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worddefinition
paedomorphosis In developmental biology, pedomorphosis (also spelled paedomorphosis) or juvenification is a phenotypic and/or genotypic change in which the adults of a species retain traits previously seen only in juveniles.
paideia In ancient Greek, the word paedeia or paideia (παιδεία) means child-rearing, education. It was a system of instruction in Classical Athens in which students were given a well-rounded cultural education. Subjects included rhetoric, grammar, mathematics, music, philosophy, geography, natural history, and gymnastics. Paedeia was the process of educating humans into their true form, the real and genuine human nature. Since self-government was important to the Greeks, paideia, combined with ethos (habits), made a man good and made him capable as a citizen or a king. This education was not about learning a trade or an art–which the Greeks called banausos, and which were considered mechanical tasks unworthy of a learned citizen–but was about training for liberty (freedom) and nobility (the beautiful). Paideia is the cultural heritage that is continued through the generations. The term paideia is probably best known to modern English-speakers through its use in the word encyclopedia, which is a combination of the Greek terms enkyklios, or "complete system/circle," and paideia.
paladin 1. A heroic champion (especially a knightly one). 2. A defender or advocate of a noble cause.
palanquin A covered litter or conveyance, usually for one person consisting of a large box with wooden shutters like Venetian blinds, carried by four or six (rarely two) men by means of poles projecting before and behind.
Palatinate A historical region of southwestern Germany, originally a territory of the Holy Roman Empire.
paleography Palaeography, also spelt paleography, (from Greek παλαιός palaiós, "old" and γράφειν graphein, "to write") is the study of ancient handwriting and the practice of deciphering and reading historical manuscripts.
palestra A public place in ancient Greece or Rome devoted to the training of wrestlers and other athletes.
palings A fence of pales or pickets.
palinopsia Palinopsia (Greek: palin for "again" and opsia for "seeing") is a visual disturbance that causes images to persist to some extent even after their corresponding stimulus has left.
palmyra Tall fan palm of Africa and India and Malaysia yielding a hard wood and sweet sap that is a source of palm wine and sugar; leaves used for thatching and weaving.
palynology Palynology is defined as "the study of microscopic objects of macromolecular organic composition (i.e. compounds of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen), not capable of dissolution in hydrochloric or hydrofluoric acids." It is the science that studies contemporary and fossil palynomorphs, including pollen, spores, orbicules, dinocysts, acritarchs, chitinozoans and scolecodonts, together with particulate organic matter (POM) and kerogen found in sedimentary rocks and sediments. Palynology does not include diatoms, foraminiferans or other organisms with siliceous or calcareous exoskeletons. Palynology is an interdisciplinary science and is a branch of earth science (geology or geological science) and biological science (biology), particularly plant science (botany). Stratigraphical palynology is a branch of micropalaeontology and paleobotany which studies fossil palynomorphs from the Precambrian to the Holocene.
palynomorph The geological term used to describe a particle of a size between five and 500 micrometres, found in rock deposits (sedimentary rocks) and composed of organic material such as chitin, pseudochitin and sporopollenin. The word is derived from Greek, meaning "strewn or sprinkled forms." Palynology is the study of palynomorph fossils and can be considered a subdiscipline of micropaleontology or paleobotany. Expressed more simply, palynology is the study of organic microfossils. Described palynomorphs are sometimes referred to as palynotaxa.
pandit A paṇḍit or pundit (Devanagari) is a scholar, a teacher, particularly one skilled in Sanskrit and Hindu law, religion, music or philosophy.
panegyric A panegyric is a formal public speech, or (in later use) written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical.
panentheism Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force), interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.
pangram A pangram (Greek: pan gramma, "every letter"), or holoalphabetic sentence, is a sentence using every letter of the alphabet at least once.
panjandrum 1. An important, powerful or influential person. 2. A self-important or pretentious person.
pannier A basket, esp. one of a pair carried by a beast of burden.
panpsychism In philosophy, panpsychism is the view that mind or soul (Greek: ψυχή) is a universal feature of all things, and the primordial feature from which all others are derived. The panpsychist sees him or herself as a mind in a world of minds. Panpsychism is one of the oldest philosophical theories, and can be ascribed to philosophers like Thales, Plato, Spinoza, Leibniz and William James. Panpsychism can also be seen in eastern philosophies such as Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism. During the 19th century, Panpsychism was the default theory in philosophy of mind, but it saw a decline during the latter half of the 20th century with the rise of logical positivism. The recent interest in the hard problem of consciousness has once again made panpsychism a mainstream theory.
panvitalism 1. Belief that all things are part of a single living universe. 2. Belief that all things in the universe are alive.
paracosm A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world involving humans and/or animals, or perhaps even fantasy or alien creations. Often having its own geography, history, and language, it is an experience that is developed during childhood and continues over a long period of time: months or even years.
paradiddle A percussive exercise (one of 26 drum rudiments) which involves playing four even strokes in the order 'right left right right' or 'left right left left.'
paranosic Refers to the relief from anxiety afforded by development of neurotic symptoms, i.e. interpersonal, social, or financial advantages from the conversion of emotional stress directly into demonstrably organic illnesses (for example, hysterical blindness or paralysis). Opposite of secondary gain.
parataxis A literary technique, in writing or speaking, that favors short, simple sentences, without the use of coordinating or subordinating conjunctions. It can be contrasted with hypotaxis.
paratenic In parasitology, the term paratenic describes a host that is not necessary for the development of a particular species of parasite, but nonetheless may happen to serve to maintain the life cycle of that parasite. In contrast to its development in a secondary host, a parasite in a paratenic host does not undergo any changes into the following stages of its development. Alaria americana may serve as an example: the so-called mesocercarial stages of this parasite reside in tadpoles, which are rarely eaten by the definitive canine host. The tadpoles are more frequently preyed on by snakes, in which the mesocercariae may not undergo further development. However, the parasites may accumulate in the snake paratenic host and infect the definitive host once the snake is consumed by a canid.
paregoric Paregoric, or camphorated tincture of opium, also known as tinctura opii camphorata, is a medication known for its antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic properties. It was a household remedy in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was widely used to calm fretful children.
pareidolia A psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek words para (παρά, "beside, alongside, instead"), in this context meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of; and the noun eidōlon (εἴδωλον "image, form, shape") the diminutive of eidos. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, seeing patterns in random data.
parergon In painting, something subordinate to the main theme; subordinate piece of work.
paresis Paresis is a condition typified by partial loss of movement, or impaired movement. When used without qualifiers, it usually refers to the limbs, but it also can be used to describe the muscles of the eyes (ophthalmoparesis) and also the stomach (gastroparesis).
Particell Unter Particell versteht man den notierten Entwurf eines Musikstücks, der nicht als fertige Partitur aufgeschrieben ist, sondern in einigen wenigen Notensystemen die Verteilung der Stimmen skizziert. In den einzelnen Systemen werden Anmerkungen zur späteren Ausführung gemacht, anhand derer die endgültige Instrumentation vorgenommen werden kann, die dann in der Partitur notiert wird. Auch ein erweiterter Klavierauszug, bei dem einzelne signifikante Orchesterstimmen in einem oder mehreren Extra-Systemen notiert sind, wird Particell genannt.
particularism 1. Exclusive adherence to, dedication to, or interest in one's own group, party, sect, or nation. 2. A principle of allowing each state in a nation or federation to act independently of the central authority, especially in promoting its own economic interests.
paskudnyak Ugly, revolting, horrible, evil person; nasty fellow.
pasquinade A lampoon, originally as published in public; a satire or libel on someone.
passamezzo Danse italienne particulièrement pratiquée dans la première moitié du XVIème siècle. Son nom vient du fait que les couples de danseurs qui la pratique passe par le milieu de la salle.
passim 1. Used to refer to cited works. 2. Throughout or frequently; here and there. 3. In various places.
paten A plate, typically made of gold or silver, used for holding the bread during the Eucharist and sometimes as a cover for the chalice.
path dependence Path dependence explains how the set of decisions one faces for any given circumstance is limited by the decisions one has made in the past, even though past circumstances may no longer be relevant.
pathogenic Of vocal music, "passion-born" in which the melody dominates, being completely independent of verbal syntax or meaning, and thus often deficient in tonality as well. Pathogenic music is characteristic of primitive and folk cultures.
patrilocal Of or relating to a pattern of marriage in which the couple settles in the husband's home or community.
patristic Of or relating to the writings of the early church fathers.
pavise A large square shield, developed in the 15th century, at first portable but later heavy and set up in a permanent position.
pavonine 1. Iridescent, like the tail of a peacock. 2. Tarnish found on some ores and metals which resembles the tail feathers of a peacock.
pawky Having or showing a sly sense of humor.
peculation The wrongful appropriation or embezzlement of shared or public property, usually by a person entrusted with the guardianship of that property.
pelf Money; riches; gain; especially when dishonestly acquired.
pelisse 1. A pelisse was originally a short fur lined or fur trimmed jacket that was usually worn hanging loose over the left shoulder of hussar light cavalry soldiers, ostensibly to prevent sword cuts. It was fastened there using a lanyard. 2. A fur lined or fur robe or gown; A silk gown formerly worn by women, often lined or trimmed with fur; An overgarment worn by Victorian children when outside.
pelorus In appearance and use, a pelorus resembles a compass or compass repeater, with sighting vanes or a sighting telescope attached, but it has no directive properties. That is, it remains at any relative direction to which it is set. It is generally used by setting 000° at the lubber's line. Relative bearings are then observed. They can be converted to bearings true, magnetic, grid, etc., by adding the appropriate heading. The direct use of relative bearings is sometimes of value. A pelorus is useful, for instance, in determining the moment at which an aid to navigation is broad on the beam. It is also useful in measuring pairs of relative bearings which can be used to determine distance off and distance abeam of a navigational aid.
peneplain A peneplain is a low-relief plain representing the final stage of fluvial erosion during times of extended tectonic stability.
pennon A long triangular or swallow-tailed flag, esp. as the military ensign of lancer regiments. A pennon was one of the principal three varieties of flags carried during the Middle Ages (the other two were the banner and the standard).
pentadactyl Having five digits on a limb.
perfervid Extremely, excessively, or feverishly passionate; zealous.
pergola A framework in the form of a passageway of columns that supports a trelliswork roof; used to support and train climbing plants.
pericope A pericope (pronounced /pəˈrɪkəpi/) (Greek περικοπή, "a cutting-out") in rhetoric is a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought, thus forming a short passage suitable for public reading from a text, now usually of sacred scripture.
peripatetic The Peripatetics were members of a school of philosophy in ancient Greece. Their teachings derived from their founder, the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, and Peripatetic (Greek: περιπατητικός) is a name given to his followers. The name refers to the act of walking, and as an adjective, "peripatetic" is often used to mean itinerant, wandering, meandering, or walking about.
periphrasis The use of an unnecessarily long or roundabout form of expression; circumlocution.
peristyle A continuous covered colonnade. The colonnade of the Parthenon is an example.
persiflage Good-natured banter; raillery; frivolous, lighthearted discussion of a topic.
pescetarian Someone who does not eat meat, but does eat fish.
pessary 1. A small soluble block that is inserted into the vagina to treat infection or as a contraceptive. 2. An elastic or rigid device that is inserted into the vagina to support the uterus.
petrichor Petrichor (from Greek petros "stone" + ichor "gods' blood") is the name of the scent of rain on dry earth.
pettifogger 1. Someone who quibbles over trivia, and raises petty, annoying objections. 2. An unscrupulous or unethical lawyer, especially one of lesser skill.
PEX Cross-linked polyethylene. PEX tubing is commonly used for hydronic radiant floor heat, but increasingly also used for water supply lines.
phanariot Phanariots, Phanariotes, or Phanariote Greeks (Greek:Φαναριώτες, Romanian: Fanarioţi, Bulgarian: Фанариоти) were members of those prominent Greek (including Hellenized Romanian and Albanian) families residing in Phanar (Φανάρι, modern Fener), the chief Greek quarter of Constantinople, where the Ecumenical Patriarchate is situated. For all their cosmopolitanism and often western (sometimes Roman Catholic) education, the Phanariots were aware of their Hellenism. Phanariots emerged as a class of moneyed ethnically Greek merchants (they commonly claimed noble Byzantine descent) in the latter half of the 16th century and went on to exercise great influence in the administration in the Ottoman Empire's Balkan domains in the 18th century.
pharisaic 1. Of or pertaining to the Pharisees; Pharisaical; of a person or practice that emphasizes the observance of ritual or practice over the meaning; Self-righteous. 2. Hypocritically self-righteous and condemnatory.
phelonion The phelonion (plural phelonia), is a liturgical vestment worn by a priest of the Eastern Christian tradition.
phenotype A phenotype is any observable characteristic or trait of an organism: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, or behavior.
philauty Selfishness.
philippic A philippic is a fiery, damning speech, or tirade, delivered to condemn a particular political actor. The term originates with Demosthenes, who delivered several attacks on Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC.
philology Philology considers both form and meaning in linguistic expression, combining linguistics and literary studies. Classical philology is the philology of the Greek, Latin and Sanskrit languages. Classical philology is historically primary, originating in European Renaissance Humanism, but was soon joined by philologies of other languages both European (Germanic, Celtic, Slavistics, etc.) and non-European (Sanskrit, Oriental languages such as Persian or Arabic, Chinese etc.). Indo-European studies involves the philology of all Indo-European languages as comparative studies.
philosophaster A pretender to philosophy; a petty or charlatan philosopher.
phimosis A congenital narrowing of the opening of the foreskin so that it cannot be retracted.
phocine Of or relating to seals.
phonatory Of or related to phonation, the production of vocal sounds, especially speech.
phthisis Tuberculosis.
phyletism Phyletism (from Greek φυλετικός phyletikos from φυλή phyle "race, tribe") is the principle of nationalities applied in the ecclesiastical domain: in other words, the confusion between Church and nation. The term ethnophyletismos designates the idea that a local autocephalous Church should be based not on a local [ecclesial] criterion, but on an ethnophyletist, national or linguistic one. It was used at the Holy and Great [Μείζων Meizon "enlarged"] pan-Orthodox Synod in Constantinople on the 10th of September 1872 to qualify "phyletist (religious) nationalism," which was condemned as a modern ecclesial heresy: the Church should not be confused with the destiny of a single nation or a single race.
phylogenesis The sequence of events involved in the evolutionary development of a species or taxonomic group of organisms.
pied-à-terre Lodging for occasional or secondary use.
pietism A 17th and 18th-century German movement in the Lutheran Church emphasizing personal commitment, Bible reading, and spiritualism over liturgical rituals and deeds.
pig in a poke Pig-in-a-poke is an idiom that refers to a confidence trick originating in the Late Middle Ages, when meat was scarce but cats were not. The scheme entailed the sale of a suckling pig in a poke (bag). The wriggling bag would actually contain a cat (not particularly prized as a source of meat) that was sold to the victim in an unopened bag. The French term acheter (un) chat en poche (to buy a cat in a bag) refers to an actual sale of this nature, as do many European equivalents, while the English expression refers to the appearance of the trick. A common colloquial expression in the English language, to buy a pig in a poke is to make a risky purchase without inspecting the item beforehand. The phrase can also be applied to accepting an idea or plan without a full understanding of its basis.
pigmentocracy Government by or social hierarchy of those with a certain skin tone, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.
pilaster A pilaster is a slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall. Most commonly flattened or rectangular in form, pilasters can also take a half-round form or the shape of any type of column, including tortile.
pineal gland The pineal gland, also known as the pineal body, conarium or epiphysis cerebri, is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions. Its shape resembles a tiny pine cone (hence its name), and it is located near the centre of the brain, between the two hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies join. Nearly all vertebrate species possess a pineal gland. The most important exception is the hagfish, which is often thought of as the most primitive type of vertebrate. Even in the hagfish, though, there may be a "pineal equivalent" structure in the dorsal diencephalon. The lancelet amphioxus, the nearest existing relative to vertebrates, also lacks a recognizable pineal gland. The lamprey, however (considered almost as primitive as the hagfish), does possess one. A few "higher" types of vertebrates, including the alligator, lack pineal glands because they have been lost over the course of evolution. The gland has been compared to the photoreceptive parietal eye in some animal species, and in mysticism, the gland has been referred to as the "third eye," with René Descartes believing it to be the "principal seat of the soul."
piquet A trick-taking card game for two players. Pronounced "pee-kay" in France, it is usually pronounced "picket" in English speaking countries.
placet A vote or expression of assent by saying the word placet.
plagal Designating a mode lying a perfect fourth below the authentic form; Designating a cadence in which the subdominant chord precedes the tonic.
planchette A small board supported on casters, typically heart-shaped and fitted with a vertical pencil, used for automatic writing and in seances.
plasmon In physics, a plasmon is a quantum of plasma oscillation. The plasmon is a quasiparticle resulting from the quantization of plasma oscillations just as photons and phonons are quantizations of light and mechanical vibrations, respectively (though the photon is an elementary particle, not a quasiparticle). Thus, plasmons are collective oscillations of the free electron gas density, for example, at optical frequencies. Plasmons can couple with a photon to create another quasiparticle called a plasma polariton. Since plasmons are the quantization of classical plasma oscillations, most of their properties can be derived directly from Maxwell's equations.
plastron 1. The plastron is the nearly flat part of the shell structure of a turtle or tortoise, what one would call the belly, similar in composition to the carapace; with an external layer of horny material divided into plates called scutes and an underlying layer of interlocking bones. 2. An armor metal breastplate or the fur front of the sideless surcoat worn by medieval ladies.
pledget A small flat absorbent pad used to medicate, drain, or protect a wound or sore. Pledgets can be made from cotton or wool.
plurality In voting, a plurality is the largest number of votes to be received by any candidate or proposition when three or more choices are possible.
pluripotent 1. In the broad sense refers to "having more than one potential outcome." In biological systems, this can refer either to cells or to biological compounds. 2. Able to develop into or effect any (or most) cell type i.e. not restricted to a specific system.
po-faced Wearing a particularly stern and disapproving expression; humorless; priggish.
pococurante Apathetic, indifferent or nonchalant.
podzolization A process of soil formation, especially in humid regions and often under coniferous or mixed forest, involving principally leaching of the upper layers with accumulation of material in lower layers and development of a group of soils (the soils are called podzols) that have an organic mat and a thin organic-mineral layer above a gray leached layer resting on a dark illuvial horizon enriched with amorphous clay.
poetaster Poetaster, like rhymester or versifier, is a contemptuous name often applied to bad or inferior poets. Specifically, poetaster has implications of unwarranted pretentions to artistic value.
poltroon An ignoble or arrant coward; a dastard; a craven; a mean-spirited wretch.
polyalphabetic cipher A polyalphabetic cipher is any cipher based on substitution, using multiple substitution alphabets. The Vigenère cipher is probably the best-known example of a polyalphabetic cipher, though it is a simplified special case. The Enigma machine is more complex but still fundamentally a polyalphabetic substitution cipher.
polynya A semipermanent area of open water in sea ice. Polynyas are generally believed to be of two types. Coastal polynyas characteristically lie just beyond landfast ice, i.e., ice that is anchored to the coast and stays in place throughout the winter. They are thought to be caused chiefly by persistent local offshore winds, such as the foehn, or katabatic (downward-driving), winds typically found off the coasts of Greenland and Antarctica. Open-ocean polynyas, the larger and longer-lasting of the two types, form within the ice cover and are believed to be caused by the upwelling of deep warmer water. This type is best exemplified by the vast Weddell Polynya in the antarctic Weddell Sea.
polyphyletic Having multiple ancestral sources; referring to a taxon that does not contain the most recent common ancestor of its members.
polysemy Diversity of meanings.
pomander From the French pomme d'ambre, a hollow, perforated sphere containing a waxed perfumed ball impregnated with scent, such as ambergris, musk, cloves, or hartshorn. Men wore pomanders suspended from a chain; women attached them to their girdles. Especially fashionable in the 16th century.
pondok (in southern Africa) A crudely made house built of tin sheet, reeds, etc.
porphyria A rare hereditary disease in which the blood pigment hemoglobin is abnormally metabolized.
porphyry The hardest of the antique Marbles, and the finest, after the Lapis. There are red, green, and grey porphyries.
portecochere A porte-cochere (French porte-cochère, literally "coach door", also called a carriage porch) is the architectural term for a porch or portico-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building, through which it is possible for a horse and carriage or motor vehicle to pass, in order for the occupants to alight under cover, protected from the weather.
portière A portière is a hanging placed over a door or over the doorless entrance to a room. Its name is derived from the French word for door, porte. From Asia it came to Europe at a remote date. It is known to have been in use in Europe in the 4th century , and was probably introduced much earlier.
positivism 1. Positivism is an epistemological perspective and philosophy of science which holds that the only authentic knowledge is that which is based on sense experience and positive verification. 2. A doctrine that states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method, refusing every form of metaphysics. 3. A school of thought in jurisprudence in which the law is seen as separated from moral values, i.e. the law is posited by lawmakers (humans).
positronic 1. Of or pertaining to positrons. 2. A positronic brain is a fictional technological device, originally conceived by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Its role is to serve as a central computer for a robot, and, in some unspecified way, to provide it with a form of consciousness recognizable to humans. When Asimov wrote his first robot stories in 1939/1940, the positron was a newly discovered particle and so the buzz word positronic, coined by analogy with electronic, added a contemporary gloss of popular science to the concept.
posse comitatus Posse comitatus is the common-law or statute law authority of a county sheriff or other law officer to conscript any able-bodied males to assist him in keeping the peace or to pursue and arrest a felon, similar to the concept of the "hue and cry." Originally found in English common law, it is generally obsolete; however, it survives in the United States, where it is the law enforcement equivalent of summoning the militia for military.
posthorn The post horn (also posthorn, post-horn, or coach horn) is a valveless cylindrical brass or copper instrument with cupped mouthpiece, used to signal the arrival or departure of a post rider or mail coach. It was used especially by postilions of the 18th and 19th centuries.
postilion A postilion (or postillion, occasionally Anglicized to "post-boy") rider was the driver of a horse-drawn coach or post chaise, mounted on one of the drawing horses. By contrast, a coachman would be mounted on the vehicle along with the passengers.
postulant 1. A person who submits a petition; a petitioner. 2. A person seeking admission to a religious order.
pot-au-feu French dish of meat and vegetables cooked in broth. The broth is consumed first as a soup.
Poujadism A conservative reactionary movement to protect the business interests of small traders.
poulterer A dealer in poultry and, typically, game.
Pramnian A wine from the island of Lesbos. The most noted Lesbian wine was known as Pramnian which draws similarities today to the Hungarian wine Eszencia. The popularity of Lesbian wine continued into Roman times where it was highly valued along with other Aegean wines of Chios, Thasos and Kos.
precession The wobbling motion of the axis of a spinning body when there is an external force acting on the axis; The slow gyration of the earth's axis around the pole of the ecliptic, caused mainly by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon.
prelapsarian Of or relating to the time before the Fall of Adam and Eve.
prepotent 1. Greater than others in power or influence. 2. (of a breeding animal) Effective in transmitting hereditary characteristics to its offspring.
presentment 1. An accusation of crime made by a grand jury on its own initiative. 2. A document that must be accepted and paid by another person.
press gang A body of men employed to force others into military or naval service.
prion A prion is an infectious agent composed of protein in a misfolded form. This is in contrast to all other known infectious agents (virus/bacteria/fungus/parasite) which must contain nucleic acids (either DNA, RNA, or both). The word prion, coined in 1982 by Stanley B. Prusiner, is a portmanteau derived from the words protein and infection. Prions are responsible for the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in a variety of mammals, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as "mad cow disease") in cattle and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. All known prion diseases affect the structure of the brain or other neural tissue and all are currently untreatable and universally fatal. Prions propagate by transmitting a misfolded protein state. When a prion enters a healthy organism, it induces existing, properly-folded proteins to convert into the disease-associated, prion form; the prion acts as a template to guide the misfolding of more protein into prion form. These newly-formed prions can then go on to convert more proteins themselves, this triggers a chain reaction that produces large amounts of the prion form.
privateer A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime.
pro tanto Partial fulfillment. Pro tanto is normally used in relation to the partial satisfaction of a claim.
procatalepsis Procatalepsis, also called prebuttal, is a figure of speech in which the speaker raises an objection to his own argument and then immediately answers it. By doing so, he hopes to strengthen his argument by dealing with possible counter-arguments before his audience can raise them.
procurator A high ranking official in the Roman province, who dealt with matters of finance such as taxes. He also looked after the emperor's estates and was directly responsible to the emperor.
prodrome A premonitory symptom.
prokaryote The prokaryotes (singular prokaryote ) are a group of organisms that lack a cell nucleus (karyon), or any other membrane-bound organelles. They differ from the eukaryotes, which have a cell nucleus.
prolapse Prolapse literally means "to fall out of place," from the Latin prolabi meaning "to fall out." In medicine, prolapse is a condition where organs, such as the uterus, fall down or slip out of place. It is used for organs protruding through the vagina or the rectum or for the misalignment of the valves of the heart. A spinal disc herniation is also sometimes called "disc prolapse." Relating to the uterus, prolapse condition results in an inferior extension of the organ into the vagina, causing weakened muscles.
prolation Prolation is a term used in the theory of medieval music to describe its rhythmic structure on a small scale. The term is derived from the Latin prolatio, first used by Philippe de Vitry in describing Ars Nova, a musical style that came about in 14th-century France.
proprioception Proprioception, from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own" and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement. It is distinguished from exteroception, by which we perceive the outside world, and interoception, by which we perceive pain, hunger, etc., and the movement of internal organs.
prorogue To suspend a parliamentary session or to discontinue the meetings of a parliament without formally ending the session.
prosneusis The position-angle of the part of the moon first eclipsed.
prosody 1. The study of rhythm, intonation, stress, and related attributes in speech. 2. The study of poetic meter; the patterns of sounds and rhythms in verse.
prosopagnosia Prosopagnosia (sometimes known as face blindness) is a disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact. The term originally referred to a condition following acute brain damage, but recently a congenital form of the disorder has been identified, which is inherited by about 2.5% of the population.
protoctists A diverse group of eukaryotic microorganisms. Historically, protists were treated as the kingdom Protista but this group is no longer recognized in modern taxonomy.
proxemics The study of personal space: the study of the distance individuals maintain between each other in social interaction and its significance.
pruritus The medical term for itching.
psaltery An ancient stringed instrument similar to the lyre or zither but having a trapezoidal sounding board under the strings.
psephology The branch of sociology that studies election trends, as by opinion polls.
psychopomp Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage. Frequently depicted on funerary art, psychopomps have been associated at different times and in different cultures with horses, Whip-poor-wills, ravens, dogs, crows, owls, sparrows, cuckoos, and harts.
ptyalism Ptyalism (also known as drooling, driveling, flobidising, sialorrhea, or slobbering) is when saliva flows outside the mouth. Drooling is generally caused by excess production of saliva, inability to retain saliva within the mouth, or problems with swallowing.
publican 1. A person who owns or manages a pub. 2. In ancient Roman and biblical times, a collector of taxes.
puce Puce (often misspelled as "puse","peuse" or "peuce") is a color that is defined as ranging from reddish-brown to purplish-brown, with the latter being the more widely-accepted definition found in reputable sources.
pudic 1. Easily ashamed, having a strong sense of shame; modest, chaste. 2. Pertaining to the pudendum or external genital organs; pudendal.
pullulate To rapidly multiply; to germinate; to teem with; to be filled with.
pulque A fermented milkish drink made from the juice of certain species of agave in Mexico.
puls (Latin) A porridge made from ground wheat that could be used as the main meal of the Roman day.
punji stick The Punji stick or Punji stake is a type of booby trapped stake. It is a simple spike, made out of wood or bamboo, generally placed upright in the ground.
pygidium The caudal plate of trilobites, crustacea, and certain insects.
pyrophoric A chemical substance that will ignite spontaneously in air at or below a temperature of 130ºF (54.4ºC).
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