50 Great Words from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book.

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  1. senile
    mentally or physically infirm with age
    And I said it was also Uncle Terry, but he was in Sunderland and he was Father's brother, and it was my grandparents, too, but three of them were dead and Grandma Burton was in a home because she had senile dementia and thought that I was someone on television.
  2. slander
    words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another
    Because telling lies about people is called slander.
  3. apocryphal
    being of questionable authenticity
    But he wasn't called anything because this is an apocryphal story, which means that it is a lie, too.
  4. corrugated
    shaped into alternating parallel grooves and ridges
    He was sitting in the kitchen staring out of the back window down the garden to the pond and the corrugated iron fence and the top of the tower of the church on Manstead Street which looks like a castle because it is Norman.
  5. digression
    a message that departs from the main subject
    But this is what is called a digression, and now I am going to go back to the fact that it was a Good Day.
  6. vessel
    a tube in which a body fluid circulates
    That is when a blood clot blocks one of the blood vessels taking blood to the muscles in the heart.
  7. rubbish
    worthless material that is to be disposed of
    I think people believe in heaven because they don't like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living and they don't like the idea that other people will move into their house and put their things into the rubbish.
  8. burrow
    a hole made by an animal, usually for shelter
    And sometimes he sits on my shoulder or hides in my sleeve like it's a burrow.
  9. rustle
    forage food
    "I'm going to hit the hay," and "It's brass monkeys out there," and "Let's rustle up some tucker."
  10. anemic
    relating to or having a deficiency of red blood cells
    For example, all the iron in your blood which stops you from being anemic was made in a star.
  11. detect
    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    The next day at school I told Siobhan that Father had told me I couldn't do any more detecting, which meant that the book was finished.
  12. irate
    feeling or showing extreme anger
    How many irate mathematicians are needed to get you to change your mind?
  13. moor
    open land with peaty soil covered with heather and moss
    James Mortimer, who is a doctor from the moors in Devon.
  14. profane
    grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred
    On this scroll it says that Sir Charles Baskerville had an ancestor called Sir Hugo Baskerville, who was a wild, profane and godless man.
  15. fatigue
    temporary loss of strength and energy from hard work
    And when they found him, the daughter of the yeoman had died of exhaustion and fatigue.
  16. inherit
    receive from a predecessor
    And Stapleton is poor, so he tries to kill Sir Henry Baskerville so that he will inherit the hall.
  17. mire
    a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot
    And Stapleton escapes into the Grimpen Mire, which is part of the moor, and he dies because he is sucked into a bog.
  18. circumspect
    careful to consider potential consequences and avoid risk
    Learn then from this story not to fear the fruits of the past, but rather to be circumspect in the future, that those foul passions whereby our family has suffered so grievously may not again be loosed to our undoing.
  19. marred
    blemished by injury or rough wear
    There was something subtly wrong with the face, some coarseness of expression, some hardness, perhaps of eye, some looseness of lip which marred its perfect beauty.
  20. silhouette
    a filled-in drawing of the outline of an object
    This is a silhouette of a man that Doctor Watson sees on the moor at night and doesn't recognize, which makes you think it is the murderer.
  21. scheme
    an elaborate and systematic plan of action
    His mind... was busy in endeavouring to frame some scheme into which all these strange and apparently disconnected episodes could be fitted.
  22. episode
    a happening that is distinctive in a series of events
    His mind... was busy in endeavouring to frame some scheme into which all these strange and apparently disconnected episodes could be fitted.
  23. spherical
    relating to a round, three-dimensional closed surface
    And I like imagining that I am there sometimes, in a spherical metal submersible with windows that are 50 cm thick to stop them from imploding under the pressure.
  24. implode
    burst inward
    And I like imagining that I am there sometimes, in a spherical metal submersible with windows that are 50 cm thick to stop them from imploding under the pressure.
  25. acute
    extremely sharp or intense
    Yellow Fever (which is a disease from tropical America and West Africa which causes a high fever, acute nephritis, jaundice and hemorrhages, and it is caused by a virus transmitted by the bite of a mosquito called Aedes aegypti, which used to be called Stegomyia fasciata; and nephritis is inflammation of the kidneys)
  26. transparent
    able to be seen through with clarity
    In the bottom of the cupboard was a large plastic toolbox which was full of tools for doing Do It Yourself, like a drill and a paintbrush and some screws and a hammer, but I could see these without opening the box because it was made of transparent gray plastic.
  27. deduce
    reason from the general to the particular
    I decided that I would not think about it anymore that night because I didn't have enough information and could easily Leap to the Wrong Conclusions like Mr. Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, which is a dangerous thing to do because you should make sure you have all
    the available clues before you start deducing things.
  28. hypothetical
    based primarily on surmise rather than adequate evidence
    And if you drew a graph of how many frogs there were in the pond, it would look like this (but this graph is what's called hypothetical, which means that the numbers aren't the real numbers, it is just an illustration)
  29. chaotic
    completely unordered and unpredictable and confusing
    But when λ, is greater than 3.57 the population becomes chaotic like in the first graph.
  30. predict
    make a guess about what will happen in the future
    And it means that sometimes things are so complicated that it is impossible to predict what they are going to do next, but they are only obeying really simple rules.
  31. evaporate
    change into gas or steam
    And it made me think how all the water in the world was connected, and this water had evaporated from the oceans somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico or Baffin Bay, and now it was falling in front of the house and it would drain away into the gutters and flow to a sewage station where it would be cleaned and then it would go into a river and go back into the ocean again.
  32. tether
    restraint consisting of a rope or chain
    And Mr. Land was realy nice about it but there were boxes and bits of broken bowl on the floor and everyone was staring and I saw that you had wet yourself and I was so cross and I wanted to take you out of the shop but you wouldn't let me touch you and you just lay on the floor and screamed and banged your hands and feet on the floor and the maniger came and asked what the problem was and I was at the end of my tether and I had to pay for two broken mixers and we just had to wait until you st
  33. nocturnal
    belonging to or active during the night
    Then I heard Toby waking up, because he is nocturnal, and I heard him rustling in his cage.
  34. luminous
    softly bright or radiant
    It has a luminous face and lights up if you press a button, so I could read it in the dark.
  35. aperture
    a natural opening in something
    And on the bottom is a map of the sky and on top is an aperture which is an opening shaped in a parabola and you turn it round to see a map of the sky that you can see on that day of the year from the latitude 51.5° north, which is the latitude that Swindon is on, because the largest bit of the sky is always on the other side of the earth.
  36. negligible
    so small as to be meaningless; insignificant
    And that makes you seem very small, and if you have difficult things in your life it is nice to think that they are what is called negligible, which means that they are so small you don't have to take them into account when you are calculating something.
  37. formulate
    come up with after a mental effort
    And then I Formulated a Plan.
  38. quantity
    how much there is or how many there are of something
    But you mustn't give him chocolate because it's got caffeine and theobromine in it, which are methylxanthines, and it's poisonous for rats in large quantities.
  39. logician
    a person skilled at symbolic reasoning
    One of them is an economist and one of them is a logician and one of them is a mathematician.
  40. capacity
    the amount that can be contained
    And that is why I am good at chess and maths and logic, because most people are almost blind and they don't see most things and there is lots of spare capacity in their heads and it is filled with things which aren't connected and are silly, like, "I'm worried that I might have left the gas cooker on."
  41. premature
    too soon or too hasty
    And there were signs saying Great Western and cold beers and lagers and CAUTION WET FLOOR and Your 50p will keep a premature baby alive for 1.8 seconds and transforming travel and Refreshingly Different and IT'S DELICIOUS IT'S CREAMY
  42. transform
    change or alter in appearance or nature
    And there were signs saying Great Western and cold beers and lagers and CAUTION WET FLOOR and Your 50p will keep a premature baby alive for 1.8 seconds and transforming travel and Refreshingly Different and IT'S DELICIOUS IT'S CREAMY
  43. representation
    a presentation to the mind in the form of an idea or image
    And when you put something down somewhere, like a protractor or a biscuit, you can have a map in your head to tell you where you have left it, but even if you don't have a map it will still be there because a map is a representation of things that actually exist so you can find the protractor or the biscuit again.
  44. evolve
    undergo development
    Because an eye has to evolve from something else very like an eye and it doesn't just happen because of a genetic mistake, and what is the use of half an eye?
  45. brooch
    a decorative pin
    And someone sat down on the other end of the bench and it was a lady who had a black briefcase and purple shoes and a brooch shaped like a parrot.
  46. resonant
    characterized by a loud deep sound
    And you can put different amounts of water in different glasses and they make different notes because they have what are called different resonant frequencies, and you can play a tune like Three Blind Mice.
  47. cosmopolitan
    a sophisticated person who has traveled in many countries
    You seek out the traditional, the natural and the cosmopolitan.
  48. cog
    tooth on the rim of gear wheel
    And there were two tiny brass cogs in the dirty water in the gutter by my feet, like cogs from a windup watch.
  49. influence
    a power to affect persons or events
    I tried to work out a formula to determine whether a traffic jam would be caused just by people slowing down and how this was influenced by (a) the density of traffic, and (b) the speed of the traffic, and (c) how quickly drivers braked when they saw the brake of the lights of the car in front coming on.
  50. converse
    of words such that one reverses the relation of the other
    Show, by means of a counterexample, that the converse is false.
Created on June 6, 2012 (updated June 10, 2012)

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