D-Word Definitions

dab. flatfish (like flounder)
dabble. bob forward and under in shoal water to feed off the bottom
da capo. from the beginning
dace. cyprinidae
dactyl. metrical foot one short syllable followed by two long syllables
dactylogram. fingerprint
dactology. sign language
dado. groove; lower portion of wall; pedestal between base and crown
daedal. ingenious and complex; finely made, artistic
Daedalus. super-artisan; created the Labyrinth
dag. lock of matted wool
Dagon. Philistines; half-man, half-fish
dahoon. evergreen shrub
daily double. winning two bets on two horses the same day
dalmio. hereditary Japanese nobleman
Dakin’s solution. Na hypochlorite, disinfectant
dalapon. herbicide
dalmatic. priestly garment
damascene. wavy patterns
Damascus steel. wavy patterns (early steel)
damask. rich, patterned fabric; sword
damar. varnish resin
damping off. plant disease
damsel fly. dragonfly
Danae. mother of Perseus by Zeus
Danaides. murdered bridegrooms on wedding night.. condemned to pour water into bottomless pit
Dandie Dinmont. terrier
dandle. pamper; move child up and down on knees
Danegeld. English tax to fight Danes
Danelaw. Danish laws in north England
dangling participle. "Approaching New York, the skyline came into view."
danio. aquarium fish
Dantesque. exalted visionary style
Danu. Iranian goddess of death and mother of the gods
dap. fish, dip lightly, bounce or skip over water
daphne. evergreen
Daphne. nymph who turned into a laurel tree to escape Apollo
daphnia. crustaceans (fish food)
Daphnis. Sicilian shepherd—inventor of pastoral poetry
Darby and Joan. 18th century ballad
Dardan. a Trojan
Dardanus. eponymous founder of Troy
Darjeeling. black tea
darkle. to appear indistinctly, darkly
darkling. in the dark, happening in the dark
darksome. dark, somber
darnel. grass
darter. fish
dartie. to thrust or shoot out repeatedly
dasheen. The taro
dassle. the hyrax
dasyure. Australian marsupial mammals
datary. investigates candidates for papal benefices
deaccession. sell museum artwork to buy another piece
deadeye. hardwood disk used to spread lines for shroud (nautical.)
dead hand. mortmain
deadlight. thick porthole window that can’t be opened
deadwood. vertical planking between keel and sternpost
debenture. unsecured bond
debouch. to spread out into the open; to emerge
debouché. a military opening; an outlet
debouchere. a mouth or opening, esp., a river or channel
debridement. cleaning a wound
decadent. 19th C. neurotic writers
decalcomania. transferring decals
decanal. pertaining to a dean
decapod. crab, lobster, shrimp, some cephalopod
decare. 10 ares: 0.2471 acres (1/10th hectare)
Decembrist. 1825 plot to overthrow Nicholas I
decemvir. 10 Roman magistrates, 450 B. C., appointed to draw up a code of laws
decidua. mucous membrane cast off during menstruation
deckle. frame used to make paper by hand
declassé. lowered or lacking in station
decollate. behead
decollate. separate copies
decoupage. decorating a surface with cutouts (incl. paper)
decrepitate. to roast until it crackles
decumbent. lying down; growing along the ground but erect at the apex
decuple. in groups of ten
decussate. forming an "X"
dedans. screened gallery for tennis tournament spectators
deepstructure. underlying structure that determines the semantic interpretation of a sentence
defalcate. embezzle, misprision
defeasance. voiding of a contract or deed; weasel words that permit it
defervescence. abatement of a fever
defilade. arrangement of a fortification to give protection from enfilading and other fire
definiens. word or words defining another word (This is a definiends.)
deflexed. bent downward at a sharp angle
deforce. to withhold by force from the rightful owner
deforcient. one who deforces
dégagé. relaxed, casual, free
deglutition. swallowing
degust. savor (sapid)
dehisce. to burst open
dehydratase. enzyme that removes oxygen and hydrogen in the ratio they occur in water
deictic. logic: directly proving by argument; ling.: "this"
dell. devil; mischief-maker
Deirdre. princess of Ulster who killed herself after her husband was murdered
dejecta. excrement
delaine. light fabric of wool, or cotton and wool
dele proofreader’s deletion mark
delict. a misdemeanor
deliquesce. to evanesce; to liquify, using moisture from the air
dells. river rapids
deltoid. arm covering top of shoulder
demandant. plaintiff
demand deposit. can be withdrawn without prior notice
demantoid. transparent green garnet gem
demarche. protest
Demeter. goddess of agriculture, fertility, and marriage
demeton. insecticide
demimonde. mistresses; prostitutes; fringe elements
demimondaine. a demirep
demisemiquaver. 1/32nd note
demission . relinquishment of office or function
demit. to relinquish
demiurge. Plato’s mindless deity; Gnostic creator of material world; Greek magistrate.
démodé. outmoded
demoiselle. young lady; crane; damselfly
demophobia. agoraphobia
demotic. popular; modern, colloquial Greek
demulcent. soothing; a mucous membrane painkiller
demurrage. detention of a freight car, etc., too long; fee paid for such 
dendriform. tree-structured
dendrochronology. tree rings
dendrology. study of trees
dene. sandy tract or dune by the seashore
denier. fineness unit for thread: 50 mg. per 450 meters; small medieval gold coin
dent corn. tall corn
dentigerous. bearing teeth
dentil. little blocks projecting beneath a cornice
dentulous. toothed
deodar. cedar
deontology. theory or study of moral obligations and commitments, ethics
Deo volente. God willing
depone. to testify or declare under oath
depose. depone
deracinate. uproot
dermatogen. outer layer of meristem from which the epidermis is formed
dermatoplasty. skin grafts
derogate. to take away from; to disparage; to go astray
derris. vines yielding rotenone (like cubé)
desideratum. something needed and desired
desman. mole-like, aquatic, insectivorous
desmid. algae
despiteous. full of spite
desquamate. shed, peel, or scale off
de Stijl. 1971, Netherlands, bright colors and rectangular shapes
destructor. incinerator; bomb
destrier. war-horse
destroying angel. poisonous mushroom
detent. pawl
detersive. detergent
detinue. action to recover property wrongfully detained; wrongful detention of same
de trop. too much, too many
Deucalion. Prometheus son. (Greek Noah) with wife, Pyrrha, survived flood and became father of race
deuteragonist. second actor
deuternopia. form of colorblindness
deuterocanonical. Old testament text considered canonical by orthodox Christianity and apocryphal by some
deuterogamy. second legal marriage
deutzia. flowering shrubs
Devanagari. Sanscrit and Indian alphabet
deverbative. noun derived from a verb ("worker"); suffix ("er" in "teacher")
Devi. appellation for all feminine Hindu deities, esp. Shiva’s wife
devilfish. manta
devilkin. little devil, imp
devil’s bit. blazing star
devil’s darning needle. dragonfly
devil’s paintbrush. orange hawkweed
devil’s walking stick. Hercules club
devilwood. hardwood Southern tree
devise. transmit real property via a will
devoir. act or expression of courtesy
dewan. Indian government official, esp., the prime minister
dewclaw. vestigial digit or claw
dextrorse. growing upward in a right-turning spiral
dharma. the ultimate law of all things
dhole. dog-like carnivorous animal
dhoti. loincloth
dhow. lateen-rigged
diabase. dark-gray to black, igneous, used for crushed stone and monuments
diableire. sorcery or witchcraft; representations in paintings or fiction
diachronic. study changes in phenomena, esp. language, as they change over time
diaconal. deacon, diaconate (rank or office of a deacon)
diacritical. distinguishing
diadelphous. having the filaments united to make two groups
diagenesis. changes in sediment as it metamorphoses into rock
diageotropism. tendency of roots to orient perpendicular to gravity
diakinesis. final stage of prophase in meiosis; choromosomal dispersion, disappearance of nucleolus
dialectic. The art of arriving at the truth by disclosing the contradictions in the opponent’s argument and overcoming them. The Hegelian process of change wherein an ideational entity, a thesis, is transformed into its opposite, an antithesis, and preserved and fulfilled by it, the combination of the two being resolved in a higher form of truth, a synthesis; Hegel’s critical method for the investigation of this process; Marxian dialectics; a method of argument that systematically weighs contradictory facts of ideas with a view to resolving their real or apparent contradictions.
dialectology. study of dialects
dialogic. of, or written in dialogue
diandrous two stamens
dianthus carnations and pinks
diapause. growth interruption (insects)
diapepedis. passing of blood through intact arteriole walls (stigmata)
diaphoresis. perspiration, esp. when copious and medically induced
diaphysis. the shaft of a long bone
diapophosis. the superior or articular surface of a transverse vertebral process
diarchy. two rulers
diarthrosis. bone articulation permitting free movement of joint
Diaspora. dispersion of Jews after Babylonian captivity; Jews living among Gentiles
diaspore. aluminum oxide used as abrasive and refractory
diastalsis. contractions of small intestine during digestion
diastase. amylases converting starch to maltose
diastasis. separation of certain bones during pregnancy without fracture
diastasis. last stage of diastole before contraction when little blood enters the filled ventricle
diastema. abnormally large spaces between teeth; bodily fissure or cleft
diastole. normal rhythmically occurring relaxation and contraction of heart while heart fills w. blood
diastrophism. process by which continents, mountains, ocean beds, folds and faults are formed
diatesseron. the four Gospels combined into a single narrative
diathesis. congenital, often hereditary predisposition of the body to disease of metabolic abnormality
diatonic. using only the 8 tones of a major or minor scale without chromatic deviations
diatron. diode circuit
diatropism. plant roots at right angles to an applied force
dibble. makes holes in the soil
dibranchiate. octopuses, cuttlefish, and squid
dicast. one of 6,000 Athenians chosen to sit in law courts (judge and juror)
dicentra. bleeding heart, Dutchman’s breeches
dicasium. a double cyme
dichogamous. having pistils and stamens that mature at different times, ensuring cross-fertilization
dick. a fellow
dickcissal. sparrow-like bird
dickey. blouse front, detachable shirt front, bib; donkey, bird; outside seats on carriage
diclinous. having stamens and pistils in separate flowers
dicrotism. doubling of the heartbeat
didapper. a small grebe
diddle. to jerk up and down, or back and forth; to shake rapidly; to cheat, swindle
didymium. mixture of rare-earth elements used in glass-making
didymus. occurring in pairs
didynamous. four stamens, occurring in pairs
diencephalon. back of forebrain, connecting the midbrain with the cerebral hemispheres
diaeresis. a mark (ë) placed over the 2nd of two adjacent vowels: 2 sounds to be pronounced
diesis. double dagger
diesinker. diemaker
Diesirae. Latin hymn describing Day of Judgement (Day of Wrath)
digametic. two gametes: male and female
digamma. Greek letter translated as w
dight. to dress, adorn
digraph. a pair of letters that makes a single speech sound
digitigrade. walking so that only the toes touch the ground (horses, cats, dogs)
dik-dik. very small African antelopes
dilatancy. The increase in volume of, e.g., wet sand, when subjected to a deformation.
dilatant. dilating
dilatometer. measures thermal expansion
dildo. priapic substitute
dillybag. Australian bag or basket woven of rushes or bark
dimeter. verse with two metrical feet
dim sum. light Chinese refreshments.
ding. to hammer into or at with repetitious talk
dingbat. small object for hurling
dink. dick
dinkey. a small locomotive used in a railroad yard
dinkum. genuine real, truly
dinoflagellate. marine protozoan. One of the principal constituents of plankton
diocese. bishopric
dioecious. male and female on separate flowers
Diomedes. prince of Argos, a hero at Troy
Dione. mother of Aphrodite by Zeus
Dionysius. God of wine and of orgiastic pleasures/ Roman: Bacchus
diophantine analysis. integral solutions of algebraic equations
diopside. gemstone and refractory
dioptrics. study of refraction of light
diorite. granite-textured, dark plagioclase, little quartz
Diocuri. Castor and Pollux, Leda’s sons, Helen and Clytemnestra’s brothers; Zeus turned into stars
diphycercal. tailfin. symmetrical vertebrae extend to tip
diphyodont. baby teeth and adult teeth
diplegia. paralysis on both sides of body
diploplastic. two distinct embryonic cellular layers
diplocardiac. twin-chambered heart
diploe. spongy, bony tissue between outer and inner bone layers of the cranium
diploid. having homologous pair of chromosomes, total being twice that of a gamete
diplomate. physician certified as a specialist by a board of examiners
diplomatics. diplomacy; branch of paleology devoted to study of authenticity of ancient documents
diplopod. millipedes
diplosis. formation of full somatic-cell chromosomal set by fusion of haploid set of gamete nuclei
dipnoan. lungfish
dipolar. having a dipole
dipterous. flies, mosquitoes: two wings, club-shaped balancing organs (halteres). Maple seeds
diptych. ancient two-leaved writing panel
diquat. water-weed herbicide
directrix. fixed curve traversed by a generatrix in generating a conic or cylinder; artillery trajectory; median
dirndl. full-skirted, tight bodice; full skirt
disambiguate. to establish a single grammatical interpretation
disannul. annul
disbranch. remove a branch
disbud. remove buds or horns
discalced. barefoot (monks)
discography. phonographic records
discombobulate. confuse
disintermediation  bypassing banks and loaning money directly
disoblige. to slight, inconvenience, etc.
displode. explode
disrate. demote
disseize. to unlawfully dispossess
disseizin. wrongful usurpation of powers of ownership
disseminule. reproductive plant part
dissilient. dehiscing
dissoluble. insoluble
dissolvent. solvent
distemper. dog disease; any disease; wall painting using gluey binder
distich. elegiac couplet having two rows of verses
distiches. leaves: two rows on opposite side of stem,
distrain. garnishee property for debts
distrait. inattentive because of anxiety
dithyramb. frenzied poetry, dance (Dionysius); irregular poetic expression suggestive of dithyramb
dittany. magical plant; stone mint; gas plant
divagate. ramble
divaricate. widely diverging
divertimento. 18th C. chamber music having several short movements
divertissement. short ballet or other performance given as an interlude; diversion
Dives. man of wealth
divisionism. colors divided into components and mechanically arranged. Eye organizes.
djelleba. hooded Moslem garment with full sleeves
dobson. hellgrammite
Docetism. holds that Christ had no human body and only appeared to have died on the cross
dock. tail or wages
dock. weedy plant
dockmackle. shrub, white flowers
dodder. to shake or tremble; to proceed in feeble manner
dodder. parasitic vines
dogbane. plant
dogberry. 1. Wild gooseberry. 
dog fennel. mayweed. strong-smelling
doggery. surly; riffraff; cheap bar
dogtooth. canine tooth
doit. Dutch coin, 1/4th cent, ambsace, cheese paring
dojo. martial arts school
dol. unit of pain, based upon application of heat to the skin
dolabriform. axe-head shaped
dolichocephalic. long head
dolittle. does little
Dolly Varden. 19th C. tight bodice, flowered skirt over brightly colored petticoat; trout
dolman. long Turkish outer robe woman’s coat with cape-like arm-pieces; hussar’s jacket
dolman sleeves. wide at top, narrow at bottom
dolmen. two or more upright stone with capstone, forming a chamber
doloroso. Mus.: mournful
Domesday Book. 1085 record of English landowners and their property
domical. dome-shaped
dominical. Christ as Lord; Sunday
dominie. minister; schoolmaster
Dominion Day. Canadian anniversary of 1867 dominion-ate
Dominique. chicken
dominium. ownership of property with right of disposition
Domatist. schismatic 4th C. Christian church
domatist. largesse or benefice
dong. dink
donjon. fortified main tower of a castle
doodlebug. divining rod; larva of ant lion
doppleganger. ghostly double that haunts one’s self
dorbeetle. dung beetle that flies with droning sound
Dorcas society. woman’s society that provides clothes for the poor
Dorian. invaded 100 B. C. Remained culturally, linguistically distinct (Sparta, Argosy, and Corinth)
Doric order. oldest, simplest Greek arch. baseless heavy fluted columns, plain saucer-shaped capitals
Dorking. chicken
dormin. abscissic acid
dormy. golf. ahead by as many holes as are left to play
dornick. coarse damask cloth
dornick. small chunk of rock
doronicum. plant leopard’s-bane
dorsoventral. extending from a dorsal to a ventral surface
dory. flat-bottomed, narrow, high sides
dory. walleye
dossal. ornamental hanging of rich fabric
dosser dossal; large pack basket see pannier)
Douey Bible. English translation of Latin Vulgate Bible
double-tongue. wind instrument, fast notes
double-tree. harness cross-piece
doublure. ornamental lining on inside of book: leather or vellum
doucer. cumshaw or bribe
dourine. venereal disease in horses
dovecote. apartment house for pigeons
dovekey. black-and-white Arctic seabird
dowitcher. northern sea bird
downhaul. rope for hauling down or securing sail or spar
downstage. front of stage
doxy. paramour
doyen, doyenne. most senior member
drabbit. coarse unbleached linen ("Dagnab it! I didn’t want drabbit!")
Draco. polar constellation (dragon)
dragée. trochee
dragger. fishing vessel that drags the bottom
draggletail. bedraggled woman
drag link. rod between steering wheel and wheels (Pitman rod?)
dragoman. guide in Arabic, Turkish, or Persian-speaking countries
dragonet. brightly-colored marine fishes
dragonhead. flower
dragon’s blood. resins
dragoon. heavily armed 17th and 18th C. trooper; to dragoon
dramaturge. playwright
Dravidian. India
drawing pin. thumbtack
drawn butter. melted butter
dray. a low heavy cart used for haulage
drayage. charge for transport by dray
dreck. excrement; trach
dreidel. Hannukah game of chance – four-sided top with Hebrew letters
dressage. guiding of horse through complex set of maneuvers by slight movements of weight, legs
dress circle. first balcony at the opera
drill. planting row; row of planted seeds
drill. heavy cotton drill
drill. mandrill
drogue. funnel-shaped sea anchor, parachute
droit. legal right
dromond. medieval sailing galley
–dromous. running, moving
drosera. sundew
droshky. open four-wheeled carriage
drumlin. streamlined hill or ridge of glacial drift
drupe. cherry, peach, plum (fleshy)
drupelet.  of raspberry
druse. crust of tiny crystals lining geode’s interior
Druse. primarily Moslem with elements of Christianity
dryopithecine. Miocene and Pleistocene (gorillas, chimps, and men)
drysalter. chemical products and dyes
Dubonnet. fortified sweet wine
ducking stool. ducked in water
ductule. little duct
dudeen. clay pipe
dudgeon. wood used in making knife handles
due bill. acknowledging indebtedness but not negotiable
duende. ability to attract others through personal magnetism and charm
duff. stiff flour pudding boiled in cloth bag
duff. croup
duffel. blanket fabric with nap on both sides; personal gear carried by a camper
dugong. marine mammal
dulker. small African antelope
Doukhobar. Russian Christian sect that emigrated to Canada to escape persecution
dumorteirite. used in spark plug porcelain and other refractories
dundrearies. long sideburns
Dunker. German Baptist Brethren (Pennsylvania Dutch)
dunlin. brown-and-white sandpiper
dunnage. loose packing material; personal belongings
duodecimo. page size formed by folding a page in two
dural. pertaining to dura mater.. 
duramen. heartwood
durbar. state reception in India
Durham. a shorthorn
durian. an Asiatic fruit tree
durmast. European oak
duroc. large red hog
durra. cereal grain
durum. hardy wheat
dust-up. row
dusty miller. plant
Dutch clover. white clover
Dutch courage. acquired from John Barleycorn
Dutchman’s breeches. flower
Dutchman’s pipe. pipe vine
Dutch metal oroide
duvetyn soft, short-napped, twill, any textile
dwarf cornet woody, flowers, fruit
Dyak Indonesian people
dybbuk wandering soul that enters body and controls behavior
dyer’s broom dyer’s greenweed
dyer’s rocket plant
dyer’s weed plant (dye)
dyewood wood used as dyestuff
dynast hereditary ruler
dyscrasia caused by poisons in the blood
dysgraphia writing impairment
dyslexia reading impairment
dyslogistic disapproving
dysmenorrhea difficult or painful menstruation
dyspeptic dyspeptic; morose
dyspagia swallowing
dysphonia speaking (hoarseness)
dysphoria anxiety, depression, and restlessness
dysplasia abnormal tissue development
dyspnea difficulty breathing
dysprosium rare-earth metal used in nuclear research
dysteleology purposelessness in nature; vestigial organs
dystopia opposite of utopia
dysuria difficult urination