"Dreaming in Cuban," Vocabulary from Book 3: The Languages Lost

"Dreaming in Cuban" is Cristina Garcia's multigenerational saga which encompasses love and madness, religion and politics and everything in-between.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Book 1: Ordinary Seductions, Book 2: Imagining Winter, Book 3: The Languages Lost

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. obscenity
    an offensive or indecent word or phrase
    None of the foam or the underwire remains in the pointed brassiere, and the seat is worn to near obscenity.
  2. erratic
    having no fixed course
    The perceptions come without warnings or explanations, erratic as lightning.
  3. galleon
    a large square-rigged sailing ship with three or more masts
    Men in wet suits will find the galleon three years from now.
  4. lacerated
    having edges that are jagged from injury
    I find Abuela sitting motionless on her wicker swing, wearing a worn bathing suit, her hair stuck haphazardly to her skull, her feet strangely lacerated.
  5. immolation
    killing or offering as a sacrifice
    I think I’d prefer self- immolation, on a stage perhaps, with all my paintings.
  6. degradation
    a low or downcast state
    Degradation, she thinks, goes hand in hand with the certainty of deprivation.
  7. deprivation
    a state of extreme poverty
    Degradation, she thinks, goes hand in hand with the certainty of deprivation.
  8. odious
    unequivocally detestable
    Odious armchair socialists!
  9. opulence
    wealth as evidenced by sumptuous living
    Lourdes wishes Ivanito were with her so she could point out the opulence—the nine-hole golf course, the landing dock for the seaplane, the Carrara marble floors.
  10. dissuade
    turn away from by persuasion
    When Dona Zaida realized she couldn’t dissuade Rufino from marrying Lourdes, she took control of the wedding instead.
  11. imbecile
    a person of subnormal intelligence
    “My dear Celia, I cannot have my son getting married at a picnic on the beach,” Dona Zaida patiently explained, as if Lourdes’s mother were an imbecile.
  12. goad
    urge with or as if with a prod
    I rode with one hand on the pommel and the other goading my horse with a switch.
  13. incite
    provoke or stir up
    I galloped hard, inciting a stampede.
  14. stampede
    a wild headlong rush of frightened animals
    I galloped hard, inciting a stampede.
  15. pathetic
    inspiring mixed contempt and pity
    She tells me that before the revolution Cuba was a pathetic place, a parody of a country.
  16. lambaste
    censure severely or angrily
    Mom eavesdrops on Abuela and me then lambastes us with one of her sixty-odd diatribes when she doesn’t like what she hears.
  17. diatribe
    thunderous verbal attack
    Mom eavesdrops on Abuela and me then lambastes us with one of her sixty-odd diatribes when she doesn’t like what she hears.
  18. apoplectic
    pertaining to a sudden loss of consciousness
    (Mom is apoplectic because she has to pay for a hotel room and three meals a day even though we’re staying with relatives.)
  19. flamboyant
    showy tropical tree or shrub native to Madagascar
    There’s something about the vegetation, too, that I respond to instinctively—the stunning bougainvillea, the flamboyants and jacarandas, the orchids growing from the trunks of the mysterious ceiba trees.
  20. sweltering
    excessively hot and humid; marked by sweating and faintness
    It’s sweltering in the capital, and Lourdes wipes her brow repeatedly with a moist cloth she keeps on the seat beside her.
  21. caricature
    a representation of a person exaggerated for comic effect
    He looks smaller, too, more vulnerable, a caricature of himself.
  22. faux
    not genuine or real
    She removes her gold bracelets, her sheer stockings, her pink rayon dress with the faux-pearl buttons, and lies on her childhood bed.
  23. gnarled
    old and twisted and covered in lines
    She buries her feet in the sand until she is planted, rooted as the palms, rooted as the gnarled gardenia tree.
  24. submerge
    put under water
    It submerges her throat and her nose, her open eyes that do not perceive salt.
  25. extinguish
    put out, as of fires, flames, or lights
    Celia closes her eyes and imagines it drifting as a firefly through the darkened seas, imagines its slow extinguishing.

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