"Gulliver's Travels," Vocabulary from Part Four

In Jonathan Swift's satirical "Gulliver's Travels," we meet all kinds of exotic peoples whose behavior holds a funhouse mirror up to segments of English society in the 18th century (etext found here).

Learn these word lists: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four

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definitions & notes only words
  1. yahoo
    a person who is not intelligent or interested in culture
    The Yahoos, a strange sort of animal, described.
    This is another word that was coined by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels.
  2. founder
    sink below the surface
    On the sixteenth he was parted from us by a storm; I heard since my return that his ship foundered, and none escaped but one cabin boy.
  3. plunder
    steal goods; take as spoils
    Their design was to turn pirates, and plunder the Spaniards, which they could not do, till they got more men.
  4. antipathy
    a feeling of intense dislike
    Upon the whole, I never beheld in all my travels so disagreeable an animal, nor one against which I naturally conceived so strong an antipathy.
    This word is a synonym of the vocabulary word, "aversion," but though the meaning appears to be the same, the sense of both words is different. Antipathy shares the same root with such words as empathy and sympathy, but the prefix makes it the opposite of these words.
  5. aversion
    a feeling of intense dislike
    So that thinking I had seen enough, full of contempt and aversion, I got up and pursued the beaten road, hoping it might direct me to the cabin of some Indian.
    This word is a synonym of the vocabulary word, "antipathy," but though the meaning appears to be the same, the sense of both words is different. Aversion is related to avert, which means to turn away.
  6. endue
    give qualities or abilities to
    I was amazed to see such actions and behavior in brute beasts, and concluded with myself, that if the inhabitants of this country were endued with a proportionable degree of reason, they must needs be the wisest people upon earth.
  7. perplexity
    trouble or confusion resulting from complexity
    They were under great perplexity about my shoes and stockings, which they felt very often, neighing to each other, and using various gestures, not unlike those of a philosopher, when he would attempt to solve some new and difficult phenomenon.
  8. orthography
    representing the sounds of a language by written symbols
    Then the bay tried me with a second word, much harder to be pronounced; but reducing it to the English orthography, may be spelt thus, Houyhnhnm.
  9. prudent
    marked by sound judgment
    After some further discourse, which I then conjectured might relate to me, the two friends took their leave, with the same compliment of striking each other's hoof; and the gray made me signs that I should walk before him, wherein I thought it prudent to comply, till I could find a better director.
  10. depressed
    flattened downward as if pressed from above
    My horror and astonishment are not to be described, when I observed in this abominable animal a perfect human figure: the face of it indeed was flat and broad, the nose depressed, the lips large, and the mouth wide.
  11. signify
    convey or express a meaning
    He afterwards showed me a wisp of hay, and a fetlock full of oats; but I shook my head, to signify that neither of these were food for me.
  12. partition
    separation by the creation of a boundary that divides
    Their mangers were placed circular in the middle of the room, and divided into several partitions, round which they sat on their haunches upon bosses of straw.
  13. insipid
    lacking taste or flavor or tang
    It was at first a very insipid diet, though common enough in many parts of Europe, but grew tolerable by time; and having been often reduced to hard fare in my life, this was not the first experiment I had made how easily nature is satisfied.
  14. execrable
    unequivocally detestable
    That upon a quarrel among us, I was set on shore on this coast, where I walked forward without knowing whither, till he delivered me from the persecution of those execrable Yahoos.
  15. tractable
    easily managed
    I understand you well, said my master, it is now very plain, from all you have spoken, that whatever share of reason the Yahoos pretend to, the Houyhnhnms are your masters; I heartily wish our Yahoos would be so tractable.
  16. indignation
    a feeling of righteous anger
    My master, after some expressions of great indignation, wondered how we dared to venture upon a Houyhnhnm's back, for he was sure that the weakest servant in his house would be able to shake off the strongest Yahoo, or by lying down and rolling on his back squeeze the brute to death.
  17. circumlocution
    an indirect way of expressing something
    It put me to the pains of many circumlocutions to give my master a right idea of what I spoke; for their language does not abound in variety of words, because their wants and passions are fewer than among us.
  18. insuperable
    impossible to surmount
    Power, government, war, law, punishment, and a thousand other things had no terms wherein that language could express them, which made the difficulty almost insuperable to give my master any conception of what I meant.
  19. pestilence
    any epidemic disease with a high death rate
    It is a very justifiable cause of a war to invade a country after the people have been wasted by famine, destroyed by pestilence, or embroiled by factions among themselves.
  20. insinuate
    suggest in an indirect or covert way; give to understand
    The first is to gain over my adversary's lawyer with a double fee, who will then betray his client by insinuating that he has justice on his side.
  21. precedent
    a legal decision that influences subsequent decisions
    These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of directing accordingly.
  22. iniquitous
    characterized by injustice or wickedness
    These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of directing accordingly.
  23. jargon
    a characteristic language of a particular group
    It is likewise to be observed, that this society has a peculiar cant and jargon of their own, that no other mortal can understand, and wherein all their laws are written, which they take special care to multiply...
  24. obsequious
    attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner
    But a wise prince would rather choose to employ those who practice the last of these methods; because such zealots prove always the most obsequious and subservient to the will and passions of their master.
  25. ascribe
    attribute or credit to
    My master said he could never discover the reason of this unnatural appetite, or how these stones could be of any use to a Yahoo; but now he believed it might proceed from the same principle of avarice which I had ascribed to mankind...
  26. inroad
    an invasion or hostile attack
    My master farther assured me, which I also observed myself, that in the fields where the shining stones abound, the fiercest and most frequent battles are fought, occasioned by perpetual inroads of the neighboring Yahoos.
  27. hardy
    having rugged physical strength
    They are strong and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and by consequence, insolent, abject, and cruel.
  28. abject
    of the most contemptible kind
    They are strong and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and by consequence, insolent, abject, and cruel.
  29. noisome
    causing or able to cause nausea
    On this festival the servants drive a herd of Yahoos into the field, laden with hay and oats and milk, for a repast to the Houyhnhnms; after which these brutes are immediately driven back again, for fear of being noisome to the assembly.
  30. inimitable
    In poetry they must be allowed to excel all other mortals; wherein the justness of their similes, and the minuteness, as well as exactness of their descriptions, are indeed inimitable.
  31. epithet
    a defamatory or abusive word or phrase
    Thus they denote the folly of a servant, an omission of a child, a stone that cuts their feet, a continuance of foul or unseasonable weather, and the like, by adding to each the epithet of Yahoo.
  32. gait
    a horse's manner of moving
    By conversing with the Houyhnhnms, and looking upon them with delight, I fell to imitate their gait and gesture, which is now grown into an habit, and my friends often tell me in a blunt way, that I trot like a horse; which, however, I take for a great compliment.
  33. sullen
    showing a brooding ill humor
    However, I remained silent and sullen; I was ready to faint at the very smell of him and his men.
  34. inviolable
    incapable of being transgressed or dishonored
    But he added that since I professed so inviolable an attachment to truth, I must give him my word of honor to bear him company in this voyage, without attempting any thing against my life, or else he would continue me a prisoner till we arrived at Lisbon.
  35. contradiction
    the speech act of opposing someone
    It would be tedious to repeat his arguments, and my contradictions.
  36. recluse
    withdrawn from society; seeking solitude
    He said it was altogether impossible to find such a solitary island as I had desired to live in; but I might command in my own house, and pass my time in a manner as recluse as I pleased.
  37. oblivion
    the state of being disregarded or forgotten
    I know likewise that writers of travels, like dictionary-makers, are sunk into oblivion by the weight and bulk of those who come after, and therefore lie uppermost.
  38. magnanimous
    noble and generous in spirit
    But instead of proposals for conquering that magnanimous nation, I rather wish they were in a capacity or disposition to send a number of their inhabitants for civilizing Europe, by teaching us the first principles of honor, truth, temperance, public spirit, fortitude, chastity, benevolence, and fidelity.
  39. scruples
    motivation deriving from ethical or moral principles
    To say the truth, I had conceived a few scruples with relation to the distributive justice of princes upon those occasions.
  40. depose
    declare under oath
    However, if those whom it more concerns think fit to be of another opinion, I am ready to depose, when I shall be lawfully called, that no European did ever visit these countries before me.

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