Glossary Words

1) Perfunctory:

1. performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial.

2. lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic

“Beloved by Toni Morrison”

 “Together they waged a perfunctory battle against the outrageous behavior of that place; against turned-over slop jars, smacks on the behind, and gusts of sour air.” (page 1)

2) Monotonously:


1. lacking in variety; tediously unvarying.

2. characterizing a sound continuing on one note.

3. having very little inflection; limited to a narrow pitch range.

The Shawl by Louise Erdrich

 She became a gray sky, stared monotonously at the walls, sometimes wept into her hands for hours at a time.

3) Lamenting:


1. to feel or express sorrow or regret for.

2. to mourn for or over.

 The lamenting voices strummed so convincingly, so passionately, it was impossible to suspect them of being phantoms. (page 4 paragraph 2)

4) Bier:


  1. 1. a table or platform on which a coffin or dead body is placed at a funeral

A Rose for Emily

“they held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men…” (Part 5 Paragraph 2)

5) Dray:

 1. a low, strong cart without fixed sides, for carrying heavy loads.

2. a sledge or sled.

3. any vehicle, as a truck, used to haul goods, especially one used to carry heavy loads.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

“He had already seen his brother wave goodbye from the back of a dray, fried chicken in his pocket, tears in his eyes. ” (pg 258)

6) Muslin:

1. A cotton fabric made in various degrees of fineness and often printed,woven, or embroidered in patterns, especially a cotton fabric of plain weave, used for sheets and for a variety of other purposes.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

“I set you down on the little table and figured if I got a piece of muslin the bugs and things wouldn’t get to you.”(Pg 109)

7) Quizzical:

1. odd, queer, or comical.

“I reached for the closest rag, and picked up this piece of blanket that my father always kept with him for some reason. And as I picked it up and wiped the blood off his face, I said to him, Your nose is crooked again. He looked at me, steady and quizzical, as though he had never had a drink in his life, and I wiped his face again with that frayed piece of blanket.”


8) Spry:

1. full of energy, energetic, graceful

“now she is spry, executing, even extending the assignments Sethe leaves for them” (Beloved” by: Toni Morrison P. 142)

9) Impertinence:


1.unmannerly intrusion or presumption; insolence.

2.impertinent quality or action.

3.something impertinent, as an act or statement. impertinent person.

5.irrelevance, inappropriateness, or absurdity.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere.”

10) Cupola:


1. A rounded roof or part of a roof
2. A small structure that is built on top of a roof.

“A Roe for Emily”

“It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies…”

11) Spigot:


1. A device that controls the flow of liquid from a large container.
2. An outdoor faucet.

“Beloved by Toni Morrison”

After the shed, I stopped. Now, in the morning, when I light the fire I mean to look out the window to see what the sun is doing to the day. Does it hit the pump handle first of the spigot?

12) Serenading:


1. A love song that is sung or played outdoors at night for a woman.
2. A complimentary vocal of instrumental performance.
3. An instrumental composition in several movements, written for a small ensemble, and midway between the suite and the symphony in style.

“What You Pawn I Will Redeem”

“As Irene and I sat at the table and laughed and drank more whiskey, Honey Boy danced a slow circle around us and sang along with Willie. Are you serenading me? I asked him.”

13) Mirth:


  1. Amusement, especially as expressed in laughter.

“Thus far, the elder traveller had listened with due gravity, but now burst into a fit of irrepressible mirth, shaking himself so violently, that his snake-like staff actually seemed to wriggle in sympathy.”

“Young Goodman Brown”

14) Jutting:


1. to extend beyond the main body or line.
“She was moody and sullen one moment, her lower lip jutting and her eyes flashing, filled with storms. The next, she would shake her hair over her face and blow it straight out in front of her to make her children scream with laughter.”
The Shawl by Louise Erdrich

15) Cistern

1.a reservoir, tank, or container for storing or holding water orother liquid.
2.Anatomy. a reservoir or receptacle of some natural fluid of thebody.
“Once Stamp Paid brought you a coat, got the message to you, saved your life, of fixed the cistern he took the liberty of walking in your door as though if were his own”
Beloved by Toni Morrison

By doing these glossary assignments I believe that my vocabulary has increased significantly.  If you look up every word you come across that you don’t understand, you’re vocabulary will increase. It will probably increase much more quickly than if you just try to understand the meaning of the word from the context. You’re also much more likely to understand precisely what the writer meant to say.

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