"Treasure Island"--Vocabulary from Part Five (Chapters 22-27)

"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 boats and tides.

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. propulsion
    the act of moving forward
    There was one thwart set as low as possible, a kind of stretcher in the bows, and a double paddle for propulsion.
  2. portable
    easily or conveniently transported
    But the great advantage of the coracle it certainly possessed, for it was exceedingly light and portable.
  3. buoyant
    tending to float on a liquid or rise in air or gas
    THE coracle—as I had ample reason to know before I was done with her—was a very safe boat for a person of my height and weight, both buoyant and clever in a seaway; but she was the most cross-grained, lop-sided craft to manage.
    Another definition of "buoyant" is "characterized by liveliness and lightheartedness"--this also seems to fit Jim's description of the little boat, because he personifies it by calling it "she" and seemingly comparing it to a willful woman who would never go in the direction she's pointed towards because she prefers to turn around and around in circles.
  4. ebb
    the outward flow of the tide
    First she loomed before me like a blot of something yet blacker than darkness, then her spars and hull began to take shape, and the next moment, as it seemed (for, the farther I went, the brisker grew the current of the ebb), I was alongside of her hawser and had laid hold.
    Other definitions of "ebb" are "fall away or decline" or "flow back or recede"--these would suggest that an ebb tide should not be dangerous. But an ebb tide is the period between high and low water during which water flows away from the shore, and Jim and his coracle are out at sea.
  5. callous
    emotionally hardened
    But, indeed, from what I saw, all these buccaneers were as callous as the sea they sailed on.
  6. consort
    keep company with
    By this time the schooner and her little consort were gliding pretty swiftly through the water;
    Jim uses the word "consort" ironically here. Usually, a consort would be another ship that is deliberately traveling with another ship (as in the consort that Blandly would send out if the Hispaniola doesn't return after five months). But Jim is sneaking up on the schooner in order to take it back from the pirates. A consort could also be the "husband or wife of a reigning monarch" and there is nothing royal about Jim's little boat and situation.
  7. welter
    toss, roll, or rise and fall in an uncontrolled way
    The ship was talking, as sailors say, loudly, treading the innumerable ripples with an incessant weltering splash;
  8. yaw
    swerve off course momentarily
    At the same moment, she yawed sharply and seemed to change her course.
  9. phosphorescent
    emitting light without appreciable heat
    All round me were little ripples, combing over with a sharp, bristling sound and slightly phosphorescent.
  10. strait
    a narrow channel joining two larger bodies of water
    At the end of the straits, I made sure we must fall into some bar of raging breakers, where all my troubles would be ended speedily; and though I could, perhaps, bear to die, I could not bear to look upon my fate as it approached.
    Another definition of "strait" is "a bad or difficult situation"--this could also fit the example sentence as Jim and his coracle are helplessly "spinning through the narrows for the open sea."
  11. billow
    a large sea wave
    So I must have lain for hours, continually beaten to and fro upon the billows, now and again wetted with flying sprays, and never ceasing to expect death at the next plunge.
  12. reverberation
    an echo
    Among the fallen rocks the breakers spouted and bellowed; loud reverberations, heavy sprays flying and falling, succeeded one another from second to second;
  13. summit
    the top or extreme point of something
    Often, as I still lay at the bottom and kept no more than an eye above the gunwale, I would see a big blue summit heaving close above me;
  14. subside
    sink to a lower level or form a depression
    yet the coracle would but bounce a little, dance as if on springs, and subside on the other side into the trough as lightly as a bird.
  15. intermittent
    stopping and starting at irregular intervals
    As for the latter's sailing, it was so wild and intermittent, and she hung each time so long in irons, that she certainly gained nothing, if she did not even lose.
  16. bail
    remove (water) from a vessel with a container
    Once I shipped a sea so heavy that I had to stop and bail, with my heart fluttering like a bird, but gradually I got into the way of the thing and guided my coracle among the waves, with only now and then a blow upon her bows and a dash of foam in my face.
    A slangy definition of "bail" is "abandon a project or enterprise"--but this would be the opposite of what Jim is doing in the example sentence. When Jim bails, he is removing the seawater that had splashed into his little boat so that he would not have to bail on his chase of the schooner.
  17. batten
    secure with battens
    If not, the men were lying drunk below, where I might batten them down, perhaps, and do what I chose with the ship.
  18. trundle
    move heavily
    I have said this was the worst thing possible for me, for helpless as she looked in this situation, with the canvas cracking like cannon and the blocks trundling and banging on the deck, she still continued to run away from me, not only with the speed of the current, but by the whole amount of her leeway, which was naturally great.
  19. sidle
    move sideways
    For a while the ship kept bucking and sidling like a vicious horse, the sails filling, now on one tack, now on another, and the boom swinging to and fro till the mast groaned aloud under the strain.
  20. bulwark
    a fencelike structure around a deck (usually plural)
    Now and again too there would come a cloud of light sprays over the bulwark and a heavy blow of the ship's bows against the swell;
  21. lurch
    move abruptly
    It occurred to me there was no time to lose, and dodging the boom as it once more lurched across the deck, I slipped aft and down the companion stairs into the cabin.
  22. bilge
    water accumulated in the lowest part of a ship
    Well, HE'S dead now, he is—as dead as bilge; and who's to sail this ship, I don't see.
  23. navigation
    the guidance of ships or airplanes from place to place
    All told, we had scarce two miles to run; but the navigation was delicate, the entrance to this northern anchorage was not only narrow and shoal, but lay east and west, so that the schooner must be nicely handled to be got in.
  24. estuary
    the wide part of a river where it nears the sea
    The shores of North Inlet were as thickly wooded as those of the southern anchorage, but the space was longer and narrower and more like, what in truth it was, the estuary of a river.
  25. helm
    steering mechanism for a vessel
    And I put the helm hard up, and the HISPANIOLA swung round rapidly and ran stem on for the low, wooded shore.
  26. capsize
    overturn accidentally
    We were both of us capsized in a second, and both of us rolled, almost together, into the scuppers, the dead red-cap, with his arms still spread out, tumbling stiffly after us.
  27. cant
    a slope in the turn of a road or track
    The sudden canting of the ship had made the deck no place for running on;
  28. lather
    the froth produced by soaps or detergents
    He rose once to the surface in a lather of foam and blood and then sank again for good.
  29. tremulous
    quivering as from weakness or fear
    He went in with a sounding plunge; the red cap came off and remained floating on the surface; and as soon as the splash subsided, I could see him and Israel lying side by side, both wavering with the tremulous movement of the water.
    In the example sentence, "tremulous" is describing the movement of the water, which is not quivering from weakness or fear. That would be a better description of Jim, who just survived a dagger attack and was looking down at two corpses.
  30. douse
    lower quickly
    The jibs I speedily doused and brought tumbling to the deck, but the main-sail was a harder matter.

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