• synonyms


[pah-rah, pahr-ah]
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noun, plural pa·ras, pa·ra.
  1. a former copper coin of Turkey, the 40th part of a piaster.

Origin of para1

1680–90; < Turkish < Persian pāra literally, piece


[pah-rah, pahr-ah]
noun, plural pa·ras, pa·ra.
    1. formerly, an aluminum-bronze coin and monetary unit of Yugoslavia, the 100th part of a dinar.
    2. a coin and monetary unit of Macedonia and Serbia, the 100th part of a dinar.

Origin of para2

1905–10; < Serbo-Croatian pàra < Turkish; see para1


adjective Chemistry.
  1. pertaining to or occupying two positions (1, 4) in the benzene ring that are separated by two carbon atoms.Compare ortho, meta2.
  1. para-dichlorobenzene.

Origin of para3

First recorded in 1875–80; independent use of para-1


noun Informal.
  1. a paraprofessional.
  2. a paratrooper.

Origin of para4

First recorded in 1955–60; by shortening of words compounded with para-1, para-3


noun, plural par·as, par·ae [par-ee] /ˈpær i/. Obstetrics.
  1. Also called parity. a woman's status regarding the bearing of viable offspring: usually followed by a Roman numeral designating the number of times the woman has given birth.
  2. the woman herself.
Compare gravida.

Origin of para5

1880–85; extracted from primapara, multipara, etc.


  1. an estuary in N Brazil: an arm of the Amazon. 200 miles (320 km) long; 40 miles (65 km) wide.
  2. Belém.
  3. Pará rubber.


  1. a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, most often attached to verbs and verbal derivatives, with the meanings “at or to one side of, beside, side by side” (parabola; paragraph; parallel; paralysis), “beyond, past, by” (paradox; paragogue); by extension from these senses, this prefix came to designate objects or activities auxiliary to or derivative of that denoted by the base word (parody; paronomasia), and hence abnormal or defective (paranoia), a sense now common in modern scientific coinages (parageusia; paralexia). As an English prefix, para-1 may have any of these senses; it is also productive in the naming of occupational roles considered ancillary or subsidiary to roles requiring more training, or of a higher status, on such models as paramedical and paraprofessional: paralegal; paralibrarian; parapolice.
  2. Chemistry. a combining form designating the para (1, 4) position in the benzene ring. Abbreviation: p-.Compare meta-(def 4b), ortho-(def 2b).
Also especially before a vowel, par-.

Origin of para-1

< Greek para-, combining form representing pará (preposition) beside, alongside of, by, beyond


  1. a combining form meaning “guard against,” occurring in loanwords from French, or, via French, from Italian: parachute; parasol.

Origin of para-2

< French < Italian para, 3rd singular present of parare to prepare against, ward off < Latin parāre to prepare


  1. a combining form extracted from parachute, forming compounds denoting persons or things utilizing parachutes or landed by parachute: paradrop; paradoctor; paraglider; paratrooper.


  1. Paraguay.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for para

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Our passage from Para was good until the brig reached the latitude of Bermuda.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The dearest events are summer-rain, and we the Para coats that shed every drop.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • In the neighbourhood of Para alone seven hundred species have been found.

    The Western World

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • Eight days later her men were rescued by the "City of Para."

  • A minute Turkish coin in accounts, of which three go to a para.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

British Dictionary definitions for para


noun plural -ras or -ra
  1. a monetary unit of Serbia worth one hundredth of a dinar; formerly a monetary unit of Yugoslavia

Word Origin

C17: Serbo-Croat, via Turkish from Persian pārah piece, portion


noun informal
    1. a soldier in an airborne unit
    2. an airborne unit
  1. a paragraph


noun plural para
  1. a New Zealand fern, Marattia salicina, with long heavy frondsAlso called: horseshoe fern, king fern

Word Origin



  1. a state of N Brazil, on the Atlantic: mostly dense tropical rainforest Capital: Belém. Pop: 6 453 683 (2002). Area: 1 248 042 sq km (474 896 sq miles)
  2. another name for Belém
  3. an estuary in N Brazil into which flow the Tocantins River and a branch of the Amazon. Length: about 320 km (200 miles)


before a vowel par-

  1. beside; nearparameter; parathyroid
  2. beyondparapsychology
  3. resemblingparamnesia
  4. defective; abnormalparaesthesia
  5. subsidiary toparaphysis
  6. (usually in italics) denoting that an organic compound contains a benzene ring with substituents attached to atoms that are directly opposite across the ring (the 1,4- positions)paradinitrobenzene; para- cresol Abbreviation: p- Compare ortho- (def. 4), meta- (def. 4)
  7. denoting an isomer, polymer, or compound related to a specified compoundparaldehyde; paracasein
  8. denoting the form of a diatomic substance in which the spins of the two constituent atoms are antiparallelparahydrogen Compare ortho- (def. 6)

Word Origin

from Greek para (prep) alongside, beyond


combining form
  1. indicating an object that acts as a protection against somethingparachute; parasol

Word Origin

via French from Italian para-, from parare to defend, shield against, ultimately from Latin parāre to prepare
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for para



word-forming element meaning "defense, protection against; that which protects from," from Italian para, imperative of parare "to ward off," from Latin parare "make ready" (see pare).



before vowels, par-, word-forming element meaning "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal," from Greek para- from para (prep.) "beside, near, issuing from, against, contrary to," from PIE *prea, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per). Cognate with Old English for- "off, away."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

para in Medicine


  1. A woman who has given birth to an infant or infants.


  1. Beside; near; alongside:paranucleus.
  2. Beyond:parapsychology.
  3. Incorrect; abnormal:paradipsia.
  4. Similar to; resembling:paratyphoid.
  5. Subsidiary; assistant:paramedical.
  6. Isomeric; polymeric:paraldehyde.
  7. A diatomic molecule in which the nuclei have opposite spin directions:parahydrogen.
  8. Of or relating to one of three possible isomers of a benzene ring with two attached chemical groups in which the carbon atoms with attached groups are separated by two unsubstituted carbon atoms. Usually in italic:para-bromoiodobenzene.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.