"Treasure Island"--Vocabulary from Part One (Chapters 1-6)

"Treasure Island," an adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, supplies everything desired of a pirate story: treasure maps, booty, and of course, bad guys (etext found here). Learn this word list that focuses on fear and disgust.

Here are links to all of our word lists for Treasure Island: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. diabolical
    extremely evil or cruel
    On stormy nights, when the wind shook the four corners of the house and the surf roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions.
  2. abominable
    exceptionally bad or displeasing
    And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.
  3. tyrannize
    exercise power over in a cruel and autocratic manner
    My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannized over and put down, and sent shivering to their beds
  4. rebuff
    a deliberate discourteous act
    If ever he mentioned it, the captain blew through his nose so loudly that you might say he roared, and stared my poor father out of the room. I have seen him wringing his hands after such a rebuff, and I am sure the annoyance and the terror he lived in must have greatly hastened his early and unhappy death.
  5. ruffian
    a cruel and brutal fellow
    "Were you addressing me, sir?" says the doctor; and when the ruffian had told him, with another oath, that this was so, "I have only one thing to say to you, sir," replies the doctor, "that if you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!"
  6. indignation
    a feeling of righteous anger
    I remember his breath hanging like smoke in his wake as he strode off, and the last sound I heard of him as he turned the big rock was a loud snort of indignation, as though his mind was still running upon Dr. Livesey.
  7. leer
    a facial expression of contempt or scorn
    "Is this here table for my mate Bill?" he asked with a kind of leer.
  8. feeble
    lacking bodily or muscular strength or vitality
    But he broke in cursing the doctor, in a feeble voice but heartily.
    Another definition of "feeble" is "pathetically lacking in force or effectiveness"--this also fits the example sentence because the captain, who is weak from a recent fight and stroke, is feebly cursing a doctor who is neither present nor afraid of him.
  9. repent
    feel sorry for; be contrite about
    Probably I should have told the whole story to the doctor, for I was in mortal fear lest the captain should repent of his confessions and make an end of me.
  10. flighty
    unpredictably excitable (especially of horses)
    He never particularly addressed me, and it is my belief he had as good as forgotten his confidences; but his temper was more flighty, and allowing for his bodily weakness, more violent than ever.
  11. apoplexy
    a loss of consciousness from the lack of oxygen in the brain
    The captain had been struck dead by thundering apoplexy.
    Although the captain was already weakened by too much rum and a previous stroke, the "thundering apoplexy" that causes his death was triggered by his knowledge that he had been given the black spot and would be killed in six hours; so in a way, the captain died from a fear of death.
  12. detestable
    offensive to the mind
    The neighbourhood, to our ears, seemed haunted by approaching footsteps; and what between the dead body of the captain on the parlour floor and the thought of that detestable blind beggar hovering near at hand and ready to return, there were moments when, as the saying goes, I jumped in my skin for terror.
  13. embolden
    give encouragement to
    They say cowardice is infectious; but then argument is, on the other hand, a great emboldener; and so when each had said his say, my mother made them a speech.
  14. foolhardy
    marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences
    Of course I said I would go with my mother, and of course they all cried out at our foolhardiness, but even then not a man would go along with us.
  15. repugnance
    intense aversion
    Overcoming a strong repugnance, I tore open his shirt at the neck, and there, sure enough, hanging to a bit of tarry string, which I cut with his own gully, we found the key.
  16. totter
    walk unsteadily
    We were just at the little bridge, by good fortune; and I helped her, tottering as she was, to the edge of the bank, where, sure enough, she gave a sigh and fell on my shoulder.
  17. formidable
    inspiring fear or dread
    Four or five of them obeyed at once, two remaining on the road with the formidable beggar.
    Another definition of "formidable" is "extremely impressive in strength or excellence"--this does not fit the example sentence, because the adjective is referring to a blind beggar who is inspiring fear through his curses and commands. However, the narrator Jim and the author Stevenson could've intended some irony, especially since both know what happens to the beggar later in the chapter.
  18. irresolute
    uncertain how to act or proceed
    This appeal seemed to produce some effect, for two of the fellows began to look here and there among the lumber, but half-heartedly, I thought, and with half an eye to their own danger all the time, while the rest stood irresolute on the road.
  19. miscreant
    a person without moral scruples
    These, in their turn, cursed back at the blind miscreant, threatened him in horrid terms, and tried in vain to catch the stick and wrest it from his grasp.
  20. frenzy
    state of violent mental agitation
    Him they had deserted, whether in sheer panic or out of revenge for his ill words and blows I know not; but there he remained behind, tapping up and down the road in a frenzy, and groping and calling for his comrades.
  21. deplore
    regret strongly
    As for my mother, when we had carried her up to the hamlet, a little cold water and salts and that soon brought her back again, and she was none the worse for her terror, though she still continued to deplore the balance of the money.
  22. condescend
    do something that one considers to be below one's dignity
    "Come in, Mr. Dance," says he, very stately and condescending.
  23. atrocious
    exceptionally bad or displeasing
    And as for riding down that black, atrocious miscreant, I regard it as an act of virtue, sir, like stamping on a cockroach.
  24. prodigious
    great in size, force, extent, or degree
    The Spaniards were so prodigiously afraid of him that, I tell you, sir, I was sometimes proud he was an Englishman.
  25. wretched
    characterized by physical misery
    "Livesey," said the squire, "you will give up this wretched practice at once.
    "Wretched" is an odd adjective to describe a medical practice. But it is coming from a squire who has traveled, and he is talking to a small-town doctor in the 18th century who must take on additional duties as a magistrate and whose income is not so great that a treasure hunt would not be tempting.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.