Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim" Chapters 1-10

Vocabulary study list for Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim" (Chapters 1-10).
Read more...

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. knockabout
    full of rough and exuberant animal spirits
    The boat was heavy; they pushed at the bow with no breath to spare for an encouraging word: but the turmoil of terror that had scattered their self-command like chaff before the wind, converted their desperate exertions into a bit of fooling, upon my word
  2. attune
    adjust or accustom to; bring into harmony with
    They were attuned to the eternal peace of Eastern sky and sea.
  3. domesticate
    make fit for cultivation and service to humans
    There were married couples looking domesticated and bored with each other in the midst of their travels; there were small parties and large parties, and lone individuals dining solemnly or feasting boisterously, but all thinking, conversing, joking
  4. low comedy
    a comedy characterized by slapstick and burlesque
    He was severely left alone, and he formulated in his head this address to the ship in a tone of imprecation, while at the same time he enjoyed the privilege of witnessing scenes--as far as I can judge--of low comedy.
  5. minimise
    make small or insignificant
    You must understand he did not try to minimise its importance.
  6. palpitate
    beat rapidly
    A silence of the sea, of the sky, merged into one indefinite immensity still as death around these saved, palpitating lives.
  7. impale
    pierce with a sharp stake or point
    I waited to see him overwhelmed, confounded, pierced through and through, squirming like an impaled beetle--and I was half afraid to see it too--if you understand what I mean.
  8. viscous
    having a relatively high resistance to flow
    And under the sinister splendour of that sky the sea, blue and profound, remained still, without a stir, without a ripple, without a wrinkle-- viscous, stagnant, dead.
  9. lackadaisical
    idle or indolent especially in a dreamy way
    He departed, disappeared, vanished, absconded; and absurdly enough it looked as though he had taken that gharry with him, for never again did I come across a sorrel pony with a slit ear and a lackadaisical Tamil driver afflicted by a sore foot.
  10. seethe
    foam as if boiling
    The river alongside seethed in frothy streaks.
  11. embroider
    decorate with needlework
    The dark-faced servants tripped without noise over the vast and polished floor; now and then a girl's laugh would be heard, as innocent and empty as her mind, or, in a sudden hush of crockery, a few words in an affected drawl from some wit embroidering
  12. medically
    involving medical practice
    Most extraordinary man I ever met-- medically, of course.
  13. maniacal
    wildly disordered
    'And at last Jim looked astern where the other pointed with maniacal insistence.
  14. mangy
    having many worn or threadbare spots in the nap
    Why, the inquiry thing, the yellow-dog thing--you wouldn't think a mangy, native tyke would be allowed to trip up people in the verandah of a magistrate's court, would you?--the kind of thing that by devious, unexpected, truly diabolical ways cause
  15. expostulate
    reason with for the purpose of dissuasion
    During the pause that ensued he surveyed me with indignation, while I made supernatural efforts of memory, in which I was hindered by the oriental voice within the court-room expostulating with impassioned volubility against a charge of falsehood.
  16. manner of speaking
    your characteristic style or manner of expressing yourself orally
    That unspeakable vagabond, Mariani, who had known the man and had ministered to his vices in one or two other places, kissed the ground, in a manner of speaking, before him, and shut him up with a supply of bottles in an upstairs room of his infamo
  17. pediment
    a triangular gable between a horizontal entablature and a sloping roof
    The lights had been put out in the dining-hall; our candle glimmered solitary in the long gallery, and the columns had turned black from pediment to c
  18. waddle
    walk unsteadily
    His thick, purplish lips came together without a sound, he went off in a resolute waddle to the gharry and began to jerk at the door-handle with such a blind brutality of impatience that I expected to see the whole concern overturned on its side, p
  19. collide
    crash together with violent impact
    'After you had concluded you had collided with something floating awash, say a water-logged wreck, you were ordered by your captain to go forward and ascertain if there was any damage done.
  20. decompose
    break down
    Instantly his face of an old soldier, with its noble and calm outlines, became decomposed before my eyes by the corruption of stealthy cunning, of an abominable caution and of desperate fear.
  21. inscribe
    carve, cut, or etch into a material or surface
    I was a negligible quantity simply because I was not _the_ fortunate man of the earth, not Montague Brierly in command of the Ossa, not the owner of an inscribed gold chronometer and of silver-mounted binoculars testifying to the excellence of my s
  22. jostle
    make one's way by pushing or shoving
    He was jostled.
  23. palliate
    lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
    This was one of those cases which no solemn deception can palliate, where no man can help; where his very Maker seems to abandon a sinner to his own devices.
  24. irremediable
    impossible to correct or redress
    And it's easy enough to talk of Master Jim, after a good spread, two hundred feet above the sea-level, with a box of decent cigars handy, on a blessed evening of freshness and starlight that would make the best of us forget we are only on sufferance here
  25. prescience
    the power to foresee the future
    I suppose I had some hazy prescience of that eventuality being in the air.
  26. cringe
    draw back, as with fear, pain, or embarrassment
    We were alone but for a vague white form erect in the shadow, that, being looked at, cringed forward, hesitated, backed away silently.
  27. unintelligent
    lacking the ability to comprehend
    But now and again an uncontrollable rush of anguish would grip him bodily, make him gasp and writhe under the blankets, and then the unintelligent brutality of an existence liable to the agony of such sensations filled him with a despairing desire
  28. surreptitious
    marked by quiet and caution and secrecy
    The line dividing his meditation from a surreptitious doze on his feet was thinner than a thread in a spider's web.
  29. eventuality
    a possible event or occurrence or result
    I suppose I had some hazy prescience of that eventuality being in the air.
  30. tensely
    in a tense manner
    Quick jerks as of galvanic shocks disclosed under the flat coverlet the outlines of meagre and agitated legs; he let go my shoulder and reached after something in the air; his body trembled tensely like a released harp-string; and while I looked do
  31. diverge
    move or draw apart
    The propeller turned without a check, as though its beat had been part of the scheme of a safe universe; and on each side of the Patna two deep folds of water, permanent and sombre on the unwrinkled shimmer, enclosed within their straight and diverging
  32. abscond
    run away, often taking something or somebody along
    He departed, disappeared, vanished, absconded; and absurdly enough it looked as though he had taken that gharry with him, for never again did I come across a sorrel pony with a slit ear and a lackadaisical Tamil driver afflicted by a sore foot.
  33. exasperate
    make furious
    No doubt, to have all this forced upon you was exasperating enough; but when I reflected that I was associated in these fatal disadvantages with twelve hundred millions of other more or less human beings, I found I could bear my share of his good-n
  34. cryptic
    having a secret or hidden meaning
    I was astonished to see him fall into line, so to speak, with that utterance, which ought to have been tolerably cryptic.
  35. circumvent
    surround so as to force to give up
    I felt the risk I ran of being circumvented, blinded, decoyed, bullied, perhaps, into taking a definite part in a dispute impossible of decision if one had to be fair to all the phantoms in possession--to the reputable that had its claims and to th
  36. nonplus
    be a mystery or bewildering to
    They would stand nonplussed for a while, exchanging in fierce whispers all the infamous names they could call to mind, and go at it again.
  37. culminate
    end, especially to reach a final or climactic stage
    At first he was thankful the night had covered up the scene before his eyes, and then to know of it and yet to have seen and heard nothing appeared somehow the culminating point of an awful misfortune.
  38. tentacle
    an elongated tactile or prehensile flexible organ
    Suddenly my interesting invalid shot out an arm thin like a tentacle and clawed my shoulder.
  39. ramshackle
    in deplorable condition
    A ramshackle gharry, all dust and venetian blinds, pulled up short opposite the group, and the driver, throwing up his right foot over his knee, gave himself up to the critical examination of his toes.
  40. perquisite
    an incidental benefit for certain types of employment
    One voyage, I recollect, I tipped him a live sheep out of the remnant of my sea-stock: not that I wanted him to do anything for me--he couldn't, you know--but because his childlike belief in the sacred right to perquisites quite touched my heart.
  41. jocular
    characterized by jokes and good humor
    They were exchanging jocular reminiscences of the donkeys in Cairo.
  42. orientation
    the act of determining one's position
    They fed one's curiosity without satisfying it; they were no good for purposes of orientation.
  43. frond
    compound leaf of a fern or palm or cycad
    Jim looked every day over the thickets of gardens, beyond the roofs of the town, over the fronds of palms growing on the shore, at that roadstead which is a thoroughfare to the East,--at the roadstead dotted by garlanded islets, lighted by festal s
  44. smuggle
    import or export without paying customs duties
    There were only two other patients in the white men's ward: the purser of a gunboat, who had broken his leg falling down a hatchway; and a kind of railway contractor from a neighbouring province, afflicted by some mysterious tropical disease, who held the
  45. pliable
    capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out
    The sharp hull driving on its way seemed to rise a few inches in succession through its whole length, as though it had become pliable, and settled down again rigidly to its work of cleaving the smooth surface of the sea.
  46. whelp
    young of any of various canines such as a dog or wolf
    A yelling voice in her reached him faintly: 'Keep stroke, you young whelps, if you want to save anybody!
  47. peon
    a laborer who is obliged to do menial work
    The wind of the punkahs eddied down on the heads, on the dark-faced natives wound about in voluminous draperies, on the Europeans sitting together very hot and in drill suits that seemed to fit them as close as their skins, and holding their round pith ha
  48. invulnerable
    immune to attack; impregnable
    I mean just that inborn ability to look temptations straight in the face--a readiness unintellectual enough, goodness knows, but without pose--a power of resistance, don't you see, ungracious if you like, but priceless--an unthinking and blessed stiffness
  49. unapproachable
    reserved and discouraging intimacies
    This was my first view of Jim. He looked as unconcerned and unapproachable as only the young can look.
  50. jollity
    feeling jovial and full of good humor
    To the captain he is faithful like a friend and attentive like a son, with the patience of Job, the unselfish devotion of a woman, and the jollity of a boon companion.
  51. tractable
    easily managed
    He was gentlemanly, steady, tractable, with a thorough knowledge of his duties; and in time, when yet very young, he became chief mate of a fine ship, without ever having been tested by those events of the sea that show in the light of day the inne
  52. lugubrious
    excessively mournful
    It spoke in a voice harsh and lugubrious but intrepid, and little by little it dawned upon Archie that this was a development of the Patna case.
  53. dilate
    become wider
    'He was silent again with a still, far-away look of fierce yearning after that missed distinction, with his nostrils for an instant dilated, sniffing the intoxicating breath of that wasted opportunity.
  54. jabber
    talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner
    First thing in the morning as I was dressing in my state-room, I would hear through the bulkhead my Parsee Dubash jabbering about the Patna with the steward, while he drank a cup of tea, by favour, in the pantry.
  55. disport
    occupy in an agreeable, entertaining or pleasant fashion
    He had 6000 miles of tropical belt to disport himself in, and I did not hear the precise address.
  56. malediction
    the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil
    He had been taken unawares--and he whispered to himself a malediction upon the waters and the firmament, upon the ship, upon the men.
  57. high-pitched
    used of sounds and voices; high in pitch or frequency
    A slim dark woman, with part of her back and one black shoulder bared, and with a thin gold ring in her nose, suddenly began to talk in a high-pitched, shrewish tone.
  58. recumbent
    lying down; in a position of comfort or rest
    He stood still looking at these recumbent bodies, a doomed man aware of his fate, surveying the silent company of the dead.
  59. fluster
    cause to be nervous or upset
    He pushed the fist of his sound arm under the other's nose; a crowd began to collect; the half-caste, flustered, but doing his best to appear dignified, tried to explain his intentions.
  60. contortion
    a tortuous and twisted shape or position
    He lifted his head, saw the two before him waiting, opened his mouth with an extraordinary, sneering contortion of his puffed face--to speak to them, I suppose--and then a thought seemed to strike him.
  61. immobility
    the quality of not moving
    They could not understand; and suddenly the calm sea, the sky without a cloud, appeared formidably insecure in their immobility, as if poised on the brow of yawning destruction.
  62. unmitigated
    not diminished or moderated in intensity or severity
    The verdict must have been of unmitigated guilt, and he took the secret of the evidence with him in that leap into the sea.
  63. nondescript
    lacking distinct or individual characteristics
    His lean bronzed head, with white moustaches, looked fine and calm on the pillow, like the head of a war-worn soldier with a child-like soul, had it not been for a hint of spectral alarm that lurked in the blank glitter of his glance, resembling a nond
  64. incognito
    without revealing one's identity
    His incognito, which had as many holes as a sieve, was not meant to hide a personality but a fact.
  65. complicate
    make less simple
    The facts those men were so eager to know had been visible, tangible, open to the senses, occupying their place in space and time, requiring for their existence a fourteen-hundred-ton steamer and twenty-seven minutes by the watch; they made a whole that h
  66. writhe
    move in a twisting or contorted motion
    But now and again an uncontrollable rush of anguish would grip him bodily, make him gasp and writhe under the blankets, and then the unintelligent brutality of an existence liable to the agony of such sensations filled him with a despairing desire
  67. nomadic
    migratory
    Two nomadic old maids, dressed up to kill, worked acrimoniously through the bill of fare, whispering to each other with faded lips, wooden-faced and bizarre, like two sumptuous scarecrows.
  68. certitude
    complete assurance or confidence
    He could detect no trace of emotion in himself, and the final effect of a staggering event was that, unnoticed and apart from the noisy crowd of boys, he exulted with fresh certitude in his avidity for adventure, and in a sense of many-sided courag
  69. labelled
    bearing or marked with a label or tag
    Henceforth they would be labelled as having passed through this and that place, and so would be their luggage.
  70. fascinate
    attract; cause to be enamored
    The glance directed at him was not the fascinated stare of the others.
  71. funk
    a state of nervous depression
    What was the precise nature of the immoral obligation I never learned, but be it what it may, he had every facility given him to remain under lock and key, with a chair, a table, a mattress in a corner, and a litter of fallen plaster on the floor, in an i
  72. domesticated
    converted or adapted to use in the home
    There were married couples looking domesticated and bored with each other in the midst of their travels; there were small parties and large parties, and lone individuals dining solemnly or feasting boisterously, but all thinking, conversing, joking
  73. squalor
    sordid dirtiness
    'The sight of that watery-eyed old Jones mopping his bald head with a red cotton handkerchief, the sorrowing yelp of the dog, the squalor of that fly-blown cuddy which was the only shrine of his memory, threw a veil of inexpressibly mean pathos ove
  74. rehearse
    engage in a rehearsal (of)
    He had been elaborating dangers and defences, expecting the worst, rehearsing his best.
  75. apropos
    of an appropriate or pertinent nature
    'Thus, apropos of Jim, I had a glimpse of the real Brierly a few days before he committed his reality and his sham together to the keeping of the sea.
  76. disjointed
    taken apart at the points of connection
    "Strange, isn't it?" he murmured, interrupting himself in his disjointed narrative.
  77. wince
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    I have been thus slapped, and I have winced, for the slap was heavy, and I have glowed all day long and gone to bed feeling less lonely in the world by virtue of that hearty thump.
  78. remonstrate
    argue in protest or opposition
    '"You mustn't laugh like this, with all these people about," I remonstrated.
  79. meticulous
    marked by precise accordance with details
    After his first feeling of revolt he had come round to the view that only a meticulous precision of statement would bring out the true horror behind the appalling face of things.
  80. beatitude
    a state of supreme happiness
    A strange look of beatitude overspread his features, his eyes sparkled in the light of the candle burning between us; he positively smiled!
  81. maul
    injure badly
    Would you have had the courage to swing the maul for the first blow if you had seen that bulkhead?
  82. pounce
    move down on as if in an attack
    I believe that, in this first moment, his heart was wrung with all the suffering, that his soul knew the accumulated savour of all the fear, all the horror, all the despair of eight hundred human beings pounced upon in the night by a sudden and vio
  83. monosyllable
    a word or utterance of one syllable
    Afterwards, when his keen perception of the Intolerable drove him away for good from seaports and white men, even into the virgin forest, the Malays of the jungle village, where he had elected to conceal his deplorable faculty, added a word to the mono
  84. cistern
    a sac or cavity containing fluid
    They streamed aboard over three gangways, they streamed in urged by faith and the hope of paradise, they streamed in with a continuous tramp and shuffle of bare feet, without a word, a murmur, or a look back; and when clear of confining rails spread on al
  85. malevolent
    wishing or appearing to wish evil to others
    Outwardly they were badly matched: one dull-eyed, malevolent, and of soft fleshy curves; the other lean, all hollows, with a head long and bony like the head of an old horse, with sunken cheeks, with sunken temples, with an indifferent glazed glanc
  86. unbridled
    not restrained or controlled
    There are many shades in the danger of adventures and gales, and it is only now and then that there appears on the face of facts a sinister violence of intention--that indefinable something which forces it upon the mind and the heart of a man, that this c
  87. forestall
    keep from happening or arising; make impossible
    And you must remember he was a finished artist in that peculiar way, he was a gifted poor devil with the faculty of swift and forestalling vision.
  88. unassuming
    not arrogant
    As I looked at him, flanking on one side the unassuming pale-faced magistrate who presided at the inquiry, his self-satisfaction presented to me and to the world a surface as hard as granite.
  89. pith
    spongelike central cylinder of the stems of flowering plants
    The wind of the punkahs eddied down on the heads, on the dark-faced natives wound about in voluminous draperies, on the Europeans sitting together very hot and in drill suits that seemed to fit them as close as their skins, and holding their round pith
  90. agitate
    move or cause to move back and forth
    The propeller turned without a check, as though its beat had been part of the scheme of a safe universe; and on each side of the Patna two deep folds of water, permanent and sombre on the unwrinkled shimmer, enclosed within their straight and diverging ri
  91. swivel
    turn on a pivot
    A lost voice alongside started cursing a swivel hook.
  92. isolate
    place or set apart
    The five whites on board lived amidships, isolated from the human cargo.
  93. unattainable
    impossible to achieve
    Jim paced athwart, and his footsteps in the vast silence were loud to his own ears, as if echoed by the watchful stars: his eyes, roaming about the line of the horizon, seemed to gaze hungrily into the unattainable, and did not see the shadow of th
  94. glum
    moody and melancholic
    'I've found it,' says I, very glum, but pretending to be mighty busy with my steak.
  95. entice
    provoke someone to do something through persuasion
    Yet he could not go back, because there is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.
  96. formulate
    prepare according to instructions
    He was severely left alone, and he formulated in his head this address to the ship in a tone of imprecation, while at the same time he enjoyed the privilege of witnessing scenes--as far as I can judge--of low comedy.
  97. decrepit
    worn and broken down by hard use
    Below the roof of awnings, surrendered to the wisdom of white men and to their courage, trusting the power of their unbelief and the iron shell of their fire-ship, the pilgrims of an exacting faith slept on mats, on blankets, on bare planks, on every deck
  98. negligible
    so small as to be meaningless; insignificant
    I was a negligible quantity simply because I was not _the_ fortunate man of the earth, not Montague Brierly in command of the Ossa, not the owner of an inscribed gold chronometer and of silver-mounted binoculars testifying to the excellence of my s
  99. insecure
    lacking in safety
    They could not understand; and suddenly the calm sea, the sky without a cloud, appeared formidably insecure in their immobility, as if poised on the brow of yawning destruction.
  100. posthumous
    occurring or coming into existence after a person's death
    'The sight of that watery-eyed old Jones mopping his bald head with a red cotton handkerchief, the sorrowing yelp of the dog, the squalor of that fly-blown cuddy which was the only shrine of his memory, threw a veil of inexpressibly mean pathos over Brier
  101. reputable
    held in high esteem and honor
    I felt the risk I ran of being circumvented, blinded, decoyed, bullied, perhaps, into taking a definite part in a dispute impossible of decision if one had to be fair to all the phantoms in possession--to the reputable that had its claims and to th
  102. receptive
    able to absorb liquid (not repellent)
    There were married couples looking domesticated and bored with each other in the midst of their travels; there were small parties and large parties, and lone individuals dining solemnly or feasting boisterously, but all thinking, conversing, joking, or sc
  103. professionally
    in a professional manner
    He was the kind of fellow you would, on the strength of his looks, leave in charge of the deck--figuratively and professionally speaking.
  104. abusive
    characterized by physical or psychological maltreatment
    The skipper presented an unmoved breadth of back: it was the renegade's trick to appear pointedly unaware of your existence unless it suited his purpose to turn at you with a devouring glare before he let loose a torrent of foamy, abusive jargon th
  105. colloquy
    formal conversation
    I remember perfectly Brierly asking him, through the interpreter, what he thought of it at the time, and the interpreter, after a short colloquy, turning to the court with an important air--
    '"He says he thought nothing."
  106. muddle
    make clouded as with sediment
    '"You may depend on it, Captain Jones," said I, "it wasn't anything that would have disturbed much either of us two," I said; and then, as if a light had been flashed into the muddle of his brain, poor old Jones found a last word of amazing profund
  107. skylight
    a window in a roof to admit daylight
    When he moved, a skeleton seemed to sway loose in his clothes; his walk was mere wandering, and he was given to wander thus around the engine-room skylight, smoking, without relish, doctored tobacco in a brass bowl at the end of a cherrywood stem f
  108. devious
    deviating from a straight course
    Why, the inquiry thing, the yellow-dog thing--you wouldn't think a mangy, native tyke would be allowed to trip up people in the verandah of a magistrate's court, would you?--the kind of thing that by devious, unexpected, truly diabolical ways cause
  109. imbecility
    mental retardation
    There was a sallow-faced, mean little chap with his arm in a sling, and a long individual in a blue flannel coat, as dry as a chip and no stouter than a broomstick, with drooping grey moustaches, who looked about him with an air of jaunty imbecility
  110. jaunty
    having a cheerful, lively, and self-confident air
    There was a sallow-faced, mean little chap with his arm in a sling, and a long individual in a blue flannel coat, as dry as a chip and no stouter than a broomstick, with drooping grey moustaches, who looked about him with an air of jaunty imbecilit
  111. distend
    cause to expand as if by internal pressure
    His shoulders reappeared, jammed in the small opening; his head hung out, distended and tossing like a captive balloon, perspiring, furious, spluttering.
  112. spectral
    resembling or characteristic of a phantom
    His lean bronzed head, with white moustaches, looked fine and calm on the pillow, like the head of a war-worn soldier with a child-like soul, had it not been for a hint of spectral alarm that lurked in the blank glitter of his glance, resembling a
  113. perfidious
    tending to betray
    I said with every unkind intention; but the perfidious shaft fell harmless--dropped at his feet like a spent arrow, as it were, and he did not think of picking it up.
  114. trepidation
    a feeling of alarm or dread
    The funniest part was, that in the midst of all these considerations of the higher order I was conscious of a certain trepidation as to the possibility--nay, likelihood--of this encounter ending in some disreputable brawl which could not possibly b
  115. narrate
    provide commentary for a film, for example
    He narrated: 'I just saw his head bobbing, and I dashed my boat-hook in the water.
  116. askance
    with suspicion or disapproval
    On board that Dale Line steamer that had picked up these four floating in a boat upon the discreet sunset glow of the sea, they had been after the first day looked askance upon.
  117. confining
    restricting the scope or freedom of action
    They streamed aboard over three gangways, they streamed in urged by faith and the hope of paradise, they streamed in with a continuous tramp and shuffle of bare feet, without a word, a murmur, or a look back; and when clear of confining rails sprea
  118. altercation
    a noisy quarrel
    It was doomed to be a failure as far as the principal person was concerned, but he approached the others with fussy importance, and, almost immediately, found himself involved in a violent altercation with the chap that carried his arm in a sling,
  119. amaze
    affect with wonder
    He said 'Damn!' as he tumbled; an instant of silence followed upon his screeching: Jim and the skipper staggered forward by common accord, and catching themselves up, stood very stiff and still gazing, amazed, at the undisturbed level of the sea.
  120. grovel
    show submission or fear
    It must have been a pretty sight, the fierce industry of these beggars toiling on a motionless ship that floated quietly in the silence of a world asleep, fighting against time for the freeing of that boat, grovelling on all-fours, standing up in d
  121. decoy
    something used to lure fish or other animals
    I felt the risk I ran of being circumvented, blinded, decoyed, bullied, perhaps, into taking a definite part in a dispute impossible of decision if one had to be fair to all the phantoms in possession--to the reputable that had its claims and to th
  122. concise
    expressing much in few words
    "Too dry," was the concise expression he used in reference to this state.
  123. appreciable
    enough to be estimated or measured
    He declares he was so taken aback that for quite an appreciable time he did not realise the thing was alive, and sat still wondering for what purpose and by what means that object had been transported in front of his desk.
  124. irresolute
    uncertain how to act or proceed
    He had passed these days on the verandah, buried in a long chair, and coming out of his place of sepulture only at meal-times or late at night, when he wandered on the quays all by himself, detached from his surroundings, irresolute and silent, lik
  125. knead
    make uniform
    Now he emitted only a sulky grunt; the second engineer at the head of the bridge-ladder, kneading with damp palms a dirty sweat-rag, unabashed, continued the tale of his complaints.
  126. intonation
    the act of singing in a monotonous tone
    I was interested enough to discern the slightest shades of expression, but I was not in the least enlightened; yet I don't know what in these words, or perhaps just the intonation of that phrase, induced me suddenly to make all possible allowances
  127. discriminate
    marked by the ability to see or make fine distinctions
    My weakness consists in not having a discriminating eye for the incidental--for the externals--no eye for the hod of the rag-picker or the fine linen of the next man.
  128. vagary
    an unexpected and inexplicable change in something
    'This has nothing to do with Jim, directly; only he was outwardly so typical of that good, stupid kind we like to feel marching right and left of us in life, of the kind that is not disturbed by the vagaries of intelligence and the perversions of--
  129. illuminate
    make lighter or brighter
    The band moved away, dropping into chairs as they went; matches flared, illuminating for a second faces without the ghost of an expression and the flat glaze of white shirt-fronts; the hum of many conversations animated with the ardour of feasting
  130. harrowing
    causing extreme distress
    He imagined what would happen perfectly; he went through it all motionless by the hatchway with the lamp in his hand--he went through it to the very last harrowing detail.
  131. opaque
    not transmitting or reflecting light or radiant energy
    The thin gold shaving of the moon floating slowly downwards had lost itself on the darkened surface of the waters, and the eternity beyond the sky seemed to come down nearer to the earth, with the augmented glitter of the stars, with the more profound som
  132. imprecation
    the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil
    He was severely left alone, and he formulated in his head this address to the ship in a tone of imprecation, while at the same time he enjoyed the privilege of witnessing scenes--as far as I can judge--of low comedy.
  133. number one
    the first or highest in an ordering or series
    Without a sound, then, he scrambled out on deck through the number one hatch.
  134. scurry
    move about or proceed hurriedly
    Above could be heard a great scurrying about and shouting, and when he got through the hatchway he stood still--as if confounded.
  135. girth
    the distance around a person's body
    'There they were, sure enough, three of them as large as life, and one much larger of girth than any living man has a right to be, just landed with a good breakfast inside of them from an outward-bound Dale Line steamer that had come in about an ho
  136. morose
    showing a brooding ill humor
    He described it to me with morose thoughtfulness.
  137. pucker
    gather something into small wrinkles or folds
    His steamer was loading in the Roads, and he was abusing the tyrannical institutions of the German empire, and soaking himself in beer all day long and day after day in De Jongh's back-shop, till De Jongh, who charged a guilder for every bottle without as
  138. jingle
    a metallic sound
    The glass jingled, the light went out, but the blow made him let go, and I ran off--I wanted to get at the boats; I wanted to get at the boats.
  139. evolve
    undergo development
    When he moved, a skeleton seemed to sway loose in his clothes; his walk was mere wandering, and he was given to wander thus around the engine-room skylight, smoking, without relish, doctored tobacco in a brass bowl at the end of a cherrywood stem four fee
  140. scabbard
    a sheath for a sword or dagger or bayonet
    The well-to-do had made for their families shelters with heavy boxes and dusty mats; the poor reposed side by side with all they had on earth tied up in a rag under their heads; the lone old men slept, with drawn-up legs, upon their prayer-carpets, with t
  141. perdition
    the place or state in which one suffers eternal punishment
    The facts those men were so eager to know had been visible, tangible, open to the senses, occupying their place in space and time, requiring for their existence a fourteen-hundred-ton steamer and twenty-seven minutes by the watch; they made a whole that h
  142. annihilate
    kill in large numbers
    There are many shades in the danger of adventures and gales, and it is only now and then that there appears on the face of facts a sinister violence of intention--that indefinable something which forces it upon the mind and the heart of a man, that this c
  143. skid
    a plank used to make a track for rolling or sliding objects
    I flung him away, he skidded along the bridge and knocked the legs from under the little chap--the second.
  144. artless
    simple and natural; without cunning or deceit
    And all the time I had before me these blue, boyish eyes looking straight into mine, this young face, these capable shoulders, the open bronzed forehead with a white line under the roots of clustering fair hair, this appearance appealing at sight to all m
  145. discriminating
    showing or indicating careful judgment and discernment
    My weakness consists in not having a discriminating eye for the incidental--for the externals--no eye for the hod of the rag-picker or the fine linen of the next man.
  146. alloy
    a mixture containing two or more metallic elements
    He looked as genuine as a new sovereign, but there was some infernal alloy in his metal.
  147. twang
    a sharp vibrating sound (as of a plucked string)
    I was glad that my missile had been thrown away,--that he had not even heard the twang of the bow.
  148. subside
    wear off or die down
    The rain slanted in sheets that flicked and subsided, and between whiles Jim had threatening glimpses of the tumbling tide, the small craft jumbled and tossing along the shore, the motionless buildings in the driving mist, the broad ferry-boats pit
  149. quaver
    give off unsteady sounds
    "Don't you let him start his hollering, mister," hailed from afar the accident case in a distressed angry shout that came ringing between the walls like a quavering call down a tunnel.
  150. intelligently
    in an intelligent manner
    There were married couples looking domesticated and bored with each other in the midst of their travels; there were small parties and large parties, and lone individuals dining solemnly or feasting boisterously, but all thinking, conversing, joking, or sc
  151. bounce
    spring back; spring away from an impact
    He bounced off the table as if a mine had been exploded behind his back, and half turned before he alighted, crouching on his feet to show me a startled pair of eyes and a face white about the nostrils.
  152. loll
    be lazy or idle
    Presently, lolling at ease, he said, "Dash it all!
  153. periodically
    in a sporadic manner
    The patent log on the taffrail periodically rang a single tinkling stroke for every mile traversed on an errand of faith.
  154. volition
    the act of making a choice
    It was an act of intelligent volition.
  155. throttle
    a valve that regulates the supply of fuel to the engine
    He would not keep quiet; he tried to shout; I had half throttled him before I made out what he wanted.
  156. tiller
    someone who prepares the soil for the planting of crops
    It caught in his breeches and I nearly went overboard, as I thought I would, only old Symons let go the tiller and grabbed my legs--the boat nearly swamped.
  157. perversion
    the action of corrupting something
    'This has nothing to do with Jim, directly; only he was outwardly so typical of that good, stupid kind we like to feel marching right and left of us in life, of the kind that is not disturbed by the vagaries of intelligence and the perversions of--
  158. archway
    a passageway under a curved masonry construction
    The archway from the ante-room was crowded with punkah-pullers, sweepers, police peons, the coxswain and crew of the harbour steam-launch, all craning their necks and almost climbing on each other's backs.
  159. third person
    pronouns and verbs that are used to refer to something other than the speaker or addressee of the language in which they occur
    From our tone we might have been discussing a third person, a football match, last year's weather.
  160. spurious
    plausible but false
    The gale had ministered to a heroism as spurious as its own pretence of terror.
  161. imperceptible
    impossible or difficult to sense
    The ship moved so smoothly that her onward motion was imperceptible to the senses of men, as though she had been a crowded planet speeding through the dark spaces of ether behind the swarm of suns, in the appalling and calm solitudes awaiting the b
  162. holler
    call out loudly
    "Don't you let him start his hollering, mister," hailed from afar the accident case in a distressed angry shout that came ringing between the walls like a quavering call down a tunnel.
  163. callous
    emotionally hardened
    I asked myself, seeing him there apparently so much at ease--is he silly? is he callous?
  164. contagion
    an incident in which an infectious disease is transmitted
    I mean just that inborn ability to look temptations straight in the face--a readiness unintellectual enough, goodness knows, but without pose--a power of resistance, don't you see, ungracious if you like, but priceless--an unthinking and blessed stiffness
  165. inarticulate
    without or deprived of the use of speech or words
    He made an inarticulate noise in his throat like a man imperfectly stunned by a blow on the head.
  166. ruffle
    stir up (water) so as to form ripples
    Up he jumps tiptoeing, ruffling all his pretty plumes, like a little fighting-cock.
  167. elude
    escape, either physically or mentally
    This reward eluded him.
  168. eject
    put out or expel from a place
    However, that morning he did not eat the renegade, but, if I may be allowed to carry on the metaphor, chewed him up very small, so to speak, and--ah! ejected him again.
  169. formulated
    devised; developed according to an orderly plan
    He was severely left alone, and he formulated in his head this address to the ship in a tone of imprecation, while at the same time he enjoyed the privilege of witnessing scenes--as far as I can judge--of low comedy.
  170. gripe
    complain
    Above these faint sounds there was that awful stillness preceding a catastrophe, that trying silence of the moment before the crash; then it came into his head that perhaps he would have time to rush along and cut all the lanyards of the gripes, so
  171. languor
    inactivity; showing an unusual lack of energy
    The hospital stood on a hill, and a gentle breeze entering through the windows, always flung wide open, brought into the bare room the softness of the sky, the languor of the earth, the bewitching breath of the Eastern waters.
  172. sniff
    perceive by inhaling through the nose
    'He was silent again with a still, far-away look of fierce yearning after that missed distinction, with his nostrils for an instant dilated, sniffing the intoxicating breath of that wasted opportunity.
  173. wallow
    roll around
    They wallow in your good chairs and think to themselves, "Hang exertion.
  174. blurt
    utter impulsively
    "I don't think I've spoken three words to a living soul in all that time," he said, making me very sorry for him; and directly he added, "One of these fellows would have been sure to blurt out something I had made up my mind not to put up with, and
  175. pungent
    strong and sharp to the sense of taste
    How clumsy of me!" he mumbled, very vexed, while the pungent odour of spilt alcohol enveloped us suddenly with an atmosphere of a low drinking-bout in the cool, pure darkness of the night.
  176. complacent
    contented to a fault with oneself or one's actions
    The sting of life could do no more to his complacent soul than the scratch of a pin to the smooth face of a rock.
  177. incoherent
    without logical or meaningful connection
    For days, for many days, he had spoken to no one, but had held silent, incoherent, and endless converse with himself, like a prisoner alone in his cell or like a wayfarer lost in a wilderness.
  178. evoke
    call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
    His confounded imagination had evoked for him all the horrors of panic, the trampling rush, the pitiful screams, boats swamped--all the appalling incidents of a disaster at sea he had ever heard of.
  179. shirk
    avoid one's assigned duties
    The skipper was ordering, "Get under and try to lift"; and the others naturally shirked.
  180. voluminous
    large in capacity or bulk
    The wind of the punkahs eddied down on the heads, on the dark-faced natives wound about in voluminous draperies, on the Europeans sitting together very hot and in drill suits that seemed to fit them as close as their skins, and holding their round
  181. fitful
    occurring in spells and often abruptly
    The gale had freshened since noon, stopping the traffic on the river, and now blew with the strength of a hurricane in fitful bursts that boomed like salvoes of great guns firing over the ocean.
  182. stagnant
    not growing or changing; without force or vitality
    And under the sinister splendour of that sky the sea, blue and profound, remained still, without a stir, without a ripple, without a wrinkle--viscous, stagnant, dead.
  183. hovel
    small crude shelter used as a dwelling
    That unspeakable vagabond, Mariani, who had known the man and had ministered to his vices in one or two other places, kissed the ground, in a manner of speaking, before him, and shut him up with a supply of bottles in an upstairs room of his infamous h
  184. ineffable
    defying expression or description
    "You don't believe me, I suppose," went on the other, with an air of ineffable conceit.
  185. prosaic
    lacking wit or imagination
    He knew the magic monotony of existence between sky and water: he had to bear the criticism of men, the exactions of the sea, and the prosaic severity of the daily task that gives bread--but whose only reward is in the perfect love of the work.
  186. festive
    offering fun and gaiety
    He ought to be dead, don't you know, after such a festive experiment.
  187. nautical
    relating to ships or navigation
    The face of the presiding magistrate, clean shaved and impassible, looked at him deadly pale between the red faces of the two nautical assessors.
  188. salient
    conspicuous, prominent, or important
    He had a thin horseshoe beard, salient cheek-bones, and with both elbows on the desk clasped his rugged hands before his face, looking at Jim with thoughtful blue eyes; the other, a heavy, scornful man, thrown back in his seat, his left arm extende
  189. yelp
    a sharp high-pitched cry
    'The sight of that watery-eyed old Jones mopping his bald head with a red cotton handkerchief, the sorrowing yelp of the dog, the squalor of that fly-blown cuddy which was the only shrine of his memory, threw a veil of inexpressibly mean pathos ove
  190. buccaneer
    someone who robs at sea or plunders the land from the sea
    Some, very few and seen there but seldom, led mysterious lives, had preserved an undefaced energy with the temper of buccaneers and the eyes of dreamers.
  191. immaculate
    completely neat and clean
    He was spotlessly neat, apparelled in immaculate white from shoes to hat, and in the various Eastern ports where he got his living as ship-chandler's water-clerk he was very popular.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.