Wednesday, August 1, 2007


VOCABULARY for Short Stories

“The Necklace”

suppleness n. Moving and bending with agility; limber. supple adj. Yielding or changing readily; compliant or adaptable; flexible. “…suppleness of wit …” (59).

coquettish adj. Practicing or exhibiting flirtation; alluring; enticing; flirtatious. “She thought of the …coquettish perfumed boudoirs made for talks at five o’clock with intimate friends …” (59).

boudoir n. A woman's private sitting room, dressing room, or bedroom. see above.

tureen n. A broad, deep, usually covered dish used for serving foods such as soups or stews. “… her husband… uncovered the soup tureen” (59).

disdain n. A feeling of contempt and aversion; regarding anything as unworthy of or beneath one; scorn. “Instead of being delighted … she threw the invitations on the table with disdain” (60).

immoderate adj. Exceeding normal or appropriate bounds; extreme; excessive. “… her heart began to beat with immoderate desire” (61).

anguish n. Agonizing physical or mental pain; torment. “Then she asked, hesitating, filled with anguish…” (62).

endeavor vi. To strive to achieve or reach; to try; to attempt. “All the men looked at her; asked her name, endeavored to be introduced” (62).

attaché n. A person officially assigned to the staff of a diplomatic mission to serve in a particular capacity. “All the attachés of the Cabinet wanted to waltz with her” (62).

intoxication n. 1. Exhilaration, excitement, or euphoria. “She danced with intoxication, with passion, made drunk by pleasure, forgetting all …” (62).

homage n. Special honor or respect shown or expressed publicly. “… a cloud of happiness composed of all this homage, of all this admiration, of all these awakening desires . . .” (62).

envelop vt. To put a covering about; to wrap up or in; to enclose in a case; to surround entirely. The women were “enveloping themselves in costly furs” (62).

vestibule n. A small entrance hall or passage between the outer door and the interior of a house or building. “I felt it in the vestibule of the palace” (63).

calamity n. An event that brings terrible loss, lasting distress, or severe affliction; a disaster. “She waited all day, in the same condition of mad fear before this terrible calamity” (63).

chagrin n. A keen feeling of mental unease, as of annoyance or embarrassment, caused by failure, disappointment, or a disconcerting event. “…they went . . . , searching for a necklace like the other … sick with chagrin and anguish” (63).

ruinous adj. Causing or apt to cause ruin; destructive. “He took up ruinous obligations, dealt with usurers and all the race of lenders” (64).

usurers n. One who lends money at interest, especially at an exorbitant or unlawfully high rate. “He took up ruinous obligations, dealt with usurers and all the race of lenders” (64).

privation n. 1. Lack of the basic necessities or comforts of life. “… frightened by the pains yet to come … by the prospect of all the physical privation . . . which he was to suffer . . .” (64).

garret n. A room on the top floor of a house, typically under a pitched roof; an attic. “They dismissed their servant; they changed their lodgings; they rented a garret under the roof” (64).

odious adj. Arousing or meriting strong dislike, aversion, or intense displeasure. “She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen” (64).

impoverished adj. Reduced to poverty; poverty-stricken. Deprived of natural richness or strength; limited or depleted. “She had become the woman of impoverished households–strong and hard and rough” (65).

askew adv. & adj. To one side; awry. “With frowsy hair, skirts askew, and red hands, she talked loud[ly] while washing the floor with great swishes of water” (65).

fêted vt. To celebrate or honor with a festival, a feast, or an elaborate entertainment. To pay honor to. “… she thought of that gay evening of long ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful and so fêted” (65).

“The Lottery”

profuse adj. Plentiful; copious. Giving or given freely and abundantly; extravagant. profusely adv. “. . . the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green” (208).

boisterous adj. Rough and stormy; violent. Loud, noisy, and lacking in restraint or discipline. “. . . they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play” (209).

reprimand n. A severe, formal, or official rebuke or censure. “. . . their talk was still of the classroom and teacher, of books and reprimands” (209).

civic adj. Of, relating to, or belonging to a city, a citizen, or citizenship. “The lottery was conducted by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities” (209).

jovial adj. Marked by hearty conviviality and good cheer. “He was a round-faced, jovial man . . .” (209).

paraphernalia pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The articles used in a particular activity; equipment. “The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago . . .” (209).

lapse vi. To come to an end, esp. gradually or temporarily. To be no longer valid or active; expire. “. . . years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse” (210).

interminable adj. Being or seeming to be without an end; endless. Tiresomely long; tedious. interminably adv. “. . . he seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins” (210).

defiant adj. Boldly resisting authority or an opposing force. defiantly adv. “She hesitated for a minute, looking around defiantly, and then set her lips and went up to the box” (214).

“Everyday Use”

homely adj. Not attractive or good-looking. “. . . she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe” (325).

tottering vi. To sway as if about to fall. To appear about to collapse. To walk unsteadily or feebly; stagger. “. . . her own mother and father tottering in weakly from backstage” (325).

ushered vt. To serve as a guide to; escort; lead. “I am ushered into a bright room filled with many people” (325).

sidle vi. To move sideways. To advance in an unobtrusive, furtive, or coy way. “Have you ever seen a lame animal . . . sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him?” (326).

ignorant adj. Lacking education or knowledge. Unaware or uninformed. “sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice” (326). “. . . a cheap city girl from a family of ignorant flashy people” (327). see above.

dingy adj. Darkened with smoke and grime; dirty or discolored. Shabby, drab, or squalid. “. . . she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the red-hot brick chimney” (326).

furtive adj. 1: marked by quiet and caution and secrecy; taking pains to avoid being observed. “Furtive boys in pink shirts hanging about on washday after school” (327).

scalding adj. Harshly critical or denunciatory; scathing. “. . . they worshipped the well-turned phrase, the cute shape, the scalding humor that erupted like bubbles in lye” (327).

stout adj. Strong in body; sturdy. Strong in structure or substance; solid or substantial. Bulky in figure; thickset or corpulent. “‘Don’t get up,’ says Dee. Since I am stout it takes something of a push” (328).

cowering adj. Shrinking or flinching in fear. “ . . . picture after picture of me sitting there in front of the house with Maggie cowering behind me” (328).

rifle vt. To search with intent to steal. “After dinner Dee (Wangero) went to the trunk at the foot of my bed and started rifling through it” (330).

stumped vt. To cause to be at a loss; baffle.“‘Well,’ I said, stumped. ‘What would you do with them?’” (331).

heritage n. Something passed down from earlier generations; a tradition. Status acquired through birth; a birthright. “‘What don’t I understand?’ I wanted to know. ‘Your heritage,’ she said” (331).

“Two Kinds”

prodigy n. A person with exceptional talents or powers. “‘Of course you can be prodigy, too,’ my mother told me when I was nine. ‘You can be best at anything’” (348).

indignity n. Humiliating, degrading, or abusive treatment. A source of offense, as to a person's pride or sense of dignity; an affront. “I was like the Christ child lifted out of the straw manger, crying with holy indignity” (349).

reproach n. Blame; rebuke. “My mother and father would adore me. I would be beyond reproach” (349).

listless adj. Lacking energy or disinclined to exert effort; lethargic. listlessly adv. “So now on nights when my mother presented her tests, I performed listlessly, my head propped on one arm” (350).

entranced adj. Filled with wonder and delight. “She seemed entranced by the music, a little frenzied piano piece with this mesmerizing quality” (351).

frenzied adj. Excessively agitated; transported with rage or other strong emotion. “She seemed entranced by the music, a little frenzied piano piece with this mesmerizing quality” (351).

mesmerizing adj. Attracting and holding interest as if by a spell. “She seemed entranced by the music, a little frenzied piano piece with this mesmerizing quality” (351).

lilting adj. A cheerful or lively manner of speaking, in which the pitch of the voice varies pleasantly. Having a musical quality “. . . quick [musical] passages and then teasing lilting ones before [the tune] returned to the quick playful parts” (351).

frantic adj. Highly excited with strong emotion or frustration. Characterized by rapid and disordered or nervous activity. “And he would start to conduct his frantic silent sonatas” (352).

reverie n. A daydream. “And Old Chong kept conducting his own private reverie” (353).

prelude n. An introductory performance, event, or action preceding a more important one; a preliminary or preface. “I learned to play only the most ear-splitting preludes, the most discordant hymns” (353).

squabble vi. To contend for superiority in an unseemly manner; scuffle; struggle; wrangle; quarrel. To debate peevishly; dispute. “We . . . shared all the closeness of two sisters squabbling over crayons and dolls” (353).

lamented vt. To express grief for or about; mourn. To regret deeply; deplore. “‘She bring home too many trophy,’ lamented Auntie Lindo with a sigh to my mother” (353).

conspire vi. To plan together secretly to commit an illegal or wrongful act. “A few weeks later, Old Chong and my mother conspired to have me play in a talent show . . .” (353).

dawdle vi. To take more time than necessary. To loiter. To move aimlessly or lackadaisically. “I dawdled over [the song], playing a few bars and then cheating, looking up to see what notes followed” (353).

bewitch vt. To place under one's power by or as if by magic; cast a spell over. “I couldn’t stop playing, as though my hands were bewitched” (354).

gawker n. A person who stares or gapes stupidly. “ . . . it seemed as if everybody were now coming up, like gawkers at the scene of an accident, to see what parts were actually missing” (355).

fiasco n. A complete failure. “I assumed my talent-show fiasco meant I never had to play the piano again” (355).

shrill adj. High-pitched and piercing in tone or sound. shrilly adv. “‘Too late change this,’ said my mother shrilly” (356).

brittle adj. Likely to break, snap, or crack. Easily damaged or disrupted; fragile. “ . . .she backed out of the room, stunned, as if she were blowing away like a small brown leaf, thin, brittle, lifeless” (356).

asserting vt. To state or express positively; affirm. To defend or maintain (one's rights). To act boldly or forcefully, esp. in defending one's rights or stating an opinion. “ . . . I failed her so many times, each time asserting my own will . . .” (356).

sentimental adj. Resulting from or colored by emotion rather than reason or realism. Appealing to the sentiments, esp. to romantic feelings. “I . . . had the piano reconditioned, for purely sentimental reasons” (357).

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