Vocabulary Lists

Literature

CollectionOur Top Picks for Summer ReadingCool Books for Hot Summer Days
Explore Collection
CollectionGet Schooled!Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week with These Smart Novels
Explore Collection
  • The Harry Potter Collection
CollectionSibling Revelry
Explore Collection
  1. The OdysseyHomer
    In this epic poem, clever Odysseus attempts to find his way home after the end of the Trojan War. Learn these words from...
  2. Essay on ManAlexander Pope
    In this philosophical poem, Pope attempts to define humanity's place in the universe with respect to a divine plan. Read...
  3. Love's Labour's LostWilliam Shakespeare
    The King of Navarre and three lords make a vow to avoid romance and devote themselves to study — but their resolve is...
  4. I Can Make This PromiseChristine Day
    A twelve-year-old girl searches for the truth about her family's Native American heritage.
  5. The Woman in WhiteWilkie Collins
    In this 19th-century novel, a drawing teacher unravels a complicated mystery involving mistaken identity and family...
  6. After Tupac and D FosterJacqueline Woodson
    In 1995, a new arrival to their New York City neighborhood changes the lives of Neeka and her best friend.
  7. Henry IV, Part 2William Shakespeare
    King Henry IV worries that his son Hal, who associates with criminals, is not fit to become King of England.
  8. ResistanceJennifer A. Nielsen
    A Jewish teenager joins the resistance movement against the Nazis during World War II.
  9. Emily of New MoonL.M. Montgomery
    After the death of her father, Emily Starr moves to New Moon Farm to live with her aunts and cousin. Read the full text...
  10. Henry IV, Part 1William Shakespeare
    King Henry IV contends with unrest on England's borders, a group of rebellious noblemen, and his unruly son.
  11. EragonChristopher Paolini
    In the first book of The Inheritance Cycle, a fifteen-year-old boy finds a dragon egg in the woods and becomes a Dragon...
  12. They Went LeftMonica Hesse
    After being liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, a teenager embarks on a quest to find her brother.

Literature Vocabulary Lists:

"The Hill We Climb," by Amanda Gorman

22-year-old Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in American history when she read her poem "The Hill We Climb" at President Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021. The poem conveys both optimism and realism, referring to the progress that the U.S. has made as a nation, and the work that remains to be done.
20 Words

"The Overcoat" by Nikolai Gogol

In this classic Russian short story, a low-level bureaucrat's life is upended when he attempts to purchase a new overcoat. Learn these words from the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
35 Words

"St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves" by Karen Russell

In this short story, the narrator and other girls raised by wolves try to adapt to life in human society.
45 Words

"The Palace Thief" by Ethan Canin

In this story, a classics teacher at an elite prep school must interrogate his own ethics when he suspects that one of his privileged students is cheating.
45 Words

"The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus, a poet and Jewish activist, wrote this poem to raise money for a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. The poem was then inscribed on a plaque on the pedestal.
10 Words

"Easter, 1916" by W.B. Yeats

In this poem by William Butler Yeats, the speaker reflects on the failed Irish uprising against the British in 1916. Here are links to our lists for other poems by Yeats: "The Song of Wandering Aengus", "The Second Coming"
16 Words

"Death of a Naturalist" by Seamus Heaney

The speaker of this poem remembers collecting frog's eggs as a child, but is repulsed by watching frog's spawn in a rotting field in the present day.
12 Words

"The Second Coming" by W.B. Yeats

In this modernist poem, Yeats uses apocalyptic imagery to characterize the state of the world after World War I.
10 Words

"The Bells" by Edgar Allan Poe

This poem by Edgar Allan Poe is notable for its masterful use of sound effects, including onomatopoeia, alliteration, and assonance.
25 Words

"The Railway Train" by Emily Dickinson

In this poem, the speaker imagines that a railway train is a living creature. Read the full text here.
15 Words

"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d" by Walt Whitman

Whitman wrote this elegy, or poem of mourning, in response to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Here are links to our lists for other poems by Walt Whitman: Song of Myself, O Captain! My Captain!, A Noiseless Patient Spider
35 Words

"The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe

The speaker of this poem, who is mourning a lost love, is visited in the night by a raven who speaks a single word: "Nevermore." Read the full text here. Here are links to our lists for other works by Edgar Allan Poe: The Black Cat, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Purloined Letter, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, The Murders in the Rue Morgue
35 Words

"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway

Santiago is a luckless Cuban fisherman who struggles to land a giant marlin. In spare, searing prose, Hemingway transforms the story of one man's battle with nature into a heroic ordeal. Here is a link to our lists for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.
50 Words

"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Influenced by Charlotte Perkins Gilman's personal experiences, "The Yellow Wallpaper" tells the story of a woman who is forbidden from working due to "nervous depression" and begins to obsess over the unusual wallpaper in her room.
40 Words

"There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury

In this short story, science fiction writer Ray Bradbury imagines an eerie, desolate world in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. Here are links to our lists for other works by the award-winning author: Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, A Sound of Thunder, All Summer in a Day, August 2026, Marionettes, Inc., The Black Ferris, The Drummer Boy of Shiloh, The Flying Machine, The Pedestrian, The Veldt
25 Words

"Death, be not proud" by John Donne

This poem is one of John Donne's Holy Sonnets, a series of nineteen connected poems in which Donne explores his spiritual devotion. Read the poem here. Here are links to our lists for other poems by John Donne: "The Canonization", "The Flea", "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning", "Song: Go and catch a falling star", "The Sun Rising"
14 Words

"To an Athlete Dying Young" by A. E. Housman

This poem commemorates the early death of a young athlete. The speaker notes that, because the athlete died in the prime of his life, he will always be remembered as youthful and victorious.
14 Words

"Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This narrative poem, written in a meter that recalls the sound of a galloping horse’s hooves, tells the apocryphal story of Paul Revere warning colonial Americans of a looming British invasion. Read the poem here.
25 Words

"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou's uplifting poem affirms the power of resilience, self-love, and joy in the face of oppression. Read the poem here. Here are links to our lists for other works by Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Pulse of Morning
16 Words

"Digging" by Seamus Heaney

After watching his father digging outside, the speaker of this poem compares his father's labor to his own work as a writer. Read the text here.
16 Words

"Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In Tennyson's poem, the hero Ulysses (Odysseus) has returned from his voyages but longs for new adventures. Read the text here.
32 Words

"Morning Song" by Sylvia Plath

This poem explores the alienation that the speaker feels after the birth of her baby. Read the text here.
15 Words

"A Noiseless Patient Spider" by Walt Whitman

The speaker of this poem observes a spider using its silk to explore its surroundings and then compares his soul to the title arachnid. Read the full text of the poem here.
12 Words

"Birches" by Robert Frost

The speaker of this poem recalls his childhood pastime of climbing and swinging from birch trees. Read the poem here. Here are our lists for other poems by Robert Frost: "The Death of the Hired Man", "After Apple-Picking", "Mending Wall", "Out, Out—"
22 Words

"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain

In this entertaining yarn, a man who loves to gamble bets that his trained frog can out-jump any other. Here are links to our lists for other works by Mark Twain: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi, A Story Without an End
30 Words

Sign up now (it’s free!)

Whether you’re a teacher or a learner, Vocabulary.com can put you or your class on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.