Bob, Getting back from hiraeth to your original question (I gotta do what I gotta do!), here’s a definition plus two etymologies the first of which I find unthrilling.
RANDOM HOUSE WEBSTER’S UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY
: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
1) Equipment, apparatus, or furnishing used in or necessary for a particular activity: a skier's paraphernalia
2) Personal belongings.
. The personal articles, apart from dower, reserved by law to a married woman. . [[Wikipedia
: “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.”]]
DICTIONARY OF WORD ORIGINS
by John Ayto [[noted lexicographer]]
: In former times, when a woman married, her property was divided into two categories: her dowry, which became the property of her husband, and the rest. It was a measure of the light in which these remaining odds and ends were viewed that by the early 18th century the term paraphernalia
had come to be used dismissively for ‘equipment’ or ‘impedimenta [[impedimenta
: Objects, such as provisions or baggage, that impede or encumber]]’
In the above etymology, what about after the early 18th century? Also, I can see ‘the rest’ being characterized as ‘odds and ends’(see OED
below) and I can see how such odds and ends might at one time have been viewed ‘dismissively,’ but not anymore, as far as I know. And the connection to ‘equipment,’ or ‘impedimenta’ seems tenuous.
OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY
): Articles of personal property, especially clothing and ornaments [[miscellaneous articles]], which (exceptionally at common law) did not automatically transfer from the property of the wife to the husband by virtue of the marriage. In English and Scottish Common law, under which all personal or movable property of a wife was vested ipso jure
in the husband, the paraphernalia
became restricted to such purely personal belongings of a wife as dress, jewels, and the like [[odds and ends]] . . . .
2) Originally: Items belonging to a particular person, especially
articles of dress or adornment; trappings, bits and pieces, accoutrements. Subsequently: the miscellaneous items needed for or associated with a particular activity.
I think that maybe the OED
should have reserved the word ‘originally’ for the historical law definition:
Personal belongings of a wife such as dress, jewels, and the like (historical law)→Items belonging to a particular person (articles of dress or adornment, trappings, bits and pieces, accoutrements)→Miscellaneous items (equipment) a person needs or which are associated with a particular activity — And voila! Well, not quite, but it's my best shot. (<:)
The earliest modern-sounding OED
quote that fits the ‘subsequently’ definition in #2 is from 1791, in agreement with the Online Etymology Dictionary
. However, one might also say that the ‘thunder and lightning’ of the 1736 quote are items associated with a particular activity – playing a ghost on the stage.
The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary
and archived sources:
<1736 “[Thunder and lightning] are indeed properly the Paraphernalia of a Ghost [on the stage].”—Pasquin by H. Fielding, iv. page 49>
<1746 “A Lady whose Paraphanalia fill'd up three Fourths of the Breadth of the principal Walk.”—The British Magazine, page 257> [[#2 - Items belonging to a particular person . . .]]
<1791 “Bridles, saddles, and other equestrian paraphernalia.”—Annals of Horsemanship by ‘G. Gambado, iii. page 12>
<1877 “The long-tasseled student cap on his head, the unnecessary ‘pinchers’ on his nose, and . . . the other traditional paraphernalia of the Norwegian student.”—Tales from Two Hemispheres by H. H. Boysen, page 183>
<1954 “All the paraphernalia that Europeans travel with in India—bedding rolls, ice boxes, . . .”—Bhowani Junction by J. Masters, xxv. Page 210>
<1976 “A curved desk with all the paraphernalia of a busy receptionist.”—The Multiple Man (1977) by B. Bova, vi. page 66>
<1995 “. . . I installed a weight-driven clock in the tower of our parish church. I had no difficulty finding the necessary weights, pulleys and other paraphernalia . . . ”—The Independent (London), 4 January>
<2005 “The Super Bowl boosted sales, particularly in the discount sector [and] led customers to stock up on party goods and football paraphernalia.”—International Herald Tribune, 5 March>
<2013 “Beasley was arrested a month ago in suburban Scottsdale on charges of felony marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.”—Washington Post (D.C.), 4 September>
Ken – September 5, 2013