"Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne, First Part: Chapters 1–8

Board the Nautilus and travel under the sea with the mysterious Captain Nemo as you learn these words from the science fiction novel by Jules Verne. Read the full text, translated from the original French by F.P. Walter, here.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: First Part: Chapters 1–8, First Part: Chapters 9–16, First Part: Chapters 17–24, Second Part: Chapters 1–7, Second Part: Chapters 8–14, Second Part: Chapters 15–23

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. apparition
    a ghostly appearing figure
    The relevant data on this apparition, as recorded in various logbooks, agreed pretty closely as to the structure of the object or creature in question, its unprecedented speed of movement, its startling locomotive power, and the unique vitality with which it seemed to be gifted.
  2. cetacean
    large aquatic carnivorous mammal with fin-like forelimbs
    If it was a cetacean, it exceeded in bulk any whale previously classified by science.
  3. existence
    the state or fact of being
    No naturalist, neither Cuvier nor Lacépède, neither Professor Dumeril nor Professor de Quatrefages, would have accepted the existence of such a monster sight unseen—specifically, unseen by their own scientific eyes.
  4. aquatic
    operating or living or growing in water
    So, unless this reef was subject to the intermittent eruptions of a geyser, the Governor Higginson had fair and honest dealings with some aquatic mammal, until then unknown, that could spurt from its blowholes waterspouts mixed with air and steam.
  5. hoax
    something intended to deceive
    The tabloids found it a fine opportunity for hatching all sorts of hoaxes.
  6. stupendous
    so great in size, force, or extent as to elicit awe
    In those newspapers short of copy, you saw the reappearance of every gigantic imaginary creature, from "Moby Dick," that dreadful white whale from the High Arctic regions, to the stupendous kraken whose tentacles could entwine a 500–ton craft and drag it into the ocean depths.
  7. elusive
    skillful at evading capture
    The monster again became an islet, rock, or reef, but a runaway reef, unfixed and elusive.
  8. outrageous
    greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation
    This outrageous animal had to shoulder responsibility for all derelict vessels, whose numbers are unfortunately considerable, since out of those 3,000 ships whose losses are recorded annually at the marine insurance bureau, the figure for steam or sailing ships supposedly lost with all hands, in the absence of any news, amounts to at least 200!
  9. colossal
    so great in size or force or extent as to elicit awe
    So only two possible solutions to the question were left, creating two very distinct groups of supporters: on one side, those favoring a monster of colossal strength; on the other, those favoring an "underwater boat" of tremendous motor power.
  10. fantasy
    something many people believe that is false
    And so the monster surfaced again, despite the endless witticisms heaped on it by the popular press, and the human imagination soon got caught up in the most ridiculous ichthyological fantasies.
  11. marine
    of or relating to the sea
    "Therefore," I wrote, "after examining these different hypotheses one by one, we are forced, every other supposition having been refuted, to accept the existence of an extremely powerful marine animal.
  12. unearthly
    suggesting the operation of supernatural influences
    The human mind enjoys impressive visions of unearthly creatures.
  13. titanic
    of great force or power
    Couldn't the heart of the ocean hide the last–remaining varieties of these titanic species, for whom years are centuries and centuries millennia?
  14. prodigious
    great in size, force, extent, or degree
    opinion had crystallized as to the nature of this phenomenon, and the public accepted without argument the existence of a prodigious creature that had nothing in common with the fabled sea serpent.
  15. daunting
    discouraging through fear
    Yet if some saw it purely as a scientific problem to be solved, more practical people, especially in America and England, were determined to purge the ocean of this daunting monster, to insure the safety of transoceanic travel.
  16. notorious
    known widely and usually unfavorably
    You see, my friend, it's an issue of the monster, the notorious narwhale.
  17. unpredictable
    not capable of being foretold
    These beasts can be quite unpredictable!
  18. leviathan
    monstrous sea creature symbolizing evil in the Old Testament
    He believed in it as certain pious women believe in the leviathan from the Book of Job—out of faith, not reason.
  19. ilk
    a kind of person
    Consequently, the feats of krakens or other monsters of that ilk must be relegated to the realm of fiction.
  20. constitution
    the way in which someone or something is composed
    "Note well, my fine Canadian," I went on, "if such an animal exists, if it lives deep in the ocean, if it frequents the liquid strata located miles beneath the surface of the water, it needs to have a constitution so solid, it defies all comparison."
  21. dissect
    cut open or cut apart
    To answer them called for dissecting this unknown monster; to dissect it called for catching it; to catch it called for harpooning it—which was Ned Land's business; to harpoon it called for sighting it—which was the crew's business; and to sight it called for encountering it—which was a chancy business.
  22. negotiate
    succeed in passing through, around, or over
    Many of our sailors swore that the monster couldn't negotiate this passageway simply because "he's too big for it!"
  23. antic
    a ludicrous or grotesque act done for fun and amusement
    We were finally in the area of the monster's latest antics!
  24. gigantic
    exceedingly large or extensive
    Nothing remotely resembling a gigantic narwhale, or an underwater islet, or a derelict shipwreck, or a runaway reef, or anything the least bit unearthly!
  25. dreadful
    causing fear or terror
    And if it has their power to electrocute, it's surely the most dreadful animal ever conceived by our Creator.
  26. girth
    the distance around something, especially a person's body
    Its girth was more difficult to judge, but all in all, the animal seemed to be wonderfully proportioned in all three dimensions.
  27. brute
    a living organism characterized by voluntary movement
    As for me, with your permission I'll go perch on the bobstays under the bowsprit, and if we can get within a harpoon length, I'll harpoon the brute.
  28. infernal
    extremely evil or cruel
    "And $500.00 to the man who can pierce that infernal beast!"
  29. rascal
    a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel
    "That rascal must be covered with six-inch armor plate!"
  30. insensitive
    not responsive to physical stimuli
    We could still hope that the animal would tire out and not be as insensitive to exhaustion as our steam engines.
  31. carapace
    hard outer covering or case of certain organisms
    But this hard substance could have been a bony carapace, like those that covered some prehistoric animals, and I might have left it at that and classified this monster among such amphibious reptiles as turtles or alligators.
  32. phenomenon
    a remarkable development
    This animal, this monster, this natural phenomenon that had puzzled the whole scientific world, that had muddled and misled the minds of seamen in both hemispheres, was, there could be no escaping it, an even more astonishing phenomenon—a phenomenon made by the hand of man.
  33. fabulous
    barely credible
    Even if I had discovered that some fabulous, mythological creature really existed, it wouldn't have given me such a terrific mental jolt.
  34. immense
    unusually great in size or amount or extent or scope
    We were stretched out on the back of some kind of underwater boat that, as far as I could judge, boasted the shape of an immense steel fish.
  35. contraption
    a device or control that is very useful for a particular job
    "does this contraption contain some sort of locomotive mechanism, and a crew to run it?"
  36. savage
    a member of an uncivilized people
    These people are about as hospitable as the savages of New Caledonia!
  37. cannibal
    a person who eats human flesh
    All that's lacking is for them to be cannibals! I wouldn't be surprised if they were, but believe you me, they won't eat me without my kicking up a protest!
  38. bandit
    an outlaw who is (usually) a member of a group
    The first one of these bandits who lays a hand on me—
  39. rogue
    a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel
    We speak French, English, German, and Latin to these rogues, and neither of them has the decency to even answer back!
  40. host
    a vast multitude
    In these mysterious marine sanctuaries, I envisioned hosts of unknown animals, and this underwater boat seemed to be a blood relation of theirs: living, breathing, just as fearsome.

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