"Dreaming in Cuban," Vocabulary from Book 2: Imagining Winter 45 words

"Dreaming in Cuban" is Cristina Garcia's multigenerational saga which encompasses love and madness, religion and politics and everything in-between.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Book 1: Ordinary Seductions, Book 2: Imagining Winter, Book 3: The Languages Lost
  1. eradication
    the complete destruction of every trace of something
    After all, as her mother points out, the only thing Felicia ever did for the revolution was pull a few dandelions during the weed- eradication campaign in 1962, and then only reluctantly.
  2. rancor
    a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
    Her lack of commitment is a source of great rancor between them.
  3. belligerent
    characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight
    Even the lowly weed pullers had boasted a belligerent name: The Mechanized Offensive Brigade.
  4. ardent
    characterized by intense emotion
    El Li'der, it seems, saves his most ardent passions for the revolution.
  5. modus operandi
    an unvarying or habitual method or procedure
    Reform, not punishment, is her modus operandi, and Celia has succeeded in converting many young delinquents into productive revolutionaries.
  6. tenuous
    lacking substance or significance
    By the time Celia restores a tenuous calm, she has come to a decision.
  7. polemic
    a controversy (especially over a belief or dogma)
    It’s as if Rogelio’s response has justified every polemic.
  8. calamity
    an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
    The lines in his face look as if each one were put there by a distinct calamity rather than a slow accumulation of sorrow.
  9. impervious
    not admitting of passage or capable of being affected
    We’re a double helix, tight and impervious.
  10. gullible
    naive and easily deceived or tricked
    He is her gullible rag doll.
  11. tenement
    a run-down apartment house barely meeting minimal standards
    Lourdes prefers to confront reality—the brownstones converted to tenements in a matter of months, the garbage in the streets, the jaundice-eyed men staring vacantly from the stoops.
  12. formidable
    inspiring fear
    Dona Zaida, once a formidable matriarch who ruled her eight sons by a resolute jealousy, spent long afternoons watching novelas on television and perfuming her thickening wrists.
  13. austere
    of a stern or strict bearing or demeanor; forbidding in aspect
    Out went the ornate bric-a-brac, the austere furniture carved with the family crest.
  14. aviary
    a building where birds are kept
    Lourdes refilled the mosaic-lined fountain with sweet water and built an aviary in the garden, stocking it with toucans and cockatoos, parrots, a macaw, and canaries that sang in high octaves.
  15. officious
    intrusive in a meddling or offensive manner
    A voice is talking to her now, calm and officious.
  16. hedonism
    an ethical system that evaluates the pursuit of pleasure as the highest good
    They believed that hedonism was the only way to get rid of their sins.
  17. nefarious
    extremely wicked
    Later, Dad looked up the Manichaeans in the encyclopedia and discovered that, contrary to what Max claimed, the Manichaeans believed that the world and all matter were created by nefarious forces, and that the only way to battle them was through asceticism and a pure life.
  18. asceticism
    rigorous self-denial and active self-restraint
    Later, Dad looked up the Manichaeans in the encyclopedia and discovered that, contrary to what Max claimed, the Manichaeans believed that the world and all matter were created by nefarious forces, and that the only way to battle them was through asceticism and a pure life.
  19. anomaly
    deviation from the normal or common order or form or rule
    Even supposedly knowledgeable and sensitive people react to good art by a woman as if it were an anomaly, a product of a freak nature or a direct result of her association with a male painter or mentor.
  20. raucous
    unpleasantly loud and harsh
    She stands there, immobile, clutching the sheet against her silk blouse, when someone yells in raucous Brooklynese, “Gaaahbage!
  21. addle
    mix up or confuse
    “Too much heat addles the brain.”
  22. temporal
    characteristic of or devoted to the temporal world as opposed to the spiritual world
    In Cuba, everything seemed temporal, distorted by the sun.
  23. ambiguous
    having more than one possible meaning
    Through the mouths of the cowries the gods speak to him in clear, unambiguous voices.
  24. meticulous
    marked by extreme care in treatment of details
    He combs his flaxen strands meticulously from the lower left side of his head to his right temple, then swirls them round and round on his bald crown, securing them with a greasy pomade.
  25. scrupulous
    characterized by extreme care and great effort
    Ernesto, her gentle Ernesto, had been a restaurant inspector, renowned for his refusal to take bribes (neither money nor pork loins could tempt him) and for his scrupulous campaign against mice feces.
  26. voracious
    excessively greedy and grasping
    For three days they rocked in each other’s arms, voracious and inseparable, speaking few words, but knowing all they needed to know.
  27. propitious
    presenting favorable circumstances; likely to result in or show signs of success
    She waits until the moon is propitious, then calls Graciela on the telephone, inviting her to the beauty shop for a free permanent.
  28. caustic
    of a substance, especially a strong acid; capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
    She mixes lye with her own menstrual blood into a caustic brown paste, then thickly coats Graciela’s head.
  29. ursine
    of or relating to or similar to bears
    Felicia moves toward him, toward his tidy, ursine face.
  30. repugnance
    intense aversion
    The thought of her daughter in bed with these men drives Lourdes to despair, to utter repugnance.
  31. conjugal
    of or relating to marriage or to the relationship between a wife and husband
    The hip-splitting pain, the blood on the conjugal bed were proof of her virtue.
  32. acrid
    strong and sharp;"the pungent taste of radishes"
    She can’t even look at it without her mouth filling with the acrid saliva that precedes vomiting.
  33. dearth
    an insufficient quantity or number
    Every day they grow more convinced that the dearth of bad news about Cuba is a conspiracy by the leftist media to keep international support for El Lider strong.
  34. malleable
    easily influenced
    Why can’t the Americans see the Communists in their own backyards, in their universities, bending the malleable minds of the young?
  35. fracas
    noisy quarrel
    Lourdes taunted the journalists who questioned her last year about the opening-day fracas at the second Yankee Doodle Bakery.
  36. derision
    contemptuous laughter
    I liked the sound of it, the derision with which my mother pronounced it, and knew immediately it was what I wanted to become.
  37. cohort
    a company of companions or supporters
    I heard one of my mother’s cohorts boasting how last year he’d called in a bomb threat to the Metropolitan Opera House, where Alicia Alonso, the prima ballerina of the National Ballet of Cuba and a supporter of El Lider, was scheduled to dance.
  38. cadence
    (prosody) the accent in a metrical foot of verse
    I think of Flaubert, who spent most of his adult life in the same French village, or Emily Dickinson, whose poems echoed the cadence of the local church bells.
  39. divulge
    make known to the public information that was previously known only to a few people or that was meant to be kept a secret
    The santeras had made eight cuts on her tongue with a razor blade so that the god could speak, but Felicia could not divulge his words.
  40. tureen
    large deep serving dish with a cover; for serving soups and stews
    But when Felicia returned to Palmas Street with her sacred stones and her tureen, her seashells and the implements of her saint, neither her mother nor her children were there to greet her.
  41. commiserate
    to feel or express sympathy or compassion
    Franco and I commiserate about how St. Mark’s Place is a zoo these days with the bridge-and-tunnel crowd wearing fuchsia mohawks and safety pins through their cheeks.
  42. talisman
    a trinket or piece of jewelry usually hung about the neck and thought to be a magical protection against evil or disease
    Iridescent oils are displayed with amulets, talismans, incense.
  43. pungent
    strong and sharp;"the pungent taste of radishes"
    Apothecary jars labeled in childish block letters are filled with pungent spices.
  44. inept
    generally incompetent and ineffectual
    When Chango found out, he tracked down his inept accomplice to the foot of a palm tree.
  45. phosphorescent
    emitting light without appreciable heat as by slow oxidation of phosphorous
    I’m walking naked as a beam of light along brick paths and squares of grass, phosphorescent and clean.