From Old French destemprer, from Latin distemperare.



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distemper ‎(plural distempers)

  1. (veterinary medicine, pathology) A viral disease of animals, such as dogs and cats, characterised by fever, coughing and catarrh.
  2. (archaic) A disorder of the humours of the body; a disease.
    • 1719- Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
      [] my spirits began to sink under the burden of a strong distemper, and nature was exhausted with the violence of the fever []
  3. A water-based paint.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      He looked round the poor room, at the distempered walls, and the bad engravings in meretricious frames, the crinkly paper and wax flowers on the chiffonier; and he thought of a room like Father Bryan's, with panelling, with cut glass, with tulips in silver pots, such a room as he had hoped to have for his own.
  4. A painting produced with this kind of paint.



distemper ‎(third-person singular simple present distempers, present participle distempering, simple past and past participle distempered)

  1. To temper or mix unduly; to make disproportionate; to change the due proportions of.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)
  2. To derange the functions of, whether bodily, mental, or spiritual; to disorder; to disease.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
    • Buckminster
      The imagination, when completely distempered, is the most incurable of all disordered faculties.
  3. To deprive of temper or moderation; to disturb; to ruffle; to make disaffected, ill-humoured, or malignant.
    • Coleridge
      distempered spirits
  4. To intoxicate.
    • Massinger
      The courtiers reeling, / And the duke himself, I dare not say distempered, / But kind, and in his tottering chair carousing.
  5. To paint using distemper.
  6. To mix (colours) in the way of distemper.
    to distemper colors with size


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