Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass Glossary


The Alleghanies are the oldest mountain range in the United States. This is Whitman's own spelling of the word.

Bugle Trills

A bugle trill is a short burst of notes from a bugle horn, often meant to signify military victory.


In Greek mythology, Calamus is a figure who turned into a reed out of grief for the death of his young male lover. In Leaves of Grass, Whitman uses this imagery to describe the intense erotic love between men.


A camerado is Whitman's own term for a friend, or comrade.


Canuck is a term for a person from Canada.


A centenarian is a person who is 100 years old.


"Cuff" is an African day-name for a male born on a Friday.


An eidolon is the perfect form of an idea. For Whitman, this is the ideal of spiritual and intellectual enlightenment for which all humanity must strive.


A halyard is a line used to hoist a sail or a flag.


Jonathan is a common name for a New England Yankee. Whitman uses the name to collectively describe all New England patriots.


Mannahatta is Whitman's term for New York City's island of Manhattan. This is the original Algonquian word meaning "large island," which Whitman uses to invoke a historical and natural spirit to the city.


Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy devoted to explaining the basic nature of being.


Odium is an intense hatred for another.


An ostent is a token, or portent of things to come.


Paumanok is the original Native American term for Long Island, New York. Whitman uses this term to name his boyhood experiences in Long Island's natural surroundings.


A rivulet is a stream, or small flowing body of water.


The Romantic movement was an artistic movement that developed after the 18th century. It placed high emphasis on the natural world and opposed scientific rationalism of nature.

Stars and Stripes

"Stars and Stripes" is a shorthand term for the American flag.


A steamer is a term for a steam powered ship or boat.


Transcendentalism was a religious/social movement that grew out of nineteenth century Unitarianism in New England. Transcendentalists placed an emphasis on the spirituality of the natural world and of the human soul.