Words from the 4th of July Songbook

There are so many things about the 4th of July that are familiar — the flags, the fireworks, the barbecues and the patriotic songs we all know (or can flub our way through) the first verse to. But how well do we really know those songs, and what do those words mean? Here are 20 vocabulary words from four classic patriotic songs: You're A Grand Old Flag, The Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle Dandy and America The Beautiful to help you celebrate this year and for many years to come.

For the full article, check out The 4th of July Songbook
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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. emblem
    a visible symbol representing an abstract idea
    You're a grand old flag,
    You're a high flying flag
    And forever in peace may you wave.
    You're the emblem of
    The land I love.
    The home of the free and the brave.
    Ev'ry heart beats true
    'Neath the Red, White and Blue,
    Where there's never a boast or brag.
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
    -You're A Grand Old Flag
    You’re a Grand Old Flag is clear about its intentions as a song. It is an ode to the flag itself, which is an emblem &mdash a symbol standing for something else, in this case, the United States of America. The word dates from the 1580s. Emblem derives from when the word referred to work done on a ship merely for decoration. It was not until the 18th century that emblem came to refer to decorations acting to signify something else — to function as a symbol.
  2. boast
    show off
    You're a grand old flag,
    You're a high flying flag
    And forever in peace may you wave.
    You're the emblem of
    The land I love.
    The home of the free and the brave.
    Ev'ry heart beats true
    'Neath the Red, White and Blue,
    Where there's never a boast or brag.
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
    - You're A Grand Old Flag
  3. auld
    a Scottish word
    You're a grand old flag,
    You're a high flying flag
    And forever in peace may you wave.
    You're the emblem of
    The land I love.
    The home of the free and the brave.
    Ev'ry heart beats true
    'Neath the Red, White and Blue,
    Where there's never a boast or brag.
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
    - You're A Grand Old Flag
    Auld is Scottish for "Old."
  4. acquaintance
    personal knowledge or information about someone or something
    You're a grand old flag,
    You're a high flying flag
    And forever in peace may you wave.
    You're the emblem of
    The land I love.
    The home of the free and the brave.
    Ev'ry heart beats true
    'Neath the Red, White and Blue,
    Where there's never a boast or brag.
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
    - You're A Grand Old Flag
  5. twilight
    the time of day immediately following sunset
    O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
    -The Star Spangled Banner
  6. perilous
    fraught with danger
    O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
    - The Star Spangled Banner
  7. rampart
    an embankment built around a space for defensive purposes
    O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
    - The Star Spangled Banner
  8. gallantly
    in a heroic or brave manner
    O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
    - The Star Spangled Banner
    Gallantly, a word Francis Scott Key uses to describe the way the flags streamed, means “heroically” or “bravely” and is about the soldiers doing battle, who are metaphorically represented by the flag.
  9. hail
    greet enthusiastically or joyfully
    O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
    - The Star Spangled Banner
    Hail is an interjection of cheer and welcome dating back to the 1200s, but it is particularly appropriate used in this context, when the outcome of a battle is uncertain. It is an Old English shortening of wæs hæil, “be healthy” “be whole.” In other words, it is a wish, a kind of prayer, that things turn out alright.
  10. glare
    be sharply reflected
    O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
    - The Star Spangled Banner
  11. dandy
    a man who is much concerned with his dress and appearance
    Yankee Doodle, keep it up
    Yankee Doodle dandy
    Mind the music and the step
    and with the girls be handy!
    - Yankee Doodle Dandy
    A man concerned with his appearance, a dandy, would want to be up on the latest trends-he has to be a good dancer, and a decent romancer.
  12. macaroni
    a British dandy in the 18th century who affected Continental mannerisms
    Yankee Doodle went to town
    A-riding on a pony
    He stuck a feather in his hat
    And called it macaroni
    - Yankee Doodle Dandy
    It turns out that rather than being the foundation of the ubiquitous “mac and cheese”, once upon a time macaroni was pretty exotic as a dish, and prized by those who valued knowing about things that were currently in style. There was even a Macaroni Club in Britain, named after the dish, and it is to the behavior and dress of those in this club that the Yankee Doodle lyric probably refers.
  13. handy
    skillful with the hands
    Yankee Doodle, keep it up
    Yankee Doodle dandy
    Mind the music and the step
    and with the girls be handy!
    - Yankee Doodle Dandy
  14. hasty pudding
    sweetened porridge made of tapioca or flour or oatmeal cooked quickly in milk or water
    Father and I went down to camp
    Along with Captain Gooding
    And there we saw the men and boys
    As thick as hasty pudding.
    - Yankee Doodle Dandy
  15. spacious
    having ample room
    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed his grace on thee
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!
    - America the Beautiful
  16. amber
    a deep yellow color
    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed his grace on thee
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!
    - America the Beautiful
  17. majesty
    impressiveness in scale or proportion
    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed his grace on thee
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!
    - America the Beautiful
    Majesty comes ultimately from Latin magnus, meaning “great, large, abundant, of considerable value and strong”. Of course, majesty is usually a word used to describe a ruler with a title, like king or queen, and it is telling that in a land without a monarchy, this honor is bestowed on the bounty of nature that can be found within the USA.
  18. grace
    a disposition to kindness and compassion
    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed his grace on thee
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!
    - America the Beautiful
    Grace is defined as “love” or “compassion,” the “pardon, and favor” especially of a divine presence. The author of the poem on which the song is based, Katharine Lee Bates, is so overcome by looking at Pike’s Peak in Colorado (which is said to look purple, hence “purple mountains majesties”) that she follows the description of the beauty by invoking the grace of God.
  19. crown
    invest with regal power; enthrone
    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed his grace on thee
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!
    - America the Beautiful
  20. brotherhood
    the feeling that men should treat one another like brothers
    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed his grace on thee
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!
    - America the Beautiful

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