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Historical Context A Tale of Two Cities EXPLORING Novels. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context.  One page PDF.

dickens

Vocabulary Alphabetical

Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Prepared by Prof. Dick Bohrer
(www.dickbohrerbooks.com)

ABJECT (sunk to a low condition) – Monseigneur, the King, issued forth. Then what submission,
what cringing and fawning, what servility, what abject humiliation! (AB-jekt) [Latin abjectus,
abjicere to throw away.]
ADJURE (to appeal to; to charge) – With a hurried adjuration that his passengers be on the alert,
the guard readied his rifle and stood on the offensive. (aj-oo-RA-shun) [French adjurer; Latin
adjurare, adjuratum to swear to, to adjure.]
ADMONISH (scold, warn, reprove) – He would be lost in his thoughts until an impatient movement
from his fellow passengers would admonish him to close the window. (ad-MON-ish) [From
Old French, from Latin admonere, to remind, warn; from ad plus monere, to warn.]
AFFABLE (gracious) – Bestowing a word of promise here and a smile there, a whisper on one
happy slave and a wave of the hand on another, Monseigneur affably passed through his
rooms. (AF-a-b’l) [Old French; Latin affabilis, affari to speak to.]
ALLUSION (a reference to) – The allusion to Lucie served as a timely reminder to Darnay that this
disagreeable companion had, of his own free will, assisted him in the straight of the day.
(a-LU-zhun)[Latin allusio, from alludere to play with.]
ALTERCATION (a quarrel, a noisy or angry dispute) – The altercation was conducted in a low tone
of voice, and terminated in the honest tradesman’s kicking off his clay-soiled boots, and lying
down at his length on the floor. (al-ter-KA-shun) [Latin altercatus, altercari to dispute.]
AMICABLE (friendly, peaceable) – Madame Defarge and monsieur returned amicably to the heart
of the San Antoine district. (AM-i-ka-b’l) [Latin amicabilis friendly.]
ANIMATED (living, seeming alive, lively) – From being irresolute and purposeless, his feet became
animated by an intention, and, in the working out of that intention, they took him to the
doctor’s door. (AN-i-ma-ted) [Latin animare to make alive, to fill with breath.]
ANIMOSITY (strong hatred, ill will) – He showed such animosity to any display of her love of God
that for the sake of peace she did her praying in private. (an-i-MOS-i-ti) [French animosite;
Latin animositas boldness.]
ANTECEDENTS (previous history, immediate ancestry) – It was the first time the wine had ever
been so complimented, and Madame Defarge knew enough of its antecedents to know better.
(an-ti-SEE-dents) [Latin antecedens, antecedere going before in time, prior, preceding.]
APHORISM (short pithy sentence, proverb) – Old Bailey, London’s court of justice, was a choice illustration
of the aphorism, “Whatever is, is right.” (AF-o-riz’m) [From French; from Greek
aphorismos definition, pithy sentence, from aphorizein to define, from apo and horizein to separate.]

VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 2
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
APPARENT (clear to the understanding) – That he had no recollection whatever of his having been
brought from his prison to that house was apparent to them. (a-PAR-ent) [Old French
aparant, aparvir.]
APPELLATION (name or designation) – His surname was Cruncher, and when he was christened,
he received the added appellation of Jerry. (ap-el-A-shun)
APPREHENSIONS (misgivings) – “If there were—any apprehensions against the man she really
loved, – the direct responsibility thereof not lying on his head—they should all be obliterated
for her sake.” (ap-re-HEN-shuns)
ASSIDUOUS (busy) – Madame Defarge knitted assiduously on her register. (a-SIJ-you-us) [Latin
assiduitas constant presence.]
ATTENUATED (made thin) – The bronze face, the shaggy black hair and beard, the coarse woolen
red cap, the rough medley dress of home-spun stuff and hairy skins of beasts, the powerful
frame attenuated by spare living, inspired the mender of roads with awe. (a-TEN-u-a-tid)
[Latin attentuatas, attenuare to make thin.]
AUSPICIOUS (favorable, of good omen) – He had been the prisoner’s friend, but, at once in an
auspicious and an evil hour detecting his infamy, had resolved to immolate the traitor he
could no longer cherish in his bosom, on the sacred altar of his country. (aw-SPISH-us)
[French; from Latin auspicium, from auspex a bird seer, from avis bird and spicere to see.]
BACCHANALIAN (noisily drunken, carousing) – The learned profession of the Law was certainly
not behind any other learned profession in its Bacchanalian propensities. (bak-a-NAY-leean)
[Latin; Greek characteristic of Bacchus, the Roman and Greek wine god.]
BLIGHTED (ruined, withered) – He sat by a newly-lighted wood fire (the blighted and unfruitful
year was prematurely cold), and on his honest and courageous face there was a deeper
shade than the pendent lamp could throw, or any object in the room distortedly reflect—a
shade of horror. (BLITE)
CADAVEROUS (ghastly) – The face of the old man was a cadaverous color. (ka-DAV-er-us) [Latin,
cadere, to die; suggestive of death; of deathly pallor; emaciated, gaunt.]
CARRION (putrefying flesh of a carcass) – A loud buzz was heard as the crowd swept into the
streets as if the baffled blueflies were dispersing in search of other carrion. (KAR-ee-on)
[Old North French caroigne, ultimately from Latin caries, decay.]
CESSATION (a ceasing, a stopping) – The stillness, consequent on the cessation of the rumbling
and laboring of the coach, added to the stillness of the night, and made it very quiet indeed.
(se-SA-shun) [French, from Latin, cessatio, from cessare, to cease.]
CHASTE (modest, restrained, simple in style, not ornate) – It took four men, all four ablaze with gorgeous
decoration, emulating noble and chaste fashion set by the King, to conduct the happy
chocolate to the King’s lips. (CHASTE) [Middle English; Old French chaste; Latin castus
chaste, pure.]
COERCION (force) – In the submissive way of one long accustomed to obey under coercion, he ate
and drank what they gave him to eat and drink. (ko-ER-shun) [Latin coercere, from co and
arcere to shut up, press together.]
COGITATE (ponder, think) – Jerry sat on his father’s empty bench, took up his father’s halfchewed
piece of straw, and cogitated. (KOJ-i-tate) [Latin cogitatus, cogitare to reflect upon.]
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 3
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
COMMISERATION (pity) – There was much commiseration for Lucie Manette as she was carried
unconscious from the courtroom. (kom-miz-er-A-shun) [Latin commiserates to pity.]
COMPLACENT (self-satisfied) – Sydney Carton looked at his punch and looked at his complacent
friend, drank his punch and looked at his complacent friend. (kom-PLA-sent) [Latin complasens,
complacere to be very pleasing, to be pleased with.]
COMPOSURE (calmness) – Madame Defarge was stout, her eyes watchful, her hand heavily
ringed, her face steady, her features strong, her manner one of great composure. (kom-POshur)

CONSTRAINT (embarrassed manner) – His constraint was so manifest that it originated in an unwillingness
to approach the subject. (kon-STRAINT) [Old French constreinte, constraindre to
bind together.]
CONTRABAND (smuggled) – The soldiers marched into the slums in search of contraband goods.
(KON-tra-band) [From French, from Italian contrabando, from contra against plus bando proclamation.]

CONVERSANT (familiar with a thing or subject) – Mr. Charles Darnay was established in England
as a higher teacher of the French language who was conversant with French literature.
(kon-VER-s’nt) [Old French; from Latin conversans, converseri to associate with.]
COUNTENANCE (facial expression) – A cloud, dark and heavy, settled on the sacred countenance
of Saint Antoine—for cold, dirt, sickness, ignorance and want were the lords in waiting on
the saintly presence. (KOWN-te-nens) [Old French countenance, demeanor, from Latin continentia,
continence, continere, to hold together, repress.]
CULPABLE (deserving blame) – Good Miss Pross! She wept as if the estrangement between her
brother and herself had come of any culpability of her own. (KUL-pa-b’l) [Old French coupable;
from Latin culpabilis, from culpare to blame, from culpa fault.]
DECOMPOSE (decay) – At Tellson’s your banknotes had a musty odor, as if they were fast decomposing
into rags again. (de-kom-POZ) [French decomposer.]
DEFERENCE (honor) – Jerry took the letter and, mumbling to himself with less internal deference
than he made an outward show of, made his bow and went his way. (DEF-er-ens) [French
deferer to pay deference, yield.]
DEMEANOR (conduct, behavior, bearing, carriage) – Something especially reckless in his demeanor
gave Sidney Carton a disreputable look. (di-MEE-nor) [From Middle English demeanure; Old
French demener to lead, drive; from Later Latin minare conduct.]
DEMUR (pause, objection) – After some delay and demur, the guard grudgingly opened the door
and let Jerry squeeze himself into court. (de-MUR) [Old French demurer, demorer to linger,
stay, from Latin demorari, from de and morari to delay, stay.]
DEPLORABLE (sad, wretched) – The deplorable peculiarity regarding his voice was that it was the
faintness of solitude and disuse. (de-PLOR-a-b’l) [French deplorer, from Latin deplorare, to cry
out, lament.]
DEPRECATE (to express disapproval) – Young Jerry strongly deprecated any praying his mother
might do. (DEP-re-kate) [Latin deprecatus, deprecari to avert by prayer; from de and precari to
pray.]
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 4
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
DEPRIVATION (the state of having lost something forcibly, a loss) – The uncontrollable and hopeless
mass of decomposition so engendered by the refuse would have polluted the air, even if
poverty and deprivation had not loaded it with their intangible impurities. (dep-ri-VA-shun)
[Later Latin deprivatio; Middle English depriven; Old French depriver, to deprive, separate.]
DERIDE (ridicule) – The position appeared by no means to please the solitary occupant of the
hearse with the increasing rabble surrounding the coach, deriding him. (de-RIDE) [Latin
deridere, derisum to laugh.]
DESPONDENT (disheartened, discouraged, dejected) – The Marquis was as elegantly despondent as
he could becomingly be, of a country still containing himself, that great means of regeneration.
(dee-SPON-dent) [Latin despondere to lose heart.]
DETEST (hate) DETESTATION (hatred) – “Detestation of the high is the involuntary homage of the
low,” said the Marquis. (de-TEST) (de-tes-TA-shun) [French detester; from Latin detestari to
curse while calling a deity to witness.]
DISCERNIBLE (distinguishable) – No crowd was about the door; no people were discernible at any
of the many windows. (di-SERN-i-b’l) [Old French discerner; from Latin discerrnere to distinguish.]

DISCOURSE (conversation) – He kept up in his mind an imaginary discourse with the wretched
creature. (DIS-kors) [French discourse, from Latin disqursus, from discurrere, discursum, to run
to and fro; from dis plus curare, to run.]
DISCREET (prudent, showing discernment) – “He is as he was when I first saw him,” whispered Defarge.
“They demanded to know if I would take him, and, at my peril be discreet.” (disKREET)
[Old French discret, from Latin, discretus, discern.]
DISREPUTABLE (not respectable) – Something especially reckless in his demeanor gave Sidney
Carton a disreputable look. (dis-REP-u-ta-b’l)
DISSIMULATION (hypocrisy) – The Court, from that exclusive inner circle to its outermost rotten
ring of intrigue, corruption, and dissimulation was gone—had left France—altogether. (disSIM-u-lay-shun)
[Latin dissimulatus, dissimulare not like, not similar.]
DISSOLUTE (loose in morals and conduct) – “Well! At any rate you know me as a dissolute dog,
who has never done any good, and never will,” confessed Carton to Darnay. (DIS-o-lute)
[Latin dissolutus, dissolvere to loosen.]
DISTORT (twist out of shape, change the usual appearance of) – On his face there was a deeper shade
than any object in the room could distortedly reflect—a shade of horror. (dis-TORT) [Latin
distorquere to twist.]
DOGGEDLY (stubbornly) – “I will do nothing for you, Darnay,” Defarge doggedly rejoined. (DOGid-lee)
[Old Norman, dugga, a headstrong, stubborn person.]
DOLOROUS (painful) – “From this prison here of horror, whence I every hour tend nearer and
nearer to destruction, I send you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, the assurance of my
dolorous and unhappy service,” concluded Gabelle. (DO-ler-us) [Old French; Latin dolor,
dolere to suffer.]
DUBIOUS (doubtful) – “Oh, dear me!” cried Mr. Lorry, rubbing his chin and looking at his visitor
dubiously. (DU-bee-us) [Latin dubiosis, from dubium doubt, from duo two.]
EFFICACY (effectiveness) – Her husband, afraid of the efficacy of his wife’s prayers, refused to let
her pray. (EF-i-ka-si) [Latin efficacies, efficere to bring to pass.]
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 5
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
ELICIT (to draw forth, to evoke) – The Marquis went up the stairs from his carriage sufficiently
disturbing the darkness to elicit loud remonstrance from an owl in the roof of the great pile
of stable-building away among the trees. (ee-LIS-it) [Latin elicitus, elicere to draw out.]
EMACIATED (withered) – His emaciated hand and fingers clutched the bricks as he sought to escape
down the wall. (e-MA-she-ate-ed) [ Latin emaciates, participle of emaciare, to make lean;
e plus maciare, to make lean; from macies, leanness.]
EMBELLISHMENT (adornment) – Tellson’s (they said) wanted no elbow room, Tellson’s wanted
no light, Tellson’s wanted no embellishment. (em-BELL-ish-ment) [Old French embellir beautiful.]

EMULATE (to strive to equal or excel) – It took four men, all four ablaze with gorgeous decoration,
emulating the noble and chaste fashion set by the King, to conduct the happy chocolate to
the King’s lips. (EM-u-late) [Latin aemulatus, aemulari, aemulus trying to equal or excel.]
ENGENDER (to produce) – As an emotion of the mind will express itself through any covering of
the body, so the paleness which his situation engendered came through the brown upon his
cheek, showing the soul to be stronger than the sun. (en-JEN-der) [Old French enjendrer;
from Latin ingenerare to beget.]
EPOCH (period of time) – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of unbelief. (EP-ok) [Middle Latin, epocha, from Greek epoche stop, from
epochein to hold on, check; from epi, echein to hold.]
ESTRANGEMENT (alienation of affections, separation) – She wept as if the estrangement between
her brother and herself had come of any culpability of her own. (es-TRANJ-ment) [Old
French estranger to remove; Later Latin extraneare to treat as a stranger.]
EVANESCENCE (vanishing, disappearing) – The watch seemed to be pitting its gravity and longevity
against the levity and evanescence of the fire. (ev-a-NES-ens) [Latin, evanescere, from e,
out and vanescere, to vanish; from vanus, empty, vain.]
EVINCE (show) – The messenger rode back at an easy trot, stopping often to drink, but evincing a
tendency to keep his own counsel. (e-VINS) [Latin evincere, to vanquish completely, prevail,
prove; e, out, quite, plus vincere, to vanquish.]
EXPEDITIOUSLY (efficiently, with rapid action) – While he was gone, his fellow passengers had
expeditiously secreted their wallets and watches in their boots. (eks-pa-DISH-us-lee) [Acting
or carried out with speed and efficiency.]
EXPLICIT (exact) – “Be explicit,” said the doctor. “Spare me no detail.” (eks-PLIS-it) [Latin explicitus,
explicare to unfold.]
EXPOSTULATE (to object, to reason earnestly) – “Feelings! I have no time for them, no chance of
them,” Mr. Lorry expostulated. “I pass my whole life, Miss, in turning an immense pecuniary
mangle.” (eks-POS-tyu-late) [Latin expostulatus, expostulare, to demand vehemently,
strongly, to require.]
EXTEMPORIZE (improvise, to make without preparation) – At Tellson’s your mortgages got into extemporized
strong-rooms made of kitchens and pantries. (eks-TEM-po-riz) [Latin from ex
out and tempore, ablative of tempus time.]
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 6
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
EXUDING (discharging through the pores) – These three young gentlemen Mr. Stryver, exuding patronage
of the most offensive quality from every pore, had offered as pupils to Lucie’s husband,
delicately saying, “Halloa! Here are three lumps of bread and cheese for your matrimonial
picnic, Darnay.” (eks-OOD-ing) [Latin exudare, exudatum to sweat out.]
FAWN (to lick the hand, to cringe, to shrink to act timid) – Then what submission, what cringing and
fawning, what servility. (FAWN) [Middle English; Anglo Saxon fagnian to rejoice.]
FEIGN (pretend) – Monsieur Defarge feigned not to notice the elderly gentleman and the young
lady. (FANE) [Old French feindre, feignant; from Latin fingere, to form, shape , invent.]
FERRET (to search out) – The accuser, claiming patriotism as his motive, had ferreted out the nature
of the prisoner’s schemes. (FER-it) [Old French fuiret, furet; from Later Latin furo, from
Latin fur thief.]
FORAY (short excusion or raid) – Young Jerry would stand by to replace his father when not engaged
in making forays through the streets to inflict bodily and mental injury of an acute
description on passing small boys. (FOR-ay) [Old French forrer to pillage.]
FURTIVE (sly, stealthy) – The only ray of hope that Mr. Lorry could discover was, that he sometimes
furtively looked up without being asked. (FUR-tiv) [French furtif; from Latin furtivus,
furtum theft, from fur thief.]
GAUNT (forbidding, grim) – There was no one bidden to the marriage but Mr. Lorry; there was
even to be no bridesmaid but the gaunt Miss Pross. (GONT) [-]
GLIB (speaking smoothly, flippant, pert) – Mr. Stryver was a glib man, unscrupulous, ready, bold.
(GLIB) [Danish glibberig slippery, glibber jelly.]
GLOWERING (scowling, staring with anger) – The people croaked over their scanty measures of
food and drink and were gloweringly confidential together. (GLOU-er-ing) [Middle English,
gloren.]
GRAVITY (earnestness, the state of being grave) – The watch seemed to be pitting its gravity and
longevity against the levity and evanescence of the fire. (GRAV-i-tee) [Latin gravitas, weight,
heaviness, gravis, heavy.]
GREGARIOUS (tending to assemble or herd together) – Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher both looked
to the right and to the left, into most of the shops they passed, with a wary eye for all gregarious
assemblages. (gre-GARE-i-us) [Latin gregarious, gregis herd, flock.]
HARLEQUIN (a comic figure in many-colored clothes) – Mr. Cruncher reposed under a patchwork
counterpane, like a Harlequin at home. (reposed=lay quietly, counterpane=quilt)(HAR-lakwin)
[French harlequin, arelquin; from Italian arlecchino; from old French Herlekin a demon,
goblin.]
HOMAGE (reverential regard) – Madame Defarge acknowledged the bows and homage of the three
customers by bending her head. (OM-ij) [Old French from Middle Latin hominaticum, from
Latin homo, a man, Middle Latin also, a client, vassal.]
IMMOLATE (sacrifice) – Detecting his infamy, he had resolved to immolate the traitor. (IM-o-late)
[Latin immolatus, immolare to sacrifice; originally to springle with sacrificial meal, from im in
and molagrits mixed with salt.]
IMPASSIVE (not showing emotion, calm, serene) – Madame Defarge met the lifted eyebrows and
forehead with a cold, impassive stare. (im-PASS-iv) [Latin not passive.]
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 7
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
IMPLACABLE (immovable, not subject to pressure) – Monsieur Defarge was good-humored-looking
on the whole, but implacable-looking too. (im-PLAK-a-bl) [Latin implacabilis, in not plus
pacabilis, placable.]
IMPLICIT (unquestioning) – She could scarcely answer her father, “I trust you—implicitly.” (imPLIS-it)
[French; Latin implicitus, implicare to entwine.]
INCLEMENT (stormy) – When it was not too wet or inclement for her child to be with her, they
went together; at other times she was alone; but she never missed a single day. (in-CLEMent)
[Latin inclemens not mild.]
INCOMMODIOUS (not spacious, inconveniently small) – Tellson’s Bank was very small, very dark,
very ugly, very incommodious. (in-com-O-dee-us) [French, from commode convenient; from
Latin commodus measure, mode.]
INCORRIGIBLE (unmanageable, unruly) – “You have no business to be incorrigible,” was his
friend’s answer, delivered in no very soothing tone. (in-KOR-i-ji-b’l) [French; Latin corrigere
to correct.]
INCUMBENT (obligatory) – By this time Lucie trembled under such strong emotion that Mr.
Lorry felt it incumbent on him to speak a word or two of reassurance. (in-KUM-bent) [Latin
incumbens, incumbere, to press upon.]
INEXORABLE (inflexible, willfully immovable) – The inexorable fact of the existence of God cannot
be overcome by any of man’s own theories. (in-EKS-o-ra-bl) [Latin inexorabilis, in, not,
plus exorabilis, responsive to intreaty.]
INFAMY (disgrace, dishonor, baad reputation) – Detecting his infamy, he had resolved to immolate
the traitor. (IN-fa-mi) [French infamie, from Latin infamia infamous.]
INFRACTION (the act of breaking, breach) – A rose lay beside her, and if she now and then glanced
at the flower, it was with no infraction of her usual preoccupied air. (in-FRAK-shun) [Latin
infractus, infringere to break, impair.]
INJUNCTIONS (commands) – Thus the evening wore away with the Cruncher family, until Young
Jerry was ordered to bed, and his mother, laid under similar injunctions, obeyed them. (inJUNGK-shuns)
[Later Latin injunctio, injungere to join.]
INSCRUTABLE (unexaminable; incomprehensible) – The inscrutable secrets of many men’s minds
go with them to their graves. (in-SCROO-ta-bl) [Later Latin inscrutabilis – in, not, plus scrutabilis,
scrutiny, no close examination to minute detail.]
INSINUATION (a sly suggestion) – Had he ever been a spy himself? No, he scorned the base insinuation.
(in-sin-u-A-shun) [Latin insinuatus, insinuare to introduce by windings and turnings.]
INTANGIBLE (not material, not capable of being touched) – The uncontrollable and hopeless mass
of decomposition so engendered by the refuse would have polluted the air, even if poverty
and deprivation had not loaded it with their intangible impurities. (in-TANJ-i-b’l) [Later
Latin tangibilis, from in not and tangere, to touch.]
INUNDATION (flood, overflow) – Here and there, especially at first, the inundation started on
them and swept by; but when they had done descending the dark passage of the Bastilla,
and were winding and climbing up a tower, they were alone. (in-un-DA-shun) [Latin unundatus,
from inundare to rise in waves, to overflow.]
INVARIABLY (without exception, constantly) – He had pleasure in the mere sound of his daughter’s
voice, and invariably turned to it when she spoke. (in-VAR-ee-a-blee)
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 8
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
INVIOLATE (unharmed, unimpaired) – The man sitting as President informed Doctor Manette that
Charles Darnay must remain in custody, but should, for his sake, be held inviolate in safe
custody. (in-VI-o-late) [Latin violatus, violare, inviolatus, not to violate, not to harm.]
IRRESOLUTE (vacillating, shifting in opinion, wavering in decision) – From being irresolute and
purposeless, his feet became animated by an intention, and, in the working out of that intention,
they took him to the doctor’s door. (ir-REZ-o-lute)
JOCOSE (witty, joking) – The little wood-sawyer put his ten fingers before his face to represent
bars, and peeped through them jocosely. (jo-KOSE-lee) [Latin jokosus, from jocus joke.]
JUDICIOUS (wise) – “Now a judicious selection from Tellson’s important books and papers in
Paris with the least possible delay and getting them out of harm’s way, is within the power
of scarcely anyone but myself,” declared Mr. Lorry. (joo-DISH-us) [French judicieux judgment.]

LACONIC (concise, terse, brief) – “That’s a fair young lady to bid farewell to, Mr. Darnay!” A
slight frown and a laconic “Yes,” were the answer. (lay-KON-ik)[Latin, laconicus, laconian, a
Laconian, a Spartan.]
LANGUISH (to lose force or vitality) – Country airs circulated in Soho with vigorous freedom instead
of languishing into the parish like a stray pauper without a settlement. (LANG-wish)
[Old French languir, from Latin languere to be languid.]
LAUDABLE (praiseworthy) – “Having supposed that there is sense where there is no sense, and a
laudable ambition, I am well out of my mistake and no harm is done.” (LAW-da-b’l) [Old
French laude; from Latin laus, laudis glory, praise.]
LETHARGY (a state of inaction) – He had gradually drooped to the floor and lay there in a lethargy,
worn out. (LETH-er-ji) [Old French litartie; from Later Latin lethargia; from Greek lethargia,
lethargos forgetful, from lethe forgetfulness.]
LEVITY (lightness, gaiety, frivolity) – The watch seemed to be pitting its gravity and longevity
against the levity and evanescence of the fire. (LEV-i-tee) [Old French and Latin, levitas, levis
light.]
LONGEVITY (long life) – The watch seemed to be pitting its gravity and longevity against the levity
and evanescence of the fire. (lon-JEV-i-tee) [Latin, longaevitas, longaevus; longus, long
plus aevum, age.]
MAGNANIMOUS (great of mind, honorable) – Mr. Stryverr, having made up his mind to that
magnanimous bestowal of good fortune on the doctor’s daughter, resolved to make her
happiness known to her before he left town for the Long Vacation. (mag-NAN-i-mus) [Latin
magnanimus, from magnus great and animus mind.]
MALIGN (to speak evil of) – He had never been suspected of stealing a silver teapot; he had been
maligned respecting a mustard pot, but it turned out to be only a plated one. (ma-LINE)
[Old French maligne, malin; from Latin malignus, from maligenous of a bad kind or nature,
from malus bad and genous the root of genus meaning race, kind.]
MANIFEST (obvious, clear, plain, evident) – His constraint was so manifest that it originated in an
unwillingness to approach the subject. (MAN-i-fest) [Middle English; Old French manifestus
struck by the hand, near at hand, palpable, evident.]
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 9
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
MEAGRE (thin, sparse) – The butcher had only the leanest scraps of meat to sell and the baker
only the coarsest of meagre loaves. (ME-ger) [Old French megre, maigre, from Latin, macer,
lean.]
MOROSE (glum, sullen) – “Why, I have been ashamed of your moroseness there at the Manette
home!” said Mr. Stryver to Carton. (mo-ROS) [Latin morosus manner, habit, way of life.]
NONDESCRIPT (no particular kind) – These were the times when you could not tell who, from the
landlord to the lowest stable nondescript, was an honest man and who was a criminal.
(NON-de-script) [Latin, non not, descriptus described, not described.]
OBLITERATED (erased, blotted out) – “If there were—any apprehensions against the man she
really loved—the direct responsibility thereof not lying on his head, they should all be obliterated
for her sake.” (o-BLIT-er-a-ted) [Latin obliterare to blot out a letter.]
OBSCURITY (hidden or remote state) – Only long habit could have formed in anyone the ability to
do any work requiring skill in such obscurity. (ob-SCU-ri-ti) [French obscure, from Latin obscurus,
covered.]
OBSEQUIOUS (a revealing of one’s sense of inferiority in the presence of one’s superiors; fawning) –
Monsieur Gabelle had come out with great obsequiousness to assist at this examination,
and had held the examined by the drapery of his arm in an official manner. (ob-SE-kwi-us)
[French obsequieux; from Latin obsequiosis compliance, from obsequy to comply with, to follow.]

OPIATE (a narcotic) – Like the presence of pain under an opiate, the events of the past days were
always with him. (O-pee-ate)
OSTENSIBLE (apparent, professed) – Jerry Cruncher was brushed and washed at the usual hour,
and set off with his son to pursue his ostensible calling. (os-TEN-si-b’l) [French; from Latin
ostendere to show or to stretch out before.]
OSTENTATIOUS (showy, pretentious) – “Now, don’t let my announcement of the name make you
uncomfortable, Sydney,” said Mr. Stryver, preparing him with ostentatious friendliness
for the discourse he was about to make. (os-ten-TA-shus) [French; from Latin ostentatio unnecessary
show.]
PALPABLE (readily visible) – Madame Defarge knitted steadily, but the news that Lucy Manette
was to marry the present Marquis had a palpable effect upon her husband. (PAL-pa-b’l)
[Old French; from Later Latin palpabilis, from palpare to feel, stroke.]
PATRONAGE (good will shown to people considered one’s inferiors, condescension) Mr. Stryver exuded
patronage of the most offensive quality from every pore. (PAY-tron-ij) [Middle English
patronagium, patron father.]
PECUNIARY (relating to money) – “Feelings! I have no time for them, no chance of them,” Mr.
Lorry expostulated. “I pass my whole life, Miss, in turning an immense pecuniary mangle.”
(pa-KYU-ne-a-ree) [Latin pecuniarius, from pecunia money – originally property in cattle, from
pecus, cattle.]
PERCEPTION (consciousness) – After some minutes had passed, the haggard eyes looked up again,
not with any interest or curiosity, but with a dull mechanical perception. (per-SEP-shun)
[Old French and Latin, perseptio.
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 10
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
PERNICIOUS (highly injurious, causing injury) – It was charged that the prisoner had long been engaged
in pernicious missions of a traitorous character. (per-NISH-us) [French pernicieux;
from Latin perniciosus, from pernicies destruction, death.]
PISCATORY (fish-like) – The air among the houses was of so strong and piscatory flavor that one
might have supposed sick fish went up to be dipped in it as sick people went down to be
dipped in the sea. (PIS-ka-to-ree) [Latin piscatorius, derived from piscis, fish.]
PLACID (undisturbed) – The sun rose, bright, placid and beautiful. (PLA-sid) [Latin, placidus, from
placere, to please.]
PLAINTIVE (melancholy) – The plaintive tone of her compassion merged into the less musical
voice of the Judge, as he said, something fiercely, “Answer the questions put to you, and
make no remark upon them.” (PLAIN-tiv) [Old French plantif mournful.]
POLTROON (coward) – “It would be easier for the weakest poltroon that lives, to erase himself
from existence, than to erase one letter of his name or crimes from the knitted register of
Madame Defarge.” (pol-TROON) [French poltroon; from Italian poltrone sluggard, coward,
also idle, lazy, from poltro bed.]
PRECIPITATE (hurl headlong) – “Ah, but he would be well-content to precipitate himself over the
hillside once again, as on the evening when he and I first encountered—the evening he
killed the Marquis.” (pre-SIP-i-tate) [Latin praecipitatus, praecipitare to precipitate, from praeceps
headlong.]
PRECOCIOUS (early in development) – Mr. Stryver laughed, till he shook his precocious paunch.
(pre-KO-shus) [Latin praecox, praecocis, from procoquere to cook or ripen beforehand.]
PREVARICATE (to lie, to speak evasively) – “Now, what I would humbly offer to you, sir,” pursued
Mr. Cruncher, “even if it was so, which I don’t say it is—”
“Don’t prevaricate,” said Mr. Lorry. (pre-VAR-i-kate) [Latin praevaricatus, praevaricari
to walk crookedly, collude (connive), from prae and vicare to straddle.]
PRODIGIOUS (extraordinary, vast) – “What strength there is in these common bodies!” the Marquis
said, looking at the patient with some curiosity.
“There is prodigious strength,” I answered him, “in sorrow and despair.” (pro-DIJus)
[Latin prodigiosus, from prodigium a prodigy.}
PROPENSITIES (a natural inclination, a liking, a bent, a bias) – The learned profession of the Law
was certainly not behind any other learned profession in its Bacchanalian propensities.
(pro-PEN-si-tees) [Latin propensus, propendere to hang forward.]
PROPITIATE (appease, pacify, calm) – Monsieur the Marquis cast his eyes over the submissive
faces that drooped before him, as the like of himself had drooped before Monseigneur of
the Court—only the difference was, that these faces drooped merely to suffer and not to
propitiate. (pro-PISH-i-ate) [Latin propitiatus, propitiare to propitiate, from propitius favorable.]

RECOMPENSE (a return for something, a reward) – “Jerry, you honest tradesman,” he mumbled to
himself, “there’s hopes wot that boy will yet be a blessing to you, and a recompense to you
for his mother.” (REK-om-pens) [Old French recompenser; from Latin recompenare to compensate.]

VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 11
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
REDUNDANT (superabundance) – The wood-sawyer, who was a little man with a redundancy of
gesture (he had once been a mender of roads) cast a glance at the prison. (re-DUN-dant)
[Latin redundans, redundare to overflow.]
REFRACTORY (obstinate, stubborn) – The officiating undertakers made some protest against these
changes in the ceremonies, but the river being alarmingly near, and several voices remarking
on the efficacy of cold immersion in bringing refractory members of the profession to
reason, the protest was faint and brief. (re-FRAC-to-ree) [Latin refractarius stubborn.]
REGENERATION (rebirth) – The Marquis was as elegantly despondent as he could becomingly be,
of a country still containing himself, that great means of regeneration. (re-JEN-er-A-shun)
[Latin regeneratus, regenerare rebirth.]
REITERATE (repeat) – On those few steps of his dangerous way, Charles Darnay had set his foot
according to Doctor Manette’s reiterated instructions. (re-IT-er-ate) [Latin reiteratus, reiterare
to say again.]
REJOIN (answer) – “I willl do nothing for you, Darnay,” Defarge doggedly rejoined. (re-JOIN)
[French, rejoinder to join.]
REMONSTRANCE (protest) – The Marquis went up the stairs from his carriage sufficiently disturbing
the darkness to elicit loud remonstrance from an owl in the roof of the great pile of
stable-building away among the trees. (re-MON-strans) [Old French.]
REPARABLE (capable of being remedied) – “I fear he is not to be reclaimed; there is scarcely a
hope that anything in his character or fortunes is reparable now,” said Lucie to Charles.
(REP-a-ra-b’l) [Latin reparabilis to mend.]
RETROSPECT (review of the past) – “It—can’t—be,” muttered Sydney Carton retrospectively.
“Can’t—be. Spoke good French. Yet like a foreigner, I thought.” (RET-ro-spect) [Latin retrospicere,
from retro back and specere, spectum to look.]
RUMINATE (ponder) – Having smoked his pipe out, and ruminated a little longer, Jerry turned
himself about that he might appear, before the hour of closing, on his station at Tellson’s.
(ROO-mi-nate) [Latin ruminatus, ruminari, from rumen throat.]
SAGACITY (cleverness, wisdom, shrewdness) – Whether he knew what had happened or whether
he knew that he was free, were questions which no sagacity could have solved. (sa-GAS-i-ti)
[Latin sagax, sagacis.]
SCAVENGERS (people, animals, things that clean up refuse and filth) – Not only did all the wine get
sopped up off the street, but so much mud got taken up along with it, that one might have
supposed that there had been a scavenger in the street. (SKAV-en-jers) [Middle English
scavanger, an officer who inspects.]
SELF-ABNEGATING (self-renouncing) – Mr. Lorry shook hands in a self-abnegating way, as one
who shook for Tellson and Company. (self-AB-ne-ga-ting) [Latin, abnegatus, abnegare to
deny.]
SENSUALITY (fondness for indulging in lustful pleasures) – “I have had unformed ideas of striving
afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned
fight,” said Sydney Carton. (SEN-shoo-AL-i-tee) [French sensual; Latin sensualis sense, feeling.]

SERVILE (slavish) – Then what submission, what cringing and fawning, what servility. (SER-vile)
[Middle English servylle; from Latin servus a slave.]
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 12
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
SLOTH (laziness) – “I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off
sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight,” said Sydney Carton. (SLOTH)
[Middle English slou slow.]
SOLILOQUY (a monologue) – The guard, mumbling to himself a gruff soliloquy, eyed with suspicion
the conversation between his passenger and the messenger. (so-LIL-o-kwee) [Later
Latin soliloquium, from solus, alone and loqui, to speak.]
SONOROUS (resonant) – He had a loud watch which ticked a sonorous sermon under his flapped
waistcoat. (so-NOR-us) [Latin, sonorous, from sonor plus oris, a sound.]
SPECULATE (meditate, ponder) – Although fatigued, he would not sleep and sat there, content to
speculate on the two slumbering forms. (SPEK-u-late) [Latin speculatus, speculari, to spy out,
observe.]
STAID (grave, serious, sedate) – Soho was a cool spot, staid but cheerful, a wonderful place for echoes,
and a very harbor from the raging streets. (STAYD)
STOLID (not easily excited) – He emptied his cup with an air of stolid desperation and followed the
anxious waiter out of the room. (STOL-id) [Latin stolidus.]
STRAIGHT (distress, difficult time) – The allusion to Lucie served as a timely reminder to Darnay
that this disagreeable companion had, of his own free will, assisted him in the straight of
the day. (STRATE) [Middle English streght; Anglo Saxon streht, to stretch.]
SUPERCILIOUS (haughtily contemptuous, proud) – Madame Defarge looked superciliously at the
client, and nodded in confirmation. (soo-per-CIL-ee-us) [Latin supercilius from supercilium an
eyebrow, pride, from super over and cilium eyelid.]
SUPERSCRIBE (to write on the top of, to address the outside of) – The ancient clerk deliberately
folded and superscribed the note. Latin superscribere to write over.]
SUPPLICATORY (beseeching, praying) – “Pray,” said Mr. Lorry in a soothing tone, bringing his
left hand from the back of the chair to lay it on the supplicatory fingers, “pray control your
agitation—a matter of business.” (SUP-lick-a-to-ree) [Latin supplicatus, supplicare, to supplicate,
from sub and plicare, to fold under, bend under.]
SUPPRESS (compose, restrain) – Mr. Lorry’s face was habitually suppressed and quieted. (suPRES)
[Latin suppressus, suprimere, to suppress.]
TIMOROUS (fearful, timid) – “I remember both my fellow passengers to have been—like myself—
timorous of highwaymen,” said Mr. Lorry. (TIM-or-us) [Old French timoureus, temerous;
from Later Latin timorosus, from Latin timor fear.]
TREPIDATION (fearful agitation) – Mrs. Cruncher rose from her knees in a corner with sufficient
haste and trepidation to show that she was the one he was accusing. (trep-i-DA-shun) [Latin
trepidation, trepidare to tremble, from trepidus disturbed, alarmed.]
TRIUMVIRATE (group of three) – He fell into discourse with the triumvirate of customers who
were drinking at the counter. (tri-UM-ver-ut) [Latin, from trium virorum, of three men.]
TURBID (dirty and disturbed) – Mr. Stryver shouldered his way through the law, like some great
engine forcing itself through turbid water, and dragging his useful friend in the wake, like
a boat towed astern. (TUR-bid) [Latin turbidus, from turbare to disturb, from turba a disorder,
tumult, crowd.]
VOCABULARY LISTS FROM THE TALE OF TWO CITIES BY CHARLES DICKENS 13
PREPARED BY PROF. DICK BOHRER
UBIQUITOUS (present everywhere at the same time) – The coffin was a ubiquitous fiend too, for,
while it was making the whole night behind him dreadful, he darted out into the roadway
to avoid dark alleys from which it might jump out. (yoo-BIK-wi-tus) [Latin ubique everywhere.]

UNSCRUPULOUS (not restrained by ideas of right and wrong, having no moral principles) – Mr.
Stryver was a glib man, unscrupulous, ready, bold. (un-SCRU-pyoo-lus)
VEHEMENCE (impetuous force, fervor) – The crowd came pouring out of Old Bailey with a vehemence
that nearly took Jerry off his legs. (VE-hem-ens) [French vehement; from Latin vehemens,
vehere to carry.]
VENERABLE (old and respectable) – Those venerable and feeble persons (clerks at Tellsons) were
always seen by the public in the act of bowing, and were popularly believed, when they had
bowed a customer out, still to keep on bowing in the empty office until they bowed another
customer in. (VEN-er-a-b’l) [Old French; from Latin venerabilis to be reverenced.]
VINDICATE (defend or avenge) – Miss Pross uttered a scream and dropped her hands, startling
the wine-shop patrons into believing that somebody was assassinated by somebody, vindicating
a difference of opinion. (VIN-di-kate) [Latin vindicatus, vindicare to lay claim to, defend,
avenge.]
VOLUBLE (talkative) – The response of the patrons was very voluble and very loud. (VOL-u-b’l)
[French; Latin volubilis easily turned about, from volutes to roll, turn about or around.]

Resources in the Library

bloom-tale

Call #: 823.8 CHA edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom.
Series: Modern critical interpretations
Published 1987