"The Great Gatsby," Chapter 1 Vocabulary 100 words

F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby" is a glittering parade of parties and excess, but at its heart it is about identity and whether being wealthy in America can help you change who you really are. Here is a list of 100 great vocabulary words from the opening chapter of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1926 novel "The Great Gatsby."
  1. vulnerable
    susceptible to criticism or persuasion or temptation
    In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
  2. criticize
    find fault with; express criticism of; point out real or perceived flaws
    "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
  3. advantage
    benefit resulting from some event or action
    "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
  4. communicative
    able or tending to communicate
    He didn't say any more but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that.
  5. reserved
    marked by self-restraint and reticence
    He didn't say any more but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that.
  6. privy
    (followed by `to') informed about something secret or not generally known
    The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men.
  7. grief
    intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one (especially by death)
    The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men.
  8. intimate
    marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity
    Most of the confidences were unsought--frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon--for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.
  9. revelation
    an enlightening or astonishing disclosure
    Most of the confidences were unsought--frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon--for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.
  10. marred
    blemished by injury or rough wear
    Most of the confidences were unsought--frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon--for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.
  11. suppression
    (psychology) the conscious exclusion of unacceptable thoughts or desires
    Most of the confidences were unsought--frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon--for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.
  12. infinite
    having no limits or boundaries in time or space or extent or magnitude
    Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.
  13. parcel
    divide into parts
    I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
  14. boast
    show off
    And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit.
  15. tolerance
    willingness to recognize and respect the beliefs or practices of others
    And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit.
  16. marsh
    low-lying wet land with grassy vegetation; usually is a transition zone between land and water
    Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes but after a certain point I don't care what it's founded on.
  17. excursion
    a journey taken for pleasure
    When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.
  18. privileged
    not subject to usual rules or penalties
    When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.
  19. glimpse
    a brief or incomplete view
    When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.
  20. exempt
    grant relief or an exemption from a rule or requirement to
    Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction--Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.
  21. scorn
    lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
    Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction--Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.
  22. series
    similar things placed in order or happening one after another
    If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.
  23. gesture
    something done as an indication of intention
    If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.
  24. gorgeous
    dazzlingly beautiful
    If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.
  25. sensitivity
    (physiology) responsiveness to external stimuli; the faculty of sensation
    If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.
  26. intricate
    having many complexly arranged elements; elaborate
    If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.
  27. register
    be aware of
    If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.
  28. dignified
    having or expressing dignity; especially formality or stateliness in bearing or appearance
    This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament"--it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.
  29. temperament
    your usual mood
    This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament"--it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.
  30. romantic
    not sensible about practical matters; idealistic and unrealistic
    This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament"--it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.
  31. prey
    prey on or hunt for
    No--Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
  32. foul
    disgustingly dirty; filled or smeared with offensive matter
    No--Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
  33. wake
    stop sleeping
    No--Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
  34. abortive
    failing to accomplish an intended result
    No--Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
  35. elation
    a feeling of joy and pride
    No--Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
  36. prominent
    conspicuous in position or importance
    My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western city for three generations.
  37. generation
    group of genetically related organisms constituting a single step in the line of descent
    My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western city for three generations.
  38. descend
    come from; be connected by a relationship of blood, for example
    The Carraways are something of a clan and we have a tradition that we're descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on today.
  39. founder
    a person who founds or establishes some institution
    The Carraways are something of a clan and we have a tradition that we're descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on today.
  40. grave
    of great gravity or crucial import; requiring serious thought
    All my aunts and uncles talked it over as if they were choosing a prep-school for me and finally said, "Why--ye-es" with very grave, hesitant faces.
  41. confer
    present
    He had casually conferred on me the freedom of the neighborhood.
  42. security
    property that your creditor can claim in case you default on your obligation
    I bought a dozen volumes on banking and credit and investment securities and they stood on my shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew.
  43. solemn
    dignified and somber in manner or character and committed to keeping promises
    I was rather literary in college--one year I wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials for the "Yale News"--and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the "well-rounded man."
  44. epigram
    a witty saying
    This isn't just an epigram--life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.
  45. domesticated
    converted or adapted to domestic use
    Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound.
  46. perpetual
    continuing forever or indefinitely
    They are not perfect ovals--like the egg in the Columbus story they are both crushed flat at the contact end--but their physical resemblance must be a source of perpetual confusion to the gulls that fly overhead.
  47. phenomenon
    any state or process known through the senses rather than by intuition or reasoning
    To the wingless a more arresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size.
  48. bizarre
    conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
    I lived at West Egg, the--well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.
  49. sinister
    stemming from evil characteristics or forces; wicked or dishonorable
    I lived at West Egg, the--well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.
  50. colossal
    so great in size or force or extent as to elicit awe
    The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard--it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden.
  51. console
    give moral or emotional strength to
    My own house was an eye-sore, but it was a small eye-sore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor's lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires--all for eighty dollars a month.
  52. proximity
    the property of being close together
    My own house was an eye-sore, but it was a small eye-sore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor's lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires--all for eighty dollars a month.
  53. reproach
    a mild rebuke or criticism
    His family were enormously wealthy--even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach--but now he'd left Chicago and come east in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance he'd brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest.
  54. turbulence
    a state of violent disturbance and disorder (as in politics or social conditions generally)
    This was a permanent move, said Daisy over the telephone, but I didn't believe it--I had no sight into Daisy's heart but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.
  55. momentum
    an impelling force or strength
    The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens--finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run.
  56. supercilious
    having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy
    Now he was a sturdy, straw haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner.
  57. dominance
    the state that exists when one person or group has power over another
    Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward.
  58. effeminate
    having unsuitable feminine qualities
    Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body--he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat.
  59. contempt
    lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
    There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked--and there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts.
  60. vista
    the visual percept of a region
    Turning me around by one arm he moved a broad flat hand along the front vista, including in its sweep a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep pungent roses and a snub-nosed motor boat that bumped the tide off shore.
  61. pungent
    strong and sharp;"the pungent taste of radishes"
    Turning me around by one arm he moved a broad flat hand along the front vista, including in its sweep a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep pungent roses and a snub-nosed motor boat that bumped the tide off shore.
  62. conscientious
    characterized by extreme care and great effort
    The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise--she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression--then she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room.
  63. irrelevant
    having no bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
    (I've heard it said that Daisy's murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
  64. compulsion
    an urge to do or say something that might be better left undone or unsaid
    Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth--but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.
  65. hover
    hang over, as of something threatening, dark, or menacing
    Tom Buchanan who had been hovering restlessly about the room stopped and rested his hand on my shoulder.
  66. desolate
    crushed by grief
    "The whole town is desolate.
  67. mourning
    state of sorrow over the death or departure of a loved one
    All the cars have the left rear wheel painted black as a mourning wreath and there's a persistent wail all night along the North Shore."
  68. wail
    a cry of sorrow and grief
    All the cars have the left rear wheel painted black as a mourning wreath and there's a persistent wail all night along the North Shore."
  69. utter
    express audibly; utter sounds (not necessarily words)
    At this point Miss Baker said "Absolutely!" with such suddenness that I started--it was the first word she uttered since I came into the room.
  70. deft
    skillful in physical movements; especially of the hands
    Evidently it surprised her as much as it did me, for she yawned and with a series of rapid, deft movements stood up into the room.
  71. retort
    answer back
    "Don't look at me," Daisy retorted.
  72. incredulously
    in an incredulous manner
    Her host looked at her incredulously.
  73. accentuate
    to stress, single out as important
    She was a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erect carriage which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet.
  74. bantering
    cleverly amusing in tone
    Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.
  75. pessimist
    a person who expects the worst
    "I've gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things.
  76. dominant
    exercising influence or control
    It's up to us who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have control of things."
  77. fervent
    extremely hot
    "We've got to beat them down," whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.
  78. infinitesimal
    infinitely or immeasurably small
    I am, and you are and you are and----" After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod and she winked at me again. "--and we've produced all the things that go to make civilization--oh, science and art and all that.
  79. complacency
    the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself
    There was something pathetic in his concentration as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more.
  80. affection
    a positive feeling of liking
    For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened--then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.
  81. linger
    leave slowly and hesitantly
    For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened--then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.
  82. regret
    sadness associated with some wrong done or some disappointment
    For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened--then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.
  83. devoid
    completely wanting or lacking
    Miss Baker and I exchanged a short glance consciously devoid of meaning.
  84. audible
    heard or perceptible by the ear
    A subdued impassioned murmur was audible in the room beyond and Miss Baker leaned forward, unashamed, trying to hear.
  85. skepticism
    doubt about the truth of something
    I couldn't guess what Daisy and Tom were thinking but I doubt if even Miss Baker who seemed to have mastered a certain hardy skepticism was able utterly to put this fifth guest's shrill metallic urgency out of mind.
  86. vigil
    a purposeful surveillance to guard or observe
    Tom and Miss Baker, with several feet of twilight between them strolled back into the library, as if to a vigil beside a perfectly tangible body, while trying to look pleasantly interested and a little deaf I followed Daisy around a chain of connecting verandas to the porch in front.
  87. tangible
    perceptible by the senses especially the sense of touch
    Tom and Miss Baker, with several feet of twilight between them strolled back into the library, as if to a vigil beside a perfectly tangible body, while trying to look pleasantly interested and a little deaf I followed Daisy around a chain of connecting verandas to the porch in front.
  88. turbulent
    characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination
    I saw that turbulent emotions possessed her, so I asked what I thought would be some sedative questions about her little girl.
  89. sedative
    tending to soothe or tranquilize
    I saw that turbulent emotions possessed her, so I asked what I thought would be some sedative questions about her little girl.
  90. cynical
    believing the worst of human nature and motives; having a sneering disbelief in e.g. selflessness of others
    "Well, I've had a very bad time, Nick, and I'm pretty cynical about everything."
  91. smirk
    a smile expressing smugness or scorn instead of pleasure
    I waited, and sure enough, in a moment she looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.
  92. crimson
    a deep and vivid red color
    Inside, the crimson room bloomed with light.
  93. corroborate
    establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts
    "That's right," corroborated Tom kindly.
  94. libel
    a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person
    "It's libel.
  95. egotism
    an exaggerated opinion of your own importance
    Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.
  96. nourish
    give nourishment to
    Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.
  97. peremptory
    not allowing contradiction or refusal
    Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.
  98. bellow
    a very loud utterance (like the sound of an animal)
    The wind had blown off, leaving a loud bright night with wings beating in the trees and a persistent organ sound as the full bellows of the earth blew the frogs full of life.
  99. silhouette
    an outline of a solid object (as cast by its shadow)
    The silhouette of a moving cat wavered across the moonlight and turning my head to watch it I saw that I was not alone--fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor's mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars.
  100. intimation
    a slight suggestion or vague understanding
    But I didn't call to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone--he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling.