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TKAM Vocabulary Chapters 1-8

To Kill a Mockingbird


Chapters 1-8


Chapter 1

ambled: (vb.): to walk at a slow, leisurely pace.

apothecary (n.): an early form of a pharmacist, apothecaries could also prescribe drugs.

assuaged (vb.): to assuage is to lessen or to calm. Therefore, if Jem's fears about being able to play football were assuaged, it means that he no longer feared that he wouldn't be able to play the sport.

beadle (n.): a minor city official, lower in rank than either a sheriff or a policeman, whose main duties revolve around preserving order at various civil functions such as trials and town hall meetings.

brethren (n.): in this case, members of a particular church or sect

corsets (n): a corset is a ladies undergarment designed to produce a particular effect on the figure. That effect usually results in a slim (or slimmer) waist and larger busts and hips.

dictum (n.): in this case, a formal statement of principle

domiciled (vb.): A domicile is a house or a place where a person lives. If you are domiciled somewhere, that is where you live. The Finch family lived in the northern part of the county.

eaves (n.): the lower edges of a roof which usually project beyond the side of a building

foray (n.): When you make a foray, you go somewhere or do something that is unusual or not normal for you. It was certainly not Jem's usual behavior to go near the Radley house; thus, doing so was a foray for him.

human chattels (n.): slaves

impotent (adj.): powerless. Simon's fury and anger regarding the Civil War would certainly have been impotent because there would have been nothing he could have done about it.

impudent (adj.): To be impudent is to be shamelessly bold, as if you don't care what anyone thinks about you. Since the Haverfords did something illegal in front of witnesses, Lee rightfully describes them as impudent.

malevolent (adj.): evil

Methodists (n): members of a branch of a Protestant Christian denomination.

picket (n): a pointed or sharpened pole or stake. Many pickets held together can make a picket fence.

piety (n): devotion to religious duties and practices

predilection (n.): a predilection is a preference, or a preferred way of doing something. Thus, the Radley's preferred way of spending a Sunday afternoon was to keep the doors closed and not receive visitors

ramrod (adj.): rigid, severe, straight

repertoire was vapid: (n. + adj.): a repertoire is all the special skills a person has; vapid, in this case, means boring or uninteresting. So, when Scout says that their repertoire was vapid, she means that the games they had invented to pass the time had become old and had lost their interest.

scold (n.): A scold is a person who scolds; that is, someone who often finds fault with people or things (and usually lets you know about it under no uncertain terms)

spittoon (n.): a jarlike container to spit into; usually used to spit tobacco juice into.

strictures (n.): conditions or rules

taciturn (adj.): almost always silent. Apparently, Aunt Alexandra's husband was a very quiet man.

unsullied (adj.): something that is unsullied has been basically untouched or unused. The fact that Atticus's edition of the Code of Alabama is unsullied would, in this case, indicate that he seldom consults this book.

veranda (n): a portico or porch with a roof


Chapter 2

auburn (adj.): reddish-brown

catawba worms (n.): catawba worms are actually caterpillars that are highly prized by fishermen in the Southern United States.

condescended (vb.): To condescend is to agree to do something that you believe to be beneath your dignity. Jem condescends to take Scout to school, even though, as a fifth-grader, he feels superior to his first-grade sister.

covey (n.): a group

crimson (adj.): blood-red

cunning (adj.): In this case, cunning means attractive or cute -- almost too cute

entailment (n.): a legal situation regarding the use of inherited property.

hookworms (n.): a type of parasite. Hookworms usually enter the body through bare feet and move through the body to the small intestines where they attach themselves with a series of hooks around their mouths.

immune (adj.): In this case, to be immune to something means that it has no effect on you. The story Miss Caroline reads to the class has no effect on them; they don't get it.

indigenous (adj.): belonging to a particular region or country

scrip stamps (n.): paper money of small denominations (less than $1.00) issued for temporary emergency use. During the Great Depression, many local and state government gave out scrip stamps, or sometimes tokens, to needy people.

seceded (vb.): To secede is to break away. During the Civil War, Alabama was one of the states that broke away, or seceded from the Union.

smilax (n.): a bright green twinning vine, often used for holiday decorations.

sojourn (n.): a brief visit

subsequent mortification (adj. + n.): Something that is subsequent will follow closely after something else. Mortification is a feeling of shame or the loss of self respect. If Scout had been able to explain things to Miss Caroline, she could have prevented her teacher from losing self respect of feeling shameful later on.

vexations (n.): To vex is to annoy, so a vexation is something that causes annoyance or problems.

wallowing illicitly (vb. + adv.): In this case, to wallow is to indulge in something (usually an activity) with great enjoyment. Illicit, used like this, means unauthorized or improper. After listening to Miss Caroline, Scout feels that, by reading, she has been happily indulging in something which she should not have been doing.


Chapter 3

amiable (adj.): friendly

compromise (n.): an agreement where each person agrees to give up something

contemptuous (adj.): To be contemptuous is to have the feeling that someone or something is beneath you; that it or they are worthless. The Ewell boy obviously feels this way about his teacher, Miss Caroline.

contentious (adj.): always ready to argue or fight

cootie (n.): a slang term for a head louse. A louse (plural: lice) is a bloodsucking parasite.

cracklin bread (n.): a type of cornbread mixed with cracklins (bits of fried pork skin). Want to make some?

diminutive (adj.): smaller than ordinary

disapprobation (n.): disapproval

discernible (adj.): understandable

dispensation (n.): a release from an obligation or promise. In this case, by offering friendship to Walter and promising that Scout won't fight with him, Jem dispenses her threat to fight with him more.

dose (of) magnesia (n. + n.): A dose is an exact amount of medicine. Magnesia is a medicine used as a laxative and antacid.

eddy (n.): a current of water that moves against the main current; a whirlpool

erratic (adj.): irregular. Calpurnia usually uses good grammar, but when she is angry, her grammar is irregular.

flinty (adj.): Flint is a very hard rock. Something that is flinty is extremely hard and firm.

fractious (adj.): mean or cross

gravely (adv.): seriously

haint (n.): a ghost or spook; someone or something very scary

irked (v.): to be irked is to be annoyed. Scout is annoyed when Jem tells Walter that she won't fight with him (Walter) anymore.

kerosene (n.): a thin oil. Kerosene is sometimes used as a solvent or cleaning agent, although its more common use is for fuel or lighting.

lye soap (n.): Lye is a very strong alkaline substance used for cleaning. Lye soap is very strong, harsh soap that contains lye.

monosyllabic (adj.): Mono means "one." A syllable is word or a part of a word which can be pronounced with a single, uninterrupted sound. The name "Atticus," for example, is made up of three syllables: at + ti + cus. Thus, monosyllabic literally means "one sound." Scout's monosyllabic replies to Atticus's questions about her first day at school might have been made up of one-sound words like "yes" and "no."

mutual concessions (adj. + n.): A concession is an agreement; something that is mutual is done by two or more people. Thus, a mutual concession occurs when two or more people agree on something.

onslaught (n.): a violent attack

persevere (v.): to carry on in spite of difficulties

tranquility (n.): peacefulness; serenity


Chapter 4

auspicious (adj.): favorable

melancholy (adj.): sad and gloomy

quelling (of) nausea: (v. + n.): To quell something is to quiet or pacify it. Nausea is the feeling you get when your stomach is upset and you feel as if you're about to vomit. Scout is trying to quell her nausea, or make her stomach settle down.

scuppernongs (n.): a sweet table grape, grown chiefly in the Southern United States.


Chapter 5

asinine (adj.): stupid; silly

benevolence (n.): in this case, a generous or thoughtful gift

benign (adj.): kind and gentle

bridgework (n.): Unlike dentures, which replace the upper or lower sets of teeth, bridgework is made up of sections of replacement teeth that can be inserted and removed from one's mouth.

chameleon (adj.) In nature, chameleons are tree-dwelling lizards that have the unusual ability to change the color of their skin in order to blend into their surroundings. By calling Miss Maudie a chameleon lady, Scout points out the fact that her neighbor's appearance was as changeable as one of the lizards.

cordiality (n.): sincere affection and kindness

edification (n.): education; instruction

gaped (vb.): To gape at someone is to stare at that person with your mouth open.

inquisitive (adj.): questioning; prying

mimosa (n): Also called a silk tree, a mimosa can be either a tree or a shrub.

morbid (adj.): gruesome; horrible

placidly (adv.): calmly; quietly

Protestant (adj.): Protestant is the name applied to any number of Christian churches, such as Baptist, Methodist, and Lutheran.

pulpit Gospel (adj. + n.): A pulpit is the raised platform or lectern from which a preacher speaks in church. The Gospel refers to the teachings of Jesus Christ, specifically the first four books of the New Testament. Scout says that her faith in what she's heard about the teachings of Christ from the pulpit (preacher) in her own church has been shaken a bit.

quibbling (vb.): a type of arguing where you avoid the main point by bringing up petty details

tacit (adj.) An agreement, or, in this case, a "treaty" that is tacit is one that has been silently agreed upon. Thus, the children know that they can play on Miss Maudie's front lawn even though she never directly told them that it was all right to do so.

Chapter 6

collards (n.): a type of cabbage with very coarse leaves. It would be difficult to walk quietly through a patch of collards. See a picture of a collard patch.

dismemberment (n.): To dismember someone is to tear or cut that person's limbs (arms and legs) off. Although it is unlikely that anyone would have actually pulled off Dill's arms and legs, Lee uses the word to point out how outraged Miss Rachel must have been to discover that the children had been playing strip poker.

eerily (adv.): weirdly; mysteriously

ensuing (adj.): Something that ensues is something that comes immediately after something else.

Franklin stove (n.): a cast iron heating stove, invented by Benjamin Franklin.

kudzu (n.): a quick-growing vine with large leaves, often found in the Southern United States.

lattice-work (adj.): A lattice is an openwork structure of crossed strips or bars, as in a screen.

malignant (adj.): dangerous; evil

prowess (n.): superior ability or skill

ramshackle (adj.): loose or rickety; about to fall apart

respiration (n.): breathing

rigid (adj.): stiff

waning (adj.): becoming less bright, intense, or strong. The moonlight is waning because it's getting closer to morning, and the moon is changing its position in the sky.


Chapter 7

cleaved (vb.): stuck

gnats (n.): small, two-winged insects that can bite or sting.

meditative (adj.): To meditate is to reflect upon something, or think about it. When Jem give the patch on the tree a meditative pat, he does so in a thoughtful manner.

palate (n.): the roof of one's mouth

perpetual embalming (adj. + n.): Something that is perpetual lasts forever. Embalming is the process of preserving a dead body. Think of Egyptian mummies, or unwrap a virtual mummy. As Atticus later says, Jem would do well to get rid of the adjective (perpetual) . The Egyptians invented a type of paper (not toilet paper), as well as embalming (which, by its very nature, is perpetual) .

rendered (her) speechless: (vb. + n.): made her unable to speak

vigil (n.): a watch. Jem is waiting and watching for Mr. Nathan to appear.

whittles (vb.): To whittle is to use a knife to cut away thin shavings of wood. Sometimes, a whittler may actually end up carving a recognizable object.


Chapter 8

aberrations (n.): an aberration is a deviation, or a moving away from, something that is normal. The fact that winter comes so quickly in Maycomb is abnormal, thus, an aberration.

azaleas (n.): a colorful and decorative kind of flower.

cannas (n.): a beautiful tropical flower.

caricatures (n.): a representation of a person where certain features of that person are exaggerated or distorted.

cordial (adj.): warm and friendly

flue (n.): a channel in a chimney that allows smoke and flames to pass to the outside

meteorological (adj.): anything to do with meteorology or weather.

morphodite (n.): Scout has misheard Miss Maudie, who would actually have said the word hermaphrodite. Technically, a hermaphrodite is an animal or plant that has both female and male reproductive organs. Of course, the children's snowman is not really a hermaphrodite, but it does have both male and female characteristics.

near libel (adj. + n.): When you commit libel, you harm someone's reputation. Atticus tells the children that they have committed a near libel; that is, their snowman is almost libelous because it so closely represents one of their neighbors and could harm that neighbor's reputation.

perpetrated (vb.): carried out; committed

plaited (vb.): braided

procured (vb): got

prophets (n.): A prophet is someone able to predict the future.

quelled (vb.): To quell is to overwhelm something until it is powerless. The tin roof of Miss Maudie's house quelled the flames because tin cannot burn so the fire was eventually stopped.

roomers (n.): persons who rent and live in rooms in a house.

switches (n.): slender twigs or branches

taffeta (n.): a lustrous, stiff fabric, often used for women's dresses, especially formal wear

touchous (adj.) touchy; sensitive

treble (adj.): high

unfathomable (adj.): Something that is unfathomable is something that cannot be understood.



adapted from a voc. list at http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/Belmont_HS/tkm/vocb_all.html

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