Paraphernalia is a term of art from older law. Paraphernalia was the separate property of a married woman, such as clothing and jewelry "appropriate to her station", but excluding the assets that may have been included in her dower. The term originated in Roman law, but ultimately comes from Greek "παράφερνα" ("parapherna"), "beyond ("para") the dower ("phernē")".

These sorts of property were considered the separate property of a married woman under coverture. A husband could not sell, appropriate, or convey good title to his wife's assets considered paraphernalia without her separate consent. They did not become a part of her husband's estate upon his death, and could be conveyed by a married woman's will. [See, e.g., "Coffinberry v. Madden", 30 Ind.App. 360, 66 N.E. 64 (Ind.Ct.App. 1903); 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, sub. tit. "Paraphernalia"; "Black's Law Dictionary", 5th ed. (West, 1979) ISBN 0-8299-2041-2]

The legal concept of paraphernalia in this sense is an important plot point in Anthony Trollope's novel "The Eustace Diamonds"; in the novel, it was a matter of some consequence whether the title jewelry was an heirloom, property of the heirs, or a woman's paraphernalia, freely alienable by her. [Ch. 25, "Mr. Dove's opinion"] Changes in family law and inheritance law mirroring trends in the wider society, such as the several Married Woman's Property Acts of the various common law jurisdictions, have generally rendered the legal concept of paraphernalia obsolete.


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  • paraphernalia — originally denoted the personal property (Greek parapherna ‘things set apart [from a dowry]’) that a married woman was legally entitled to regard as her own. Over several centuries of use in English it has acquired the general meaning… …   Modern English usage

  • Paraphernalia — Par a*pher*na li*a, n. pl. [LL. paraphernalia bona, fr. L. parapherna, pl., parapherna, Gr. ?; para beside + ? a bride s dowry, fr. fe rein to bring. See 1st {Bear}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Law) Something reserved to a wife, over and above her dower …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • paraphernalia — I (apparatus) noun accessories, accompaniments, accouterments, apparatus, appliances, articles, attachments, contrivances, conveniences, equipage, equipment, gear, impedimenta, implements, instruments, material, supplies, tools, utensils II… …   Law dictionary

  • paraphernalia — (n.) 1650s, a woman s property besides her dowry, from M.L. paraphernalia (short for paraphernalia bona paraphernal goods ), neut. pl. of paraphernalis (adj.), from L.L. parapherna a woman s property besides her dowry, from Gk. parapherna, neuter …   Etymology dictionary

  • paraphernalia — [par΄ə fər nāl′yə, par΄ə fərnā′lē ə] pl.n. [ML, short for paraphernalia bona, wife s own goods < LL parapherna < Gr, bride s possessions beyond her dower < para , beyond (see PARA 1) + phernē, a dowry, portion < pherein, to BEAR1]… …   English World dictionary

  • Paraphernalia — (Singular Paraphernalium) ist abgeleitet vom Griechischen parapherna, welches sich aus den Wörtern para, neben und pherna, Mitgift zusammensetzt. Mit Paraphernalien bezeichnete man das persönliche Eigentum der Braut, welches neben der Mitgift in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • paraphernalia — apparatus, *equipment, machinery, outfit, tackle, gear, matériel …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • paraphernalia — [n] equipment, belongings accoutrements, apparatus, appurtenances, baggage, effects, equipage, gear, habiliments, impedimenta, impediments, machinery, material, materiel, outfit, regalia, stuff, tackle, things, trappings; concepts 446,496 …   New thesaurus

  • paraphernalia — ► NOUN (treated as sing. or pl. ) ▪ miscellaneous articles, especially the equipment needed for a particular activity. ORIGIN originally in the sense property owned by a married woman : from Latin, from Greek parapherna property apart from a… …   English terms dictionary

  • paraphernalia — [[t]pæ̱rəfə(r)ne͟ɪliə[/t]] 1) N UNCOUNT You can refer to a large number of objects that someone has with them or that are connected with a particular activity as paraphernalia. ...a large courtyard full of builders paraphernalia... Get rid of all …   English dictionary

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