection Society was formed in London in 1876 to oppose vivisection.


In geography, antipodes are two places precisely opposite one another on the earth, such as Barfleur in Normandy and Antipodes Island, south-east of New Zealand. At antipodes the hours and seasons are reversed, so that when it is midnight in summer in Barfleur it is noon in winter on Antipodes.


An Anton Piller order is a court injunction ordering the defendant to allow the plaintiff to enter named premises to search for and take copies of specified articles and documents. These orders are obtained by the plaintiff 'ex parte' (without the other party being present in court) to allow him to preserve evidence in cases in which he has grounds to think it will be destroyed. It is especially useful in 'pirating' cases. The order is not a search warrant, so entry cannot be forced, but the defendant will be in contempt of court if entry is refused. A solicitor must serve the order. It is named after an order made in the High Court in 1976 against Anton Piller KG.


An anvil is a block, usually of metal, smooth above used by metal smiths who hammer metal into a required shaped on it.


Ap is a Welsh prefix indicating 'son', as ApRobert, son of Robert, now often reduced to simply Probert.


An aparejo is a kind of American packsaddle made of stuffed leather cushions.


Apartheid is the policy of racial segregation of people. It was first established in South Africa in 1948 restricting the rights of non-whites and establishing blacks only homelands.


The aphelion is the point at which an object travelling around the sun in an elliptical orbit is at its furthest from the sun.


An apiary is a shed or stand for bee-hives.


The apollo asteroids are a group of small asteroids whose orbits cross that of the earth. They were first discovered in 1932 and then lost until 1973.


The Apollo Project was the US space project to land a person on the moon. It was achieved by Apollo 11 in July 1969.


Aposiopesis is an abrupt breaking away from a sentence and leaving it unfinished for the sake of greater effect.


Apostle spoons were spoons with figures of the apostles crowning the handles. They were given as baptismal presents during the 16th and 17th centuries.


Apotemnophilia is sexual arousal by the thought of losing a limb, or having a body part surgically removed.


An appellant is a person or organisation that appeals against the decision of a court. The party resisting the appeal is called the respondent.


Applique is a type of embroidery used to create pictures or patterns by applying pieces of material to a background fabric.


The Arab League (properly the League of Arab States) is a group of Arab states formed in 1945 to promote economic and cultural links and to minimise conflicts between Arab states. It has its headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, and official language of Arabic.


Araf is the Muslim purgatory, a raised wall of separation between heaven and hell.


Arbitration is the determination of a dispute by an arbitrator or arbitrators rather than by a court of law. Any civil (i.e. non-criminal) matter may be settled in this way; commercial contracts often contain arbitration clauses providing for this to be done in a specified way. If each side appoints its own arbitrator, as is usual, and the arbitrators fail to agree, the arbitrators are often empowered to appoint an umpire, whose decision is final. Arbitration is made binding on the parties by the Arbitration Acts (1950 and 1975). Various industries and chambers of commerce set up tribunals for dealing with disputes in their particular trade or business.


An archipelago is a group of islands.


ARCOS (All Russian Cooperative Society) was a Soviet spy-front posing as the Soviet Trade Mission in London during the 1920s.


The ARCOS Raid was a three-day search of the All Russian Cooperative Society's premises in Moorgate, London by 200 police officers in 1927, forming the climax of an attempt by Assistant Commissioner Wyndham Child of Scotland Yard to outlaw the Communist Party of Great Britain. The raid was intended to prove the Trade Mission was involved in espionage by finding marked secret papers which were 'allowed' to go missing from the War Office. The search failed to find the missing War Office papers.


The are is a French measurement of one square meter.


An arete is a steep angular mountain ridge.


Aries is a sign of the zodiac. Represented by the ram.


Aristocracy is a form of government in which the sovereign power is vested in a small number of citizens who are theoretically the best qualified to rule, as opposed to monarchy, in which the supreme authority is vested in one person, and to democracy, in which the ultimate authority is exercised by the entire body of citizens or their representatives. In an aristocracy, although the power of government is wielded by a few, theoretically the administration of government is carried on for the welfare of the many. Whenever the interests of the people as a whole are made subservient to the selfish interests of the rulers, aristocracy becomes a form of government known as oligarchy. Athens, before the period of the Persian wars of the 5th century BC, and Sparta, during practically its entire history, were aristocracies. The same was true of Rome during the period of the Republic, lasting from the 6th to the 1st century BC. During the Middle Ages no true aristocracy existed, for although political power reposed in the hands of a few, each feudal lord was sole master in his own domain. In England, the government from the accession of the house of Hannover in 1714 through the 19th century, although parliamentary in form, was in fact an aristocracy, since king and Parliament alike were under the control of a few great Whig families.


Arithmancy is divination by numbers.


Arminianism is a doctrine in Christianity, formulated in the 17th century and named after the Dutch Calvinist Jacobus Arminius, which declares that human free will can exist without limiting God's power or contradicting the Bible. Arminius believed predestination was biblical and true - that God had intended some persons for heaven and others for hell, as indicated by Jesus' reference to ' sheep and goats.' But he focused on God's love more than on God's power in speaking of election, the process by which God chose those intended for heaven. After Arminius died, a group of ministers who sympathised with his views developed a systematic and rational theology based on his teachings. In their declaration, a remonstrance issued in 1610, the Arminians argued that election was conditioned by faith, that grace could be rejected, that the work of Christ was intended for all persons, and that it was possible for believers to fall from grace. At the Synod of Dort, or Dordrecht, the High Calvinists prevailed over the Arminian party and condemned the Remonstrants. The Synod of Dort declared that Christ's work was meant only for those elect to salvation, that people believing could not fall from grace, and that God's election depended on no conditions. Remonstrants were not tolerated at all in Holland until 1630, and then not fully until 1795. They have, however, continued an Arminian tradition in the Netherlands into the late 20th century. The British theologian John Wesley studied and affirmed the work of Arminius in his Methodist movement during the 18th century in England. American Methodists for the most part have leaned toward the theology of the Remonstrants. In popular expression Arminianism has come to mean that no predestination exists and people are free to follow or reject the gospel.


The Armory Show was an art exhibition in New York City in 1913 that was the first major showing of avant-garde works in the USA.


In mathematics, an array is a collection of numbers (or letters representing numbers) arranged in rows and columns. A matrix is an array shown inside a pair of brackets; it indicates that the array should be treated as a single entity.


Arroba was a Spanish unit of weight equal to about 25 lbs. It was also used in South and Central America, where it was equivalent to about 32 lbs.


Arshin is a Russian unit of measurement equivalent to 28 inches.


Art Deco is the name given to a 1920s and 1930s style of design characterised by geometrical shapes, stylised natural forms and symmetrical designs. The style was used for furniture, ornaments, crockery and also architecture.


Art Nouveau is a name given to a style of design from the 1880s to early 1900s characterised by the application of sinuous natural forms to objet d'art, costume, and architecture.


Articled clerk is the name given to a trainee solicitor. The Law Society lays down provisions regulating the training of solicitors. All trainees are now graduates and will have taken professional examinations. They are then required to be articled to (i.e. to sign an agreement to learn from) a qualified solicitor for two years before being admitted as solicitors themselves.


In English law, articles are summaries in writing of matters as are to be inquired of or presented before justices in eyre, or justices of assize, or of the peace, in their sessions.


An artificial person is a person whose identity is recognised by the law but who is not an individual. For example, a company is a person in the sense that it can sue and be sued, hold property, etc. in its own name. It is not, however, an individual or real person.


Arts and Crafts is a name given to a 19th century style of design inspired by and applied to everyday objects. The style stressed mediaeval styles and skilled craftsmanship in a reaction against industrialisation.


Ash Wednesday is the first day of lent, the seventh Wednesday before Easter.


Assize of Battle was by the old law of England, a means whereby a man charged with murder might fight with the appellant, thereby to make proof of his guilt or innocence. The law was struck off the statute book in 1819.


The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a political and economic grouping of the capitalist nations of South East Asia, formed in 1967 and comprising: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, and Brunei. The countries are very diverse. For example the per capita income of Singapore in 1986 was some 12 times that of Indonesia; interests often diverge accordingly. While committed to strengthening economic ties, progress has been limited. There has also been political co-operation, for example over policy towards Indochina. There are regular consultations between ASEAN and the major industrialised countries.


An asteroid is a minor planetary body.


The Aston Martin DB2 was a classic British car first produced in 1950, and then produced in modified forms until 1959. The Aston Martin DB2 was powered by a 2580 to 2922 cc DOHC straight six engine providing from 107 to 196 bhp and a top speed of between 185 and 209 kmh, depending upon the variant.


The Aston Martin DB5 was a British sportscar of the 1960s produced from 1963 to 1965. The DB5 evolved from the earlier touring DB4, and was immortalised in the James Bond film 'Goldfinger'. The DB5 was powered by a 3955 cc straight six engine providing 282 bhp and a top speed of 225 kmh.


The Aston Martin Lagonda was a British, hand-built, four-door car hailed as the 'space age car' when it was introduced in 1976. It was a variant of the Aston Martin V8 and featured touch sensitive switches, including the gear change, and electronically controlled instruments with graphic digital displays controlled by a micro-processor. The speedometer could be changed from mph to kmh by the touch of a switch. The 5340 CC engine had eight-cylinders in a V-configuration.


The Aston Martin V8 was a family of British cars produced by the Aston Martin company between 1969 and 1990. The Aston Martin V8 was powered by a 5340 cc V-eight engine providing between 340 and 436 bhp and a top speed of 257 kmh. Models were produced with either a 5-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic transmision.


Astragalomancy is divination using dice or knuckle bones. It seems to have developed around the 17th century.


Astrolatry is the worship of celestial objects.


Atenism was a form of sun-worship practised in ancient Egypt around 14 BC.


An atoll is a circular, or horseshoe-shaped coral island surrounding a lagoon with one or more openings to the sea.


Attar (Otto of Roses) is a perfume which consists of the volatile or essential oil distilled from certain varieties of rose.


Aucassin et Nicolette is a celebrated French romance of the 12th century, written in alternate prose and assonant verse of seven syllables. It recounts the love of Aucassin, son of the Count of Beaucaire, for Nicolette, the captive daughter of the king of Carthage.


The Audi A2 is the world's first mass produced motor-car constructed from aluminium available in a five door hatchback design with either a 1.4 litre petrol model offering 60 mpg and a 1.4 litre diesel model offering 80 mpg.


An auger is an instrument used for boring holes in wood, or other soft substances. It consists of a wooden or plastic handle and a steel shank terminated in a steel bit at the bottom.


The augmentation court was a court erected by a statute of Henry VIII, to augment the revenues of the crown by the suppression of monasteries.


Augury is divination from the behaviour of birds.


The month of august was the sixth month of the Roman calendar and was originally called Sextilis, by a decree of the senate it received its present name in honour of Augustus Caesar in 8 BC.


See "Ell"


Aurora borealis (the Northern lights) is an electrical discharge seen by night over the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere.


The Austin A90 Atlantic was the first British car designed specifically for the American market. The Austin A90 Atlantic was produced as a convertible with a power-operated hood and as a saloon model, from 1948 to 1952. It was powered by a 2660 cc OHV in-line four engine providing 88 bhp and a top speed of 145 kmh. The Austin A90 Atlantic could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 16.6 seconds and could achieve a fuel consumption of 25 mpg.


The Austin Healey 3000 was a British motor car produced between 1959 and 1967. The Austin Healey 3000 was powered by a 6-cylinder 2912 cc engine providing between 124 and 150 bhp and a top speed of between 183 and 193 kmh, depending upon the type, later types being faster.


The Austin Healey Sprite (known as the 'frogete') was a British sportscar produced from 1958 to 1961. The Austin Healey Sprite was powered by a 948 cc in-line four engine providing 43 bhp and a top speed of 135 kmh, with a fuel consumption of 45 mpg attainable.


Autagonistophilia is the sexual arousal of being on stage or of performing in front of a camera.


In politics, authoritarian is a term denoting a dictatorial system of government.


Auto da fe (Act of Faith) was the ritual execution of heretics by the Inquisition after a confession had been extracted. The ceremony always took place on a Sunday, but not at regular intervals, maybe once every two, three or four years. The victims were walked in procession wearing the san benito, the coroza, the rope around the neck, and carrying a yellow wax candle in their hand. The san benito was a penitential tunic of yellow cloth reaching to the knees and painted on it was a picture of the person who wore it, burning in flames with figures of dragons and devils in the act of fanning the flames. The costume indicated to the watching crowds the wearer was to be burned alive as an incorrigible heretic. If the person was only to do penance, then the san benito had on it a cross, and no painting or flames. If the victim was converted just before being led out, then the san benito was painted with the flames downward (known as fuego resuelto) and indicated that the wearer was not to be burned alive, but to be first strangled before burning. At one time the san benito were hung up in the churches as monuments to the Inquisition. The coroza was a pasteboard cap, one meter high, ending in a point. On it were likewise painted crosses, flames and devils. Gags were kept on hand in case a victim insulted the tribunal or revealed what had occurred to them as they were led along to the place of execution where a large scaffold was erected. The stake where the victim was to be burned varied in form, and was either a simple stake mounted in the ground, or was about three meters tall, with a small board near the top where the victim sat and was chained to the stake. Following prayers and attempts to convert the victim to the Roman Catholic faith, burning furzes were thrust into the face until the victim's face was burned before furzes around the base of the stake were ignited and the victim burned to death.


Autocracy is absolute rule by one man.


Autoerotic asphyxia is the practice of partial strangulation during sex or masturbation.


Autonomy is a word of Greek origin meaning 'self-government'.


An aviary is a building, or a portion of a building, netted off, or a large cage designed for keeping birds.


The avoirdupois scale is a measurement of weight.


Axillism is the use of the armpit for sex.


Axinomancy is divination by means of an axe-head. It seems to have developed in the early 17th century.


In geography an axis is the imaginary line running from pole to pole through the centre of the earth.


Azilian describes a Palaeolithic culture of Spain and south-west France that can be dated to the 10th millennium BC. It is characterised by flat bone harpoons and schematically painted pebbles.

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