All the King's Men Glossary
Glossary of Terms
albumenWater-soluble protein often found in urine.
Anne HathawayShakespeare's wife. While Shakespeare traveled the country, Anne stayed in her cottage in Stratford.
argumentum ad hominemA logical fallacy in which one attacks irrelevant qualities of a person, rather than that person's argument.
ars longa est"Ars longa est; vita brevis est." A Latin expression roughly meaning "art is long; life is short."
banderillaA dart planted in the neck of a bull during a bullfight.
Baron MunchausenAn 18th-century German nobleman who joined the Russian army and returned to tell outrageously exaggerated stories of his adventures. Baron Munchausen stories have been adapted and retold by several authors.
barracoonA barracks where slaves are temporarily confined.
benzene ringBenzene is a chemical compound formed by a ring of carbon molecules. Friedrich Kekule, the scientist who first proposed that its structure was that of a cyclic ring, wrote that he made this discovery after having a dream of a snake biting its own tail.
biliousLiterally, resembling bile. Acidic, ill-humored.
bluebottleA large blue flying insect.
bowieA single-edged hunting knife.
Caedmon's songCaedmon was an Anglo-Saxon poet who lived in the 7th century A.D. It is claimed (though this is highly apocryphal) that he was inspired to compose poetry after a dream.
CampbelliteMember of a Protestant denomination founded by Alexander Campbell. His and other reform movements of the time sought to restore the unity of the Church by restoring the principles of early Christianity and avoiding denominationalism.
cartilaginousLike cartilage: firm, though flexible.
catarrhalLiterally, inflamed in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat.
chintzBright, glazed cotton fabric.
cholera morbusA virulent and painful stomach illness.
cockleburLiterally, the spiny burs of a certain plant. Used derisively to refer to poor, uneducated country voters (the "cocklebur vote").
coffleA line of slaves or prisoners chained together.
corn poneLiterally, a type of cornbread. Also used to describe a folksy, informal manner or tone of speech.
Dago redA cheap imitation of Italian red wine.
Epworth LeagueYouth organization of the Southern Methodist Church.
floating island of GulliverA reference to the floating island of Laputa in Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels.
Florentine"The cold-faced Florentine" is Niccolo Machiavelli, realist and author of The Prince, a seminal political treatise and handbook of brutal statecraft.
frog-stickerA type of bayonet; specifically, the sharp metal piece at the end of this weapon used for jabbing.
garretThe room in the top floor of a house; usually, the attic.
gisantA sculpture of a deceased person representing the person in death.
hair of the dogShorthand for "hair of the dog that bit him." A hangover cure by which one drinks more alcohol to soften the effects of prior drinking.
hobbledehoyAn awkward young boy.
homme sensuelLiterally "sensual man." An effeminate male, one who seeks pleasure.
jalousiesShutters with horizontal slats.
jonquilThe narcissus flower; the daffodil.
Kubla KhanA famous poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge claimed to have written the poem in its entirety after an opium-induced dream inspired the images contained within.
laminectomyRemoval or trimming of part of the vertebra to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.
lobectomyA lobectomy is any operation to remove one or more lobes (rounded projections) of an organ; in this case, the brain. Today, the procedure as it occurs in the novel is obsolete, and the term applies mainly to such operations performed on the lung.
marmorealMarble-like; refers particularly to whiteness, smoothness, and hardness.
navvyA unskilled physical laborer, usually in building.
oleaginousUnctuous, oily. Also very insincere and fawning, the quality of a suck-up. When used by the Boss to refer to Tiny Duffy, it speaks of both his girth and his qualities as a person.
organdieA stiff, transparent cotton or silk fabric.
Pecunia non oletLatin for "money does not smell."
photostatA photocopy made on a special machine.
privyA toilet. Earlier, an outhouse.
purblindHaving poor sight; slow in understanding.
QueequegA character from the Herman Melville novel Moby Dick. His name is used in a passage alluding to the novel.
raleAn abnormal, crackling breathing sound.
reportA loud noise, an explosion. Here, the sound of gunfire.
roman à clefA work that describes real life events in a fictional context. All the King's Men has its basis as a roman à clef, as do the political book Primary Colors and the film Citizen Kane.
Saul on the road to DamascusIn the Book of Acts in the Bible, Saul of Tarsus is a fanatical Hebrew. He sets out for Damascus to arrest followers of Jesus Christ and eradicate Christianity. Jesus appears to him in a vision, however, and he is converted, becoming Paul of Tarsus and the greatest Christian disciple of his generation. The term "road to Damascus" now refers to any sort of monumental conversion.
seersuckerA thin, crinkled cotton fabric, popular in the South as summer wear.
shadow-boxingFighting with an imaginary opponent in order to train or show off.
shilly-shallyTo procrastinate, or to hesitate in making a decision.
solonA legislator, after the great lawgiver Solon.
susurrousA soft sound, a murmur.
SvengaliA fictional hypnotist from the 1894 George Du Maurier novel Trilby. Svengali is a tall, swarthy, unkempt man with glaring "evil" eyes.
the nutsSlang roughly meaning "great" or "the best."
thuggeeRobbery and murder by thugs.
thunder-mugSlang term for a chamberpot.
tinhornA braggart who pretends to be wealthy and important.
whickerThe sound a horse makes, or to make the sound a horse makes.
wild assAn onager, a term that describes both a species of wild horse and an ancient Roman siege engine.
William Blake's poem ("Blake wrote a poem to tell the Adversary ...")This allusion is to William Blake's "To the Accuser Who Is the God of This World." The first stanza is: "Truly, my Satan, thou art but a Dunce, / And dost not know the Garment of the Man. / Every Harlot was a Virgin once, / Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan."
All the King's Men Essays and Related Content
- All the King's Men: Major Themes
- All the King's Men: Essays
- All the King's Men: Questions
- All the King's Men: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Robert Warren: Biography
- All the King's Men Summary
- About All the King's Men
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter One
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Two
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Three
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Four
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Five
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Six
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Seven
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Eight
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Nine
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Ten
- "All The King's Men"
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