Dharma Bums

Dharma Bums Glossary

aestheticism (2)

in this case, impractical devotion to the arts

akimbo (8)

with hands on hips

anemometer (32)

a device used to measure the speed of wind

apocalyptical (2)

relating to revelation or prophecy, especially that of universal destruction

appurtenances (3)


arroyo (22)

a deep gully cut by an intermittent stream; a dry gulch

asceticism (26)

leading an austerely simple life, especially abstaining from the normal pleasures of life or denying oneself material satisfaction

aspens (8)

trees with leaves that flutter readily in the wind

assiduously (10)

constantly; diligently

aviaries (21)

large enclosures where birds are kept

bard (13)

a poet

bemused (14)


Benzedrine (2)

a type of amphetamine (an illegal stimulant)

bhikku (1)

a monk; a disciple of Buddha

Bodhisattva (2)

a Buddhist term for an enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others

bourgeois (12)

a person of the middle class; a person whose political, economic, and social opinions are believed to be determined mainly by concern for property values and conventional respectability

bulgur (6)

a form of wheat that has been parboiled, cracked, and dried

burlap (24)

a coarse, plain-woven fabric

burro (18)

a small donkey, especially one used as a pack animal in the southwestern U.S.

butte (11)

an isolated hill or mountain rising abruptly above the surrounding land

cantinas (18)


cataract (8)

a furious rush of water

celibacy (5)

not partaking in sexual relations

cerulean (8)

deep blue

chalet (6)

a herdsman's hut in the Swiss Alps

civet (6)

a yellowish substance obtained from the animal of the same name that is used in perfume

conies (29)


conifers (13)

needle-leaved trees or shrubs

crapulous (6)

given to excessiveness in eating or drinking

declivities (3)

downward slopes

desultory (12)

inconsistent; fitful

Dharma (1)

a Buddhist term referring to conformity to religious law, custom, duty, or one's own quality or character

Dharmakaya (5)

a Buddhist term meaning "Truth Body," out of which all phenomenon arise

Dhyana (21)

the seventh of the eight stages of yoga according to the Yoga Sutra: the practice of meditation and concentration to attain enlightenment

Diamond Sutra (1)

an important Buddhist scriptural text on the nature of reality, Enlightenment, and compassion

dissipation (29)

wasteful amusement

doleful (10)

evoking sadness

domicile (3)

one's home

eccentric (6)

peculiar; odd

ephemeral (1)

lasting a very short time; transitory

expounding (21)

explaining in detail

exulted (20)

rejoiced greatly

freneticism (28)

excitation; frenzied activity

Geiger counter (15)

an instrument that detects and measures the intensity of radiation, such as particles from radioactive material

gondola (1)

in this case, short for "gondola car"-an open railroad freight car with low sides, used for transporting bulk freight and manufactured goods

gouty (10)

causing gout-a disease characterized by painful inflammation of the joints

harangue (6)

a scolding; a long, intense verbal attack

hawker (18)

a street peddler

heath (13)

a tract of open and uncultivated land; wasteland overgrown with shrubs

hepcats (2)

performers or devotees of swing and jazz

hibachi (29)

a small Japanese-style charcoal brazier covered with a grill, usually used for outdoor cooking

highball (16)

slang for "at full speed"

hincty (5)

conceited or snobbish

hinoki (29)

a type of Japanese tree

hogans (29)

one-room Navajo structures made of earth-covered poles; later models were often built of logs, stones, and other materials

I.W.W. (2)

short for "Industrial Workers of the World"; a former international labor union and radical labor movement in the United States, dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism

importuned (28)

demanded persistently and urgently

inanities (6)

things that are silly and superficial

incommensurate (10)

disproportionate; inadequate

irking (21)


jalopy (24)

an old, decrepit, or unpretentious automobile

karma (5)

action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation

koan (3)

a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating

kulak (13)

a prosperous landed peasant in czarist Russia

laconic (8)

used here to mean "relatively quiet"

lecher (5)

a man given to excessive sexual indulgence

linguistic (6)

pertaining to language

lionized (29)

treated as a celebrity

loquaciousness (7)

talkativeness; tendency to babble

lucid (9)

clear; transparent

lush (15)


mandala (8)

according to Japhy, a Tibetan design that includes a circle (representing the void) and inner designs (the illusions of worldly things)

obviate (1)

to anticipate and prevent difficulties by effective measures

ornithology (6)

the study of birds

outré (6)

passing the bounds of what is usually considered proper; unconventional; bizarre

paisley (3)

a soft woolen fabric woven with a pattern of colorful and minutely detailed figures

peons (22)

menial workers

perturbation (5)

agitation; derangement

petulantly (21)

showing sudden, impatient irritation, especially over some trifling annoyance

peyote (2)

an intoxicating beverage distilled from a certain type of cactus

phantasmal (22)

unreal, illusory

pneumatic (6):

pertaining to air, gasses, or wind

pranja (27)

a Buddhist term for pure and unqualified knowledge

precipitous (11)

extremely or impassably steep

pretentious (4)

showily self-important

primus (3)

portable cooking stove

prognathic (33)

having protrusive jaws

proprietor (8)

the owner of a business establishment

quartzite (9)

a rock formed from the metamorphism of quartz sandstone

rakish (32)

jaunty; dashing

retinue (28)

the retainers or attendants accompanying a high-ranking person

rill (10)

a small brook; a rivulet

roils (32)

displeases or disturbs

rousted (10)


Samadhi (5)

the highest stage in meditation, in which a person experiences oneness with the universe

samsara (5)

the process of coming into existence as a mortal creature; the opposite of nirvana

satori (5)

sudden enlightenment

scarps (3)

continuous lines of cliffs

schism (16)

division or disunion, especially into mutually opposed parties

scree (3)

a steep mass of debris on the side of a mountain

sedentary (12)

accustomed to sit or rest a great deal or to take little exercise

sentient (3)

sensing; conscious

sere (21)

withered; dry

siding (1)

a short railroad track, opening onto a main track at one or both ends, on which one of two meeting trains is switched until the other has passed

slaking (6)

cooling, refreshing or satisfying

soughing (3)

murmuring or rustling

sugi (29)

tall evergreen of Japan and China

sundry (6)

various or diverse

supplicatory (15)

praying earnestly and humbly; entreating

surreptitious (27)

stealthy; secret

taciturn (22)

stern and silent in expression and manner

tarns (18)

small mountain lakes, especially ones formed by glaciers

tarpaulin (8)

a protective covering of canvas or other material waterproofed with tar, paint, or wax

teetotaler (6)

one who chooses to abstain from alcohol

ululating (5)


unjaundiced (9)

devoid of distorted or prejudiced views

vassals (13)

people who hold land from a feudal lord and receive protection in return for homage and allegiance

viaducts (22)

a series arches used to carry a road or railroad over a wide valley or over other roads or railroads

viharas (5)

meeting places of Buddhist monks

voluble (16)

characterized by a ready and continuous flow of words; talkative

welter (26)

a confused mass; a jumble

yabyum (3)

as used here, an imitation of a Tibetan sexual rite

zazen (13)

meditation in a cross-legged posture

zendo (13)

the meditation room of a Zen monastery