"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams, Prologue-Chapter 4

When Earth is destroyed to make way for a freeway, Arthur Dent joins his friend Ford Prefect on a hilarious odyssey through space. Learn these words from the first book in Douglas Adams's popular science fiction series.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Prologue-Chapter 4, Chapters 5-10, Chapters 11-17, Chapters 18-26, Chapters 27-35
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definitions & notes only words
  1. philosophical
    relating to the investigation of existence and knowledge
    Not only is it a wholly remarkable book, it is also a highly successful one—more popular than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than Fifty-three More Things to Do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid’s trilogy of philosophical blockbusters, Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who Is This God Person Anyway?
  2. apocryphal
    being of questionable authenticity
    In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.
  3. inextricably
    in a manner incapable of being disentangled or untied
    But the story of this terrible, stupid Thursday, the story of its extraordinary consequences, and the story of how these consequences are inextricably intertwined with this remarkable book begins very simply.
  4. bleary
    tired to the point of exhaustion
    He woke up blearily, got up, wandered blearily round his room, opened a window, saw a bulldozer, found his slippers, and stomped off to the bathroom to wash.
  5. vestige
    an indication that something has been present
    ...the only vestiges left in Mr. L. Prosser of his mighty ancestry were a pronounced stoutness about the tum and a predilection for little fur hats.
  6. predilection
    a predisposition in favor of something
    ...the only vestiges left in Mr. L. Prosser of his mighty ancestry were a pronounced stoutness about the tum and a predilection for little fur hats.
  7. squelch
    make a sucking sound
    Arthur lay in the mud and squelched at him.
  8. derisive
    expressing contempt or ridicule
    He flushed hotly under the derisive grins of the bulldozer drivers.
  9. inexplicable
    incapable of being explained or accounted for
    Mr. Prosser’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times while his mind was for a moment filled with inexplicable but terribly attractive visions of Arthur Dent’s house being consumed with fire and Arthur himself running screaming from the blazing ruin with at least three hefty spears protruding from his back.
  10. plausible
    apparently reasonable and valid, and truthful
    This friend of his had first arrived on the planet Earth some fifteen Earth years previously, and he had worked hard to blend himself into Earth society—with, it must be said, some success. For instance, he had spent those fifteen years pretending to be an out-of-work actor, which was plausible enough.
  11. inconspicuous
    not prominent or readily noticeable
    The information he had gathered had led him to choose the name “Ford Prefect” as being nicely inconspicuous.
  12. astrophysicist
    a scientist who studies the properties of celestial bodies
    For instance, he would often gate-crash university parties, get badly drunk and start making fun of any astrophysicists he could find till he got thrown out.
  13. livery
    uniform worn by some menservants and chauffeurs
    The reason he said green was that green was the traditional space livery of the Betelgeuse trading scouts.
  14. ploy
    a maneuver in a game or conversation
    It was Arthur’s accepted role to lie squelching in the mud making occasional demands to see his lawyer, his mother or a good book; it was Mr. Prosser’s accepted role to tackle Arthur with the occasional new ploy such as the For the Public Good talk, or the March of Progress talk, the They Knocked My House Down Once You Know, Never Looked Back talk...
  15. diurnal
    having a daily cycle or occurring every day
    The Earth moved slowly in its diurnal course.
  16. plaintively
    in a manner expressing sorrow
    “But what about my house...?” he asked plaintively.
  17. bureaucratic
    of or relating to unnecessary procedures and red tape
    Bureaucratic cock-ups, angry men lying in mud, indecipherable strangers handing out inexplicable humiliation and an unidentified army of horsemen laughing at him in his head—what a day.
  18. volatile
    evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures
    It says that alcohol is a colorless volatile liquid formed by the fermentation of sugars and also notes its intoxicating effect on certain carbon-based life forms.
  19. redolent
    having a strong pleasant odor
    Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heady odors of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle, sweet and mystic.
  20. heady
    extremely exciting as if by alcohol or a narcotic
    Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heady odors of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle, sweet and mystic.
  21. wan
    lacking vitality as from weariness or illness or unhappiness
    Arthur smiled at him wanly and shrugged again. He turned and smiled wanly at the rest of the pub just in case any of them had heard what was going on.
  22. satchel
    luggage consisting of a small case with a flat bottom
    It nestled in the darkness inside a leather satchel which Ford Prefect habitually wore slung around his neck.
  23. hitchhike
    travel by getting free rides from motorists
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.
    A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.
  24. noxious
    injurious to physical or mental health
    You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta...wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal...
  25. ravenous
    extremely hungry
    You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta...wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal...
  26. subliminal
    below the threshold of conscious perception
    In moments of great stress, every life form that exists gives out a tiny subliminal signal. This signal simply communicates an exact and almost pathetic sense of how far that being is from the place of his birth.
  27. loathe
    find repugnant
    The girl he had dragged along to the pub with him had grown to loathe him dearly over the last hour, and it would probably have been a great satisfaction to her to know that in a minute and a half or so he would suddenly evaporate into a whiff of hydrogen, ozone and carbon monoxide.
  28. squall
    sudden violent winds, often accompanied by precipitation
    He didn’t notice how cold it had suddenly become, he didn’t notice the wind, he didn’t notice the sudden irrational squall of rain.
  29. blasphemy
    the act of depriving something of its sacred character
    The great ships hung motionless in the sky, over every nation on Earth. Motionless they hung, huge, heavy, steady in the sky, a blasphemy against nature.
  30. encompass
    include in scope
    Many people went straight into shock as their minds tried to encompass what they were looking at. The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.
  31. ambient
    completely enveloping
    Then there was a slight whisper, a sudden spacious whisper of open ambient sound. Every hi-fi set in the world, every radio, every television, every cassette recorder, every woofer, every tweeter, every mid-range driver in the world quietly turned itself on.
  32. fanfare
    a short lively tune played on brass instruments
    But there was no concert, no music, no fanfare, just a simple message.
  33. culmination
    a final climactic stage
    But it was not in any way a coincidence that today, the day of culmination of the project, the great day of unveiling, the day that the Heart of Gold was finally to be introduced to a marveling Galaxy, was also a great day of culmination for Zaphod Beeblebrox.
  34. fait accompli
    an irreversible accomplishment
    Only six people in the entire Galaxy understood the principle on which the Galaxy was governed, and they knew that once Zaphod Beeblebrox had announced his intention to run as President it was more or less a fait accompli: he was ideal presidency fodder
  35. fodder
    soldiers regarded as expendable under artillery fire
    Only six people in the entire Galaxy understood the principle on which the Galaxy was governed, and they knew that once Zaphod Beeblebrox had announced his intention to run as President it was more or less a fait accompli: he was ideal presidency fodder.
  36. anachronism
    an artifact that belongs to another time
    The term Imperial is kept though it is now an anachronism. The hereditary Emperor is nearly dead and has been for many centuries.
  37. stasis
    inactivity resulting from a balance between opposing forces
    In the last moments of his dying coma he was locked in a stasis field which keeps him in a state of perpetual unchangingness.
  38. resplendent
    having great beauty
    All except the Hooloovoo were resplendent in their multicolored ceremonial lab coats; the Hooloovoo had been temporarily refracted into a free-standing prism for the occasion.
  39. obsequious
    attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner
    The three billion people weren’t actually there, but they watched his every gesture through the eyes of a small robot tri-D camera which hovered obsequiously in the air nearby.
  40. seethe
    foam as if boiling
    Water boiled up beneath the bubble, it seethed and spouted. The bubble surged into the air, bobbing and rolling on the water spout.
  41. sidle
    move sideways
    A government spider sidled up to him and attempted to press a copy of his prepared speech into his hands.
  42. conceive
    have the idea for
    At the heart of it, unseen, lay a small gold box which carried within it the most brain-wrenching device ever conceived, a device that made this starship unique in the history of the Galaxy, a device after which the ship had been named—the Heart of Gold.

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