Week 1: Vocabulary

by Meaghan Doyle

abstruse

difficult to comprehend

anodyne

not likely to offend or arouse tensions

ascetic

practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline

au pair

a usually young foreign person who cares for children and does domestic work for a family in return for room and board and the opportunity to learn the family’s language

charcuterie

dressed meats and meat dishes

cirrhosis

widespread disruption of normal liver structure by fibrosis and the formation of regenerative nodules

colophon

an identifying mark, clinic emblem, or device used by a printer or a publisher

conflagration

fire; especially : a large disastrous fire

coprophagy

feeding on dung

creole

of or relating to Creoles or their language: a person of mixed French or Spanish and black descent speaking a dialect of French or Spanish

Dionysian

characteristic of Dionysus or the cult of worship of Dionysus; especially : being of a frenzied or orgiastic character

Eurylochus

second-in-command of Odysseus’ ship

flamenco

a vigorous rhythmic dance style of the Andalusian Gypsies; also : a dance in flamenco style

Fury

any of the avenging deities in Greek mythology who torment criminals and inflict plagues

garde du corps

bodyguard

gastronomic

the art or science of good eating

gaucho

a cowboy of the South American pampas

goulash

a stew made with meat (as beef), assorted vegetables, and paprika

Hecate

a Greek goddess associated especially with the underworld, night, and witchcraft

Huguenot

a member of the French Reformed communion especially of the 16th and 17th centuries

insularity

characteristic of an isolated people; especially : being, having, or reflecting a narrow provincial viewpoint

lacuna

a blank space or a missing part

licentious

lacking legal or moral restraints

macerated

to cause to become soft or separated into constituent elements by or as if by steeping in fluid

maestro

a master usually in an art

Mnemosyne

the Greek goddess of memory and mother of the Muses by Zeus

Nerval

was the nom-de-plume of the French poet, essayist and translator Gérard Labrunie

oblique

neither perpendicular nor parallel : inclined

oeuvre

a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer

omertà

conspiracy of silence

osmosis

a usually effortless often unconscious assimilation

pastoral

portraying or expressive of the life of shepherds or country people especially in an idealized and conventionalized manner

penultimate

next to the last

pergola

a structure usually consisting of parallel colonnades supporting an open roof of girders and cross rafters

petit comite

small group

peyote

a hallucinogenic drug containing mescaline that is derived from peyote buttons and used especially in the religious ceremonies of some American Indian peoples

phosphorescent

exhibiting phosphorescence : luminescence that is caused by the absorption of radiations

Promethean

daringly original or creative

prosody

the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language

purloined

to appropriate wrongfully and often by a breach of trust

quadrangle

a 4-sided enclosure especially when surrounded by buildings

redoubtable

causing fear or alarm : formidable

sardonic

disdainfully or skeptically humorous

scatology

interest in or treatment of obscene matters especially in literature

simulacrum

image, representation

solipsism

a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing

soporific

causing or tending to cause sleep

spleen

feelings of anger or ill will often suppressed

structuralism

psychology concerned especially with resolution of the mind into structural elements

thrall

a state of servitude or submission

transmuted

to change or alter in form, appearance, or nature and especially to a higher form

Ulysses

Odysseus : a king of Ithaca and Greek leader in the Trojan War who after the war wanders 10 years before reaching home

Zapatista

The Liberation Army of the South was an armed group formed and led by Emiliano Zapata which took part in the Mexican Revolution.


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4 Responses to “Week 1: Vocabulary”


  • Comment from brooks

    This is awesome Meaghan!

  • Comment from Dataduchess

    Thanks @brooks

    An interesting thought I had while working on the glossary, is there
    was a large number of “good vocabulary quiz” words that I was familiar with, and for which I thought I understood the definitions. Yet when I looked them up, I found they had alternative meanings for a variety of uses and connotations that made the text even richer for having chosen that particular word. I found myself frequently wondering how the translation could be so precise, and how the original Spanish must be even more beautifully written.

  • Comment from MPsychosis

    My first reaction was: Meaghan’s assignment is (besides helpful) SO COOL. I wish I looked up every word I didn’t know while I was reading a book like this. I look up some, and I look up some of the people or events I’m not familiar with, but I’m in awe of how much work you did and that you had to look up every word.

    But (with three minutes time of retrospection) I realize how silly this is. I’m still grateful to you for your hard work but it seems crazy not to realize that I CAN LOOK UP ALL THESE WORDS AS I GO THROUGH, TOO. That seems an important lesson.

    And yet I just can’t see myself doing that… and am therefore in your debt. Thank you.

  • Comment from sarah

    this was so helpful! thank you! i did some heavy underlining of words to look up so thanks for saving me the trouble.


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