Dictionary: O – OATH'A-BLE

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is the fifteenth letter, and the fourth vowel in the English alphabet. The shape of this letter seems to have been taken from the circular configuration of the lips in uttering the sound. It corresponds in figure with the Coptic O, and nearly with the Syriac initial and final vau, and the Ethiopic ain. In words derived from the Oriental languages, it often represents the vau of those languages, and sometimes the ain; the original sound of the latter being formed deep in the throat, and with a greater aperture of the mouth. In English, O has a long sound, as in tone, hone, groan, cloke, roll, droll; a short sound, as in lot, plod, rod, song, lodge, and the sound of oo, or the Italian u, and French ou, as in move, prove. This sound is shortened in words ending in a close articulation, as in book, foot. The long sound of O, is usually denoted by e, at the end of a word or syllable, as in bone, lonely; or by a servile a, as in moan, foal. It is generally long before ll, as in roll; but it is short in doll, loll, and in words of more syllables than one, as in folly, volley. As a numeral, O was sometimes used by the ancients for 11, and with a dash over it, Ō, for 11,000. Among the Irish, O prefixed to the name of a family, denotes progeny, or is a character of dignity; as, O'Neil; O'Carrol. Among the ancients, O was a mark of triple time, from the notion that the ternary or number 3, is the most perfect of numbers, and properly expressed by a circle, the most perfect figure. O is often used as an exclamation, expressing a wish. O, were he present. Dryden. It sometimes expresses surprise. Shakspeare uses O for a circle or oval. Within this wooden O. O. S. stand for Old Style.

OAD, n. [For Woad.]

[Not used.]

OAF, n. [said to be a corruption of ouph or elf, a fairy or demon, and to denote a foolish child left by fairies in the place of one of better intellects which they steal. Johnson.]

  1. A changeling; a foolish child left by fairies in the place of another. Drayton.
  2. A dolt; an idiot; a blockhead.


Stupid; dull; doltish. [Little used.]


Stupidity; dullness; folly. [Little used.]

OAK, n. [Sax. ac, æc; D. eik, or eikboom; G. eiche or eichbaum; Sw. ek; Dan. eege-træe, oak-tree. It is probable that the first syllable, oak, was originally an adjective expressing some quality, as hard or strong, and by the disuse of tree, oak became the name of the tree.]

A tree of the genus Quercus, or rather the popular name of the genus itself, of which there are several species. The white oak grows to a great size, and furnishes a most valuable timber; but the live oak of the United States is the most durable timber for ships. In Hartford still stands the venerable oak, in the hollow stem of which was concealed and preserved the colonial charter of Connecticut, when Sir E. Andros, by authority of a writ of quo warranto from the British crown, attempted to obtain possession of it, in 1687. As it was then a large tree, it must now be nearly three hundred years old.


A kind of spungy excrescence on oak leaves or tender branches, &c. produced in consequence of the puncture of an insect. It is called also oak-leaf gall. Bacon. Encyc.

OAK'EN, a. [o'kn.]

  1. Made of oak or consisting of oak; as, an oaken plank or bench; an oaken bower. Milton.
  2. Composed of branches of oak; as, an oaken garland. Addison.


An apple, so called from its hardness. Mortimer.


A young oak. Evelyn.

OAK'UM, n. [Sax. æcemba, æcumbe, tow. The latter part of the word may be Sax. cemb, a comb.]

The substance of old ropes untwisted and pulled into loose hemp; used for milking the seams of ships, stopping leaks, &c. That formed from untarred ropes is called white oakum.

OAK'Y, a. [from oak.]

Hard; firm; strong. Hall.

OAR, n. [Sax. ar; Sw. åra; Norm. ower.]

An instrument for rowing boats, being a piece of timber round or square at one end, and flat at the other. The round end is the handle, and the flat end the blade. To boat the oars, in seamanship, to cease rowing and lay the oars in the boat. To ship the oars, to place them in the row-locks. To unship the oars, to take them out of the row-locks. Mar. Dict.

OAR, v.i.

To row. Pope.

OAR, v.t.

To impel by rowing.

OAR'ED, pp.

Impelled by rowing.


Having feet for oars, as certain animals. [Burnett. 1841]

OAR'Y, a.

Having the form or use of an oar; as, the swan's oary feet. Milton. Addison.

O'A-SIS, n.

A fertile place in a sandy or barren desert. This name is that of four places in Egypt; two of them are Oasis magna, lat. 26° north, and Oasis parva, half a degree north of the other. Russell. D'Anville. Bruce.

OAST, or OST, n. [or OUST; qu. Gr. εστια, or L. ustus.]

A kiln to dry hops or malt. Mortimer.

OAT, n. [Sax. ate, oat or cockle, darnel; Russ. oves or ovetzi.]

A plant of the genus Avena, and more usually, the seed of the plant. The word is commonly used in the plural, oats. This plant flourishes best in cold latitudes, and degenerates in the warm. The meal of this grain, oatmeal, forms a considerable and very valuable article of food for man in Scotland, and every where oats are excellent food for horses and cattle.


A cake made of the meal of oats. Peacham.

OAT'EN, a. [o'tn.]

  1. Made of oatmeal; as, oaten cakes.
  2. Consisting of an oat straw or stem; as, an oaten pipe. Milton.

OATH, n. [Sax. ath; Goth. aiths; D. eed; G. eid; Sw. ed; Dan. æed.]

A solemn affirmation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed. The appeal to God in an oath, implies that the person imprecates his vengeance and renounces his favor if the declaration is false; or if the declaration is a promise, the person invokes the vengeance of God if he should fail to fulfill it. A false oath is called perjury.


Capable of having an oath administered to. [Not used.] Shak.