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The Great Gatsby: Chapters 4–5

Nick Carraway rents a summer house in Long Island where he befriends his mysterious neighbor Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire who hides behind an extravagant and decadent lifestyle. Read the full text here.

Here are links to all our word lists for the novel: Chapter 1, Chapters 2–3, Chapters 4–5, Chapters 6–7, Chapters 8–9
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. hospitality
    kindness in welcoming guests or strangers
    But I can still read the grey names, and they will give you a better impression than my generalities of those who accepted Gatsby’s hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him.
  2. sporadic
    recurring in scattered or unpredictable instances
    He was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American—that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games.
  3. punctilious
    marked by precise accordance with details
    This quality was continually breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness.
  4. conservatory
    a greenhouse in which plants are arranged
    Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory, we started to town.
  5. disconcerting
    causing an emotional disturbance
    And then came that disconcerting ride. We hadn’t reached West Egg village before Gatsby began leaving his elegant sentences unfinished and slapping himself indecisively on the knee of his caramel-coloured suit.
  6. evasion
    a statement that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth
    “Look here, old sport,” he broke out surprisingly, “what’s your opinion of me, anyhow?”
    A little overwhelmed, I began the generalized evasions which that question deserves.
  7. retribution
    a justly deserved penalty
    “I’ll tell you God’s truth.” His right hand suddenly ordered divine retribution to stand by.
  8. threadbare
    repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse
    The very phrases were worn so threadbare that they evoked no image except that of a turbaned "character" leaking sawdust at every pore as he pursued a tiger through the Bois de Boulogne.
  9. elicit
    call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
    It appreciated fully the chain of national circumstances which had elicited this tribute from Montenegro’s warm little heart.
  10. spire
    a tall tower that forms the superstructure of a building
    It was a photograph of half a dozen young men in blazers loafing in an archway through which were visible a host of spires.
  11. gilt
    a coating of gold or of something that looks like gold
    We passed Port Roosevelt, where there was a glimpse of red-belted ocean-going ships, and sped along a cobbled slum lined with the dark, undeserted saloons of the faded- gilt nineteen-hundreds.
  12. somber
    serious and gloomy in character
    The friends looked out at us with the tragic eyes and short upper lips of southeastern Europe, and I was glad that the sight of Gatsby’s splendid car was included in their sombre holiday.
  13. somnambulate
    walk in one's sleep
    Gatsby took an arm of each of us and moved forward into the restaurant, whereupon Mr. Wolfsheim swallowed a new sentence he was starting and lapsed into a somnambulatory abstraction.
  14. benediction
    a blessing or ceremonial prayer invoking divine protection
    Mr. Wolfsheim raised his hand in a sort of benediction.
  15. impose
    inflict something unpleasant
    “You sit here and discuss your sports and your young ladies and your—” He supplied an imaginary noun with another wave of his hand. “As for me, I am fifty years old, and I won’t impose myself on you any longer.”
  16. denizen
    a person who inhabits a particular place
    He's quite a character around New York—a denizen of Broadway.
  17. engrossed
    giving or marked by complete attention to
    They were so engrossed in each other that she didn't see me until I was five feet away.
  18. beau
    a man with whom one has a romantic relationship
    By the next year I had a few beaux myself, and I began to play in tournaments, so I didn’t see Daisy very often.
  19. armistice
    a state of peace agreed to between opponents
    She had a début after the armistice, and in February she was presumably engaged to a man from New Orleans.
  20. pomp
    cheap or pretentious or vain display
    In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars, and hired a whole floor of the Muhlbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
  21. unfathomable
    impossible to come to understand
    She used to sit on the sand with his head in her lap by the hour, rubbing her fingers over his eyes and looking at him with unfathomable delight.
  22. heady
    extremely exciting as if by alcohol or a narcotic
    A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired."
  23. facade
    the front of a building
    We passed a barrier of dark trees, and then the façade of Fifty-Ninth Street, a block of delicate pale light, beamed down into the park.
  24. rout
    a disorderly crowd of people
    At first I thought it was another party, a wild rout that had resolved itself into "hide-and-go-seek" or "sardines-in-the-box" with all the house thrown open to the game.
  25. render
    give or supply
    But, because the offer was obviously and tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there.
  26. scrutinize
    look at critically or searchingly, or in minute detail
    Together we scrutinized the twelve lemon cakes from the delicatessen shop.
  27. harrow
    cause to feel distress
    We both jumped up, and, a little harrowed myself, I went out into the yard.
  28. defunct
    no longer in force or use; inactive
    His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantelpiece clock and from this position his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy who was sitting frightened but graceful on the edge of a stiff chair.
  29. abound
    exist in large quantities
    Once more it was pouring, and my irregular lawn, well-shaved by Gatsby’s gardener, abounded in small muddy swamps and prehistoric marshes.
  30. obstinate
    marked by tenacious unwillingness to yield
    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.
  31. vestige
    an indication that something has been present
    They were sitting at either end of the couch looking at each other as if some question had been asked or was in the air, and every vestige of embarrassment was gone.
  32. confound
    be confusing or perplexing to
    But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply confounding.
  33. exultation
    a feeling of extreme joy
    He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.
  34. swathe
    wrap in or as if in strips of cloth
    We went upstairs, through period bedrooms swathed in rose and lavender silk and vivid with new flowers, through dressing-rooms and poolrooms, and bathrooms with sunken baths—intruding into one chamber where a dishevelled man in pyjamas was doing liver exercises on the floor.
  35. disarray
    untidiness, especially of clothing and appearance
    He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-coloured disarray.
  36. corrugated
    shaped into alternating parallel grooves and ridges
    After the house, we were to see the grounds and the swimming pool, and the hydroplane, and the midsummer flowers—but outside Gatsby’s window it began to rain again, so we stood in a row looking at the corrugated surface of the Sound.
  37. pompadour
    a hair style in which the hair is swept up from the forehead
    "The pompadour! You never told me you had a pompadour—or a yacht."
  38. scanty
    lacking in extent or quantity
    He went out of the room calling “Ewing!” and returned in a few minutes accompanied by an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair.
  39. nebulous
    lacking definite form or limits
    He was now decently clothed in a "sport shirt" open at the neck, sneakers and duck trousers of a nebulous hue.
  40. fluctuating
    having unpredictable ups and downs
    I think that voice held him most with its fluctuating, feverish warmth because it couldn't be over-dreamed—that voice was a deathless song.
Created on April 10, 2013 (updated June 2, 2022)

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