Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" Chapter 1

Vocabulary study list for Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" (Chapter 1).
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definitions & notes only words
  1. lovebird
    small Australian parakeet usually light green with black and yellow markings in the wild but bred in many colors
    There was an iron twig with two iron lovebirds perched upon it.
  2. incinerate
    become reduced to ashes
    His mother was incinerated in the Dresden fire-storm.
  3. day shift
    the work shift during the day (as 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
    One time they switched me from the night shift to the day shift, so I worked sixteen hours straight.
  4. titillate
    excite pleasurably or erotically
    I've fought nicely against it as long as I could... danced with it, festooned it, waltzed it around... decorated it with streamers, titillated it...
  5. mustard gas
    a toxic war gas with sulfide based compounds that raises blisters and attacks the eyes and lungs; there is no known antidote
    I get drunk, and I drive my wife away with a breath like mustard gas and roses.
  6. mutt
    an inferior dog or one of mixed breed
    We were Mutt and Jeff in the war.
  7. Gomorrah
    (Old Testament) an ancient city near the Dead Sea that (along with Sodom) was destroyed by God for the vice and depravity of its inhabitants
    Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
  8. critical point
    a crisis situation or point in time when a critical decision must be made
    Friederich was obliged finally to give up the siege, because he learned of the fall of Glatz, the critical point of his new conquests.
  9. stencil
    a sheet of material that has been perforated with a pattern
    Reporters would telephone in stories to writers wearing headphones, and the writers would stencil the stories on mimeograph sheets.
  10. mimeograph
    duplicator that uses a stencil through which ink is pressed
    Reporters would telephone in stories to writers wearing headphones, and the writers would stencil the stories on mimeograph sheets.
  11. instep
    the arch of the foot
    The bag was resting on my insteps.
  12. wallpaper
    a decorative paper for the walls of rooms
    The best outline I ever made, or anyway the prettiest one, was on the back of a roll of wallpaper.
  13. pneumatic
    relating to or using air or a similar gas
    We were connected to the institutions that supported us by means of pneumatic tubes which ran under the streets of Chicago.
  14. Luftwaffe
    the German airforce
    I had a ceremonial Luftwaffe saber, still do.
  15. firing squad
    a squad formed to fire volleys at a military funeral or to carry out a military execution
    And he's given a regular trial, and then he's shot by a firing squad."
  16. bombshell
    an explosive bomb or artillery shell
    Many of the paintings had been transported to the Königstein, but some were seriously injured by splinters of bombshells, — notably Francia's "Baptism of Christ."
  17. air raid
    an attack by armed planes on a surface target
    It wasn't a famous air raid back then in America.
  18. Sodom
    (Old Testament) an ancient city near the Dead Sea that (along with Gomorrah) was destroyed by God for the wickedness of its inhabitants
    Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
  19. dilate
    become wider
    Romance, on the other hand, dilates upon their piety and heroism, and portrays, in her most glowing and impassioned hues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves, and the great services they rendered to Chr
  20. unmitigated
    not diminished or moderated in intensity or severity
    O'Hare read this handsome passage out loud:

    History in her solemn page informs us that the crusaders were but ignorant and savage men, that their motives were those of bigotry unmitigated, and that their pathway was one of blood and tears.
  21. rabid
    marked by excessive enthusiasm for a cause or idea
    The rabid little American I call Paul Lazzaro in this book had about a quart of diamonds and emeralds and rubies and so on.
  22. anthropology
    science of the origins and social relationships of humans
    I went to the University of Chicago for a while after the Second World War. I was a student in the Department of Anthropology.
  23. lieutenant colonel
    a commissioned officer in the United States Army or Air Force or Marines holding a rank above major and below colonel
    He had been a lieutenant colonel in public relations in Baltimore.
  24. Hiroshima
    a port city on the southwestern coast of Honshu in Japan
    Not many Americans knew how much worse it had been than Hiroshima, for instance.
  25. brimstone
    an old name for sulfur
    Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
  26. cannonade
    intense and continuous artillery fire
    On the fifteenth of July began the cannonade.
  27. concentration camp
    a penal camp where political prisoners or prisoners of war are confined (usually under harsh conditions)
    And he told me about the concentration camps, and about how the Germans had made soap and candles out of the fat of dead Jews and so on.
  28. foot soldier
    fights on foot with small arms
    And then this one American foot soldier is arrested in the ruins for taking a teapot.
  29. nurture
    provide with nourishment
    They were no doubt idle and deserted children who generally swarm in great cities, nurtured on vice and daring, said Mackay, and ready for anything.
  30. swivel
    turn on a pivot
    He would peek into the bag every now and then, and he would roll his eyes and swivel his scrawny neck, trying to catch people looking covetously at his bag.
  31. streamer
    a long flag; often tapering
    I've fought nicely against it as long as I could... danced with it, festooned it, waltzed it around... decorated it with streamers, titillated it...
  32. amaze
    affect with wonder
    Miss Ostrovsky reminded me of the amazing scene in Death on the Installment Plan where Céline wants to stop the bustling of a street crowd.
  33. banging
    a continuing very loud noise
    She fixed herself a Coca-Cola, made a lot of noise banging the ice-cube tray in the stainless steel sink.
  34. anthropologist
    a social scientist specializing in the study of humanity
    While I was studying to be an anthropologist, I was also working as a police reporter for the famous Chicago City News Bureau for twenty-eight dollars a week.
  35. musketeer
    a foot soldier armed with a musket
    She was eating a Three Musketeers Candy Bar.

    "Heck no, Nancy," I said.
  36. carp
    any of various freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae
    There were carp in there and we saw them.
  37. festoon
    a decorative representation of a string of flowers
    I've fought nicely against it as long as I could... danced with it, festooned it, waltzed it around... decorated it with streamers, titillated it...
  38. bounce
    spring back; spring away from an impact
    And he would bounce the bag on my insteps.
  39. public relations
    a promotion intended to create goodwill for a person or institution
    And I became a public relations man for General Electric in Schenectady, New York, and a volunteer fireman in the village of Alplaus, where I bought my first home.
  40. cube
    a three-dimensional figure with six equal squares as faces
    She fixed herself a Coca-Cola, made a lot of noise banging the ice- cube tray in the stainless steel sink.
  41. squash
    any of numerous annual trailing plants of the genus Cucurbita grown for their fleshy edible fruits
    So he was hoisted into the air and the floor of the car went down, dropped out from under him, and the top of the car squashed him.
  42. dedicate
    give entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause
    I met his nice wife, Mary, to whom I dedicate this book.
  43. gunman
    a person who shoots a gun (as regards their ability)
    Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war.
  44. refrigerator
    white goods in which food can be stored at low temperatures
    She took another tray of ice cubes from the refrigerator, banged it in the sink, even though there was already plenty of ice out.
  45. bigotry
    intolerance and prejudice
    O'Hare read this handsome passage out loud:

    History in her solemn page informs us that the crusaders were but ignorant and savage men, that their motives were those of bigotry unmitigated, and that their pathway was one of blood and tears.
  46. prisoner of war
    a person who surrenders to the enemy in time of war
    I went back there with an old war buddy, Bernard V. O'Hare, and we made friends with a cab driver, who took us to the slaughterhouse where we had been locked up at night as prisoners of war.
  47. rebound
    spring back; spring away from an impact
    In sturdy contrast with the pitiful fate of the Kreuzkirche, stood the Frauenkirche, from the curves of whose stone dome the Prussian bombs rebounded like rain.
  48. infinity
    time without end
    And so on to infinity.
  49. Crusade
    any of the more or less continuous military expeditions in the 11th to 13th centuries when Christian powers of Europe tried to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims
    "I tell you what," I said, "I'll call it 'The Children's Crusade.'
  50. district attorney
    an official prosecutor for a judicial district
    He was a district attorney in Pennsylvania.
  51. magnanimity
    nobility and generosity of spirit
    Romance, on the other hand, dilates upon their piety and heroism, and portrays, in her most glowing and impassioned hues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves, and the great services they rendered to Chr
  52. colon
    the part of the large intestine between the cecum and rectum
    She fixed herself a Coca- Cola, made a lot of noise banging the ice-cube tray in the stainless steel sink.
  53. watt
    a unit of power equal to 1 joule per second
    That table top was screaming with reflected light from a two-hundred- watt bulb overhead.
  54. chuckle
    a soft partly suppressed laugh
    We would chuckle or grin sometimes, as though war stories were coming back, but neither one of us could remember anything good.
  55. ornamental
    serving an esthetic rather than a useful purpose
    The elevator door on the first floor was ornamental iron lace.
  56. pall
    burial garment in which a corpse is wrapped
    And not many words come now, either, when I have become an old fart with his memories and his Pall Malls, with his sons full grown.
  57. waltz
    music composed in triple time for waltzing
    I've fought nicely against it as long as I could... danced with it, festooned it, waltzed it around... decorated it with streamers, titillated it...
  58. chilly
    appreciably or disagreeably cold
    She was polite but chilly.
  59. sordid
    foul and run-down and repulsive
    The Children's Crusade struck him as only slightly more sordid than the ten Crusades for grown-ups.
  60. landmark
    a prominent or well-known object in a particular place
    It attempts to give to an English-reading public a bird's-eye view of how Dresden came to look as it does, architecturally; of how it expanded musically, through the genius of a few men, to its present bloom; and it calls attention to certain permanent
  61. emerald
    a green transparent form of beryl
    The rabid little American I call Paul Lazzaro in this book had about a quart of diamonds and emeralds and rubies and so on.
  62. succumb
    consent reluctantly
    It later succumbed.
  63. bustle
    move or cause to move energetically or busily
    Miss Ostrovsky reminded me of the amazing scene in Death on the Installment Plan where Céline wants to stop the bustling of a street crowd.
  64. workshop
    small workplace where handcrafts or manufacturing are done
    I taught creative writing in the famous Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa for a couple of years after that.
  65. glacier
    a slowly moving mass of ice
    "I say, 'Why don't you write an anti- glacier book instead?'
  66. vertical
    at right angles to the plane of the horizon or a base line
    The destruction of Dresden was represented by a vertical band of orange cross-hatching, and all the lines that were still alive passed through it, came out the other side.
  67. crusade
    a series of actions tending toward a particular end
    Mackay had a low opinion of all Crusades.
  68. authentic
    not counterfeit or copied
    It was very good for me, because I saw a lot of authentic backgrounds for made-up stories which I will write later on.
  69. injure
    cause bodily harm to
    Many of the paintings had been transported to the Königstein, but some were seriously injured by splinters of bombshells, — notably Francia's "Baptism of Christ."
  70. calendar
    a system of timekeeping that defines divisions of the year
    As an Earthling, I had to believe whatever clocks said — and calendars.
  71. grotesque
    distorted and unnatural in shape or size
    He became a doctor, and he treated poor people in the daytime, and he wrote grotesque novels all night.
  72. dictate
    a guiding principle
    And the first story I covered I had to dictate over the telephone to one of those beastly girls.
  73. oblige
    force somebody to do something
    Friederich was obliged finally to give up the siege, because he learned of the fall of Glatz, the critical point of his new conquests.
  74. expend
    use up, consume fully
    Europe expended millions of her treasures, and the blood of two million of her people; and a handful of quarrelsome knights retained possession of Palestine for about one hundred years!
  75. delusion
    a mistaken or unfounded opinion or idea
    We became curious about the real Children's Crusade, so O'Hare looked it up in a book he had, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay, LL. D. It was first published in London in 1841.
  76. furthermore
    in addition
    Furthermore, the stately Kreuzkirche tower, from which the enemy's movements had been watched day and night, stood in flames.
  77. climax
    the highest point of anything
    "I think the climax of the book will be the execution of poor old Edgar Derby," I said.
  78. expanded
    increased in extent or size or bulk or scope
    It attempts to give to an English-reading public a bird's-eye view of how Dresden came to look as it does, architecturally; of how it expanded musically, through the genius of a few men, to its present bloom; and it calls attention to certain perma
  79. concentration
    the spatial property of being crowded together
    And he told me about the concentration camps, and about how the Germans had made soap and candles out of the fat of dead Jews and so on.
  80. masterpiece
    the most outstanding work of a creative artist or craftsman
    And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpiece or at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big.
  81. ignore
    refuse to acknowledge
    So we tried to ignore Mary and remember the war.
  82. baptism
    a sacrament signifying spiritual cleansing and rebirth
    Many of the paintings had been transported to the Königstein, but some were seriously injured by splinters of bombshells, — notably Francia's " Baptism of Christ."
  83. irony
    incongruity between what might be expected and what occurs
    "The irony is so great.
  84. communism
    a theory favoring collectivism in a classless society
    We asked him how it was to live under Communism, and he said that it was terrible at first, because everybody had to work so hard, and because there wasn't much shelter or food or clothing.
  85. squad
    the smallest army unit
    And he's given a regular trial, and then he's shot by a firing squad."
  86. atomic
    relating to the smallest component of an element
    They were as big as atomic submarines.
  87. hoist
    raise or haul up with or as if with mechanical help
    So he was hoisted into the air and the floor of the car went down, dropped out from under him, and the top of the car squashed him.
  88. hatch
    a movable barrier covering an entrance
    The destruction of Dresden was represented by a vertical band of orange cross- hatching, and all the lines that were still alive passed through it, came out the other side.
  89. dome
    a concave shape whose concavity faces downward
    In sturdy contrast with the pitiful fate of the Kreuzkirche, stood the Frauenkirche, from the curves of whose stone dome the Prussian bombs rebounded like rain.
  90. alcohol
    a volatile compound made by distillation
    I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.
  91. creative
    having the ability or power to invent or make something
    I taught creative writing in the famous Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa for a couple of years after that.
  92. decorated
    provided with something intended to increase its beauty or distinction
    I've fought nicely against it as long as I could... danced with it, festooned it, waltzed it around... decorated it with streamers, titillated it...
  93. piety
    righteousness by virtue of being religiously devout
    Romance, on the other hand, dilates upon their piety and heroism, and portrays, in her most glowing and impassioned hues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves, and the great services they rendered to Chr
  94. operator
    an agent that operates some apparatus or machine
    And then, speaking gravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators to connect me with this friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years.
  95. dialogue
    a conversation between two persons
    As a trafficker in climaxes and thrills and characterization and wonderful dialogue and suspense and confrontations, I had outlined the Dresden story many times.
  96. villain
    someone who does evil deliberately
    Shortly before my father died, he said to me, "You know — you never wrote a story with a villain in it."
  97. skull
    the bony skeleton of the head of vertebrates
    Céline was a brave French soldier in the First World War — until his skull was cracked.
  98. submarine
    a submersible warship usually armed with torpedoes
    They were as big as atomic submarines.
  99. curve
    the trace of a point whose direction of motion changes
    In sturdy contrast with the pitiful fate of the Kreuzkirche, stood the Frauenkirche, from the curves of whose stone dome the Prussian bombs rebounded like rain.
  100. Air Force
    the airforce of the United States of America
    I wrote the Air Force back then, asking for details about the raid on Dresden, who ordered it, how many planes did it, why they did it, what desirable results there had been and so on.
  101. hue
    the quality of a color determined by its dominant wavelength
    Romance, on the other hand, dilates upon their piety and heroism, and portrays, in her most glowing and impassioned hues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves, and the great services they rendered to Chr
  102. acquire
    come into the possession of something concrete or abstract
    Romance, on the other hand, dilates upon their piety and heroism, and portrays, in her most glowing and impassioned hues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves, and the great services they rendered to Chr
  103. switch
    device for making or breaking the connections in a circuit
    One time they switched me from the night shift to the day shift, so I worked sixteen hours straight.
  104. involve
    contain as a part
    I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.
  105. polite
    showing regard for others in manners, speech, behavior, etc.
    She was polite but chilly.
  106. panel
    sheet that forms a distinct section of something
    "Good," I said, and I imagined two leather chairs near a fire in a paneled room, where two old soldiers could drink and talk.
  107. overthrow
    rule against
    Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
  108. operate
    perform as expected when applied
    Mary had prepared an operating room.
  109. pillar
    a vertical cylindrical structure supporting a structure
    So she was turned to a pillar of salt.
  110. swarm
    a group of many things in the air or on the ground
    They were no doubt idle and deserted children who generally swarm in great cities, nurtured on vice and daring, said Mackay, and ready for anything.

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