Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Phase the first

Learn 48 words from the opening of this classic novel by Thomas Hardy. Find the complete text here.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. gait
    an animal's manner of moving
    The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line.
  2. pedigree
    the ancestry or lineage of an individual
    "It was only my whim," he said; and, after a moment's hesitation: "It was on account of a discovery I made some little time ago, whilst I was hunting up pedigrees for the new county history.
  3. derive
    obtain
    Don't you really know, Durbeyfield, that you are the lineal representative of the ancient and knightly family of the d'Urbervilles, who derive their descent from Sir Pagan d'Urberville, that renowned knight who came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, as appears by Battle Abbey Roll?"
  4. renowned
    widely known and esteemed
    Don't you really know, Durbeyfield, that you are the lineal representative of the ancient and knightly family of the d'Urbervilles, who derive their descent from Sir Pagan d'Urberville, that renowned knight who came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, as appears by Battle Abbey Roll?"
  5. debase
    make impure by adding a foreign or inferior substance
    Yes, that's the d'Urberville nose and chin—a little debased.
  6. manor
    the landed estate of a lord, including the house on it
    Branches of your family held manors over all this part of England; their names appear in the Pipe Rolls in the time of King Stephen.
  7. reign
    royal authority; the dominion of a monarch
    In the reign of King John one of them was rich enough to give a manor to the Knights Hospitallers; and in Edward the Second's time your forefather Brian was summoned to Westminster to attend the great Council there.
  8. daze
    overcome as with astonishment or disbelief
    " Daze my eyes, and isn't there?" said Durbeyfield.
  9. trace
    follow or ascertain the course of development of something
    His own investigations had begun on a day in the preceding spring when, having been engaged in tracing the vicissitudes of the d'Urberville family, he had observed Durbeyfield's name on his waggon, and had thereupon been led to make inquiries about his father and grandfather till he had no doubt on the subject.
  10. vicissitude
    a variation in circumstances or fortune
    His own investigations had begun on a day in the preceding spring when, having been engaged in tracing the vicissitudes of the d'Urberville family, he had observed Durbeyfield's name on his waggon, and had thereupon been led to make inquiries about his father and grandfather till he had no doubt on the subject.
  11. mendacious
    intentionally untrue
    "Yes—what the mendacious family chronicles call extinct in the male line—that is, gone down—gone under."
  12. effigy
    a representation of a person
    "At Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill: rows and rows of you in your vaults, with your effigies under Purbeck-marble canopies."
  13. chasten
    restrain
    "Oh—nothing, nothing; except chasten yourself with the thought of 'how are the mighty fallen.'
  14. reverie
    an abstracted state of absorption
    When he was gone, Durbeyfield walked a few steps in a profound reverie, and then sat down upon the grassy bank by the roadside, depositing his basket before him.
  15. prostrate
    stretched out and lying at full length along the ground
    "Sir John d'Urberville—that's who I am," continued the prostrate man.
  16. dubious
    not convinced
    As the lad stood in a dubious attitude, Durbeyfield put his hand in his pocket, and produced a shilling, one of the chronically few that he possessed.
  17. audible
    heard or perceptible by the ear
    Not a soul passed that way for a long while, and the faint notes of the band were the only human sounds audible within the rim of blue hills.
  18. ramble
    move about aimlessly or without any destination
    An unguided ramble into its recesses in bad weather is apt to engender dissatisfaction with its narrow, tortuous, and miry ways.
  19. tract
    an extended area of land
    This fertile and sheltered tract of country, in which the fields are never brown and the springs never dry, is bounded on the south by the bold chalk ridge that embraces the prominences of Hambledon Hill, Bulbarrow, Nettlecombe-Tout, Dogbury, High Stoy, and Bubb Down.
  20. tinge
    color lightly
    The atmosphere beneath is languorous, and is so tinged with azure that what artists call the middle distance partakes also of that hue, while the horizon beyond is of the deepest ultramarine.
  21. azure
    of a deep somewhat purplish blue color
    The atmosphere beneath is languorous, and is so tinged with azure that what artists call the middle distance partakes also of that hue, while the horizon beyond is of the deepest ultramarine.
  22. partake
    have some of the qualities or attributes of something
    The atmosphere beneath is languorous, and is so tinged with azure that what artists call the middle distance partakes also of that hue, while the horizon beyond is of the deepest ultramarine.
  23. arable
    capable of being farmed productively
    Arable lands are few and limited; with but slight exceptions the prospect is a broad rich mass of grass and trees, mantling minor hills and dales within the major.
  24. copse
    a dense growth of trees, shrubs, or bushes
    Even now, traces of its earlier condition are to be found in the old oak copses and irregular belts of timber that yet survive upon its slopes, and the hollow-trunked trees that shade so many of its pastures.
  25. blanch
    turn pale, as if in fear
    Some approached pure blanching; some had a bluish pallor; some worn by the older characters (which had possibly lain by folded for many a year) inclined to a cadaverous tint, and to a Georgian style.
  26. cadaverous
    of or relating to a corpse
    Some approached pure blanching; some had a bluish pallor; some worn by the older characters (which had possibly lain by folded for many a year) inclined to a cadaverous tint, and to a Georgian style.
  27. scourge
    cause extensive destruction or ruin utterly
    There were a few middle-aged and even elderly women in the train, their silver-wiry hair and wrinkled faces, scourged by time and trouble, having almost a grotesque, certainly a pathetic, appearance in such a jaunty situation.
  28. jaunty
    marked by up-to-dateness in dress and manners
    There were a few middle-aged and even elderly women in the train, their silver-wiry hair and wrinkled faces, scourged by time and trouble, having almost a grotesque, certainly a pathetic, appearance in such a jaunty situation.
  29. luxuriant
    produced or growing in extreme abundance
    The young girls formed, indeed, the majority of the band, and their heads of luxuriant hair reflected in the sunshine every tone of gold, and black, and brown.
  30. factotum
    a servant employed to do a variety of jobs
    This was the cheerful servant of that establishment, who, in her part of factotum, turned groom and ostler at times.
  31. render
    show in, or as in, a picture
    It seemed to hold the moonlight in suspension, rendering it more pervasive than in clear air.
  32. utterance
    the use of spoken sounds for auditory communication
    The dialect was on her tongue to some extent, despite the village school: the characteristic intonation of that dialect for this district being the voicing approximately rendered by the syllable UR, probably as rich an utterance as any to be found in human speech.
  33. flit
    move along rapidly and lightly; skim or dart
    Mrs d'Urberville slept in a large four-post bedstead hung with heavy damask curtains, and the bullfinches occupied the same apartment, where they flitted about freely at certain hours, and made little white spots on the furniture and upholstery.
  34. stout
    courageous and dependable
    Among these on-lookers were three young men of a superior class, carrying small knapsacks strapped to their shoulders, and stout sticks in their hands.
  35. attire
    clothing of a distinctive style or for a particular occasion
    The eldest wore the white tie, high waistcoat, and thin-brimmed hat of the regulation curate; the second was the normal undergraduate; the appearance of the third and youngest would hardly have been sufficient to characterize him; there was an uncribbed, uncabined aspect in his eyes and attire, implying that he had hardly as yet found the entrance to his professional groove.
  36. gallantly
    in a heroic or brave manner
    "This is a thousand pities," he said gallantly, to two or three of the girls nearest him, as soon as there was a pause in the dance.
  37. lineament
    the characteristic parts of a person's face
    Pedigree, ancestral skeletons, monumental record, the d'Urberville lineaments, did not help Tess in her life's battle as yet, even to the extent of attracting to her a dancing-partner over the heads of the commonest peasantry.
  38. leaven
    an influence working subtly to lighten or modify something
    Yet such was the force of example that the village young men, who had not hastened to enter the gate while no intruder was in the way, now dropped in quickly, and soon the couples became leavened with rustic youth to a marked extent, till at length the plainest woman in the club was no longer compelled to foot it on the masculine side of the figure.
  39. rustic
    characteristic of rural life
    Yet such was the force of example that the village young men, who had not hastened to enter the gate while no intruder was in the way, now dropped in quickly, and soon the couples became leavened with rustic youth to a marked extent, till at length the plainest woman in the club was no longer compelled to foot it on the masculine side of the figure.
  40. reproach
    a mild rebuke or criticism
    Besides the jar of contrast there came to her a chill self- reproach that she had not returned sooner, to help her mother in these domesticities, instead of indulging herself out-of-doors.
  41. zest
    vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment
    She remained with her comrades till dusk, and participated with a certain zest in the dancing; though, being heart-whole as yet, she enjoyed treading a measure purely for its own sake; little divining when she saw "the soft torments, the bitter sweets, the pleasing pains, and the agreeable distresses" of those girls who had been wooed and won, what she herself was capable of in that kind.
  42. rebuke
    an act or expression of criticism and censure
    Her rebuke and her mood seemed to fill the whole room, and to impart a cowed look to the furniture, and candle, and children playing about, and to her mother's face.
  43. invocation
    the act of calling up a spirit or devil
    After this invocation the rocking and the singing would recommence, and the "Spotted Cow" proceed as before.
  44. seething
    in constant agitation
    The cradle-rockers had done hard duty for so many years, under the weight of so many children, on that flagstone floor, that they were worn nearly flat, in consequence of which a huge jerk accompanied each swing of the cot, flinging the baby from side to side like a weaver's shuttle, as Mrs Durbeyfield, excited by her song, trod the rocker with all the spring that was left in her after a long day's seething in the suds.
  45. upbraid
    express criticism towards
    Her mother bore Tess no ill-will for leaving the housework to her single-handed efforts for so long; indeed, Joan seldom upbraided her thereon at any time, feeling but slightly the lack of Tess's assistance whilst her instinctive plan for relieving herself of her labours lay in postponing them.
  46. deprecate
    express strong disapproval of; deplore
    Her mother put on a deprecating look.
  47. impart
    bestow a quality on
    Her rebuke and her mood seemed to fill the whole room, and to impart a cowed look to the furniture, and candle, and children playing about, and to her mother's face.
  48. jaunt
    a journey taken for pleasure
    Mrs Durbeyfield's jacket and bonnet were already hanging slily upon a chair by her side, in readiness for this contemplated jaunt, the reason for which the matron deplored more than its necessity.
Created on September 12, 2012 (updated September 12, 2012)

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