One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A viral disease of some animals, especially dogs, causing fever, coughing, and catarrh.
- ‘The canine distemper virus causes a highly contagious disease in dogs known as distemper.’
- ‘At the nearby Scott Base, seals are infected with canine distemper, a virus passed to them by researchers' dogs.’
- ‘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?’
- ‘Kamikaze died of distemper at a young age, and in 1939 Keller received one of his older brothers as a replacement.’
2archaic Political disorder.‘an attempt to illuminate the moral roots of the modern world's distemper’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The Hamlet world's distemper, she argues, stems mostly from the way the generational/political life cycle has been upset.’
- ‘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.’
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 (sense 1) dates from the mid 18th century.
1A kind of paint using glue or size instead of an oil base, for use on walls or for scene-painting.
- ‘The walls were painted with a water-based powder distemper, usually in grass green or primrose colour.’
- ‘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 family room pairs milk-painted and beeswaxed wainscoting below with a chalk-base distemper paint above.’
- ‘The kitchen gleamed from the distemper Dad had painted on its walls in contrasting shades of green and pink.’
- 1.1 A method of mural and poster painting using distemper.
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
verb[WITH OBJECT]often as adjective distempered
Paint (something) with distemper.‘the distempered roof timbers’
colour, apply paint to, decorate, tint, dye, stain, whitewash, emulsion, gloss, spray, spray-paint, airbrush, roller, coat, coverView synonyms
- ‘The bedroom walls were distempered a dark, shiny green, the curtains were green with spots on and the bedspread an uninspiring khaki.’
- ‘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.’
Late Middle English (originally as a verb in the senses ‘dilute’ and ‘steep’): from Old French destremper or late Latin distemperare ‘soak’.
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