Oryx and Crake Glossary

Glossary

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abattoir

slaughterhouse

abject

sunk to or existing in a low state or condition

abominable

worthy of or causing disgust or hatred

adulation

excessive or slavish admiration or flattery

attrition

the act of rubbing together

aureole

a radiant light around the head or body of a representation of a sacred personage

australopithecine

describes any of the extinct southern and eastern African hominids that include gracile and robust forms with near-human dentition and a relatively small brain

auto-da-fé

the ceremony for pronouncing judgment by the Inquisition which was followed by the execution of sentence by secular authorities; more broadly, the burning of a heretic

avail

advantage toward attainment of a goal or purpose

barricade

a barrier

basilisk

a legendary reptile with fatal breath and glance

bioform

a living organism

bogus

not genuine

caecotroph

in certain mammals especially rabbits and some rodents, a cake or pellet of food which is produced by means of digestion and expulsion through the anus

cantilever

a projecting beam or member supported only at one end

caper

to leap or prance about in a playful manner

carboniferous

producing or containing carbon or coal

chiaroscuro

pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color

coaxingly

to encourage by gently urging by caressing or flattering

complicit

associating or participating in or as if in a wrongful act

conjunction

occurrence together in time or space

contemptuous

manifesting, feeling, or expressing deep hatred or disapproval

contingent

likely but not certain to happen

crepuscular

of, relating to, or resembling twilight

cretin

a stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person

cudgel

a short heavy club

culpable

meriting condemnation or blame especially as wrong or harmful

deification

the act or an instance of worshiping, regarding, or treating (someone or something) as a god

denizen

inhabitant

disposition

the act or the power of disposing or the state of being disposed

dissolution

separation into component parts

drudge

to do hard, menial, or monotonous work

ersatz

being an unusually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation

erudite

having or showing knowledge that is gained by studying

extol

to praise highly

filigree

ornamental work especially of fine wire of gold, silver, or copper applied chiefly to gold and silver surfaces

flotsam

floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo, or, more broadly, floating debris

frond

a large leaf usually with many divisions

genographer

a person who outlines the history of the behavior patterns of a family over several generations

goose

to poke between the buttocks with an upward thrust

griffin

a mythical animal typically having the head, forepart, and wings of an eagle and the body, hind legs, and tail of a lion

harangue

a speech addressed to a public assembly

helot

serf, slave

hoary

gray or white with or as if with age

hoover

to suck in or inhale as if by a vacuum cleaner

hymenoptera

describes a highly specialized insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis; includes bees, wasps, ants, and sawflies

ignoramus

an utterly ignorant person

ilk

sort, kind

immolate

to offer in sacrifice

impetuous

marked by impulsive vehemence or passion

incarnadine

having the pinkish color of flesh

inchoate

being only partly in existence or operation

innocuous

producing no injury

jute

the glossy fiber of either of two Asian plants of the linden family used chiefly for sacking, burlap, and twine

kleptomania

a persistent neurotic impulse to steal especially without economic motive

laconic

using or involving the use of a minimum of words to the point of seeming rude or mysterious

lassitude

a condition of weariness or debility

lubricious

marked be wantonness

luminous

emitting or reflecting usually steady, suffused, or glowing light

manticore

a legendary animal with the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the tail of a dragon or scorpion

mantid

describes a large usually green insect that feeds on other insects and clasps prey in its forelimbs held up as if in prayer

maxim

a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct

module

a standard or unit of measurement

muskox

a heavyset shaggy-coated wild ox of tundra regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska with males producing a strong musky odor from glands beneath the eyes

nirvana

a place or state of oblivion to care, pain, or external reality

Norn

any of the three Norse goddesses of fate

nostalgia

the state of being homesick

pastiche

a literary, artistic, musical, or architectural work that imitates the style of previous work

pedagogue

a dull or formal teacher

pibroch

a set of martial or mournful variations for the Scottish Highland bagpipe

plangent

having a loud reverberating sound

pompous

excessively elevated or ornate

prehensile

adapted for seizing or grasping especially by wrapping around

priapism

an abnormal often painful persistent erection of the penis

proteonome

the entire set of proteins expressed by a genome, cell, tissue, or organism

provenance

origin, source

pseudospeciation

cultural differences that are analogous to the formation of different biological species

pustulant

an agent (as a chemical) that induces pustule formation

quagmire

soft miry land that shakes or yields under the foot

raison d'être

reason or justification for existence

rank

offensively gross or coarse

reconnoiter

to engage in reconnaissance

repining

to feel or express dejection or discontent

reverie

daydream

riffle

to ruffle slightly

sere

being dry or withered

serendipity

the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for

slaver

drool or slobber

slog

to hit hard

sluice

an artificial passage for water (as in a millstream) fitted with a valve or gate for stopping or regulating flow

soothsayer

a person who predicts the future by magical, intuitive, or more rational means

spate

flood

splice

to unite by interweaving strands

stoic

one apparently or professedly indifferent to pleasure or pain

sublimation

the diversion of the expression of an instinctual desire or impulse from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable

subsidiary

furnishing aid or support

suttee

the act or custom of a Hindu widow willingly being cremated on the funeral pyre of her husband as an indication of her devotion to him

talisman

an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune

touch wood

wood so decayed as to be dry, crumbly, and useful for tinder

transgenic

being or used to produce an organism or cell of one species into which one or more genes of another species have been incorporated

truncheon

a shattered spear or lance

valance

a short drapery or wood or metal frame used as a decorative heading to conceal the top of curtains and fixtures

verdant

green in tint or color

vestigial

that which is trace, mark, or visible sign left by something (as an ancient city or a condition or practice) vanished or lost; the smallest quantity or trace

vetch

a herbaceous twining leguminous plant

vexation

the act of harassing

vile

morally despicable or abhorrent

viscid

having an adhesive quality

weltering

rising and falling or tossing about in or with the waves

winsome

generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence

woebegone

strongly affected with woe, sorrow, or misery

zenith

the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body