"Little Women," Vocabulary from Part 2: Chapters 24-35

The March sisters, the protagonists of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women," are some of the most beloved characters in all of literature. Precocious, humorous and dramatic all at once, the sisters and their adventures are the stuff of great literature (etext found here).

Learn these word lists for the classic novel: Part 1: Chapters 1-11, Part 1: Chapters 12-23, Part 2: Chapters 24-35, Part 2: Chapters 36-47

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. piety
    righteousness by virtue of being religiously devout
    The war is over, and Mr. March safely at home, busy with his books and the small parish which found in him a minister by nature as by grace, a quiet, studious man, rich in the wisdom that is better than learning, the charity which calls all mankind 'brother', the piety that blossoms into character, making it august and lovely.
  2. earnest
    characterized by a firm, humorless belief in one's opinions
    Earnest young men found the gray-headed scholar as young at heart as they, thoughtful or troubled women instinctively brought their doubts to him, sure of finding the gentlest sympathy, the wisest counsel.
  3. atonement
    the act of making amends for sin or wrongdoing
    But as high spirits and the love of fun were the causes of these pranks, he always managed to save himself by frank confession, honorable atonement, or the irresistible power of persuasion which he possessed in perfection.
  4. dilapidated
    in a state of decay, ruin, or deterioration
    "Why do you always avoid Mr. Tudor?" asked Amy, wisely refraining from any comment upon Jo's dilapidated appearance.
  5. ingenious
    showing inventiveness and skill
    His last whim had been to bring with him on his weekly visits some new, useful, and ingenious article for the young housekeeper.
  6. array
    an impressive display
    Beth was there, laying the snowy piles smoothly on the shelves and exulting over the goodly array.
  7. lament
    express grief verbally
    You are a mere infant, but you'll go next, Jo, and we'll be left lamenting," said Laurie, shaking his head over the degeneracy of the times.
  8. impetuous
    characterized by undue haste and lack of thought
    Meg spoke seriously and expected to see Laurie frown or laugh, but he did neither, for after a quick look at her, he said, in his impetuous way, "I like that!"
  9. promenade
    a public area set aside as a pedestrian walk
    He never goes with Flo, always gets on my side of the carriage, table, or promenade, looks sentimental when we are alone, and frowns at anyone else who ventures to speak to me.
  10. audacity
    fearless daring
    Amy was learning this distinction through much tribulation, for mistaking enthusiasm for inspiration, she attempted every branch of art with youthful audacity.
  11. confer
    The solitary woman felt an interest in the ambitious girl, and kindly conferred many favors of this sort both on Jo and the Professor.
  12. foible
    a minor weakness or peculiarity in someone's character
    Now that was tact, for two of the ruling foibles of the masculine mind were touched.
  13. askew
    turned or twisted to one side
    Has anything dreadful happened?" asked the anxious John, tenderly kissing the crown of the little cap, which was all askew.
  14. fortuitous
    occurring by happy chance
    It was a pictorial sheet, and Jo examined the work of art nearest her, idly wondering what fortuitous concatenation of circumstances needed the melodramatic illustration of an Indian in full war costume, tumbling over a precipice with a wolf at his throat, while two infuriated young gentlemen, with unnaturally small feet and big eyes, were stabbing each other close by, and a disheveled female was flying away in the background with her mouth wide open.
  15. metaphysical
    highly abstract and overly theoretical
    By-and-by, when you've got a name, you can afford to digress, and have philosophical and metaphysical people in your novels," said Amy, who took a strictly practical view of the subject.
  16. coquette
    talk or behave amorously, without serious intentions
    With her pretty hair tucked into a little cap, arms bared to the elbow, and a checked apron which had a coquettish look in spite of the bib, the young housewife fell to work, feeling no doubts about her success, for hadn't she seen Hannah do it hundreds of times?
  17. pungent
    strong and sharp to the sense of taste
    Round the house he hurried, led by a pungent smell of burned sugar, and Mr. Scott strolled after him, with a queer look on his face.
  18. penitent
    feeling or expressing remorse for misdeeds
    The penitent kiss was better than a world of words, and John had her on his knee in a minute, saying tenderly...
  19. coveted
    greatly desired
    Sallie was very kind, and often offered her the coveted trifles, but Meg declined them, knowing that John wouldn't like it, and then this foolish little woman went and did what John disliked even worse.
  20. connoisseur
    an expert able to appreciate a field
    "You are a thing of beauty and a joy forever," said Jo, looking through her hand with the air of a connoisseur at the blue feather against the golden hair.
  21. brusque
    marked by rude or peremptory shortness
    Any mention of her 'works' always had a bad effect upon Jo, who either grew rigid and looked offended, or changed the subject with a brusque remark, as now.
  22. exonerate
    pronounce not guilty of criminal charges
    She reproached herself for her share of the ill feeling and resolved to exonerate Amy as soon as possible.
  23. conciliatory
    making or willing to make concessions
    How does Amy get on?" asked May with a conciliatory air, for she wanted to show that she also could be generous.
  24. magnanimous
    noble and generous in spirit
    "The reward of merit for a magnanimous March," as Laurie announced with a flourish.
  25. abominable
    exceptionally bad or displeasing
    "Oh, my tongue, my abominable tongue!
  26. aspirant
    an ambitious young person
    "Then I shall come home and teach drawing for my living," replied the aspirant for fame, with philosophic composure.
  27. effervescence
    the property of giving off bubbles
    Franz and Emil are jolly little lads, quite after my own heart, for the mixture of German and American spirit in them produces a constant state of effervescence.
  28. affable
    diffusing warmth and friendliness
    "Yes, it's a new plot, and pretty well worked up--language good, and so on," was Mr. Dashwood's affable reply.
  29. emaciated
    very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
    She soon became interested in her work, for her emaciated purse grew stout, and the little hoard she was making to take Beth to the mountains next summer grew slowly but surely as the weeks passed.
  30. didactic
    instructive, especially excessively
    She sent this didactic gem to several markets, but it found no purchaser, and she was inclined to agree with Mr. Dashwood that morals didn't sell.
  31. solicitude
    a feeling of excessive concern
    This gaiety did not impose upon anybody, but they tried to look as if it did for his sake, and he got on very well till Mrs. March kissed him, with a whisper full of motherly solicitude.

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