"Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This narrative poem, written in a meter that recalls the sound of a galloping horse’s hooves, tells the apocryphal story of Paul Revere warning colonial Americans of a looming British invasion. Read the poem here.
Read more...

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. aloft
    high up in or into the air
    If the British march
    By land or sea from the town to-night,
    Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
    Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,—
  2. belfry
    a bell tower; usually stands alone unattached to a building
    If the British march
    By land or sea from the town to-night,
    Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
    Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,—
  3. muffle
    deaden (a sound or noise), especially by wrapping
    Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
    Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore
  4. mooring
    a place where a craft can be made fast
    Just as the moon rose over the bay,
    Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
    The Somerset, British man-of-war:
    A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
    Across the moon, like a prison-bar
  5. spar
    stout rounded pole of wood or metal used to support rigging
    Just as the moon rose over the bay,
    Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
    The Somerset, British man-of-war:
    A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
    Across the moon, like a prison-bar
  6. muster
    a gathering of military personnel for duty
    Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street
    Wanders and watches with eager ears,
    Till in the silence around him he hears
    The muster of men at the barrack door
  7. barrack
    a building or group of buildings to house military personnel
    Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street
    Wanders and watches with eager ears,
    Till in the silence around him he hears
    The muster of men at the barrack door
  8. tramp
    a heavy footfall
    The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
    And the measured tread of the grenadiers
    Marching down to their boats on the shore.
  9. grenadier
    an infantryman equipped with grenades
    The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
    And the measured tread of the grenadiers
    Marching down to their boats on the shore.
  10. stealthy
    marked by quiet and caution and secrecy
    Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
    By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread
  11. tread
    a step in walking or running
    Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
    By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread
  12. somber
    grave or even gloomy in character
    And startled the pigeons from their perch
    On the sombre rafters,
  13. sentinel
    a person employed to keep watch for some anticipated event
    Wrapped in silence so deep and still
    That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
    The watchful night-wind
  14. impetuous
    characterized by undue haste and lack of thought
    Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
    Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
    And turned and tightened his saddle girth
  15. girth
    a band around a horse's belly that holds the saddle in place
    Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
    Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
    And turned and tightened his saddle girth
  16. spectral
    resembling or characteristic of a phantom
    But mostly he watched with eager search
    The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
    As it rose above the graves on the hill,
    Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
  17. linger
    take one's time; proceed slowly
    He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
    But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
    A second lamp in the belfry burns.
  18. fleet
    moving very fast
    A hurry of hoofs in a village-street,
    A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
    And beneath from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
    Struck out by a steed that flies fearless and fleet
  19. kindle
    cause to start burning
    And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
    Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
  20. tranquil
    free from disturbance by heavy waves
    And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
    Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides
  21. alder
    north temperate shrubs or trees having toothed leaves and conelike fruit; bark is used in tanning and dyeing and the wood is rot-resistant
    And under the alders that skirt its edge,
    Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
    Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
  22. gilded
    made from or covered with gold
    He saw the gilded weathercock
    Swim in the moonlight as he passed
  23. weathercock
    weathervane with a vane in the form of a rooster
    He saw the gilded weathercock
    Swim in the moonlight as he passed
  24. aghast
    struck with fear, dread, or consternation
    And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
    Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
    As if they already stood aghast
    At the bloody work they would look upon.
  25. defiance
    a hostile challenge
    So through the night rode Paul Revere;
    And so through the night went his cry of alarm
    To every Middlesex village and farm,—
    A cry of defiance, and not of fear
Created on April 18, 2013 (updated January 1, 2019)

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.