Hemingway's Short Stories By Ernest Hemingway Study Help Full Glossary for Hemingway's Short Stories

Anatolia the great plains area of Turkey.

the attack The setting of this story is northern Italy during World War I; an Italian town has been attacked by an Austrian military offensive.

bal musette a public dance hall.

ballet skirts During the time that Hemingway wrote the story, Greek troops in the mountains wore uniforms exactly like Hemingway describes.

beggar the word Hemingway originally used was "bugger," a derogatory British term for someone or something disagreeable; however, the term is also synonymous with a sodomite, which was distasteful to Hemingway's editor — thus his substitution of "beggar." Remember that this story was originally published in 1936; today, in the United States, we casually use the term "bastard" with the same non-literal frequency.

big birds here, vultures, carrion eaters attracted to Harry's rotting flesh.

big log booms a chain of floating logs making a barrier to enclose other free-floating logs.

a black band the black cloth band that the major wears around the upper part of his arm of his uniform, signifying that he is in mourning.

Black's a home remedy medical book.

bodegas cafes serving alcoholic beverages.

boric boric acid, a mild disinfectant.

Bosphorus the strait that separates Asia from Europe, made famous by Romantic poets who would try to swim across.

boucherie chevaline a horse butcher; in many parts of Europe, horse meat is eaten quite commonly.

buffalo the buffalo mentioned in this story is nothing like the American buffalo, or bison. The Cape Buffalo is a large, horned creature that is considered by hunters to be the most dangerous of all African big game. It is mean and cunning and extremely strong, invulnerable to all but the best-placed shots.

burnt timber The reference is to the forest fire that destroyed vast acres of woodland, as well as the town of Seney, Michigan.

Bwana "Mister" or "Master"; a term of respect.

Bwana Mister, or master; a term of respect.

cant-hooks wooden levers with movable metal hooks near one end that are used for handling logs.

the car-tracks The reference is to electric streetcar tracks.

cesarean a surgical incision made through the abdomen and uterus to deliver a baby when vaginal delivery is dangerous to both mother and baby.

cheesecloth coarsely, loosely woven gauze.

Chesterton G. K. Chesterton, a British novelist and poet.

Christian Scientist a follower of Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), an American religious leader.

cinders burned remains.

Communards After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1871), a communal government, in opposition to the national one, was set up in Paris. There followed a brief civil war; afterward, 17,000 Parisian followers of the Communards were executed, including women and children. Hemingway is referring to the descendants of these people.

concierge the manager of an apartment house in Europe.

condensed milk canned milk.

Constantine officers At the time, these royal officers bore the name of the king of Greece, King Constantine.

Constantinople the former name for what is now Istanbul.

convex having a surface that bulges outward.

cord wood a pile of logs that will be used for burning in a fireplace.

court games squash, handball, and other games played in exclusive men's clubs.

Crillon a well-known Paris hotel, used frequently in Hemingway's works.

cross-cut saw a saw for cutting wood against the grain.

The Dark Forest a novel by the British author Horace Walpole.

daughter's debut a monied coming-out party for a young lady, to formally introduce her to high society.

the Ebro a river in northeastern Spain; the second longest river in Spain.

the express a direct, non-stop train.

eye teeth the canine, or pointed and conical, teeth located in the upper jaw.

femme de ménage a housekeeper.

.505 Gibbs a very large caliber hunting rifle. While his clients may use smaller guns, a safari guide must carry a sure killer in case the amateur misses and he must make the kill at the last moment — as in the case of Macomber and the lion.

a fly an artificial fishing lure, often resembling an insect.

Forest Lovers a novel written by Maurice Hewlitt and published in 1898. In the story, Bill has recommended that Nick read this novel, whose plot includes a young man breaking off his relationship with a girl of lesser social status.

Garde Republicaine resplendently uniformed troops that guarded the French Parliament.

giant killer liquor; in this case, Scotch whiskey.

the Giants the New York Giants, a Major League baseball team from 1902-32.

gimlet a popular British colonial drink made from gin and lime juice. Originally it was believed that gimlets were good for staving off scurvy. Since then it has become a popular American drink and is often made with vodka and lime juice.

gut shot a shot into the stomach of an animal.

half-breed a derogatory term used to refer to a person of mixed racial ancestry, especially American Indian and Caucasian.

haversacks bags carried over only one shoulder to transport supplies.

He who ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city. The quotation is from the Bible, Proverbs 16:31-32.

Heinie Zim Heinie Zimmerman, a Chicago Cubs baseball player; he was traded to the New York Giants.

hombre man

impala a type of antelope that makes prodigious leaps to see if enemies are near. It is very similar to the eland antelope.

in the fall possibly an autumn during 1918, the last year of World War I. Hemingway was injured in July 1918 while delivering chocolates and cigarettes to Italian soldiers stationed on the Piave River.

inflation Germany suffered a terrible inflation in the middle 1920s and was eventually helped economically to recover by the United States and its so-called Dodge Plan.

interne a recent graduate of medical school undergoing hands-on, practical training.

ivresse drunkenness.

jack pines North American evergreens with soft wood and short, twisted needles.

jodpurs A type of trousers, named after the Indian state of Jodhpur, they end right below the knee and flare around the hips.

Kaiser Jagers Alpine troops.

Karagach a town in Turkey.

Kikuyu a member of a Kenya tribe.

Kilimanjaro the highest peak in Africa, approximately 19,317 feet.

kippers and coffee the British are fond of kippered herring — brine-soaked and smoked filets of fish, served most often for breakfast.

Kirsch a cherry-flavored liquor.

Klim trade name for a kind of powdered milk (spell it backward).

kosher convent To most people, a convent is associated with Catholicism; here, Max jokes that Al, probably Jewish, would have to be in a "kosher" convent; kosher is Yiddish for food that is ritually clean, according to dietary laws.

L'Auto a Paris newspaper devoted to sports news.

leaders lengths of wire or gut or nylon connecting hooks to fishing lines.

locataire a tenant.

lorry British for truck.

louts awkward and stupid people.

Mackinaw coat a short, double-breasted coat of heavy, plaid woolen material.

Mannlicher an expensive German hunting rifle.

marc a kind of brandy.

Martin Johnson an American hunter and motion picture producer who made many films about big game hunts.

Mathiaga Club a big game hunters club in Nairobi, Kenya. White hunters are professional hunters/guides who arrange and accompany clients on big game hunts, or safaris.

McGraw John J. McCraw, manager of the New York Giants.

Memsahib "Lady" in Swahili; a title of respect derived from a Hindu word.

Memsahib a Hindustani word meaning "lady."

milt fish sperm, along with seminal fluid.

mosquito bar a net on a bar hung over a cot to keep out insects, particularly mosquitoes.

mosquito boots loose boots into which trousers are tucked.

mustard gas an oily, highly flammable liquid; it was used during World War I as a chemical weapon.

muzzle of a sawed-off shotgun the firing end of the gun.

Nairobi the capital of Kenya.

Nansen Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1938), Norwegian Arctic explorer, scientist, statesman, and humanitarian. During the period that Hemingway was writing this story, Nansen was high commissioner of refugees for the League of Nations.

odor Gangrene is literally a putrefaction, emitting a horrible, rotten stench.

offal intestines or waste parts of butchered fish.

Paul Verlaine French poet (1844-96); considered one of the greatest poets of the nineteenth century.

peat decayed, partly decomposed grass and weeds matter found in bogs; it is used for fertilizer.

peroxide a substance such as sodium peroxide that cleanses a wound.

pesata a coin of small value.

a plug of tobacco a dense piece of chewing tobacco.

quid slang for the British pound, a currency that — at the time of this story — was worth approximately five dollars.

Richard Feverel an 1859 novel by the British author George Meredith.

sans voir French for the concept of "not seeing."

saucers In various cities in Europe, drinks are served on saucers; when refills are ordered, saucers are placed atop one another; when one pays the bill, the waiter counts the number of saucers.

Schwarzwald The Black Forest of Bavaria, in the southern part of Germany.

shanties crudely built cabins, or shacks.

shot buckshot.

shrapnel an artillery shell filled with metal balls that explode in the air and rip into flesh.

Simplon-Orient Also known as the Orient Express, it was, in its heyday, the most famous and elegant train on any continent.

skischule German for a skiing school.

sportifs the sporting kind.

Spur and Town and Country Two "high society" magazines.

squaw an offensive term used to refer to a Native American woman or wife.

St. Ignace a resort town on the southeast part of the northern peninsula of Michigan.

stern the rear part of a boat.

stick bomb German hand grenades had handles; during World War II, the Allies often referred to them as "potato mashers."

stick bombs hand grenades with handles.

striking Here, the reference is to fish taking the bait.

Swahili the so-called "lingua franca," or universal language used through South Central Africa — Kenya, Zaire, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and along the trading coast. Swahili is a mixture of native dialects (principally Bantu) with some Hindi, German, French and English added to it.

swale a slightly lower tract of land either created or caused by running water.

Thrace A section of Greece, it was the scene of fighting between the Greeks and the Turks in 1922.

Tommies The reference is to the Thompson's gazelle, a small antelope.

trolling fishing by trailing a baited line from behind a slow-moving boat.

the ventral fin A fin situated on or close to the abdomen of a fish.

Voix The reference is to the town of Charlevoix, located in northern Michigan.

Vorarlberg, Arlberg winter resorts in the Austrian Tirol country.

weinstube German for a tavern that specializes in various wines.

white elephant something of little or no value.

wicket here, a small gate separating the kitchen from the dining room of the diner.

wildebeeste Dutch for wild beast, a form of gnu or antelope that is found in Africa.

windy British slang for "nervous."

wireless British for "radio."

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

In "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," the young waiter says "an old man is (complete the sentence)"




Quiz