"The Milagro Beanfield War," Vocabulary from Parts 3-4

Featuring a battle for farmer's rights with a very unlikely hero on the front lines, John Nichols's "The Milagro Beanfield War" is a comic look at what happens when people stand up for themselves when the odds are stacked against them.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Prologue-Part 1, Part 2, Parts 3-4, Part 5-Epilogue

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. flamboyant
    tending to attract attention; marked by ostentatious display
    Nick, for one, quit laughing about seven minutes after Bud and Shorty had left—that is, his mirth died in conjunction with the flamboyant return of Joe Mondragon, who barged into the store accompanied by five big stern-looking people, two of whom carried rifles.
  2. ricochet
    spring back; spring away from an impact
    Suddenly there was a loud popping bang, and then a heavier but also sharper explosion that ricocheted across the valley.
  3. foolhardy
    marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences
    She was crazy, foolhardy—she and Joe and anybody else in this town who thought the small farmers had (or even deserved) an outside shot at survival against Ladd Devine’s conglomerate, the state, and the Government of the U.S.A.
  4. dexterity
    adroitness in using the hands
    Moving—now that he’d decided to hunt the bird—with a deliberate and cunning dexterity, Amarante removed his huge Peacemaker from its scabbard, and, holding it in both hands after laboriously cocking the hammer, he aimed for almost a minute at the blackbird, then pulled the trigger.
  5. condone
    excuse, overlook, or make allowances for
    Bernabe Montoya knew he should have called a halt to the target practice right then and there, but like everyone else he was curious, so instead of saying no he said nothing, and, of course, having condoned the first demonstration, which ended with bottle fragments no bigger than BBs falling on all their heads like rain, he was powerless to stop the subsequent carnage.
  6. anguish
    extreme distress of body or mind
    Now, as the Asian festivities were apparently drawing to a close, a national pictorial magazine decided to do a “sensitive” and “searching” feature on Milagro’s “ anguish.”
  7. vituperative
    marked by harshly abusive criticism
    The other mothers did not react in quite such a vituperative manner, but they all more or less chorused similar sentiments: “What do you want to write about my boy for? Dead is dead, rest in peace. I don’t want to be reminded he was working for the government when he died, or that the meat he killed nobody was allowed to eat.
  8. impasse
    a situation in which no progress can be made
    The impasse was broken by the pig, which decided, simply, to leave; choosing for its line of departure a path which passed directly between Bloom’s legs.
  9. quagmire
    a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot
    Immediately rivers rose, spreading out into the bottomlands; irrigation ditches overflowed; fields that were already pretty soggy became dyed-in-the-wool Okefenokees; and all the roads, which had been skillfully constructed by master craftsmen so as to have absolutely no drainage, turned into quagmires.
  10. impromptu
    with little or no preparation or forethought
    Nick Rael’s son Jerry sold pop, candy bars, Hostess Twinkies, and gum from an impromptu concession stand, and that was about how things stacked up.
  11. posse
    a temporary police force
    Carrying some American flags, the state flag, and a sheriff's posse flag, Joe, Claudio Garcia, Eliu Archuleta, Sparky Pacheco, Nick Rael, Eusebio Lavadie, and a few others rode their horses into the arena and lined up for the National Anthem.
  12. lackadaisical
    lacking spirit or liveliness
    The action took place in a sunny, lackadaisical way, with long lags between riders.
  13. amenities
    things that make you comfortable and at ease
    By the time Bobby Joe staggered into the commune, however, he didn’t much care about the social amenities.
  14. transient
    one who stays for only a short time
    That is, he became what might be called a police informer, supplying a certain amount of drug information that enabled the various police agencies to meet the quota of busts they needed to make themselves look good: he delivered reports on transients, too, turning in, for example, a whole slew of runaways in return for being allowed to cohabit with his own particular runaway, Lady Elephant.
  15. confiscate
    take temporary possession of a security by legal authority
    And he occasionally carried out strong-arm tactics for the cops and their allies, who either paid him in hard cash for his trouble, or else sometimes in confiscated hard drugs.
  16. unequivocally
    in an unambiguous manner
    It was unequivocally evident that if Bobby Joe went for his little .32 they would kill him harder and faster and with less emotion than most men, marked for extinction, had the opportunity to get killed.
  17. staunch
    firm and dependable especially in loyalty
    But Bernabe Montoya, being the staunch upholder of law and order that he was, had to travel three miles south to the official dump, and when he got there this particular morning, in spite of state and local ordinances to the contrary, the dump was burning, and about a hundred ravens were stalking around in the foul-smelling smog, eating breakfast.
  18. vigil
    a purposeful surveillance to guard or observe
    And although no cop, vigilante, or even teen-ager with a slingshot ever spent five minutes on guard at the dump, at the end of a week Onofre Martinez dictated a letter to Jon Nickerson from Sammy Cantu, elaborately explaining that unfortunately an around-the-clock vigil had netted no culprits.
  19. nemesis
    something causing misery or death
    And that was at once the nemesis and the attraction: the Little Baldy, the Rio Puerco, and Dixonburgh Creek were for the people who lived in Milagro.
  20. effulgence
    the quality of being bright and sending out rays of light
    It grew dark, the approaching night—languinous, honey-mellow, luminous—gleamed with a seraphic effulgence.
  21. persona non grata
    a person who for some reason is not wanted or welcome
    Horsethief Shorty Wilson was persona non grata because although everyone knew he cheated, nobody could catch him at it
  22. desperado
    a bold outlaw
    the stairway door clattered open and three desperadoes entered the room, changing the name of the game from Poker to Armed Robbery.
  23. robust
    sturdy and strong in form, constitution, or construction
    But anyway, there he was in his customary lookout beside a large dead cottonwood log, letting his eyes drift lazily from Joe’s robust bean plants to the permanent rainbow that was still glimmering faintly but persistently in the dusty afternoon sunshine choking Milagro, when that same coyote angel reappeared, limping desultorily off the Milagro-Garcia highway spur and along the Roybal ditch bank to Amarante’s outpost.
  24. insolent
    marked by casual disrespect
    Hurriedly, in reverse, he sped back to the roadside marker, and, after the dust cloud had drifted away from his vehicle, gazed perplexedly for a full sixty seconds at the insolent inscription on the cross before angrily kicking open his door and circling around the car and ferociously tugging that hallowed symbol from the ground and chucking it irreligiously into the rear of the station wagon.
  25. puerile
    displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity
    “When I want mountains made out of molehills, when I want to legitimize their puerile actions by paying attention to them, I’ll let you know.”
  26. conflagration
    a very intense and uncontrolled fire
    In due course conflicting rumors claimed the theft had been engineered by Horsethief Shorty (acting for Ladd Devine) or by the state police themselves, in order to deprive Milagro’s more humble (and more militant) citizens of their God-given constitutional right to buy and bear and flaunt and discharge all manner of lethal instruments in the no-holds-barred shooting conflagration which was certain to break out soon.
  27. repugnant
    offensive to the mind
    Devine, obsessed by those repugnant crosses, could not stomach the thought that one of them, somewhere, somehow, might survive, mocking him into eternity.
  28. ubiquitous
    being present everywhere at once
    He had even paid off-duty state policemen good money to patrol the highway and the town at night, but somehow the culprits were never caught: because the cross planting was just another prank by the mystical and ubiquitous El Brazo Onofre?
  29. lassitude
    a feeling of lack of interest or energy
    A dangerous lassitude hovered just out of range in his body; it was accompanied by a defeatist torpor.
  30. pristine
    completely free from dirt or contamination
    Finally Linda angrily turned off the radio and just sat at the table with her head resting in the fluff of clean kiddie togs, overcome by an almost pristine sadness, a feeling of hopelessness.
  31. camaraderie
    the quality of affording easy familiarity and sociability
    But the thing is, Linda had forgotten about that time, those glorious evenings, the solitude, camaraderie, and the green football field, the gentility and serenity of those times, the peppy, shining brown girls dressed in sweatshirts and baggy letter sweaters and short-shorts, chanting lazily while moving happily through their cute, sexy routines, unassailable for a moment, secure.
  32. cynical
    believing the worst of human nature and motives
    Loading up on free wood was like gathering manna from heaven, and how could a person be completely cynical about that?
  33. indigenous
    originating where it is found
    Then too, maybe someday—if Zopilote Devine had his way—all the subdivision houses he was planning would pay their respects to Milagro’s cultural heritage by having realistic-looking plastic pinon piles in their backyards, adding just the correct dash of authenticity to make their flimsy split-level ranch houses indigenous to the area.
  34. precipitous
    extremely steep
    Terrified that somehow Joe Mondragon was going to halt all the Miracle Valley projects, and if he did that Bud’s fortune, which could be frosted with caviar and Cadillacs if Ladd Devine pulled off everything that was planned, would take a precipitous nosedive.
  35. wheedle
    influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
    Already he’d borrowed heavily to redo their house, to buy into the west side subdivision and golf course, and to wheedle a position on the proposed ski valley’s board of directors.

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.