"A Tale of Two Cities," Part 2: Chapters 1-14 35 words

As you read Charles Dickens’s classic historical novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” (1859) learn these word lists: Part 1, Part 2: Chapters 1-14, Part 2: Chapters 15-24, and Part 3.
  1. dismal
    causing dejection
    If your business necessitated your seeing "the House," you were put into a species of Condemned Hold at the back, where you meditated on a misspent life, until the House came with its bands in its pockets, and you could hardly blink at it in the dismal twilight.
  2. pore
    direct one's attention on something
    Then only was he permitted to be seen, spectacularly poring over large books, and casting his breeches and gaiters into the general weight of the establishment.
  3. trepidation
    a feeling of alarm or dread
    A woman of orderly and industrious appearance rose from her knees in a corner, with sufficient haste and trepidation to show that she was the person referred to.
  4. deprecate
    express strong disapproval of; deplore
    Master Cruncher (who was in his shirt) took this very ill, and, turning to his mother, strongly deprecated any praying away of his personal board.
  5. efficacy
    capacity or power to produce a desired effect
    "Don't do it!" said Mr. Crunches looking about, as if he rather expected to see the loaf disappear under the efficacy of his wife's petitions.
  6. convivial
    occupied with or fond of the pleasures of good company
    Compare with the vocabulary word "gregarious" (in Part 3).
    Exceedingly red-eyed and grim, as if he had been up all night at a party which had taken anything but a convivial turn, Jerry Cruncher worried his breakfast rather than ate it, growling over it like any four-footed inmate of a menagerie.
  7. cogitate
    consider carefully and deeply; reflect upon; turn over in one's mind
    Having thus given his parent God speed, young Jerry seated himself on the stool, entered on his reversionary interest in the straw his father had been chewing, and cogitated.
  8. pillory
    a wooden instrument of punishment on a post with holes for the wrists and neck; offenders were locked in and so exposed to public scorn
    It was famous, too, for the pillory, a wise old institution, that inflicted a punishment of which no one could foresee the extent; also, for the whipping-post, another dear old institution, very humanising and softening to behold in action; also, for extensive transactions in blood-money, another fragment of ancestral wisdom, systematically 
leading to the most frightful mercenary crimes that could be committed under Heaven.
  9. indictment
    an accusation of wrongdoing
    Charles Darnay had yesterday pleaded Not Guilty to an indictment denouncing him (with infinite jingle and jangle) for that he was a false traitor to our serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth...
  10. reproach
    a mild rebuke or criticism
    That Providence, however, had put it into the heart of a person who was beyond fear and beyond reproach, to ferret out the nature of the prisoner's schemes, and, struck with horror, to disclose them to his Majesty's Chief Secretary of State and most honourable Privy Council.
  11. auspicious
    auguring favorable circumstances and good luck
    That, he had been the prisoner's friend, but, at once in an auspicious and an evil hour detecting his infamy, had resolved to immolate the traitor he could no longer cherish in his bosom, on the sacred altar of his country.
  12. immolate
    offer as a sacrifice by killing or by giving up to destruction
    That, he had been the prisoner's friend, but, at once in an auspicious and an evil hour detecting his infamy, had resolved to immolate the traitor he could no longer cherish in his bosom, on the sacred altar of his country.
  13. unimpeachable
    beyond doubt or reproach
    That, the lofty example of this immaculate and unimpeachable witness for the Crown, to refer to whom however unworthily was an honour, had communicated itself to the prisoner's servant, and had engendered in him a holy determination to examine his master's table-drawers and pockets, and secrete his papers.
  14. malign
    speak unfavorably about
    He had never been suspected of stealing a silver tea-pot; he had been maligned respecting a mustard-pot, but it turned out to be only a plated one.
  15. plaintive
    expressing sorrow
    Not to be confused with the vocabulary word "plaintiff" (in this list).
    The plaintive tone of her compassion merged into the less musical voice of the Judge, as he said something fiercely: "Answer the questions put to you, and make no remark upon them."
  16. verdict
    (law) the findings of a jury on issues of fact submitted to it for decision; can be used in formulating a judgment
    Don't be a moment behind them, for I want you to take the verdict back to the bank.
  17. throng
    a large gathering of people
    Mr. Lorry handed him a paper through the throng.
  18. vehemence
    intensity or forcefulness of expression
    He had no opportunity of saying, or so much as thinking, anything 
else, until he was clear of the Old Bailey; for, the crowd came pouring out with a vehemence that nearly took him off his legs, and a loud buzz swept into the street as if the baffled blue-flies were dispersing in search of other carrion.
  19. acquitted
    declared not guilty of a specific offense or crime; legally blameless
    The friends of the acquitted prisoner had dispersed, under the impression -- which he himself had originated -- that he would not be released that night.
  20. barrister
    a British or Canadian lawyer who speaks in the higher courts of law on behalf of either the defense or prosecution
    Perhaps a little angry with himself, as well as with the barrister, Mr. Lorry bustled into the chair, and was carried off to Tellson's.
  21. glib
    artfully persuasive in speech
    It had once been noted at the Bar, that while Mr. Stryver was a glib man, and an unscrupulous, and a ready, and a bold, he had not that faculty of extracting the essence from a heap of statements, which is among the most striking and necessary of the advocate's accomplishments.
  22. unscrupulous
    without scruples or principles
    It had once been noted at the Bar, that while Mr. Stryver was a glib man, and an unscrupulous, and a ready, and a bold, he had not that faculty of extracting the essence from a heap of statements, which is among the most striking and necessary of the advocate's accomplishments.
  23. congenial
    suitable to your needs
    There was no way through it, and the front windows of the Doctor's lodgings commanded a pleasant little vista of street that had a congenial air of retirement on it.
  24. compunction
    a feeling of deep regret (usually for some misdeed)
    Here again: Mr. Lorry's inquiries into Miss Pross's personal history had established the fact that her brother Solomon was a heartless scoundrel who had stripped her of everything she possessed, as a stake to speculate with, and had abandoned her in her poverty for evermore, with no touch of compunction.
  25. incessant
    uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
    The footsteps were incessant, and the hurry of them became more and more rapid.
  26. fetter
    a shackle for the ankles or feet
    In this sample sentence, "fetter" is used figuratively. It is ironic because the gold jewelry has nothing to do with actual fetters. This is another moment where symbols of imprisonment are placed in the text to remind the reader of the theme of the book.
    The exquisite gentlemen 
of the finest breeding wore little pendent trinkets that chinked as they languidly moved; these golden fetters rang like precious little bells; and what with that ringing, and with the rustle of silk and brocade and fine linen, there was a flutter in the air that fanned Saint Antoine and his devouring hunger far away.
  27. tribunal
    an assembly (including one or more judges) to conduct judicial business
    From the Palace of the Tuileries, through Monseigneur and the whole Court, through the Chambers, the Tribunals of Justice, and all society (except the scarecrows), the Fancy Ball descended to the Common Executioner: who, in pursuance of the charm, was required to officiate "frizzled, powdered, in a gold-laced coat, pumps, and white silk stockings."
  28. abject
    most unfortunate or miserable
    Then, what submission, what cringing and fawning, what servility, what abject humiliation!
  29. propitiate
    make peace with
    Monsieur the Marquis cast his eyes over the submissive faces that 
drooped before him, as the like of himself had drooped before Monseigneur of the Court -- only the difference was, that these faces drooped merely to suffer and not to propitiate -- when a grizzled mender of the roads joined the group.
  30. clemency
    leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency charged with administering justice
    This word could also mean "good weather." Compare with the vocabulary word "inclement" (in Part 3).
    "Your clemency, Monseigneur!
  31. obstinate
    tenaciously unwilling or marked by tenacious unwillingness to yield
    But it is the obstinate custom of such creatures hardly ever to say what is set down for them.
  32. plaintiff
    a person who brings an action in a court of law
    Not to be confused with the vocabulary word "plaintive" (in this list).
    He called himself for the plaintiff, there was no getting over his evidence, the counsel for the defendant threw up his brief, and the jury did not even turn to consider.
  33. abnegate
    deny or renounce
    He shook in a self-abnegating way, as one who shook for Tellson and Co.
  34. vociferate
    utter in a very loud voice
    "I don't know," returned the man, clapping his hands to his mouth nevertheless, and vociferating in a surprising heat and with the greatest ardour, "Spies!
  35. refractory
    stubbornly resistant to authority or control
    The officiating undertakers made some protest against these changes in the ceremonies; but, the river being alarmingly near, and several voices remarking on the efficacy of cold immersion in bringing refractory members of the profession to reason, the protest was faint and brief.