"Little Women," Vocabulary from Part 2: Chapters 36-47

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. homily
    a sermon on a moral or religious topic
    It shows itself in acts rather than in words, and has more influence than homilies or protestations.
  2. saunter
    walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
    Laurie's eyes followed her with pleasure, for she neither romped nor sauntered, but danced with spirit and grace, making the delightsome pastime what it should be.
  3. aplomb
    great coolness and composure under strain
    Always mature for her age, she had gained a certain aplomb in both carriage and conversation, which made her seem more of a woman of the world than she was, but her old petulance now and then showed itself, her strong will still held its own, and her native frankness was unspoiled by foreign polish.
  4. propitious
    presenting favorable circumstances
    A stealthy glance now and then refreshed her like sips of fresh water after a dusty walk, for the sidelong peeps showed her several propitious omens.
  5. quandary
    a situation from which extrication is difficult
    "Well--the general air, the style, the self-possession, the--the--illusion--you know," laughed Laurie, breaking down and helping himself out of his quandary with the new word.
  6. abdicate
    give up, such as power, as of monarchs and emperors
    In America, as everyone knows, girls early sign the declaration of independence, and enjoy their freedom with republican zest, but the young matrons usually abdicate with the first heir to the throne and go into a seclusion almost as close as a French nunnery, though by no means as quiet.
  7. bereft
    sorrowful through loss or deprivation
    Bereft of his cake, defrauded of his frolic, and borne away by a strong hand to that detested bed, poor Demi could not restrain his wrath, but openly defied Papa, and kicked and screamed lustily all the way upstairs.
  8. caprice
    a sudden desire
    Mamma was an abject slave to their caprices, but Papa was not so easily subjugated, and occasionally afflicted his tender spouse by an attempt at paternal discipline with his obstreperous son.
  9. pertinacious
    stubbornly unyielding
    For Demi inherited a trifle of his sire's firmness of character, we won't call it obstinacy, and when he made up his little mind to have or to do anything, all the king's horses and all the king's men could not change that pertinacious little mind.
  10. ambiguity
    an expression whose meaning cannot be determined
    In her secret soul, however, she decided that politics were as bad as mathematics, and that the mission of politicians seemed to be calling each other names, but she kept these feminine ideas to herself, and when John paused, shook her head and said with what she thought diplomatic ambiguity, "Well, I really don't see what we are coming to."
  11. detriment
    a damage or loss
    And John kissed the smiling face, to the great detriment of the rosebud under the chin.
  12. amicable
    characterized by friendship and good will
    She answered him with a smile, and they went on together in the most amicable manner.
  13. foliage
    the aggregate of leaves of one or more plants
    Gnarled olive trees covered the hills with their dusky foliage, fruit hung golden in the orchard, and great scarlet anemones fringed the roadside, while beyond green slopes and craggy heights, the Maritime Alps rose sharp and white against the blue Italian sky.
  14. recumbent
    lying down; in a position of comfort or rest
    I should respectfully suggest a recumbent posture, then put yourself in also and call it 'Dolce far niente'."
  15. cordial
    politely warm and friendly
    It also touched her, and she showed that it did, by the cordial tone in which she said...
  16. diaphanous
    so thin as to transmit light
    This phantom wore many faces, but it always had golden hair, was enveloped in a diaphanous cloud, and floated airily before his mind's eye in a pleasing chaos of roses, peacocks, white ponies, and blue ribbons.
  17. stalwart
    having rugged physical strength
    She never had much to show when she came home, but was studying nature, I dare say, while she sat for hours, with her hands folded, on the terrace at Valrosa, or absently sketched any fancy that occurred to her, a stalwart knight carved on a tomb, a young man asleep in the grass, with his hat over his eyes, or a curly-haired girl in gorgeous array
  18. decorous
    characterized by propriety and dignity and good taste
    He had rather imagined that the denouement would take place in the chateau garden by moonlight, and in the most graceful and decorous manner, but it turned out exactly the reverse, for the matter was settled on the lake at noonday in a few blunt words.
  19. mercenary
    marked by materialism
    "You don't really think I am such a mercenary creature as I tried to be once, do you?
  20. insinuation
    an indirect (and usually malicious) implication
    It was good to see Laurie square his shoulders, and smile with masculine scorn at that insinuation, as he replied, with his "high and mighty" air, "Amy is too well-bred for that, and I am not the sort of man to submit to it.
  21. sequester
    requisition forcibly, as of enemy property
    Burdened with the guilty consciousness of the sequestered tarts, and fearing that Dodo's sharp eyes would pierce the thin disguise of cambric and merino which hid their booty, the little sinners attached themselves to `Dranpa', who hadn't his spectacles on.
  22. talisman
    a trinket thought to be a magical protection against evil
    They could not help it, for he carried the talisman that opens all hearts, and these simple people warmed to him at once, feeling even the more friendly because he was poor.
  23. aloof
    in a remote manner
    If Jo had not been otherwise engaged, Laurie's behavior would have amused her, for a faint twinge, not of jealousy, but something like suspicion, caused that gentleman to stand aloof at first, and observe the newcomer with brotherly circumspection.
  24. genial
    agreeable, conducive to comfort
    For Mr. Bhaer talked well in this genial atmosphere, and did himself justice.
  25. salubrious
    promoting health
    Don't know anything about the north, but am altogether salubrious and balmy, hey, my lady?"
  26. malicious
    having the nature of threatening evil
    Amy caught herself up short as the words escaped her, and looked at her husband, who replied, with malicious gravity...
  27. philanthropic
    generous in assistance to the poor
    "And so you shall, like an angel as you are!" cried Laurie, resolving, with a glow of philanthropic zeal, to found and endow an institution for the express benefit of young women with artistic tendencies.
  28. customary
    commonly used or practiced
    It's nothing to me, of course, but I should think he would have come and bid us goodbye like a gentleman," she said to herself, with a despairing look at the gate, as she put on her things for the customary walk one dull afternoon.
  29. tantalizing
    arousing desire or expectation for something unattainable
    But her faith in the good spot which exists in the heart of the naughtiest, sauciest, most tantalizing little ragamuffin gave her patience, skill, and in time success, for no mortal boy could hold out long with Father Bhaer shining on him as benevolently as the sun, and Mother Bhaer forgiving him seventy times seven.
  30. devout
    And Meg laid her hand on her tall boy's head, with a face full of tender and devout content.

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