"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, Chapters 1–2

On Christmas Eve, cruel penny-pincher Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits who show him visions of his past, present, and future. Read the full text here.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4–5

Here are links to our lists for other works by Charles Dickens: David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Hard Times, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities

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definitions & notes only words
  1. emphatically
    without question and beyond doubt
    You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
  2. covetous
    immoderately desirous of acquiring something
    But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge: a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!
  3. palpable
    capable of being perceived
    The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already -- it had not been light all day -- and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighboring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air.
  4. intimation
    a slight suggestion or vague understanding
    It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.
  5. indignant
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    If I could work my will,' said Scrooge indignantly, 'every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.'
  6. derive
    'There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,' returned the nephew.
  7. impropriety
    a wrong or indecent act
    Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark forever.
  8. homage
    respectful deference
    But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I'll keep my Christmas humor to the last.
  9. destitute
    poor enough to need help from others
    'At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,' said the gentleman, taking up a pen, 'it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.
  10. facetious
    cleverly amusing in tone
    Scrooge resumed his labors with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.
  11. proffer
    present for acceptance or rejection
    Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way.
  12. tacitly
    by unexpressed agreement
    With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his hat.
  13. melancholy
    grave or even gloomy in character
    Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker's-book, went home to bed.
  14. inexplicable
    incapable of being explained or accounted for
    It was with great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw this bell begin to swing.
  15. incredulous
    not disposed or willing to believe; unbelieving
    Though he looked the phantom through and through, and saw it standing before him; though he felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes; and marked the very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin, which wrapper he had not observed before; he was still incredulous, and fought against his senses.
  16. waggish
    witty or joking
    Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then.
  17. specter
    a ghostly appearing figure
    The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.
  18. infernal
    characteristic of an uncontrolled and intense fire
    There was something very awful, too, in the spectre's being provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own.
  19. deference
    courteous regard for people's feelings
    'You must have been very slow about it, Jacob,' Scrooge observed, in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference.
  20. indict
    accuse formally of a crime
    The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.
  21. susceptible
    yielding readily to or capable of
    'Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,' cried the phantom, 'not to know, that ages of incessant labor by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed!
  22. forbearance
    good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence
    The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.
  23. incoherent
    without logical or meaningful connection
    Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory.
  24. repose
    freedom from activity
    And being, from the emotion he had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of the hour, much in need of repose; went straight to bed, without undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant.
  25. resolution
    a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner
    He resolved to lie awake until the hour was passed; and, considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to Heaven, this was, perhaps, the wisest resolution in his power.
  26. recumbent
    lying down; in a position of comfort or rest
    The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.
  27. fluctuate
    be unstable
    For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body
  28. intention
    an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions
    Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge of having wilfully bonneted the Spirit at any period of his life.
  29. conducive
    tending to bring about; being partly responsible for
    Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end.
  30. surmount
    be on top of
    They left the high-road, by a well-remembered lane, and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a little weathercock-surmounted cupola, on the roof, and a bell hanging in it.
  31. retentive
    having the capacity to hold something
    Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state, within; for entering the dreary hall, and glancing through the open doors of many rooms, they found them poorly furnished, cold, and vast.
  32. despondent
    without or almost without hope
    Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behind the paneling, not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, no, not a clicking in the fire, but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears.
  33. laden
    filled with a great quantity
    Suddenly a man, in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood.
  34. expend
    use up, consume fully
    To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying; and to see his heightened and excited face; would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city, indeed.
  35. condescension
    showing arrogance by patronizing those considered inferior
    'Bring down Master Scrooge's box, there!' and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself, who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him.
  36. terrestrial
    of or relating to or characteristic of the planet Earth
    He then conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlor that ever was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, were waxy with cold.
  37. tumult
    a state of commotion and noise and confusion
    Although they had but that moment left the school behind them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city, where shadowy passengers passed and repassed; where shadowy carts and coaches battle for the way, and all the strife and tumult of a real city were.
  38. deft
    skillful in physical movements; especially of the hands
    And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and curtsey, corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig 'cut'-cut so deftly, that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger.
  39. corroborate
    support with evidence or authority or make more certain
    He corroborated everything, remembered everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent the strangest agitation.
  40. render
    cause to become
    He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil.
  41. avarice
    reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth
    His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later years; but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice.
  42. displace
    cause to move, usually with force or pressure
    Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.
  43. relentless
    not to be placated or appeased or moved by entreaty
    But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and forced him to observe what happened next.
  44. comely
    very pleasing to the eye
    Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter.
  45. subside
    descend into or as if into some soft substance or place
    It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlor, and by one stair at a time, up to the top of the house; where they went to bed, and so subsided.

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