Walden- Vocabulary List
As I progress through Walden, I just thought I'd post definitions to the vocab words that I'm learning constantly as I work through Thoreau's brilliance...
I just started doing this for part 5,
WALDEN VOCAB- PART 5
enervate- weaken mentally or morally
magnanimity- liberal and generous
progenitor- direct ancestor
If anyone here wants to contribute their words to 1-4, it would be awesome. Then eventually we can have a big list for each of the 114 sections to help people like me with average vocabularies.
It is a good idea!This way not only helps others,but also improves yourself.I am favor of it.I will do the first part tomorrow.
May 13, 2009 10:05 am
Good idea, Charlie!
WALDEN VOCABULARY PART 1
sojourner: one who stays temporarily in a place
obtrude: to impose or force
penance: a voluntary act of punishment to show repentance for a sin
encumbrance: a burden or impediment
May 16, 2009 5:11 pm
WALDEN VOCABULARY PART 2
sonorous: producing a sound that is loud, deep, or resonant; having a style of speech that is rich and impressive
factitious: artificial or unnatural; lacking genuineness
integrity: steadfast adherence to a strict code of moral and ethical principles
depreciate: to lessen the price or value of; to belittle
whet: to make keener or more acute
insolvent: bankrupt; unable to meet debts
frivolous: characterized by lack of seriousness or sense; carefree, self-indulgent, unconcerned; unworthy of serious attention or trivial
May 17, 2009 1:39 pm
WALDEN VOCABULARY PART 3
catechism: a book that gives a summary of the basic principles of Christianity in question-and-answer form; or a manual giving basic instruction on a particular subject.
ordinance: an authoritative command (think "order")
praetor: an elected magistrate that oversaw the administration of civil justice in the ancient Roman republic
ennui: listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest; boredom
illumine: to give light to (think "illuminate")
apex: the highest point
May 18, 2009 8:50 pm
Contumely: Harsh language or treatment arising from haughtiness & contempt.
Nascent: Coming or having recently come into existence.
Ephemeral: Lasting a very short time.
Fecundity: Intellectually productive or inventive to a marked degree.
Maleficence: A harmful or evil act.
Interregnum: A lapse or pause in a continuous series.
Cynosure: A centre of attraction or attention.
Imperious: Intensely compelling.
May 19, 2009 9:58 am
Thanks, Manichaean! What part are those words from?
WALDEN VOCABULARY PART 4
enterprise: an undertaking of some difficulty that requires considerable effort and boldness
gross: immediately obvious OR undiscriminating, unrefined
(I'm not sure which definition from Walden fits better; the sentence from part four reads, "It would be some advantage to live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst of an outward civilization, if only to learn what are the gross necessaries of life and what methods have been taken to obtain them")
impunity: exemption or freedom from punishment, harm, or loss
combustion: an act or instance of burning
draught: British term for "draft" (yes, I'm American. Why do you ask?)
Sorry guys, I had to really look for the more evasive terms in this part of Walden...
May 19, 2009 7:06 pm
Whoops. Sorry Wellreadscholar. Just realised we were dealing only with Walden Vocab.
Thanks for the observation on "draft". You should see the Anglo/American meetings we have on the petrochemical job where I am when we venture forth into the realms of pronounciation either side of the Atlantic e.g. US: "What is the route?" UK: "Pardon, I don't understand" US "Route !". UK: "How do you spell it". US getting agitated "Route". UK: "Oh, you mean route" (pronounced root). US: "No, thats the bit of the tree under the ground".
May 19, 2009 11:38 pm
Is it abnormal for an American to pronounce route like root? I am American, have never met a Brit in my life, and I pronounce it that way.
May 20, 2009 12:20 am
Manichaean: No problem-- this forum was meant to help others learn more words, after all; it doesn’t matter where the terms came from. I've heard of many similar situations like the one you described. (The words “schedule”, “buoy”, and “garage” come to mind.) It's very embarrassing at first but later makes for great conversations at dinner parties with British friends.
jrainis: I pronounce “route” like “root” too. I think “root” is more common outside of the United States, though.
May 20, 2009 1:07 am
Dear wellreadscholar & jrainis. As you have noted we are sometimes "divided by a common language" , not just in the pronounciation but also in our understandings e.g trunk / boot (of a car)/ pants (underwear to us)/ trousers have different meanings. Perhaps the most infamous faux pas was when one British ambassadour to the US at a State function, encouraged "All Americans to keep their peckers up". To us it is to keep your spirits up. I understand you have a different perspective on the meaning!
May 20, 2009 2:45 am
WALDEN VOCABULARY PART SIX
prescribe: to lay down a rule; dictate
dross: impurity; something that is base, trivial, or inferior
fetters: a chain or shackle for the feet; something that confines
manna: a usually sudden and unexpected source of gratification, pleasure, or gain
(The sentence from Walden reads, "At other times watching from the observatory of some cliff or tree, to telegraph any new arrival; or waiting at evening on the hill-tops for the sky to fall, that I might catch something, though I never caught much, and that, manna-wise, would dissolve again in the sun.")
May 21, 2009 7:17 pm
WALDEN VOCABULARY PART SEVEN
sinecure: an office or position requiring little to no work that usually provides an income
audit: a methodical examination and review. More specifically, a formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts/financial situation
curacy: the office, duties, or position of a curate (a clergyman in charge of a parish)
exorbitant: highly excessive
logarithmic: relating to logarithms (which are kind of like the opposite of exponents: the value of the power that a base must be raised to reach a given number. Think back to your last advanced algebra class in high school.)
May 22, 2009 6:49 pm
Do you think that the destruction of the English language by the addition of Americana has now been sufficiently executed, that there is a genuine case for the recognition of a new genre'.
Perhaps in awed recognition of the failure to spell and pronounce words correctly on the other side of the Pond Washington should issue a directive that there official language is hence forth to be known as Thicko
May 23, 2009 8:02 am
The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yoghurt and I suspect that the reason that the ability to write good prose and good dialogue go hand in hand is simply that a good writer knows how to listen.
May 23, 2009 10:03 am
I have a different perspective on pants and trousers. These are plural nouns to describe singular garments! Although a trouser has two leg holes, It is not two garments. Reference shirt which has two sleeves but is not called shirts!
May 23, 2009 12:41 pm
HSEManager342: Thank you for your kind insight. I can see why you say that; Americanized English doesn't sound half as nice as English pronounced with a British accent. By the way, in your last sentence, "there" should be "their" and "henceforth" is one word. I assume you are American...?
Manichaean: Good observation! I definitely agree with you, and so do many writers whose biographies I've read.
May 23, 2009 12:41 pm
whizard28: I was wondering about the same thing, so I did a quick Google search. Here's a link that might interest you as to why "pants" are plural while a shirt is not: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-pai1.htm
May 23, 2009 12:47 pm
WALDEN VOCABULARY PART EIGHT
(Coincidentally, this contains a long ramble on the function of clothing to determine rank in society.)
Neva: a river in West Russia flowing from Lake Ladoga to Gulf of Finland at St. Petersburg
improvidence: the quality or state of not foreseeing and providing for the future
shiftless: lacking in resourcefulness (inefficient); lacking in ambition (lazy)
divest: to deprive or dispossess of property, authority, or title; to take something away from someone
soire: (now spelled soiree) a party or reception held in the evening
cuticle: an outer covering layer
cashier (verb): to dismiss from service, usually dishonorably
May 23, 2009 2:26 pm
I just wanted to note here that Henry David Thoreau (the author of Walden) was an American. I suppose that back in his time, which was around the 19th century, British English and American English were more similar than they are now.
May 23, 2009 4:13 pm
Dear well read scholar, I am proud to proclaim, that I am not American, I am in fact 100% Btitish-English, as such I do not have in me the Ability to write any thing remotely connected with a rebel song, we have historically been to busy winning to sit down and compose.
May 24, 2009 6:47 am
HSEManager342: Oops, my bad. I apologize deeply for my error! I'm really impressed at the pride you have for your country. (I take it you mean "British", not "Btitish", right?) You're more apt to see apathy nowadays, everywhere you look. This is shown especially in some members of the younger generation, who are too hooked up in their cell phones and iPods to care about anything beyond the confines of their virtual worlds. Keep it up!
May 24, 2009 2:12 pm
WALDEN VOCABULARY PART 9
exogenous: produced by growth from superficial tissue; caused by factors or introduced from outside the organism
integument: something that covers or encloses
liber: the part of a plant that comprises its food-conducting tissue
girdling: to encompass, enclose, or encircle; to cut away the bark and cambium in a ring around (a tree, branch, etc.).
nominal: being such in name only; being trifling in comparison with the actual value; minimal
oracular: giving forth utterances or decisions as if by special inspiration or authority (think “oracle”)
consanguinity: relationship by descent from a common ancestor, kinship (“con” means together, “sanguine” is related to blood)
consecrate: to make or declare sacred
colic: (noun) an attack of acute abdominal pain localized in a hollow organ and often caused by spasm, obstruction, or twisting; (adj) pertaining to or affecting the colon or the bowels.
May 24, 2009 2:52 pm
oooh the word chain,
well I might be able to expand a little on this:
Brassard - Shoulder cover that carries rank or pens.
Fettle- To repair or refurbish.
Clempt,(noun) Hungry or starving
May 25, 2009 7:07 am
Dear Wellread scholar, I apoligise for the rudimentry spelling mistakes that litter my contribution, it is alas a disconect between my brain and my fat fingers on the key board whilst tryibg to squeeze in my thoughts, in breaks of work, lol
May 25, 2009 7:12 am
HSEManager342: Thanks! And don't worry about the spelling mistakes.
VOCABULARY PART 10
mode: a manner, way, or method of action; a particular form
gazette: a newspaper or official journal
torrid: parched with the sun’s heat; intensely hot; scorching
bower: a shaded, leafy recess (arbor); a country retreat
behoove: to be necessary or proper for
callous: emotionally hardened; unfeeling; tough
VOCABULARY PART 11
levity: frivolity; capriciousness; the state or quality of being light (buoyant)
bulrush: any of several wetland plants like the papyrus or the cattail
pecuniary: of or relating to money
encumbrance: a burden or impediment
repudiation: the act of rejecting
éclat: great brilliance of performance/achievement; conspicuous success
suent: uniformly or evenly distributed or spread; smooth
May 25, 2009 3:46 pm
Dear HSE Manager342, Sometimes I think that language is more fashion than science and matters of usage, spelling and pronunciation tend to wander around like hemlines. Gibbon had the soaring prose, Hemingway the terse reporters style. You will know a word by the company it keeps.
May 26, 2009 5:37 am
Manichaean: You are really observant! Good insight. Were you ever a sociology or linguistics major, by any chance?
VOCABULARY PART 12
rarefy: to make thin, less compact, or less dense; to purify or refine
indigence: poverty, neediness
precept: a rule or principle prescribing a particular course of action or conduct.
apotheosize: to glorify, exalt
retinue: a group of retainers (servants) or attendants
May 26, 2009 8:59 pm
VOCABULARY PART 13
dissipated: (adj) intemperate in the pursuit of pleasure, dissolute; wasted or squandered; irreversibly lost and used of energy
Sardanapalus: a legendary Assyrian king known for his decadence (we derive the word “Sardanapalian”, or excessively luxurious or sensual, from his name)
emasculate: to deprive of strength or vigor; weaken.
gewgaw: a gaudy and useless object; trinket; bauble
factitious: produced artificially; lacking authenticity or genuineness
wainscot: a facing or paneling, usually of wood, applied to the walls of a room; the lower part of an interior wall when finished in a material different from that of the upper part
May 26, 2009 8:59 pm
No, I had to study subjects that enabled me to make money & raise a family. But I was steeped & marinated in books as a child. Now having made the money & with the kids grown up, I can indulge myself.
May 27, 2009 1:45 am
Manichaean: Yes, that's true. It seems you get a lot out of books, then!
VOCABULARY PART 14-15
degenerate: to deteriorate, as in function or nature, from its original state; or to decline in mental or moral qualities
aguish: resulting from ague, or a condition in which there are alternating periods of chills, fever, and sweating.
dearth: a scarce supply, lack
sumach: (now spelled sumac) a type of shrub or small tree with compound leaves and usually red, hairy fruit.
May 29, 2009 8:41 pm
Great idea for a thread! It looks like the original poster vanished and is letting others do the hard work! I've found I need to look up the definitions myself and use them in context to really learn!
I have an Excel spreadsheet on my computer desktop, and as I encounter vocabulary words that are unfamiliar to me, I google the definitions and copy/paste them into my spreadsheet as an exercise to improve my vocabulary.
Jun 8, 2009 2:45 pm
Sorry for not posting for a while-- I've been really busy for the past 2-3 weeks!
VOCABULARY PART 16
dilettantism: the practices or characteristics of a dabbler in an art or a field of knowledge
indweller: an inhabitant
belles-lettres: literature regarded as a fine art, especially as having a purely aesthetic function
beaux-arts: resembling the architecture, architectural precepts, or teaching methods of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris: often used in a pejorative sense to designate excessive formalism disregarding considerations of structural truth, advanced aesthetic theory, rational planning, or economy
forsooth: in truth; indeed
Jun 12, 2009 3:33 pm
Jun 16, 2009 10:34 am
VOCABULARY PART 17
cant: hypocrisy; pretense
circumspection: discretion; prudence; caution
ignoble: of low quality, character, or purpose
defraud: to deprive of a right, interest, or property by deceitful means (fraud)
mote: a small particle or speck
metallurgy: the science that deals with procedures used in extracting metals from their ores, purifying and alloying metals, and creating useful objects from metals.
VOCABULARY PART 18-19
unmerchantable: not fit for market, “unsalable”
transient: passing with time (transitory) or remaining in place only a brief time (temporary)
Bhagvat-Geeta: “Song of God” in Sanskrit; part of a larger classical Indian epic called the Mahabharata
Arcadia: a region of ancient Greece; any real or imaginary place offering peace and simplicity
mainspring: the principal spring in a mechanism; the chief motive power
Jun 22, 2009 5:17 pm
VOCABULARY PART 20-21
abstemiousness: marked by restraint (especially in regards to the consumption of food or alcohol)
discomfiture: anxious embarrassment
VOCABULARY PART 22-23
andirons: the iron braces which hold the logs in a fireplace
deacon: a subordinate officer in a Christian church
trumpery: worthless nonsense
abstain: to refrain deliberately and often with effort
amnesty: the act of an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals
sacrament: a formal religious ceremony conferring a specific grace on those who receive it; a sacred act or ceremony in Christianity
Jun 23, 2009 5:58 pm
Does anyone know the definition of "cerealian"?
I found the word in part 21 of Walden and looked it up in both the Merriam-Webster and the Random House physical dictionaries, but I couldn't find it. Nor did Googling the word and searching online dictionaries help.
Here's the context in Walden: "Leaven, which some deem the soul of bread, the spiritus which fills its cellular tissue, which is religiously preserved like the vestal fire -- some precious bottleful, I suppose, first brought over in the Mayflower, did the business for America, and its influence is still rising, swelling, spreading, in cerealian billows over the land ..."
Jun 23, 2009 6:02 pm
My best guess is that Thoreau uses "cerealian" to mean of or pertaining to cereals or grain -- makes sense with the leavening / bread reference, and the "rising influence" = sort of witty way to refer to rising bread made of grain. Cerealian billows could also be rising dough or bread, or could also be waving, growing grain.
Jun 27, 2009 11:35 pm
Jul 26, 2009 7:17 pm