Main definitions of distemper in English

: distemper1distemper2

distemper1

noun

  • 1A viral disease of some animals, especially dogs, causing fever, coughing, and catarrh.

    • ‘At the nearby Scott Base, seals are infected with canine distemper, a virus passed to them by researchers' dogs.’
    • ‘The canine distemper virus causes a highly contagious disease in dogs known as distemper.’
    • ‘Kamikaze died of distemper at a young age, and in 1939 Keller received one of his older brothers as a replacement.’
    • ‘This species is also susceptible to a variety of diseases such as distemper, which is controlled in domestic dogs.’
    • ‘For example, parvovirus, distemper and rabies are diseases that can be vaccinated against.’
    • ‘Will the insurer cover routine wellness care, such as inoculations against distemper, rabies and other diseases?’
  • 2archaic Political disorder.

    ‘an attempt to illuminate the moral roots of the modern world's distemper’
    • ‘The Hamlet world's distemper, she argues, stems mostly from the way the generational/political life cycle has been upset.’
    • ‘Another reason for stalemate (or decline, as the case may be) in the stock market is the political distemper created by the major political parties.’
    • ‘At the heart of the book is James's description of the democratic temperament, which I take to be a healthy corrective to the distemper that characterizes so much of politics today.’

Origin

Mid 16th century (originally in the sense ‘bad temper’, later ‘illness’): from Middle English distemper ‘upset, derange’, from late Latin distemperare soak, mix in the wrong proportions, from dis- thoroughly + temperare mingle. Compare with temper. distemper dates from the mid 18th century.

Pronunciation:

distemper

/dɪˈstɛmpə/

Main definitions of distemper in English

: distemper1distemper2

distemper2

noun

  • 1[mass noun] A kind of paint using glue or size instead of an oil base, for use on walls or for scene-painting.

    • ‘The family room pairs milk-painted and beeswaxed wainscoting below with a chalk-base distemper paint above.’
    • ‘Paper was printed by hand using wooden blocks and distemper paint, which dried to a soft, matt finish.’
    • ‘The rolls thus formed are laid out on a table where they are painted with a coat of ground color of distemper.’
    • ‘The kitchen gleamed from the distemper Dad had painted on its walls in contrasting shades of green and pink.’
    • ‘The walls were painted with a water-based powder distemper, usually in grass green or primrose colour.’
    1. 1.1A method of mural and poster painting using distemper.
      • ‘He painted in distemper, which produced a matt finish, and his gentle colour harmonies are very different from the brilliant or harsh hues often associated with German Expressionist painting.’
      • ‘Come a ‘chaste art festival’, then the distemper art rules the roost in major spots.’
      • ‘Many of the artists, most particularly Vuillard, painted these in distemper and left them unlined and unvarnished, making them more fragile than oils on canvas.’
      • ‘We use camlin water colour for fine painting and distemper in general.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • Paint with distemper.

    ‘the distempered roof timbers’
    • ‘At Wissett Lodge, her rented home in Suffolk, she and Duncan distempered the walls a brilliant blue, and dyed the chair-covers with coloured ink.’
    • ‘The bedroom walls were distempered a dark, shiny green, the curtains were green with spots on and the bedspread an uninspiring khaki.’

Origin

Late Middle English (originally as a verb in the senses ‘dilute’ and ‘steep’): from Old French destremper or late Latin distemperare soak.

Pronunciation:

distemper

/dɪˈstɛmpə/