Chapters 13–18

In the futuristic World State, the genetically altered citizens are happy and free of pain—but they cannot exercise free will. Learn these words from Huxley's influential dystopian novel, first published in 1932.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. pallor
    unnatural lack of color
    Henry detected the weariness in those purple eyes, the pallor beneath that glaze of lupus, the sadness at the corners of the unsmiling crimson mouth.
  2. adage
    a condensed but memorable saying embodying an important fact
    “A doctor a day keeps the jim-jams away,” he added heartily, driving home his hypnopaedic adage with a clap on the shoulder.
  3. sanctimonious
    excessively or hypocritically pious
    “It’s like that in Shakespeare too. ‘If thou dost break her virgin knot before all sanctimonious ceremonies may with full and holy rite . . .’ ”
  4. exasperation
    a feeling of annoyance
    “Then why on earth didn’t you say so?” she cried, and so intense was her exasperation that she drove her sharp nails into the skin of his wrist.
  5. apothecary
    a health professional trained in the art of preparing drugs
    Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination.
  6. interminable
    tiresomely long; seemingly without end
    What seemed an interminable stream of identical eight-year-old male twins was pouring into the room. Twin after twin, twin after twin, they came—a nightmare.
  7. crescendo
    a gradual increase in loudness
    The Super-Vox-Wurlitzeriana had risen to a sobbing crescendo; and suddenly the verbena gave place, in the scent-circulating system, to an intense patchouli.
  8. irresolute
    uncertain how to act or proceed
    The nurse stood irresolute, looking now at the kneeling figure by the bed (the scandalous exhibition!) and now (poor children!) at the twins who had stopped their hunting of the zipper and were staring from the other end of the ward, staring with all their eyes and nostrils at the shocking scene that was being enacted round Bed 20.
  9. delirium
    a usually brief state of excitement and mental confusion
    He woke once more to external reality, looked round him, knew what he saw—knew it, with a sinking sense of horror and disgust, for the recurrent delirium of his days and nights, the nightmare of swarming indistinguishable sameness.
  10. cynical
    believing the worst of human nature and motives
    They had mocked him through his misery and remorse, mocked him with how hideous a note of cynical derision!
  11. carapace
    hard outer covering or case of certain organisms
    The insults bounced off their carapace of thick stupidity; they stared at him with a blank expression of dull and sullen resentment in their eyes.
  12. sacrilege
    blasphemous behavior
    For a moment the khaki mob was silent, petrified, at the spectacle of this wanton sacrilege, with amazement and horror.
  13. indistinguishable
    exactly alike; incapable of being perceived as different
    “Free, free!” the Savage shouted, and with one hand continued to throw the soma into the area while, with the other, he punched the indistinguishable faces of his assailants.
  14. deprecate
    express strong disapproval of; deplore
    But Bernard would not be cheered; without answering, without even looking at Helmholtz, he went and sat down on the most uncomfortable chair in the room, carefully chosen in the obscure hope of somehow deprecating the wrath of the higher powers.
  15. impunity
    exemption from punishment or loss
    But as I make the laws here, I can also break them. With impunity, Mr. Marx,” he added, turning to Bernard.
  16. ingenuity
    the power of creative imagination
    But that requires the most enormous ingenuity. You’re making flivvers out of the absolute minimum of steel—works of art out of practically nothing but pure sensation.
  17. squalid
    morally degraded
    Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery.
  18. gyroscope
    rotating mechanism in the form of a mounted spinning wheel
    They’re the gyroscope that stabilizes the rocket plane of state on its unswerving course.
  19. gesticulate
    show, express, or direct through movement
    The deep voice thrillingly vibrated; the gesticulating hand implied all space and the onrush of the irresistible machine.
  20. propaganda
    information that is spread to promote some cause
    “And all the science propaganda we do at the College . . .”
  21. illicit
    contrary to or forbidden by law
    I started doing a bit of cooking on my own. Unorthodox cooking, illicit cooking. A bit of real science, in fact.
  22. paroxysm
    a sudden uncontrollable attack
    “And not to Iceland. Oh please, your fordship, please . . .” And in a paroxysm of abjection he threw himself on his knees before the Controller.
  23. beneficent
    doing or producing good
    But truth’s a menace, science is a public danger. As dangerous as it’s been beneficent. It has given us the stablest equilibrium in history.
  24. approbation
    official acceptance or agreement
    The Controller nodded his approbation.
  25. rummage
    search haphazardly
    Rummaging in the darkness within, “It’s a subject,” he said, “that has always had a great interest for me.”
  26. superfluous
    serving no useful purpose; having no excuse for being
    ‘The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.’ But there aren’t any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous.
  27. compatible
    able to exist and perform in harmonious combination
    God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness.
  28. postulate
    a proposition accepted as true to provide a logical basis
    But you’ve got to stick to one set of postulates. You can’t play Electro magnetic Golf according to the rules of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy.
  29. allegiance
    the loyalty that citizens owe to their country
    Where there are wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are temptations to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defended—there, obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense.
  30. derisive
    expressing contempt or ridicule
    And Tomakin, ex-Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning, Tomakin was still on holiday—on holiday from humiliation and pain, in a world where he could not hear those words, that derisive laughter, could not see that hideous face, feel those moist and flabby arms round his neck, in a beautiful world.
  31. excruciating
    extremely painful
    From time to time he stretched out his arms as though he were on the Cross, and held them thus through long minutes of an ache that gradually increased till it became a tremulous and excruciating agony
  32. compunction
    a feeling of deep regret, usually for some misdeed
    “I beg your pardon,” said the reporter, with genuine compunction.
  33. disconcerting
    causing an emotional disturbance
    The Savage obeyed with a disconcerting literalness.
  34. vermin
    any of various small animals or insects that are pests
    Ignoring their tiresome humming (he likened himself in his imagination to one of the suitors of the Maiden of Matsaki, unmoved and persistent among the winged vermin), the Savage dug at what was to be his garden.
  35. tangible
    perceptible by the senses, especially the sense of touch
    And suddenly the thought of Lenina was a real presence, naked and tangible, saying “Sweet!” and “Put your arms round me!”—in shoes and socks, perfumed.
  36. unanimity
    everyone being of one mind
    They were all crying together; and, intoxicated by the noise, the unanimity, the sense of rhythmical atonement, they might, it seemed, have gone on for hours—almost indefinitely.
  37. monotone
    an unchanging intonation
    “We—want—the whip; we—want—the whip,” broke out again in the same loud, insistent monotone.
  38. reiterate
    say, state, or perform again
    Her lips moved, she was saying something; but the sound of her voice was covered by the loud reiterated refrain of the sightseers.
  39. convergent
    tending to come together from different directions
    With a whoop of delighted excitement the line broke; there was a convergent stampede towards that magnetic centre of attraction.
  40. turpitude
    a corrupt or depraved or degenerate act or practice
    Drawn by the fascination of the horror of pain and, from within, impelled by that habit of cooperation, that desire for unanimity and atonement, which their conditioning had so ineradicably implanted in them, they began to mime the frenzy of his gestures, striking at one another as the Savage struck at his own rebellious flesh, or at that plump incarnation of turpitude writhing in the heather at his feet.
Created on February 9, 2015 (updated July 19, 2018)

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