Vocabulary from Books, #3: The Jane Eyre Edition


I finished reading Jane Eyre over the weekend, despite all my NaNo writing time and despite it being 700 pages long.

It tied Paula for the most vocabulary words looked up (17 each) so I figured it merited a post of its own, as well.

Many are archaic and have fallen sharply out of use in the last century, but as I’m hoping to start ticking some more classics off my list (more on that later) they’re still good to know.

What a miserable little poltroon had fear, engendered of unjust punishment, made of me in those days!

poltroon: an utter coward

Bessie, having pressed me in vain to take a few spoonfuls of the boiled milk and bread she had prepared for me, wrapped up some biscuits in a paper and put them into my bag; then she helped me on with my pelisse and bonnet, and wrapping herself in a shawl, she and I left the nursery.

pelisse: a long cloak or coat made of fur or lined or trimmed with fur; a woman’s loose lightweight cloak with a wide collar and fur trimming

I was now nearly sick from inanition, having taken so little the day before.

inanition: exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment

At that hour most of the others were sewing likewise; but one class still stood round Miss Scatcherd’s chair reading, and as all was quiet, the subject of their lessons could be heard, together with the manner in which each girl acquitted herself, and the animadversions or commendations of Miss Scatcherd on the performance.

animadversion: criticism or censure; a critical comment or remark

Miss Temple is full of goodness: it pains her to be severe to any one, even the worst in the school: she sees my errors, and tell me of them gently; and if I do anything worthy of praise, she gives me my meed liberally.

meed: a deserved share or reward

A little solace came at tea-time, in the shape of a double ration of bread–a whole, instead of a half, slice–with the delicious addition of a thin scrape of butter: it was the hebdomadal treat to which we all looked forward from Sabbath to Sabbath.

hebdomadal: weekly

I discovered, too, that a great pleasure, an enjoyment which the horizon only bounded, lay all outside the high and spike-guarded walls of our garden: this pleasure consisted in prospect of noble summits girdling a great hill-hollow, rich in verdure and shadow: in a bright beck, full of dark stones and sparkling eddies.

beck: (British) a mountain stream

Tonight I hailed the first deep notes with satisfaction; I was debarrassed of interruption; my half-effaced thought instantly revived.

debarrass: to take (from a person) something that causes shame or embarrassment

Leah, make a little hot negus and cut a sandwich or two: here are the keys of the store room.

negus: a hot drink made from port, lemon, sugar, and spices

She hastened to ring the bell; and, when the tray came, she proceeded to arrange the cups, spoons, etc., with assiduous celerity.

celerity: swiftness of movement

The human and fallible should not arrogate a power with which the divine and perfect alone can be safely entrusted.

arrogate: take or claim (something) without justification

Next morning I had the pleasure of encountering him; left a bullet in one of his poor, etiolated arms, feeble as the wind of a chicken in a pip, and then thought I had done with the whole crew.

etiolated: having lost vigor or substance; feeble

If she objects, tell her it is my particular wish; and if she resists, say I shall come and fetch her in case of contumacy.

contumacy: stubborn refusal to obey or comply with authority, especially a court order or summons

It was not, however, so saturnine a pride: she laughed continually; her laugh was satirical, and so was the habitual expression of her arched and haughty lip.

saturnine: 1. (of a person or their manner) slow and gloomy; 2. (of a person or their features) dark in coloring and moody or mysterious; 3. (of a place or setting) gloomy

As if loveliness where not the special prerogative of woman–her legitimate appanage and heritage!

appanage: a gift of land, an official position, or money given to the younger children of kings and princes to provide for their maintenance

I have seen in his face a far different expression from that which hardness it now while she is so vivaciously accosting him; but then it came of itself: it was not elicited by meretricious arts and calculated manoeuvres; and one had but to accept it–to answer what he asked without pretension, to address him when needful without grimace–and it increased and grew kinder and more genial, and warmed one like a fostering sunbeam.

meretricious: apparently attractive but in reality having no value or integrity

I thought of Eliza and Georgiana: I beheld one the cynosure of a ballroom, the other in the inmate of a convent cell; and I dwelt on and analysed their separate peculiarities of character.

cynosure: a person or thing that is the center of attention or admiration

I’ll be posting my review of Jane Eyre on Friday!

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