"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Vocabulary from the Novel

Follow a mixed bag of characters on a journey to find something in themselves that they in fact had all along in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," a fantasy novel by L. Frank Baum (etext found here).

Here are links to our lists for Oz books: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Magic of Oz, Glinda of Oz.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. manifestly
    Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal.
  2. devise
    come up with after a mental effort
    Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as "historical" in the children's library; for the time has come for a series of newer "wonder tales" in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale.
  3. retain
    allow to remain in a place or maintain a property or feature
    It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.
  4. blister
    a flaw on a surface resulting when an applied substance does not adhere (as an air bubble in a coat of paint)
    Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.
    The definition is for "blister" as a noun but the example sentence is using it as a verb to describe the effect of the sun on the paint. The lack of color on the house matches the lack of joy in Aunt Em and Uncle Henry; this could be because they have blisters ("an elevation of the skin filled with serous fluid") from working so hard on the farm.
  5. gaunt
    very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
    She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now.
  6. dismally
    in a cheerless manner
    As it was, the jar made her catch her breath and wonder what had happened; and Toto put his cold little nose into her face and whined dismally.
  7. dismay
    fear resulting from the awareness of danger
    "Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" cried Dorothy, clasping her hands together in dismay. "The house must have fallen on her. Whatever shall we do?"
  8. hearty
    providing abundant nourishment
    Dorothy ate a hearty supper and was waited upon by the rich Munchkin himself, whose name was Boq.
    Another definition of "hearty" is "showing warm and sincere friendliness"--this describes the mood surrounding the supper, because the Munchkins are all happy and thankful to Dorothy for freeing them from the Wicked Witch.
  9. resolve
    reach a decision
    This worried Dorothy a little, but she knew that only the Great Oz could help her get to Kansas again, so she bravely resolved not to turn back.
  10. earnestly
    in a serious manner
    While Dorothy was looking earnestly into the queer, painted face of the Scarecrow, she was surprised to see one of the eyes slowly wink at her.
  11. tedious
    so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness
    "I'm not feeling well," said the Scarecrow, with a smile, "for it is very tedious being perched up here night and day to scare away crows."
    How can a Scarecrow with no brains have mental weariness? The word "tedious" could be the first clue that the visitors to Oz already have what they are looking for.
  12. mishap
    an instance of misfortune
    It never hurt him, however, and Dorothy would pick him up and set him upon his feet again, while he joined her in laughing merrily at his own mishap.
  13. daunt
    cause to lose courage
    After this the enchanted axe cut off my arms, one after the other; but, nothing daunted, I had them replaced with tin ones.
  14. heedless
    characterized by careless unconcern
    Little Toto, now that he had an enemy to face, ran barking toward the Lion, and the great beast had opened his mouth to bite the dog, when Dorothy, fearing Toto would be killed, and heedless of danger, rushed forward and slapped the Lion upon his nose as hard as she could
  15. retort
    answer back
    "No, but you tried to," she retorted.
  16. sorrow
    something that causes great unhappiness
    "It is my great sorrow, and makes my life very unhappy. But whenever there is danger, my heart begins to beat fast."
  17. mar
    render imperfect
    During the rest of that day there was no other adventure to mar the peace of their journey.
  18. steep
    set at a high angle (of a slope)
    The sides were so steep that none of them could climb down, and for a moment it seemed that their journey must end.
  19. despairingly
    with desperation
    "What shall we do?" asked Dorothy despairingly.
  20. industrious
    characterized by hard work and perseverance
    But it takes time to make a raft, even when one is as industrious and untiring as the Tin Woodman, and when night came the work was not done.
  21. wistful
    showing pensive sadness
    So they sat down upon the bank and gazed wistfully at the Scarecrow until a Stork flew by, who, upon seeing them, stopped to rest at the water's edge.
  22. frail
    easily broken or damaged or destroyed
    "I always did like flowers," said the Lion. "They seem so helpless and frail.
    "Frail" is an adjective that can describe both physical and emotional natures. The Lion likes the physical frailty of flowers because 1) it doesn't scare him and 2) it reminds him of his emotional frailty (lack of courage).
  23. indignant
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    "Only a mouse!" cried the little animal, indignantly. "Why, I am a Queen--the Queen of all the Field Mice!"
  24. shrill
    having or emitting a high-pitched and sharp tone or tones
    "We will!" cried all the mice, in a shrill chorus.
  25. rejoice
    feel happiness or joy
    The road was smooth and well paved, now, and the country about was beautiful, so that the travelers rejoiced in leaving the forest far behind, and with it the many dangers they had met in its gloomy shades.
  26. perplexity
    trouble or confusion resulting from complexity
    "It has been many years since anyone asked me to see Oz," he said, shaking his head in perplexity.
  27. idle
    silly or trivial
    "He is powerful and terrible, and if you come on an idle or foolish errand to bother the wise reflections of the Great Wizard, he might be angry and destroy you all in an instant."
    Wanting to go home or to have a brain, heart, and courage does not seem like a silly thing, but thinking that a Wizard would give all that to them just for the asking does make Dorothy and her friends seem like other definitions of "idle" ("not in action or at work" and "lacking a sense of restraint and responsibility").
  28. prosperous
    in fortunate circumstances financially
    Everyone seemed happy and contented and prosperous.
  29. dominion
    dominance or power through legal authority
    Therefore I have no brains, and I come to you praying that you will put brains in my head instead of straw, so that I may become as much a man as any other in your dominions."
  30. compel
    force somebody to do something
    And if he is the lovely Lady, I shall pretend to spring upon her, and so compel her to do my bidding.
  31. singe
    burn superficially or lightly
    His first thought was that Oz had by accident caught on fire and was burning up; but when he tried to go nearer, the heat was so intense that it singed his whiskers, and he crept back tremblingly to a spot nearer the door.
  32. gnash
    grind together
    The Wicked Witch was so angry when she saw her black bees in little heaps like fine coal that she stamped her foot and tore her hair and gnashed her teeth.
  33. immense
    unusually great in size or amount or extent or scope
    There was a rushing of many wings, a great chattering and laughing, and the sun came out of the dark sky to show the Wicked Witch surrounded by a crowd of monkeys, each with a pair of immense and powerful wings on his shoulders.
  34. battered
    damaged by blows or hard usage
    Here they dropped the poor Woodman, who fell a great distance to the rocks, where he lay so battered and dented that he could neither move nor groan.
  35. severe
    causing fear or anxiety by threatening great harm
    Then she said to Dorothy, harshly and severely: "Come with me; and see that you mind everything I tell you, for if you do not I will make an end of you, as I did of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow."
  36. meekly
    in a submissive or spiritless manner
    Dorothy went to work meekly, with her mind made up to work as hard as she could; for she was glad the Wicked Witch had decided not to kill her.
  37. cunning
    marked by skill in deception
    But the wicked creature was very cunning, and she finally thought of a trick that would give her what she wanted.
  38. solder
    join or fuse with an alloy
    And when the tinsmiths came, bringing with them all their tools in baskets, she inquired, "Can you straighten out those dents in the Tin Woodman, and bend him back into shape again, and solder him together where he is broken?"
  39. burnish
    polish and make shiny
    Others polished the blade until all the rust was removed and it glistened like burnished silver.
  40. hasten
    move fast
    When he grew to manhood, Quelala, as he was called, was said to be the best and wisest man in all the land, while his manly beauty was so great that Gayelette loved him dearly, and hastened to make everything ready for the wedding.
  41. vexed
    troubled persistently especially with petty annoyances
    The waiting was tiresome and wearing, and at last they grew vexed that Oz should treat them in so poor a fashion, after sending them to undergo hardships and slavery.
  42. bestow
    give as a gift
    The four travelers passed a sleepless night, each thinking of the gift Oz had promised to bestow on him.
  43. promptly
    in a punctual manner
    Promptly at nine o'clock the next morning the green-whiskered soldier came to them, and four minutes later they all went into the Throne Room of the Great Oz.
  44. modest
    humble in spirit or manner
    "For my part, I am content in knowing I am as brave as any beast that ever lived, if not braver," said the Lion modestly.
  45. reproach
    express criticism towards
    As she left them the milkmaid cast many reproachful glances over her shoulder at the clumsy strangers, holding her nicked elbow close to her side.
  46. brittle
    having little elasticity
    "That was too bad," said Dorothy, "but really I think we were lucky in not doing these little people more harm than breaking a cow's leg and a church. They are all so brittle!"
    Another definition of "brittle" is "lacking warmth and generosity of spirit"--this could describe the emotional nature of the china animals and people; because they are so physically brittle, they are more likely to run away than welcome strangers into their country.
  47. assemblage
    a group of persons together in one place
    As he spoke several of the beasts caught sight of him, and at once the great assemblage hushed as if by magic.
  48. boisterous
    noisy and lacking in restraint or discipline
    A chorus of boisterous laughter came from the other rocks, and Dorothy saw hundreds of the armless Hammer-Heads upon the hillside, one behind every rock.
  49. deprive
    keep from having, keeping, or obtaining
    "By means of the Golden Cap I shall command the Winged Monkeys to carry you to the gates of the Emerald City," said Glinda, "for it would be a shame to deprive the people of so wonderful a ruler."
  50. solemnly
    in a grave and sedate manner
    Dorothy now took Toto up solemnly in her arms, and having said one last good-bye she clapped the heels of her shoes together three times, saying: "Take me home to Aunt Em!"
    Dorothy's solemnity here is not the same as Uncle Henry's at the beginning, where he was described as "gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke." Dorothy is temporarily sad that going home means leaving her newfound friends in Oz, while Uncle Henry is always sad that he is stuck in Kansas in a life filled with the same hard work every day.

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