Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita

definitions & notes only words
  1. perambulate
    walk with no particular goal
    "Lolita, or the Confession of a White Widowed Male," such were the two titles under which the writer of the present note received the strange pages it preambulates. (3)
  2. pertain
    be relevant to
    His lawyer, my good friend and relation, Clarence Choate Clark, Esq., now of the District of Columbia bar, in asking me to edit the manuscript, based his request on a clause in his client's will which empowered my eminent cousin to use his discretion in all matters pertaining to the preparation of "Lolita" for print. (3)
  3. solecism
    a socially awkward or tactless act
    Save for the correction of obvious solecisms and a careful suppression of a few tenacious details that despite "H.H."'s own efforts still subsisted in his text as signposts and tombstones (indicative of places or persons that taste would conceal and compassion spare), this remarkable memoir is presented intact.(3)
  4. tenacious
    stubbornly unyielding
    Save for the correction of obvious solecisms and a careful suppression of a few tenacious details that despite "H.H."'s own efforts still subsisted in his text as signposts and tombstones (indicative of places or persons that taste would conceal and compassion spare), this remarkable memoir is presented intact.(3)
  5. bizarre
    conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
    Its author's bizarre cognomen is his own invention. (3)
  6. cognomen
    the name used to identify the members of a family
    Its author's bizarre cognomen is his own invention. (3)
  7. fiber
    attributes that determine one's moral and ethical actions
    While "Haze" only rhymes with the heroine's real surname, her first name is too closely interwound with the inmost fiber of the book to allow one to alter it; nor (as the reader will perceive for himself) is there any practical necessity to do so. (4)
  8. sordid
    foul and run-down and repulsive
    For the benefit of old-fashioned readers who wish to follow the destinies of the "real" people beyond the "true" story, a few details may be given as received from Mr. "Windmuller," of "Ramsdale," who desires his identity suppressed so that "the long shadow of this sorry and sordid business" should not reach the community to which he is proud to belong. (4)
  9. peruse
    examine or consider with attention and in detail
    Critics who have perused the manuscript call it her best book.
  10. robust
    sturdy and strong in form, constitution, or construction
    True, not a single obscene term is to be found in the whole work; indeed, the robust philistine who is conditioned by modern conventions into accepting without qualms a lavish array of four-letter words in a banal novel, will be quite shocked by their absence here. (4)
  11. philistine
    indifferent or hostile to artistic and cultural values
    True, not a single obscene term is to be found in the whole work; indeed, the robust philistine who is conditioned by modern conventions into accepting without qualms a lavish array of four-letter words in a banal novel, will be quite shocked by their absence here. (4)
  12. sensuous
    taking delight in beauty
    Those very scenes that one might accuse of a sensuous existence of their own, are the most strictly functional ones in the development of a tragic tale tending unswervingly to nothing less than a moral apotheosis. (5)
  13. apotheosis
    model of excellence or perfection of a kind
    Those very scenes that one might accuse of a sensuous existence of their own, are the most strictly functional ones in the development of a tragic tale tending unswervingly to nothing less than a moral apotheosis. (5)
  14. abject
    of the most contemptible kind
    No doubt, he is horrible, he is abject, he is a shining example of moral leprosy, a mixture of ferocity and jocularity that betrays supreme misery perhaps, but is not conducive to attractiveness. (5)
  15. jocularity
    fun characterized by humor
    No doubt, he is horrible, he is abject, he is a shining example of moral leprosy, a mixture of ferocity and jocularity that betrays supreme misery perhaps, but is not conducive to attractiveness. (5)
  16. diabolical
    showing cunning or ingenuity or wickedness
    A desperate honesty that throbs through his confession does not absolve him from sins of diabolical cunning. (5)
  17. vigilance
    the process of paying close and continuous attention
    "Lolita" should make all of us - parents, social workers, educators - apply ourselves with still greater vigilance and vision to the task of bringing up a better generation in a safer world. (6)
  18. loins
    the lower part of the abdomen just above the external genital organs
    Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. (9)
  19. precursor
    something indicating the approach of something or someone
    Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there may have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child. (9)
  20. tangle
    twist together or entwine into a confusing mass
    Look at this tangle of thorns. (9)
  21. dell
    a small wooded hollow
    Save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you can still stand my style (I am writing under observation), the sun of my infancy has been set: surely, you all know those redolent remnants of day suspended, with the midges, about some hedge in bloom or suddenly entered and traversed by the rambler, at the bottom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry warmth, golden midges. (10)
  22. redolent
    having a strong pleasant odor
    Save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you can still stand my style (I am writing under observation), the sun of my infancy has been set: surely, you all know those redolent remnants of day suspended, with the midges, about some hedge in bloom or suddenly entered and traversed by the rambler, at the bottom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry warmth, golden midges. (10)
  23. midge
    minute two-winged mosquito-like fly lacking biting mouthparts; appear in dancing swarms especially near water
    Save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you can still stand my style (I am writing under observation), the sun of my infancy has been set: surely, you all know those redolent remnants of day suspended, with the midges, about some hedge in bloom or suddenly entered and traversed by the rambler, at the bottom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry warmth, golden midges.
  24. azure
    of a deep somewhat purplish blue color
    Aunt Sybil had pink-rimmed azure eyes and a waxen complexion. (10)
  25. vista
    the visual percept of a region
    I grew, a happy, healthy child in a bright world of illustrated books, clean sand, orange trees, friendly dogs, sea vistas, and smiling faces. (10)
  26. cosmos
    everything that exists anywhere
    Around me the splendid Hotel Miranda revolved as a kind of private universe, a whitewashed cosmos within the blue greater one that blazed outside. (10)
  27. potentate
    a ruler who is unconstrained by law
    From the aproned pot-scrubber, to the flanneled potentate, everybody liked me, everybody petted me. (10)
  28. decorous
    characterized by propriety and dignity and good taste
    The only definite sexual events that I can remember as having occurred before my thirteenth birthday (that is, before I first saw Annabel) were: a solemn, decorous and purely theoretical talk about pubertal surprises in the rose garden of the school with an American kid, the son of a then celebrated motion-picture actress whom he seldom saw in the three-dimensional world; and some interesting reactions on the part of my organism to certain photographs, pearl and umbra, with infinitely soft parti
  29. umbra
    a region of complete shadow resulting from total obstruction of light
    The only definite sexual events that I can remember as having occurred before my thirteenth birthday (that is, before I first saw Annabel) were: a solemn, decorous and purely theoretical talk about pubertal surprises in the rose garden of the school with an American kid, the son of a then celebrated motion-picture actress whom he seldom saw in the three-dimensional world; and some interesting reactions on the part of my organism to certain photographs, pearl and umbra, with infinitely soft parti
  30. sumptuous
    rich and superior in quality
    The only definite sexual events that I can remember as having occurred before my thirteenth birthday (that is, before I first saw Annabel) were: a solemn, decorous and purely theoretical talk about pubertal surprises in the rose garden of the school with an American kid, the son of a then celebrated motion-picture actress whom he seldom saw in the three-dimensional world; and some interesting reactions on the part of my organism to certain photographs, pearl and umbra, with infinitely soft parti
  31. filch
    make off with belongings of others
    The only definite sexual events that I can remember as having occurred before my thirteenth birthday (that is, before I first saw Annabel) were: a solemn, decorous and purely theoretical talk about pubertal surprises in the rose garden of the school with an American kid, the son of a then celebrated motion-picture actress whom he seldom saw in the three-dimensional world; and some interesting reactions on the part of my organism to certain photographs, pearl and umbra, with infinitely soft parti
  32. debonair
    having a sophisticated charm
    Later, in his delightful debonair manner, my father gave me all the information he thought I needed about sex; this was just before sending me, in the autumn of 1923, to a lycee in Lyon (were we were to spend three winters); but alas, in the summer of that year, he was touring Italy with Mme de R. and her daughter, and I had nobody to complain to, nobody to consult. (11)
  33. evoke
    call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
    The kind of visual memory where you skillfully evoke, with shut eyes, on the dark innerside of your eyelids, the objective, absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors (and this how I see Lolita). (11)
  34. prim
    affectedly dainty or refined
    Let me therefore primly limit myself, in describing Annabel, to saying she was a lovely child a few months my junior. (12)
  35. frenzy
    state of violent mental agitation
    At at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other's soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found every opportunity to do. (12)
  36. assuage
    provide physical relief, as from pain
    At at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other's soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found every opportunity to do. (12)
  37. imbibe
    take in liquids
    At at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other's soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found every opportunity to do. (12)
  38. sprawl
    sit or lie with one's limbs spread out
    There, on the soft sand, a few feet away from our elders, we would sprawl all morning, in a petrified paroxysm of desire, and take advantage of every blessed quirk in space and time to touch each other: her hand, half-hidden in the sand, would creep toward me, its slender brown fingers sleepwalking nearer and nearer. (12)
  39. paroxysm
    a sudden uncontrollable attack
    There, on the soft sand, a few feet away from our elders, we would sprawl all morning, in a petrified paroxysm of desire, and take advantage of every blessed quirk in space and time to touch each other: her hand, half-hidden in the sand, would creep toward me, its slender brown fingers sleepwalking nearer and nearer. (12)
  40. staid
    characterized by dignity and propriety
    Among some treasures I lost during the wanderings of my adult years, there was a snapshot taken by my aunt which showed Annabel, her parents and the staid, elderly, lame gentleman, a Dr. Cooper, who that same summer courted my aunt, grouped around a table in a sidewalk cafe. (13)
  41. desolate
    providing no shelter or sustenance
    Under the flimsiest of pretexts (this was our very last chance, and nothing really mattered) we escaped from the cafe to the beach, and found a desolate stretch of sand, and there, in the violet shadow of some red rocks forming a kind of cave, had a brief session of avid caresses, with somebody's lost sunglasses for only witness. (13)
  42. ribald
    humorously vulgar
    I was on my knees, and on the point of possessing my darling, when two bearded bathers, the old man of the sea and his brother, came out of the sea with exclamations of ribald encouragement, and four months later she died of typhus in Corfu. (13)
  43. arabesque
    an intricate ornament that interlaces simulated foliage
    Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks of sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards - presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy. (14)
  44. acrid
    strong and sharp, as a taste or smell
    Her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious portion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. (14)
  45. sibilant
    a consonant characterized by a hissing sound
    Her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious portion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. (14)
  46. musky
    resembling the smell of an odorous perfume
    I recall the scent of some kind of toilet powder - I believe she stole it from her mother's Spanish maid - a sweetish, lowly, musky perfume. (5)
  47. frantic
    marked by uncontrolled excitement or emotion
    As we drew away from each other, and with aching veins attended to what was probably a prowling cat, there came from the house her mother's voice calling her, with a rising frantic note - and Dr. Cooper ponderously limped out into the garden. (15)
  48. brisk
    quick and energetic
    In my relations with women I was practical, ironical and brisk. (15)
  49. fey
    suggestive of an elf in strangeness and otherworldliness
    Neither are good looks any criterion; and vulgarity, or at least what a given community terms so, does not necessarily impair certain mysterious characteristics, the fey grace, the elusive, shifty, soul-shattering, insidious charm that separates the nymphet from such coevals of hers as are incomparably more dependent on the spatial world of synchronous phenomena than on that intangible island of entranced time where Lolita plays with her likes. (17)
  50. shifty
    characterized by insincerity or deceit; evasive
    Neither are good looks any criterion; and vulgarity, or at least what a given community terms so, does not necessarily impair certain mysterious characteristics, the fey grace, the elusive, shifty, soul-shattering, insidious charm that separates the nymphet from such coevals of hers as are incomparably more dependent on the spatial world of synchronous phenomena than on that intangible island of entranced time where Lolita plays with her likes. (17)
  51. insidious
    working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
    Neither are good looks any criterion; and vulgarity, or at least what a given community terms so, does not necessarily impair certain mysterious characteristics, the fey grace, the elusive, shifty, soul-shattering, insidious charm that separates the nymphet from such coevals of hers as are incomparably more dependent on the spatial world of synchronous phenomena than on that intangible island of entranced time where Lolita plays with her likes. (17)
  52. coeval
    of the same period
    Neither are good looks any criterion; and vulgarity, or at least what a given community terms so, does not necessarily impair certain mysterious characteristics, the fey grace, the elusive, shifty, soul-shattering, insidious charm that separates the nymphet from such coevals of hers as are incomparably more dependent on the spatial world of synchronous phenomena than on that intangible island of entranced time where Lolita plays with her likes. (17)

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