P is the twelfth consonant and the sixteenth letter in the order of the English alphabet. It is formed by closely compressing the lips, and separating them suddenly with an explosive emission of breath, as in part, pop. P is called a pure mute, because it has no sound. Like the other pure mutes, k and t, it gives an abruptness to the sound which immediately precedes or follows it, according as it is itself final or initial in the syllable, as in imp, play. P is closely related to b and m, all these letters representing labial sounds. The combination ph has the same sound as f, as in philosophy. — Webster, 1882
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The following is an incomplete list of the remaining indexed main headings. Once a completed entry has been uploaded, it will be removed from the list below and added to the links above. Subheadings, reference locators, and cross-referenced subentries are not included in this list. Always consult the completed entry for referenced source of definition used below.
Pa – Charles Ingalls
Pacific Ocean – The great ocean between America and Asia, so called on account of the exemption from violent tempests which early navigators supposed it enjoyed; – called also, imply, the Pacific.
paddle – To beat water with the hands or feet, for swimming or in sport. Especially, to beat the water with oars; to propel a boat with a paddle.
Mr. Paddock – Malone merchant.
padlock – A lock having a semicircular link jointed at one end so that it can be opened, the other end being fastened by the bold;- used for fastening by passing the link through a staple, and the like.
pail – An open vessel of wood, tin, &c., used for carrying liquids, as water and milk, and usually containing from eight to twelve quarts.
palaver – Idle talk; flattery; adulation.
pancake – A thin cake fried in a pan or baked on an iron plate or griddle.
pannikin – A small pan or cup.
pansy – A plant and flower of the genus Viola; the Viola tricolor, or garden violet; – called also heart’s-ease.
panther – The American tiger, a ferocious feline mammal, of several species, as the catamount, jaguar, puma.
pantry – An apartment or closet in which bread and other provisions are kept.
paper doll – A piece of paper cut or folded into the shape of a human figure.
papoose – A babe or young child; – so called by the North American Indians.
paralyzed – To be deprived of functions, sensibility, voluntary motion, energy, or the like.
parasol – A small umbrella used by ladies to defend their faces from the sun’s rays.
parboil – To boil in part; to cook partially by boiling.
parlor – A room in a house which the family usually occupy for society do ra me fa sol la see do and conversation, the reception-room for visitors, &c., as distinguished from the hall, the dining-room, the kitchen, the library, and the like; sometimes, the best room of a house, kept for receiving company, as distinguished from the sitting-room of the family.
parse – To resolve into its elements, as a sentence, pointing out the several parts of speech, and their relation to each other by government or agreement; to analyze and describe grammatically.
parsonage – The glebe and house belonging to a parish or ecclesiastical society, and appropriated to the maintenance of the incumbent or settled pastor of a church. Money paid for the support of a parson.
partition – That which divides or separates; that by which different parts are separated; specifically, an interior wall dividing one part or apartment of a house, an enclosure, or the like, from another; as a partition of wood or stone in a building; a dividing line.
pasture – Food; nourishment. Specifically, grass for the food or cattle; the food of cattle taken by grazing. Ground covered with grass, to be eaten on the spot by cattle, horses, &c.; pasture-ground.
patch – A small piece of cloth or leather used as the wrapper of a rifle-ball in wadding.
patchwork / nine-patch – Work composed of pieces of various figures sewed together; hence, any thing put together of incongruous or ill-adapted parts.
Charles & Martha Patterson, siblings – Fictional name for Charles and May Rundle, students in the Bouchie District.
Patty, pony – One of a team of Indian ponies, with Pet, supposedly obtained by Charles Ingalls in trade on the way to Indian Territory.
Patty Cake – A children’s game in which participants gently clap each other’s hands and their own in time to the words of a rhyme.
patty-pan – A pan to bake a little pie in.
paymaster – One who is to pay; one from whom wages or reward is received; an officer whose duty it is to pay wages, as in an army or navy, and who is intrusted with money for this purpose.
pea – A plant, and its fruit, of the genus Pisum, of many varieties, much cultivated for food. It has a papillionaceous flower, and the pericarp is a legume, called, in popular language, a pod. When a definite number is referred to, the plural is written peas; as, two peas, five peas; but when an indefinite quantity or bulk is spoken of, it is written pease.
“pea under a shell” game – Ancient sleight of hand game in which an object is placed out of sight beneath one of several identical containers which are rearranged rapidly by an operator in plain sight, then a player guesses which container conceals the object.
peach – A tree and its fruit, of the genus Amygdalus (A. persica), of many varieties, growing in warm or temperate climates, and highly esteemed.
peaked – Pointed; ending in a point.
pearl, see also mother-of-pearl – A silvery or bluish white, hard, smooth, lustrous substance, usually roundish, found inside the shells of several species of mollusks, particularly the pearl oyster. Pearls consist of the carbonate of lime interstratified with animal membrane, and appear to be the result of a diseased secretion caused by the introduction of foreign particles. Hence, something very precious; a jewel. Made of, or pertaining to, pearl; also, made of mother-of-pearl.
pebble – A small, roundish stone; a stone worn and rounded by the action of water.
peddle – To go about and sell; to retail by carrying around from customer to customer; to hawk; to retail in very small quantities. A peddler is one who peddles; a traveling trader; one who carries about small commodities on his back, or in a cart or wagon, and sells them.
peg – 1. A small, pointed piece of wood, used in fastening. 2. One of the pins of an instrument, on which the strings are strained.
pelican – A web-footed water-fowl of the genus Pelecanus, larger than the swan, and remarkable for its enormous bill, to the lower edge of which is attached a pouch, capable of holding many quarts of water. The American white pelican is Pelecanus Americanus.
pendulum – A body so suspended from a fixed point as to swing freely to and fro by the alternate action of gravity and momentum; as, the pendulum of a clock.
penny – A coin; a small sum; a groat; a stiver; – also used as a representative of money in general, in phrases such as, to turn an honest penny.
Pepin, Wisconsin – Village in Pepin County on the wide portion of the Mississippi River known as Lake Pepin.
peppermint – An aromatic and pungent plant of the genus Mentha (M. piperita); also, a liquor distilled from the plant.
pepper – A climbing plant and its fruit, of the genus Piper, of which there are very numerous species. The leaves are oval, and the flowers white. Pepper has a strong, aromatic smell, and a hot, pungent taste. There are four kinds of pepper—the black, the white, the long, and cubebs. The black pepper is the product of Java, Sumatra, Ceylon, and other Asiatic countries; the white pepper is the black pepper decorticated; the long pepper is the fruit of a different species, also from the East Indies. It consists of numerous grains attached to a common footstalk. Cubebs are brought from Java, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and the Isle of France. The name is also applied to a variety of plants of different genera, characterized by a hot, biting taste, resembling that of the pepper, especially to the Capisicum, which includes the red pepper, cherry pepper, Cayenne pepper, Guinea pepper, and other species.
Pet, horse – One of a team of Indian ponies, with Patty, supposedly obtained by Charles Ingalls in trade on the way to Indian Territory.
Pete, man – Unknown railroad worker at Silver Lake camp.
Pete, ox – One of a team of oxen, with Bright, supposedly obtained by Charles Ingalls near Walnut Grove, Minnesota, in trade for the Indian ponies.
Peterson family – Note that Dykstra dissertation (1980) says that this was Mr. and Mrs. Sven Peterson with children Helen (born in Sweden) and Charles (born in Big Woods).
Teeny / Teeney Peterson – Most likely Mary Peterson, hired girl in John Fitch’s store in Walnut Grove in 1875. In Pioneer Girl, she was said to have been romantically interested in John Anderson, who married Carrie Botten in 1876.
petrified wood – Wood that has become of a stony hardness, by means of calcareous or other depositions in their cavities.
petticoat – A loose under garment worn by females, and covering the lower limbs.
phoebe-bird – Sayornis fuscus, the common phebe / phoebe bird, also called the pewee. [F.H. Snow. Birds of Kansas, Contributed to the Kansas Academy of Science, 1875, page 8.]
pickerel – A fish of the genus Esox;- applied to several species of fresh-water fishes belonging to the pike family.
pick – An iron tool tapering to a point from a heavy mass or head, in which is inserted, transversely, a wooden handle, sometimes pointed at both ends, and having the handle inserted at the middle. It is used for loosening and breaking up hard earth, ground, stones, &c.
pickle – 1. A solution of salt and water, in which fish and meat may be preserved or corned. 2. Vinegar, sometimes seasoned spices, in which vegetables, fish, oysters, &c., may be preserved. 3. Any article of food which has been preserved in vinegar.
picnic – Formerly, an entertainment at which each person contributed some dish or article for the general table; in present use, an entertainment carried by a party on the excursion of pleasure into the country; also the party itself.
pie – An article of food consisting of paste baked with something in it or under it, as apple, minced meat, &c.
Pierre, boy – Son of one of James Wilder’s hired workers, and a companion of Almanzo Wilder’s.
Fort Pierre – Originally Fort Pierre Chouteau and built in 1832 as trading post for the American Fur Company, it was purchased by the United States Army in 1855 and was the first military fort established on the Upper Missouri River. It was abandoned after a few years.
pigeon – A gallinaceous bird, of the genus Columba, of several species, as the stock-dove, the ring-dove, the turtle dove, and the migratory or wild pigeon of America.
pigeon wing – A dance step formed by jumping and clicking the heels together.
pigeonhole – A hole for pigeons to enter their dwelling. Hence, a little opening or division in a case for papers.
pig, see also hog – The young of swine, male or female.
Pilgrim – One who slowly and heavily treads his way; a wanderer; a traveler. Especially, one who travels to a distance from his own country to visit a holy place, or to pay his devotion to the remains of dead saints.
pillow – A cushion used to support the head of a person, when reposing; a sack or case filled with feathers, down, or other soft material.
pine – A tree of the genus Pinus, of many species, some of which furnish timber of the most valuable kind. The principal species which bear this name in the United States, are the white pine (Pinus strobes); the yellow pine (Pinus resinosa), and the pitch pine (Pinus rigida). The wood of the pine tree.
pinked – To work in eyelet holes; to pierce with small holes; to cut, as cloth or paper, in small scallops or angle; to work in rounded or angular figures.
pinnacle – A high, spiring point.
pin, see also picket, peg – A pointed piece of wood, metal, or the like, used to bind separate articles together, or
pioneer – To go before and prepare a way for. One who goes before to remove obstructions or prepare the way for another.
Pioneer Press – The St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press, first issued in April 1875, after the merger of the Minnesota Pioneer (founded in 1849 by James Goodhue) and the St. Paul Daily Press (founded in 1861 by J.A. Wheelock).
pipe, smoking, see also stovepipe – A tube of clay or other material with a bowl at one end, used in smoking tobacco.
piping – A kind of cord trimming or fluting for ladies’ dresses.
pistol – A small fire-arm, or the smallest fire-arm used, intended to be fired from one hand, differing from a musket chiefly in size. Pistols were introduced in England in the year 1551.
pitch – A thick, black, sticky substance obtained by boiling down tar, used in caulking ships, &c.
pitch, see also tuning fork – The degree of elevation of the voice, or of an instrument, &c.; the elevation of the key-note of a tune. Musical tones, with reference to absolute pitch, are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet; with reference to relative pitch, in a series of tones called the scale, they are called one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight. Eight is also one of a new scale an octave higher, as one is eight of a scale an octave lower.
pitcher – A vessel, usually open, with a spout for pouring out liquors; a water-pot, jug, or jar; a ewer.
pitchfork – A fork or farming utensil used in throwing hay or sheaves of grain, in loading and unloading carts and wagons.
pity – n. The feeling or suffering of one person, excited by the distress of another; sympathy with the grief or misery of another; compassion or fellow-suffering. v.t. To feel pain or grief for; to have sympathy for; to be compassionate; to have tender feelings toward; awakened by a knowledge of suffering.
placid – Pleased; contented; unruffled; serene; tranquil; quiet.
plaid – Having a pattern or colors which resemble a Scotch plaid; checkered or marked with bars or stripes at right angles to one another; as, plaid white muslin.
plane – A tool for smoothing boards or other surfaces of wood, forming moldings, and the like, consisting of a stock, usually of wood, from the under side, face, or sole of which projects, slightly, the steel cutting-edge of the iron, or chisel, which inclines backward, and has an aperture in front for the escape of shavings.
plow, see also snowplow – n. A well-known implement for turning up the soil, drawn by animal or other power. Hence, culture of the earth; agriculture; tillage. v.t. To trench and turn up with a plow; as, to plow the ground for wheat; to plow it into ridges. To labor with a plow.
plow-share / plowshare – The part of a plow which cuts the ground at the bottom of the furrow, and raises the slice of earth or sod to the mold-board, which turns it over.
plumb – Perpendicular, that is, standing according to a plumb-line; as, the post of the house or the wall is plumb.
Plum Creek – A thirty-five mile stream near Walnut Grove, which flows northeasterly into the Cottonwood River, with its waters then flowing to the Minnesota River and eventually the Mississippi River.
plum – The fruit of a tree belonging to the genus Prunus; also, the tree itself, usually called plum-tree. The fruit is a drupe, containing a nut or stone with prominent sutures, and inclosing a kernel. The varieties of the plum are very numerous.
plush – A textile fabric with a sort of velvet nap or shag on one side.
pocketbook – A small book, or case, used for carrying papers in the pocket.
pointer – Anything that points.
poker, game – A favorite game of cards in the Southern States.
poker, tool – That which pokes, or is used in poking, especially an iron bar, used in stirring or opening a fire of coals.
political – Pertaining to public policy or politics; relating to state affairs; concerned in national measures; especially, pertaining to a state, in distinction from a city or municipality; as, a political writer.
politics – The science of government; that part of ethics which has to do with the regulation and government of a nation or state, the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity; the defense of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest, the augmentation of its strength and resources, and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals.
polka – A dance of Polish origin, but now popular everywhere. It is performed by two persons in common time. Somewhere about the year 1831, a young peasant girl, who was in the service of a citizen of Elbeteinitz, in Bohemia, performed a dance of her own invention one Sunday afternoon, for her own special delectation, and sang a suitable tune to it. The schoolmaster, Joseph Neruda, who happened to be present, wrote down the melody, and the new dance was soon after publicly performed for the first time in Elbeteinitz. About 1835, it made its entrance into Prague, and then obtained the name of polka, from the Bohemian word pulka, or half, from the half step prevalent in it. Four years later, it was carried to Vienna by a Prague band. In 1840, a dancing-master of Prague danced the polka, with great success, at the Odeon, in Paris, whence it found its way with extraordinary rapidity to every dancing-room.
“Polly Put the Kettle On” – Early 19th century poem put to the melody, “Jenny’s Baubie,” dating from the late 18th century.
polonaise – A robe, or dress, adopted from the Poles, worn by ladies.
pony – A small horse.
pool, game – A kind of billiards played with ivory balls called pool-balls.
poplin – A textile made of silk and worsted, of many varieties, as watered, figured, &c.
pork, see also ham – The flesh of swine, fresh or salted, used for food.
posse – Shortened form of the Latin Posse Comitatus: The power of the county, or the citizens who may be summoned to assist an officer in suppressing a riot, or executing any legal precept which is forcibly opposed. The word comitatus is often omitted, and posse alone is used in the same sense.
post office / post-office – An office, under governmental superintendence, where letters are received and distributed; a place appointed for attending to all business connected with the mail. The government system for forwarding mail-matter.
Post Office, game – Party game in which males and females are separated, and one-by-one, the members of one group enters the room and “delivers” each member a kiss.
posy – A poetical sentence, or a sententious maxim; a motto; verse; a legend or inscription. Especially, a motto or verse sent with a bunch of flowers; hence, a nosegay; a bouquet; hence, also, a single flower, especially when beautiful or selected for ornament.
potato, see also sweet potato – A plant (Solanum tuberosum), and its esculent, farinaceous tuber, largely used for food, and in various farinaceous preparations. It is a native of South America.
pot-liquor – The liquid in which greens have been cooked.
pouch, see also pelican – A small bag; usually a leathern bag; as, a pouch for money, or for provisions; a shot-pouch, and the like.
powder, see also gunpowder, baking powder – The fine particles into which any substance is pounded or ground, or into which it falls by decay; dust. Especially, a composition of saltpeter, sulphur, and charcoal, mixed and granulated; gunpowder.
pow-wow – n. A priest, or conjurer, among the North American Indians. Conjuration performed for the cure of diseases and other purposes, attended with great noise and confusion, and often with dancing. v.t. To use conjuration, with noise and confusion, as among the American Indians; hence, to carry on a noisy frolic or gathering.
prairie – An extensive wild tract of land, destitute of trees, covered with coarse grass, and usually characterized by a deep, fertile soil. Prairies are level or rolling.
prairie chicken / prairie hen / prairie-hen – A species of grouse (Tetrao cupido), found in the Western States.
prairie cure / prairie-climate cure – Removal from the city to the open spaces and clean dry air of the west as a treatment for consumption.
prayer, see also bless – To pray is to ask with earnestness or zeal, as for a favor, the Supreme Being with adoration, confession, supplication, and thanksgiving. Prayer is the act of praying or of asking a favor; earnest request; hence, an earnest memorial to a court or legislative body. Especially, the act of addressing supplication to God; the offering up to the Supreme Being of adoration, confession, supplication, and thanksgiving; the practice of communion with God in devotional address, worship, and supplication; as public prayer, secret prayer, &c. The form of words used in praying; a formula of supplication; an extended petition; a supplication addressed to God; as a written or extemporaneous prayer; a long prayer; an earnest or appropriate prayer.
preach – To pronounce a public discourse on a religious subject, or from a text of Scripture; to deliver a sermon.
preacher, see also minister – One who preaches; one who discourses publicly on religious subjects. One who inculcates any thing with earnestness.
Presbyterian – Pertaining to a presbyter, or to ecclesiastical government by presbyters. Consisting of presbyters; as, the government of the church of Scotland is presbyterian. One who belongs to a church governed by presbyters.
preserves, see also jam / jelly / preserves – That which is preserved; fruit, or the like, seasoned and kept by suitable preparation. To save from decay by the use of some preservative substance, as sugar, salt, and the like; to season and prepare for preserving, as fruit, meat, &c.
President of the United States – The chief executive of the republic in certain countries, as the president of the United States.
Preston, Dakota Territory – Post office established in 1879 on the south side of Lake Preston in Kingsbury County, Dakota Territory, with the town of Preston platted in 1881. It was changed to Lake Preston the following year.
Prince, horse – One of a team of matched Morgan horses, with Lady, belonging to Almanzo Wilder in De Smet.
princess style – A style of dress associated with Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925) and introduced in the late 1870s. It had long, fitted sleeves and a close-fitted skirt without crinoline or bustle.
prison – A building for the safe confinement or safe custody of debtors and criminals committed by process of law; a place of safe custody; a place of confinement or restraint. Specifically, a building for the safe custody or confinement of criminals or those accused of crime; a house of detention; a jail; hence, any place of custody or confinement.
Prisoners Base, game – A chasing and tagging game in which players try to capture members of the opposing team, who then join their captor’s team, until all have ben caught.
prissy – Fussily respectable.
Protestant – One who protests, originally applied to those who adhered to Luther at the Reformation in 1529, and protested against, or made a solemn declaration of dissent from, a decree of the Emperor Charles V. and the Diet of Spires, and appealed to a general council. Especially, a Christian who protests against the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic church, one who adheres to the doctrines of the Reformation.
Providence / Divine Providence – The foresight and care which God exercises over His creatures; hence, God, regarded as exercising forecast, care, and direction, for and on His creatures. A manifestation of the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures; an event in which the care or design of God is directly seen and shown.
Providential / providential – Effected by the providence of God; referable to divine providence; proceeding from divine direction or superintendence; as, the providential contrivance of things; a providential escape from danger.
provisions – That which is provided or prepared; that which is brought together or arranged in advance; measures taken before hand; preparation. Especially, a stock of food; any kind of eatables collected or stored; sometimes, provender, or food for animals.
Tay Pay Pryor – Fictional name used for Thomas Power, De Smet tailor and father of Laura’s friend, Mary Power.
Psalm / psalm – A sacred song; a poetical composition for praise or worship of God. Especially, one of the hymns by David and others, collected into one book as a part of the Hebrew Scriptures; or a versification of such a hymn composed by a modern writer, usually for public worship.
pshaw – Pish! pooh! – an exclamation used as an expression of contempt, disdain, or dislike.
pullet – A young hen, or female of the domestic fowl.
pulpit – An elevated place, or enclosed stage, in a church, in which the preacher stands; – called also desk; hence, preaching; public religious exercises.
puncheon – One of the parts of a log split in halves, with the face smoothed; as, a floor made of puncheons.
pump – An hydraulic machine, variously constructed, for raising or transferring fluids, consisting essentially of a moving piece of piston working in a hollow cylinder or other cavity, with valves properly placed for admitting or retaining the fluid as it is drawn or driven through them by the action of the pistons.
punish – The act of punishing. Any pain or suffering inflicted on a person because of a crime or offense; especially, pain so inflicted in the enforcement or application of law. To punish is to afflict with pain, loss, or calamity for a crime or fault. To afflict with pain, &c., with a view to amendment; to chasten; as, a father punishes his child for disobedience. To bruise with the fist; to pound or pummel. To chastise; castigate; scourge; whip; lash; correct; discipline.
pun – An expression in which a word is capable of different meanings; an expression in which two different applications of a word present an odd or ludicrous idea; a kind of quibble or equivocation. To use the same word at once in difference senses.
pussy-in-the-corner – A parlor game for children in which one player in the middle of a room tries to occupy any of the positions along the walls that become vacant as other players dash across to exchange places at a signal.