aloof distant in sympathy, interest, etc.; reserved and cool.
Auburn a city about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento, California.
bemused plunged in thought; preoccupied.
bindle [Slang] a bundle, as of bedding, carried by a hobo.
booby hatch [Slang] an institution for the mentally ill.
bucking grain bags throwing heavy burlap bags of grain into a truck or wagon.
California civil code a book of civil law for the state of California.
cat house [Slang] a house of prostitution.
'coons short for "raccoons."
derision contempt or ridicule.
derogatory disparaging; belittling.
euchre a card game.
four-taloned Jackson fork a hay fork with four prongs, for lifting large amounts of hay.
graybacks [Slang] lice.
heron any of various wading birds with a long neck, long legs, and a long, tapered bill, living along marshes and river banks.
"he's eatin' raw eggs" refers to the notion that eating raw eggs increases sexual performance.
hoosegow [Slang] jail.
"in the pitcher" "in the picture;" here, meaning in the movies.
in the ring in the sport or profession of boxing.
jack [Old Slang] money.
jack-pin a metal or wooden pin used to fasten ropes to a ship.
jailbait [Slang] a young woman, considered a potential sexual partner, who has not reached the age of consent.
jerk-line skinner the main driver of a mule team, who handles the reins (jerk-line).
juncture a point or line of joining or connection.
kick off die.
meager of poor quality or small amount; not full or rich.
morosely sullenly; gloomily.
mottled marked with blotches, streaks, and spots of different colors or shades.
mule a lounging slipper that does not cover the heel.
nail keg a barrel for holding nails.
"on the wheeler's butt" on the rump of the wheel horse, the horse harnessed nearest the front wheels of a vehicle.
pugnacious eager and ready to fight; quarrelsome; combative.
pulp magazine a magazine printed on rough, inferior paper stock made from wood pulp, usually containing sensational stories of love, crime.
"rabbits in" [Slang] jumps in.
raptly with a completely absorbed or engrossed look.
recumbent biologically designating a part that leans or lies upon some other part or surface.
reprehensible deserving to be rebuked or scolded.
ringer a horseshoe thrown so that it encircles the peg.
"roll your hoop" a reference to a child's game. Candy is saying Curley's wife is just a child.
sacking a cheap, coarse cloth woven of flax, hemp, or jute.
Sacramento capital of California.
Salinas city in west central California, near Monterey.
Salinas River a river that flows through Soledad and into Monterey Bay.
San Quentin a state prison, now closed, in the harbor of San Francisco.
"she got the eye" said of Curley's wife, meaning that she flirts and is interested in men other than her husband.
skinner [Informal] a (mule) driver.
slang past tense of "sling," meaning to cast out; in this case, give birth to.
slough get rid of; in this case, to fire.
Soledad a coastal California city about 130 miles south of San Francisco.
stable buck reference to Crooks, who is responsible for taking care of the horses.
stake a share or interest, as in property, a person, or a business venture.
swamper here, a general handyman and person responsible for cleaning out the barn.
sweat-band a band, as of leather, inside a hat to protect the hat against damage from sweat.
tart a promiscuous woman.
temple dancer a dancer known for delicate hand movements.
tick the cloth case or covering that is filled with cotton, feathers, hair, etc. to form a mattress or pillow.
"to bind her" to make a down payment.
took a powder [Slang] ran away; left.
Weed a northern California mining town.
welter short for "welterweight," a boxer between a junior welterweight and a junior middleweight.
whitewashed painted with a mixture of lime, whiting, size, water, etc.
work card a card with a job assignment usually given to workers by an employment agency. It is then presented to the employer by the worker.
"writin' to the patent medicine houses" here, meaning that Curley is writing to mail-order businesses for medicines that increase sexual performance.