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Oliver Twist Glossary

by Charles Dickens

Glossary of Terms

ablutions

ritual cleansing as part of a religious ceremony

acerbity

bitterness, sharpness in tone or manner

asperities

roughness, severities

asseveration

earnest or solemn statement

assiduity

great care and attention in doing something

assiduously

very carefully

auguries

omens

beadle

a minor parish official employed by the Church of England to usher and keep order

bier

wooden frame on which a coffin is carried on its way to be buried

cant

jargon, specifically of a lower class

capacious

able to hold a large quantity

chancery suits

lawsuits

choleric

bad-tempered, irritable

cogitating

thinking deeply and carefully about something

conclave

a private and secret gathering of a select group of people

coterie

a small, exclusive group of people who share the same interests

demolition

the destruction or annihilation of somebody or something

dispensary

a place where, usually medicine, here justice, is distributed

dissipated

overindulging in the pursuit of physical pleasure

ebullition

outburst

Elysium

heaven, paradise

encomiums

expressions of high praise

engendered

caused to come into existence

espial

the act of spying

expatiate

speak at length

extant

still in existence

facetious

intended to be funny but often silly or inappropriate

gibbet

gallows

grazier

person who grazes cattle

Harridans

older and assertive women; an offensive term

hostler

somebody employed to take care of horses at an inn

imprecation

a curse

irascible

quick-tempered

jocosity

humor, playfulness

languid

without energy or vigor

laudanum

a solution of alcohol and opium used for pain relief or as a sleep aid

loquacity

talkativeness

lustily

energetically

multifarious

diverse

murrain

plague, pox

Myrmidons

faithful followers

noisome

offensive, foul, dangerous

nonce

the present time

oakum

old tar-soaked rope used formerly as a sealant for gaps between planks in a boat’s hull

obeisance

a gesture of respect or deference

palter

haggle, bargain

panacea

a supposed cure-all

panegyric

expression of praise

parochial

relating or belonging to a parish

pauper

an impoverished person who is eligible to receive aid

pinioned

restrained or immobilized, usually with one’s arms tied

porringer

a small bowl usually used for soup

preceptor

teacher, tutor

profligacy

extremely low morals and standards

propitiate

win somebody’s favor

puling

whining or crying

quixotic

impractical, impulsive

rampacious

high-spirited

remonstrance

an argument or formal protest against something

salutary

promoting good health, of benefit to someone

sanguinary

bloodthirsty, eager to kill

sanguine

confident

saturnine

melancholy

saveloy

spicy smoked pork sausage

seneschal

steward of a great house, particularly in medieval times

sepulchral

dismal, possessing characteristics associated with the grave

sinecure

a position providing a regular income, but requiring little or no work

slatternly

an offensive term meant to imply a poor standard of hygiene or many sexual partners for a woman

sojourning

staying for a time at a place

stentorian

loud or powerful

stipendiary

one who is compensated by stipend

suet

hard fat used in cooking or for tallow

temerity

boldness; reckless confidence that might be offensive

tinctured

imbued with a certain quality or property

tressels

supports

unpropitious

unfavorable

viands

provisions of food

wicket

a smaller door within the gate

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