"Oliver Twist," Chapters 13-28

Published in 1838, Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" plunges the reader into a world of orphanages and thieves, where the conditions are awful and
survival is in doubt (etext found here).

Learn these word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-12, Chapters 13-28, Chapters 29-41, Chapters 42-53.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. improbable
    not likely to be true or to occur or to have occurred
    Mr. Fagin looked so very much in earnest, that Charley Bates, who deemed it prudent in all cases to be on the safe side, and who conceived it by no means improbable that it might be his turn to be throttled second, dropped upon his knees, and raised a loud, well-sustained, and continuous roar--something between a mad bull and a speaking trumpet.
  2. covetous
    immoderately desirous of acquiring something
    Ill-treating the boys, you covetous, avaricious, in-sa-ti-a-ble old fence?" said the man, seating himself deliberately.
    "Covetous" and "avaricious" are synonymous insults; "insatiable" is also similar, since a covetous and avaricious person often is never satisfied, even when he gets what he desires.
  3. antipathy
    a feeling of intense dislike
    This was, that the Dodger, and Charley Bates, and Fagin, and Mr. William Sikes, happened, one and all, to entertain a violent and deeply-rooted antipathy to going near a police-office on any ground or pretext whatever.
  4. lamentable
    bad; unfortunate
    Having uttered these words in a most lamentable and heart-broken tone to the immeasurable delight of her hearers, Miss Nancy paused, winked to the company, nodded smilingly round, and disappeared.
  5. encomium
    a formal expression of praise
    While these, and many other encomiums, were being passed on the accomplished Nancy, that young lady made the best of her way to the police-office; whither, notwithstanding a little natural timidity consequent upon walking through the streets alone and unprotected, she arrived in perfect safety shortly afterwards.
  6. expend
    use up, consume fully
    There was nobody inside but a miserable shoeless criminal, who had been taken up for playing the flute, and who, the offence against society having been clearly proved, had been very properly committed by Mr. Fang to the House of Correction for one month; with the appropriate and amusing remark that since he had so much breath to spare, it would be more wholesomely expended on the treadmill than in a musical instrument.
  7. abrupt
    exceedingly sudden and unexpected
    Oliver soon recovering from the fainting-fit into which Mr. Brownlow's abrupt exclamation had thrown him, the subject of the picture was carefully avoided, both by the old gentleman and Mrs. Bedwin, in the conversation that ensued: which indeed bore no reference to Oliver's history or prospects, but was confined to such topics as might amuse without exciting him.
  8. turbulence
    a state of violent disturbance and disorder
    Everything was so quiet, and neat, and orderly; everybody was kind and gentle; that after the noise and turbulence in the midst of which he had always lived, it seemed like Heaven itself.
  9. complacency
    the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself
    Oliver did as the old lady bade him; and, although she lamented grievously, meanwhile, that there was not even time to crimp the little frill that bordered his shirt-collar; he looked so delicate and handsome, despite that important personal advantage, that she went so far as to say: looking at him with great complacency from head to foot, that she really didn't think it would have been possible, on the longest notice, to have made much difference in him for the better.
  10. bestow
    give as a gift
    The persons on whom I have bestowed my dearest love, lie deep in their graves; but, although the happiness and delight of my life lie buried there too, I have not made a coffin of my heart, and sealed it up, for ever, on my best affections.
  11. recoil
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    "You don't mean to say that's the boy who had the fever, I hope?" said Mr. Grimwig, recoiling a little more.
  12. wrath
    intense anger
    "Come," said Mr. Brownlow, "these are not the characteristics of young Oliver Twist; so needn't excite your wrath."
  13. dupe
    fool or hoax
    It is worthy of remark, as illustrating the importance we attach to our own judgments, and the pride with which we put forth our most rash and hasty conclusions, that, although Mr. Grimwig was not by any means a bad-hearted man, and though he would have been unfeignedly sorry to see his respected friend duped and deceived, he really did most earnestly and strongly hope at that moment, that Oliver Twist might not come back.
  14. irrepressible
    impossible to control
    "Why, it's Nancy!" exclaimed Oliver; who now saw her face for the first time; and started back, in irrepressible astonishment.
  15. labyrinth
    complex system of paths in which it is easy to get lost
    In another moment, he was dragged into a labyrinth of dark narrow courts, and was forced along them at a pace which rendered the few cries he dared to give utterance to, unintelligible.
  16. render
    cause to become
    The lights in the shops could scarcely struggle through the heavy mist, which thickened every moment and shrouded the streets and houses in gloom; rendering the strange place still stranger in Oliver's eyes; and making his uncertainty the more dismal and depressing.
  17. saturnine
    bitter or scornful
    The Artful, meantime, who was of a rather saturnine disposition, and seldom gave way to merriment when it interfered with business, rifled Oliver's pockets with steady assiduity.
  18. remonstrance
    the act of expressing earnest opposition or protest
    Give it here, you avaricious old skeleton, give it here!"
    With this gentle remonstrance, Mr. Sikes plucked the note from between the Jew's finger and thumb; and looking the old man coolly in the face, folded it up small, and tied it in his neckerchief.
  19. parochial
    relating to or supported by or located in a parish
    He merely returned their salutations with a wave of his hand, and relaxed not in his dignified pace, until he reached the farm where Mrs. Mann tended the infant paupers with parochial care.
    Since Mrs. Mann gets a stipend from the parish for looking after the infants, the given definition seems to be the obvious choice. But "parochial" also means "narrowly restricted in outlook or scope"--this could describe the quality of her care, which recently resulted in the deaths of two children.
  20. abscond
    run away, often taking something or somebody along
    "Whereas a young boy, named Oliver Twist, absconded, or was enticed, on Thursday evening last, from his home, at Pentonville; and has not since been heard of.
  21. vex
    disturb, especially by minor irritations
    Mr. Brownlow paced the room to and fro for some minutes; evidently so much disturbed by the beadle's tale, that even Mr. Grimwig forbore to vex him further.
  22. avocation
    an auxiliary activity
    About noon next day, when the Dodger and Master Bates had gone out to pursue their customary avocations, Mr. Fagin took the opportunity of reading Oliver a long lecture on the crying sin of ingratitude: of which he clearly demonstrated he had been guilty, to no ordinary extent, in wilfully absenting himself from the society of his anxious friends; and, still more, in endeavouring to escape from them after so much trouble and expense had been incurred in his recovery.
  23. evince
    give expression to
    Mr. Fagin laid great stress on the fact of his having taken Oliver in, and cherished him, when, without his timely aid, he might have perished with hunger; and he related the dismal and affecting history of a young lad whom, in his philanthropy, he had succoured under parallel circumstances, but who, proving unworthy of his confidence and evincing a desire to communicate with the police, had unfortunately come to be hanged at the Old Bailey one morning.
  24. deportment
    the way a person behaves toward other people
    Mr. Chitling was older in years than the Dodger: having perhaps numbered eighteen winters; but there was a degree of deference in his deportment towards that young gentleman which seemed to indicate that he felt himself conscious of a slight inferiority in point of genius and professional acquirements.
  25. implement
    a piece of equipment or a tool used for a specific purpose
    At length, in a fit of professional enthusiasm, he insisted upon producing his box of housebreaking tools: which he had no sooner stumbled in with, and opened for the purpose of explaining the nature and properties of the various implements it contained, and the peculiar beauties of their construction, than he fell over the box upon the floor, and went to sleep where he fell.
  26. abode
    any address at which you dwell more than temporarily
    Beguiling the time with these pleasant reflections, Mr. Fagin wended his way, through mud and mire, to his gloomy abode: where the Dodger was sitting up, impatiently awaiting his return.
  27. ponder
    reflect deeply on a subject
    Oliver leaned his head upon his hand when the old man disappeared, and pondered, with a trembling heart, on the words he had just heard.
  28. paroxysm
    a sudden uncontrollable attack
    In a paroxysm of fear, the boy closed the book, and thrust it from him.
  29. credence
    the mental attitude that something is believable
    But, then, the thought darted across his mind that it was barely eleven o'clock; and that many people were still in the streets: of whom surely some might be found to give credence to his tale.
  30. admonitory
    expressing reprimand, criticism, or censure
    now and then, a stage-coach, covered with mud, rattled briskly by: the driver bestowing, as he passed, an admonitory lash upon the heavy waggoner who, by keeping on the wrong side of the road, had endangered his arriving at the office a quarter of a minute after his time.
  31. discordant
    not in agreement or harmony
    Turning down Sun Street and Crown Street, and crossing Finsbury Square, Mr. Sikes struck, by way of Chiswell Street, into Barbican: thence into Long Lane, and so into Smithfield; from which latter place arose a tumult of discordant sounds that filled Oliver Twist with amazement.
  32. alight
    come down
    Sikes alighted, took Oliver by the hand, and they once again walked on.
  33. dilapidated
    in a state of decay, ruin, or deterioration
    There was a window on each side of the dilapidated entrance; and one story above; but no light was visible.
  34. recumbent
    lying down; in a position of comfort or rest
    "There--there's enough of that," interposed Sikes, impatiently; and stooping over his recumbent friend, he whispered a few words in his ear: at which Mr. Crackit laughed immensely, and honoured Oliver with a long stare of astonishment.
  35. unwonted
    out of the ordinary
    Oliver: who was completely stupefied by the unwonted exercise, and the air, and the drink which had been forced upon him: put his hand mechanically into that which Sikes extended for the purpose.
  36. imprecation
    the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil
    Sikes, invoking terrific imprecations upon Fagin's head for sending Oliver on such an errand, plied the crowbar vigorously, but with little noise.
  37. deplore
    express strong disapproval of
    Mrs. Corney shook her head mournfully, as if deploring the mental blindness of those paupers who did not know it; and thrusting a silver spoon (private property) into the inmost recesses of a two-ounce tin tea-caddy, proceeded to make the tea.
  38. diminish
    decrease in size, extent, or range
    Whatever were Mr. Bumble's intentions, however (and no doubt they were of the best): it unfortunately happened, as has been twice before remarked, that the table was a round one; consequently Mr. Bumble, moving his chair by little and little, soon began to diminish the distance between himself and the matron; and, continuing to travel round the outer edge of the circle, brought his chair, in time, close to that in which the matron was seated.
  39. efficacy
    capacity or power to produce a desired effect
    It is worthy of remark, as a curious physical instance of the efficacy of a sudden surprise in counteracting the effects of extreme fear, that her voice had quite recovered all its official asperity.
  40. larceny
    the act of taking something from someone unlawfully
    It is a commercial colony of itself: the emporium of petty larceny: visited at early morning, and setting-in of dusk, by silent merchants, who traffic in dark back-parlours, and who go as strangely as they come.
  41. peremptory
    not allowing contradiction or refusal
    Fagin looked as if he could have willingly excused himself from taking home a visitor at that unseasonable hour; and, indeed, muttered something about having no fire; but his companion repeating his request in a peremptory manner, he unlocked the door, and requested him to close it softly, while he got a light.
  42. amicable
    characterized by friendship and good will
    Matters being thus amicably and satisfactorily arranged, the contract was solemnly ratified in another teacupful of the peppermint mixture; which was rendered the more necessary, by the flutter and agitation of the lady's spirits.
  43. acerbity
    a rough and bitter manner
    The dove then turned up his coat-collar, and put on his cocked-hat; and, having exchanged a long and affectionate embrace with his future partner, once again braved the cold wind of the night: merely pausing, for a few minutes, in the male pauper's ward, to abuse them a little, with the view of satisfying himself that he could fill the office of workhousemaster with needful acerbity.
  44. unmitigated
    not diminished or moderated in intensity or severity
    Here, all eyes were turned upon Brittles, who fixed his upon the speaker, and stared at him, with his mouth wide open, and his face expressive of the most unmitigated horror.
  45. solicit
    request urgently or persistently
    Brittles obeyed; the group, peeping timorously over each other's shoulders, beheld no more formidable object than poor little Oliver Twist, speechless and exhausted, who raised his heavy eyes, and mutely solicited their compassion.

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.