There are 2 main definitions of distemper in English:

Share this entry

distemper 1

Line breaks: dis|tem¦per
Pronunciation: /dɪˈstɛmpə/

noun

[mass noun]
1A viral disease of some animals, especially dogs, causing fever, coughing, and catarrh.
Example sentences
  • 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?
  • The canine distemper virus causes a highly contagious disease in dogs known as distemper.
2 archaic Political disorder: an attempt to illuminate the moral roots of the modern world’s distemper
More example sentences
  • 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. sense 1 dates from the mid 18th century.

Definition of distemper in:

Share this entry

 

There are 2 main definitions of distemper in English:

Share this entry

distemper 2 Line breaks: dis|tem¦per
Pronunciation: /dɪˈstɛmpə/

noun

[mass noun]
1A kind of paint using glue or size instead of an oil base, for use on walls or for scene-painting.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • Paper was printed by hand using wooden blocks and distemper paint, which dried to a soft, matt finish.
1.1A method of mural and poster painting using distemper.
Example sentences
  • We use camlin water colour for fine painting and distemper in general.
  • 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.

verb

[with object] (often as adjective distempered) Back to top  
Paint with distemper: the distempered roof timbers
More example sentences
  • 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'.

Definition of distemper in:

Share this entry

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources