"Inherit the Wind," Vocabulary from Act 1 Scene 2

Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee collaborated on "Inherit the Wind," a fictional account of the Scopes trial where the teaching of evolution in schools was debated. The play, both for its subject matter and its depiction of the legal system, is still relevant today.

Learn these word lists for the play: Act 1 Scene 1, Act 1 Scene 2, Act 2 Scene 1, Act 2 Scene 2, Act 3

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. sweltering
    excessively hot and humid; marked by sweating and faintness
    The townspeople are packed into the sweltering courtroom.
  2. benign
    pleasant and beneficial in nature or influence
    BRADY sits grandly at another table, fanning himself with benign self assurance.
  3. petulant
    easily irritated or annoyed
    BANNISTER (A little petulant)
  4. titter
    a nervous restrained laugh
    (There are a few titters through the courtroom) He’ll do.
  5. bask
    derive or receive pleasure from
    BRADY basks in the warmth of his popularity) I do not feel that the dignity of the court will suffer if we remove a few superfluous outer garments.
  6. superfluous
    more than is needed, desired, or required
    BRADY basks in the warmth of his popularity) I do not feel that the dignity of the court will suffer if we remove a few superfluous outer garments.
  7. affable
    diffusing warmth and friendliness
    (With affable sarcasm)
  8. metropolitan
    relating to or characteristic of a large urban area
    Is the counsel for the defense showing us the latest fashion in the great metropolitan city of Chicago?
  9. levity
    a manner lacking seriousness
    I object to the note of levity which the counsel for the defense is introducing into these proceedings.
  10. honorary
    given as an award without the normal duties
    Well—he was made an Honorary Colonel in our State Militia.
  11. righteousness
    adhering to moral principles
    The use of this title prejudices the case of my client: it calls up a picture of the prosecution, astride a white horse, ablaze in the uniform of a militia colonel, with all the forces of right and righteousness marshaled behind him.
  12. gingerly
    with extreme care or delicacy
    Then the MAYOR steps gingerly toward DRUMMOND) By—by authority of—well, I’m sure the Governor won’t have any objection—I hereby appoint you, Mr. Drummond, a temporary Honorary Colonel in the State Militia.
  13. exalted
    of high moral or intellectual value
    It is not often in a man’s life that he attains the exalted rank of “temporary Honorary Colonel.”
  14. denounce
    to accuse or condemn openly as disgraceful
    The prosecution’s denouncing the defendant before the trial has even begun!
  15. stroll
    walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
    ( Strolling toward the witness chair)
  16. hypothetical
    based primarily on surmise rather than adequate evidence
    Your Honor, my worthy opponent from Chicago is cluttering the issue with hypothetical questions—
  17. render
    give or supply
    I am not altogether satisfied that Mr. Sillers will render impartial—
  18. wrangle
    quarrel noisily, angrily, or disruptively
    (The following becomes a simultaneous wrangle among the attorneys.)
  19. obscenity
    an offensive or indecent word or phrase
    Nobody’s forgotten the Endicott Publishing case—where you made the jury believe the obscenity was in their own minds, not on the printed page.
  20. immoral
    deliberately violating principles of right and wrong
    It was immoral what you did to that jury.
  21. medieval
    relating to or belonging to the Middle Ages
    All I want is to prevent the clock-stoppers from dumping a load of medieval nonsense into the United States Constitution.
  22. gavel
    a small mallet used by a presiding officer or a judge
    (The JUDGE beats with his gavel.)
  23. commercial
    of the kind or quality used in sale; average or inferior
    I object to this commercial announcement.
  24. preposterous
    inviting ridicule
    That’s preposterous!
  25. brief
    a document stating the points of law of a client's case
    In marked contrast, DRUMMOND packs away his brief in a tattered leather case; but no one comes near him.
  26. fuss
    a quarrel about petty points
    Then they’d stop all this fuss, and—everything would be like it was.
  27. plea
    an answer indicating why a suit should be dismissed
    (He takes a deep breath, then turns abruptly) Cates, I’ll change your plea and we’ll call off the whole business—on one condition.
  28. indecisive
    characterized by lack of resoluteness
    ( Indecisive)
  29. verdict
    findings of a jury on issues submitted to it for decision
    (He looks squarely at CATES) Well, what’s the verdict, Bert?
  30. pariah
    a person who is rejected from society or home
    Especially when he’s a pariah in the community.

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