"To Build a Fire" vocabulary


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Pictorial glossary of vocabulary from Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire"

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"To Build a Fire" vocabulary

  1. 1. Anesthetic (noun) a drug that causes temporary loss of bodily sensations. “ it was like taking an anesthetic…”
  2. 2. Apathetically (adv) Showing little or no emotion. As he looked apathetically about him….
  3. 3. Appease (adv.) cause to be more favorably inclined The warmth and security of the animal angered him, and he cursed it till it flattened down its ears appeasingly.
  4. 4. Appendage (n) An external body part that projects from the body. “ He did not mind the appendage.”
  5. 5. Bough (n) Any of the larger branches of a tree “ High up in the tree one bough capsized its load of snow.”
  6. 6. Brimstone (noun) an old name for sulphur But the burning brimstone went up his nostrils causing him to cough spasmodically
  7. 7. Bristle (verb) to rise up as in fear “ This made the animal bristle and back away.”
  8. 8. Capsize (verb) To overturn accidentally High up in the tree one bough capsized its load of snow.
  9. 9. Chide (verb) censure severely or angrily bawl out lifting and shifting of forefeet, it whined softly, then flattened its ears down in anticipation of being chidden by the man
  10. 10. Conception (noun) A general understanding or thought of something “ He sat up and entertained in his mind the conception of meeting death with dignity.”
  11. 11. Conflagration (N.) A very intense, and uncontrolled fire. “ ..and the moccasin strings were like rods of steel all twisted and knotted as by some conflagration .”
  12. 12. Conjectural <ul><li>(adj.): Based primarily on surmise rather than adequate evidence </li></ul><ul><li>“ It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man's frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man's place in the universe.” </li></ul>A conjectural painting Andrea Palladio
  13. 13. Customary (adj.) Usual for somebody or characteristic of somebody’s usual behavior. “ When he spoke peremptorily, with the sound of whip-lashes in his voice, the dog rendered its customary allegiance and came to him.”
  14. 14. Ebb (v.) the flowing backward of water or decline of something “ his strength ebbed, his eyes glazed, and he knew nothing when the train was flagged…”
  15. 15. Excruciate (v) to torment emotionally or mentally, subject to torture. The faint tingling grew stronger till it evolved into a stinging ache that was excruciating, but which the man hailed with satisfaction.
  16. 16. Flotsam (noun) the floating wreckage of a ship “ Next he gathered the dry grasses and tiny twigs from the high-water flotsam”
  17. 17. Flounder (verb) Walk with great difficulty Suddenly it broke through, floundered to one side, and got away to firmer footing.
  18. 18. Frailty (n.) The state of being weak in health or body (especially from old age). “ It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty…”
  19. 19. Imperceptible (adj.) impossible or difficult to perceive by the mind or senses. Each time he had pulled a twig he had communicated a slight agitation to the tree -- an imperceptible agitation, so far as he was concerned, but an agitation sufficient to bring about the disaster.
  20. 20. Intangible ( adj.) Not capable of being perceived by the sense of touch . “ It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things.”
  21. 21. Jowl <ul><li>(n.) the jaw in vertebrates that is hinged to open the mouth. </li></ul><ul><li>“ The frozen moisture of its breathing had settled on its fur in a fine powder or frost, especially where its jowls, muzzle, and eyelashes whitened by its crystalled breath.” </li></ul>
  22. 22. Manipulation (noun) the action of touching with the hands ( or the skillful use of the hands) or by the use of mechanical means “ After some manipulation, he managed to get the bunch between the heels of his mittened hands”
  23. 23. Methodically <ul><li>(adv) Done according to a systematic or established form of procedure. </li></ul><ul><li>“ He worked methodically, even collecting an armful of the larger branches to be used later when the fire gathered strength.” </li></ul>
  24. 24. Mincingly (adv) Affectedly dainty or delicate “ This unusual posture again exited suspicion, and the animal sidled mincingly away…”
  25. 25. Monotonously (adv) Lacking in variety; in a repeated manner “ So he continued monotonously to chew tobacco and to increase the length of his amber beard.”
  26. 26. Pall <ul><li>(n.) something that covers/spreads over darkness or gloom </li></ul><ul><li>“… the land numb and frozen under its pall of snow.” </li></ul>
  27. 27. Peremptorily (adv) In a imperative and commanding manner “ His erect position in itself started to drive the webs of suspicion from the dog's mind; and when he spoke peremptorily, with the sound of whip-lashes in his voice…”
  28. 28. Poignant (adj.) Keenly distressing to the mind or feelings/ Arousing affect “ This fear quickly became poignant as he realized that…it was a matter of life and death…
  29. 29. Reiterate (v) To say, state, or perform again “ Once in a while the thought reiterated itself…”
  30. 30. Sidle <ul><li>(v) to move obtrusively or furtively, move sideways. </li></ul><ul><li>“ This unusual posture again excited suspicion, and the animal sidled mincingly away.” </li></ul>
  31. 31. Smite (verb) To affect suddenly with deep feeling “ He did not expose his fingers more than a minute, and was astonished at the swift numbness that smote them.”
  32. 32. Speculatively <ul><li>(Adv) theoretical, rather than practical </li></ul><ul><li>“ As he turned to go, he spat speculatively.” </li></ul>
  33. 33. Spittle <ul><li>(n) A clear liquid secreted into the mouth by the salivary glands and mucous glands of the mouth; moistens the mouth and starts the digestion of starches. </li></ul><ul><li>“ And again, in the air before it could fall to the snow, the spittle crackled…” </li></ul>
  34. 34. Temperamental <ul><li>(adj) Subject to sharply varying moods </li></ul><ul><li>“ At the man’s heels trotted a dog, a big native husky, the proper wolf-dog, gray-coated and without any temperamental difference from its brother, the wild wolf.” </li></ul>
  35. 35. Throttle (V.) Kill by squeezing the throat of so as to cut off air. “ With his helpless hands he could neither draw or hold his sheath-knife nor throttle the animal”
  36. 36. Totter (V.) To move without being stable, as if threatening to fall. “ Several times he stumbled, and finally he tottered , crumpled up, and fell.”
  37. 37. Undulation (noun) wavelike motion; a gentle rising and falling in the manner of waves “ It was pure white, rolling in gentle undulations where ice-jams of the freeze-up had formed.”
  38. 38. Unwonted (adj.) Out of the ordinary “ ... and that made it question eagerly every unwonted movement of the man…”
  39. 39. Wistfulness <ul><li>(noun) a sadly pensive longing </li></ul><ul><li>“ And all the while the dog sat and watched him, a certain yearning wistfulness in its eyes, for it looked upon him as the fire-provider, and the fire was slow in coming.” </li></ul>
  40. 40. Yearn <ul><li>(verb) desire strongly or persistently </li></ul><ul><li>The dog was disappointed and yearned back toward the fire. </li></ul>