Chapters 5–8

In this prequel to The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo Baggins enjoys a quiet life until a group of dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf enlist him in their quest for a dragon's treasure.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. antiquity
    extreme oldness
    He knew, of course, that the riddle-game was sacred and of immense antiquity, and even wicked creatures were afraid to cheat when they played at it.
    With its use of the adjectives "sacred" and "immense" ("unusually great in amount"), the example sentence emphasizes that the extreme oldness of the riddle-game makes it valuable, just like an antique.
  2. gall
    irritate or vex
    Gollum used to wear it at first, till it tired him; and then he kept it in a pouch next his skin, till it galled him; and now usually he hid it in a hole in the rock on his island, and was always going back to look at it.
  3. scrabble
    grope, scratch, or feel searchingly
    He was on his island, scrabbling here and there, searching and seeking in vain.
  4. brood
    think moodily or anxiously about something
    Gollum's mind had jumped to a guess quicker than his; naturally, for Gollum had brooded for ages on this one thing, and he was always afraid of its being stolen.
  5. persist
    refuse to stop
    "What have you lost?" Bilbo persisted.
  6. haste
    a condition of urgency making it necessary to hurry
    "Then let's stop talking, precious, and make haste. If the Baggins has gone that way, we must go quick and see. Go! Not far now. Make haste!"
  7. despair
    a state in which all hope is lost or absent
    All at once there came a bloodcurdling shriek, filled with hatred and despair.
  8. abominable
    exceptionally bad or displeasing
    "If we have got to go back now into those abominable tunnels to look for him, then drat him, I say."
  9. onslaught
    a sudden and severe onset of trouble
    Some caught hold of the trunks and swung themselves into lower branches, some (like the little hobbit) got behind a tree to shelter from the onslaught of the rocks.
  10. clamor
    loud and persistent outcry from many people
    Every now and then all the Wargs in the circle would answer their grey chief all together, and their dreadful clamour almost made the hobbit fall out of his pine-tree.
  11. scorch
    destroy completely by or as if by fire
    Burn, burn tree and fern!
    Shrivel and scorch! A fizzling torch
    To light the night for our delight,
    Ya hey!
  12. tumult
    a state of commotion and noise and confusion
    He just managed to catch hold of Dori's legs, as Dori was borne off last of all; and they went together above the tumult and the burning, Bilbo swinging in the air with his arms nearly breaking.
  13. dreadful
    causing fear or terror
    He was feeling very queer indeed in his head by this time after the dreadful adventures of the last three days with next to nothing to eat, and he found himself saying aloud: "Now I know what a piece of bacon feels like when it is suddenly picked out of the pan on a fork and put back on the shelf!"
    Compare with "dire" in the list for Chapters 12-14. The adjectives are synonymous and both are used to describe a dragon. But "dire" is used only once in the novel, while "dreadful" with its additional meaning of "exceptionally bad or displeasing" (which makes it synonymous with "abominable") is used to describe adventures, dangers, disappointment, disturbance, discomfort, easy riddles, echoes, Warg language, and war.
  14. render
    give or supply
    As a matter of fact Gandalf, who had often been in the mountains, had once rendered a service to the eagles and healed their lord from an arrow-wound.
  15. appall
    fill with apprehension or alarm
    He can be appalling when he is angry, though he is kind enough if humoured.
  16. unimpeachable
    beyond doubt or reproach
    "That is Mr. Baggins, a hobbit of good family and unimpeachable reputation," said Gandalf.
  17. peril
    a source of danger
    The dwarves listened and shook their beards, for they knew that they must soon venture into that forest and that after the mountains it was the worst of the perils they had to pass before they came to the dragon's stronghold.
  18. stark
    providing no shelter or sustenance
    It passed the lonely Mountain bare
    and swept above the dragon's lair:
    there black and dark lay boulders stark
    and flying smoke was in the air.
  19. vengeance
    harming someone in retaliation for something they have done
    So much they told him when he forced them, but he guessed there was more wickedness than this afoot, and that a great raid of the whole goblin army with their wolf-allies into the lands shadowed by the mountains might soon be made to find the dwarves, or to take vengeance on the men and creatures that lived there, and who they thought must be sheltering them.
  20. dismay
    fear resulting from the awareness of danger
    "O good-bye and go away!" grunted the dwarves, all the more angry because they were really filled with dismay at losing him.
  21. uncanny
    suggesting the operation of supernatural influences
    They could not stand that, nor the huge bats, black as a top-hat, either; so they gave up fires and sat at night and dozed in the enormous uncanny darkness.
    "Uncanny" also means "surpassing the ordinary or normal"--this could describe the bulbous insect eyes that "are much too big" that stare at them and make the darkness feel supernaturally scary. Compare with "eerie" in this list.
  22. lament
    express grief verbally
    They were still standing over him, cursing their ill luck, and Bombur's clumsiness, and lamenting the loss of the boat which made it impossible for them to go back and look for the hart, when they became aware of the dim blowing of horns in the wood and the sound as of dogs baying far off.
  23. wearisome
    so lacking in interest as to cause mental fatigue
    But they did not know this, and they were burdened with the heavy body of Bombur, which they had to carry along with them as best they could, taking the wearisome task in turns of four each while the others shared their packs.
    Weariness is a "temporary loss of strength and energy from hard work"--this description of physical tiredness is closer to the meaning intended by the example sentence, although Thorin does later say to Bombur: "We are quite annoyed enough with you as it is. If you hadn't waked up, we should have left you to your idiotic dreams in the forest; you are no joke to carry even after weeks of short commons."
  24. eerie
    suggestive of the supernatural; mysterious
    The laughter was the laughter of fair voices not of goblins, and the singing was beautiful, but it sounded eerie and strange, and they were not comforted, rather they hurried on from those parts with what strength they had left.
    Compare with "uncanny" in this list. The two words can be synonymous, but "eerie" is more often connected to fear. Beware of confusing "eerie" with its homophone "eyrie" (which can also be spelled "aerie" or "aery"); in the novel, the eyries are the eagles' nests that are located high in the mountains. Although the eagles can seem eerie with their size and speech, they actually save Bilbo and his friends by carrying them to their eyries.
  25. blunder
    make one's way clumsily or blindly
    After blundering frantically in the gloom, falling over logs, bumping crash into trees, and shouting and calling till they must have waked everything in the forest for miles, at last they managed to gather themselves in a bundle and count themselves by touch.
  26. loathsome
    highly offensive; arousing aversion or disgust
    Standing behind a tree he watched a group of them for some time, and then in the silence and stillness of the wood he realised that these loathsome creatures were speaking one to another.
  27. snare
    a trap for birds or small mammals; often has a slip noose
    As quick as lightning they came running and swinging towards the hobbit, flinging out their long threads in all directions, till the air seemed full of waving snares.
  28. astonishment
    the feeling that accompanies something extremely surprising
    He suddenly slipped on his ring, and to the great astonishment of the dwarves he vanished.
  29. froth
    exude or expel foam
    The spiders swelled with rage, and spluttered and frothed, and hissed out horrible curses; but they had become mortally afraid of Sting, and dared not come very near, now that it had come back.
    Foam, spit, and curses might be coming out of the spiders' mouths, but the verb "froth" (along with "splutter" and "hiss") focuses on the anger behind the outbursts.
  30. linger
    remain present although waning or gradually dying
    But it seemed that some good magic lingered in such spots, which the spiders did not like.
Created on December 5, 2013 (updated September 11, 2018)

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