"Treasure Island"--Vocabulary from Part Three (Chapters 13-15) 15 words

As you read Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," (etext found here), learn this word list that focuses on the geography of Treasure Island. Here are links to all of our word lists for Treasure Island: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six
  1. spire
    a tall tower that forms the superstructure of a building (usually a church or temple) and that tapers to a point at the top
    The given definition of "spire" suggests something holy. But Jim's use of descriptions such as "strange", "grey, melancholy", "sweltering", and "poisonous" suggests otherwise.
    The hills ran up clear above the vegetation in spires of naked rock.
  2. configuration
    any spatial attributes (especially as defined by outline)
    All were strangely shaped, and the Spy-glass, which was by three or four hundred feet the tallest on the island, was likewise the strangest in configuration, running up sheer from almost every side and then suddenly cut off at the top like a pedestal to put a statue on.
  3. sweltering
    excessively hot and humid or marked by sweating and faintness
    The heat was sweltering, and the men grumbled fiercely over their work.
  4. foliage
    the main organ of photosynthesis and transpiration in higher plants
    Two little rivers, or rather two swamps, emptied out into this pond, as you might call it; and the foliage round that part of the shore had a kind of poisonous brightness.
  5. stagnant
    not circulating or flowing
    A peculiar stagnant smell hung over the anchorage—a smell of sodden leaves and rotting tree trunks.
  6. outlandish
    conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
    In describing the trees as "outlandish", Jim could be using both the word's actual meaning and a pun to emphasize "the strange land" that he was in.
    I had crossed a marshy tract full of willows, bulrushes, and odd, outlandish, swampy trees;
  7. undulate
    having a wavy margin and rippled surface
    I had now come out upon the skirts of an open piece of undulating, sandy country, about a mile long, dotted with a few pines and a great number of contorted trees, not unlike the oak in growth, but pale in the foliage, like willows.
  8. craggy
    having hills and crags
    On the far side of the open stood one of the hills, with two quaint, craggy peaks shining vividly in the sun.
  9. thicket
    a dense growth of bushes
    Then I came to a long thicket of these oaklike trees
  10. fen
    low-lying wet land with grassy vegetation; usually is a transition zone between land and water
    The thicket stretched down from the top of one of the sandy knolls, spreading and growing taller as it went, until it reached the margin of the broad, reedy fen, through which the nearest of the little rivers soaked its way into the anchorage.
  11. languor
    inactivity; showing an unusual lack of energy
    and long after that death yell was still ringing in my brain, silence had re-established its empire, and only the rustle of the redescending birds and the boom of the distant surges disturbed the languor of the afternoon.
  12. pinnacle
    a lofty peak
    Everything else was unchanged, the sun still shining mercilessly on the steaming marsh and the tall pinnacle of the mountain, and I could scarce persuade myself that murder had been actually done and a human life cruelly cut short a moment since before my eyes.
  13. marsh
    low-lying wet land with grassy vegetation; usually is a transition zone between land and water
    The air too smelt more freshly than down beside the marsh.
  14. steep
    a steep place (as on a hill)
    FROM the side of the hill, which was here steep and stony, a spout of gravel was dislodged and fell rattling and bounding through the trees.
  15. desolate
    providing no shelter or sustenance
    Additional definitions of "desolate" as an adjective are "reduced in population; deserted" and "crushed by grief"--the first would be fitting descriptions of the island, and the second would be a fitting description of someone who had been marooned on the island. As a verb, "desolate" means "leave someone who needs or counts on you"--this would not be a fitting description of the island, but it could describe the action of angry shipmates.
    I had heard the word, and I knew it stood for a horrible kind of punishment common enough among the buccaneers, in which the offender is put ashore with a little powder and shot and left behind on some desolate and distant island.