Study Help Full Glossary for Gulliver's Travels


aborigines of the land aborigines are the first or earliest known inhabitants of a region; here, meaning that the Yahoos were not native to the land of the Houyhnhnms — they came from some other location.

accoutred outfitted; equipped.

adamant a hard stone or substance that was supposedly unbreakable.

ague a fever, usually malarial, marked by regularly recurring chills.

ancient an ensign, or flag.

annual and diurnal motions active throughout the year and during the daytime; here, meaning the project required a time adjustment both yearly and during the day (because the project involved a sundial).

apophlegmatics medicines for eliminating excess phlegm.

arch boy a clever, crafty boy.

awl a small, pointed tool for making holes in wood, leather, etc.

battering the warrior's faces into mummy by terrible yerks smashing the enemy by using kicks to the head.

Bay of Campeche an arm of the Gulf of Mexico, west of the Yucatan peninsula.

the Black Bull in Fetter Lane a place of business (possibly a pub) leased by Gulliver.

a bowling green at Greenwich a smooth lawn at Greenwich, a borough of Greater London.

Bristol barrel a barrel made in Bristol, England.

buff jerkin a short, closefitting, sleeveless jacket or vest made of soft brownish leather.

by rapine or stealth rapine: the act of seizing and carrying off by force others' property.

cabal a small group of persons joined in a secret, often political, intrigue.

calcine ice to burn ice into powder.

calentures any fever caused, as in the tropics, by exposure to great heat.

caprices sudden, impulsive changes in the way one thinks or acts.

carabines (carbines) rifles with short barrels (cavalry rifles).

cephalalgics medicines for the treatment of headaches.

chancery the court of the Lord Chancellor of England.

circumlocutions roundabout, indirect, or lengthy ways of expressing something.

colossus a gigantic statue.

conceit an idea, thought, concept.

concupiscence strong desire; lust.

consorts seventeenth-century English chamber music ensembles, sometimes including vocalists.

copse a thicket of small trees or shrubs.

cordage cords and ropes collectively, especially, the ropes in a ship's rigging.

cudgel a short, thick stick or club.

culverins medieval muskets or heavy cannons.

custom-house officer an agent in a building or office where customs or duties are paid and ships are cleared for entering or leaving.

damage to the pile a pile is a long, heavy timber driven into the ground to support a structure; here, meaning that Gulliver did not want to damage the structural support of the Emperor's palace by stepping in the wrong place.

debauched led astray morally; corrupt; depraved.

declivity a downward slope or sloping, as of a hill.

demesnes lands or estates belonging chiefly to a lord and not rented or let but kept in his hands.

diuretic increasing the excretion of urine.

domestic spectres ghostly servants.

the Downs the locale of Gulliver's home in England.

draymen persons whose work involves hauling loads in a dray (a cart).

dugs a female animal's nipples, teats, or udder.

durst dared.

East and West Indies East: Malay Archipelago; especially, the islands of Indonesia; West: the large group of islands between North America and South America; it includes the Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, and the Bahamas.

encomiums formal expressions of high praise.

equipage furnishings; accessories.

espalier a lattice or trellis on which trees and shrubs are trained to grow flat.

expostulate to reason with a person earnestly, objecting to that person's actions or intentions.

express a special messenger; courier.

fortnight a period of two weeks.

fortnight a period of two weeks.

four hundred pounds for a portion The part of a man's money or property contributed by his bride; here, meaning Gulliver's dowry.

frog of the foot a triangular, horny pad in the posterior half of the sole of a horse's hoof.

gallants men attentive and polite to women.

gaming the act or practice of gambling.

Ganges a river in northern India, flowing from the Himalayas into the Bay of Bengal.

garret the space, room, or rooms just below the roof of a house; attic.

gimlet-holes holes made by a gimlet, a small boring tool with a handle at right angles to a shaft having at the other end a spiral, pointed cutting edge; here, meaning the holes bored in Gulliver's traveling box.

glimmerings of reason faint manifestations of rational thinking; here, meaning, that it might be possible for a Yahoo (Gulliver) to show some thinking ability.

hams the hocks or hind legs of a four-legged animal.

hanger a short sword, hung from the belt.

helot a member of the lowest class of serfs in ancient Sparta.

his white staff domestic staff; housekeepers.

hogshead a large barrel or cask holding from 63 to 140 gallons.

hosier a haberdasher, a person whose work or business is selling men's furnishings, such as hats, shirts, neckties, and gloves.

human ordure human excrement.

hundred leagues one league is about three nautical miles; here, meaning about 300 nautical miles.

icterics medicines for the treatment of jaundice.

in a close chair in an enclosed, one-person chair with glass windows, carried on poles by two men; a sedan chair.

in battalia in full battle dress.

indocible (indocile) not easy to teach or discipline.

Inquisition the general tribunal established in the thirteenth century by the Roman Catholic Church for the discovery and prevention of heresy and the punishment of heretics; here, meaning that Gulliver felt that if the society to which he was returning learned about where he had been and what he had seen and learned, then he would risk being treated like a heretic.

intromission insertion.

the King's levee a morning reception held by a sovereign or person of high rank upon arising.

kite any of various birds of prey (e.g., hawks, eagles) with long, pointed wings and usually a forked tail.

lappet a loose flap or fold of a garment.

latitude angular distance, measured in degrees, north or south from the equator.

the least tincture of reason the smallest trace of reason; here, meaning that European Yahoos have no more ability to reason than do the savage Yahoos.

leaving my family upon the parish leaving my family with no income; here, meaning Gulliver provides financial support for his family before leaving on his second voyage.

the lee-side of the island the side or direction away from the wind.

Leeward Islands a group of islands in the West Indies, extending from Puerto Rico southeast to the Windward Islands.

Levant region on the eastern Mediterranean, including all countries bordering the sea between Greece & Egypt.

the Line the equator.

linnet a kind of small finch.

Lisbon the capital of Portugal.

malicious insinuation an indirect and, in this case, spiteful suggestion or implication.

manikin (mannequin) a little man; dwarf; here, being a translation of the name Grildrig, the name given to Gulliver by the farmer's daughter.

the meanness of my condition my lowness in social status and rank; here, meaning that Gulliver was of humble origins and not of the nobility.

Molucca Islands group of islands of Indonesia, between Sulawesi & New Guinea.

nag a horse that is worn out, old, etc.

the natural pravity (depravity) of those animals the inherent corruption and wickedness, the basic nature, of the Yahoos.

naturally arched by the force of tempests the island had been shaped by the force of winds.

necromancy the practice of claiming to foretell the future by communication with the dead; here, meaning that Gulliver believes that this experience must be the result of some kind of magic — that it can't really be happening to him.

obeisances gestures of respect or reverence, such as a bow or a curtsy.

obsequious and subservient showing too great a willingness to obey and be submissive; here, meaning that these are two characteristics of the behavior of ministers in relation to the princes who govern them.

packthreads strong, thick thread or twine for tying bundles, packages, etc.

pastern the part of the foot of a horse just above the hoof.

pikes advanced a pike is a weapon used by foot soldiers, consisting of a metal spearhead on a long, wooden shaft; here, the weapons are held in an attacking position.

pillion a cushion attached behind a saddle for an extra rider.

play a jig to perform a fast, gay, springy sort of dance, usually in triple time.

pocket-glass a small telescope; spyglass.

pocket-perspective another type of spyglass.

postillion a person who rides the left-hand horse of the leaders of a four-horse carriage.

prodigy an extraordinary happening; here, meaning that a "brute animal" (the Yahoo, Gulliver) could show possibilities of being a "rational creature."

pudenda the external genitals of the female.

quadrant an instrument similar to the sextant, used by naivgators for measuring the angular distance of the sun, a star, etc. from the horizon.

rack a box of some type for holding grain or some other commodity.

raillery light, good-natured ridicule or satire; banter.

recluse a person who lives a secluded, solitary life; the kind of life hoped for by Gulliver at this time.

Redriff Gulliver's family's home (estate).

repletion the state of having eaten and drunk to excess.

retinue a body of assistants, followers, or servants attending a person of rank or importance.

royal diadems crowns.

rudiments of reason fundamentals of thinking; here, meaning that the Houyhnhnms felt that the Yahoo, Gulliver, might have the possibility of learning how to think.

scabbard a sheath or case to hold the blade of a sword.

schism a split or division in an organized group or society, especially a church, as the result of difference of opinion, of doctrine, etc.

scrofulous tumours swellings of the neck glands.

scrutore (escritoire) a writing desk or table.

the sentiments of Socrates as Plato delivers them Socrates (470-399 B.C.) was an Athenian philosopher and teacher of Plato (427-347 B.C.), the Greek philosopher whose writings often feature Socrates in philosophical dialogues.

several slender ligatures the ropes used to tie Gulliver to the ground.

sifted me to inspect or examine with care, as by testing or questioning; here, meaning the King asked many probing questions of Gulliver.

the Sign of the Green Eagle an inn where Gulliver performed.

Signet Royal an official seal.

a small convenient barque (bark) any boat, especially, a small sailing boat.

sold the lading sold the (ship's) cargo.

soporiferous medicine medicine that causes or tends to cause sleep.

sordid animal a dirty, filthy, squalid animal; here, meaning a Yahoo.

sorrel any of various short, coarse weeds.

spinet an early, small variety of harpsichord with a single keyboard.

splenetics irritable or spiteful people; here, another group of people whom Gulliver can avoid while living in the land of the Houyhnhnms.

springes snares consisting of a noose attached to something under tension, as a bent tree branch.

standing my trial facing my accusers.

summerset a somersault.

supplicating postures requests for help, as in a prayer-like position. Gulliver is humbly seeking rescue by the flying islanders.

Surat a seaport in western India, on the Arabian Sea.

their natural bent their natural tendency or inclination.

three tuns a tun is a large cask, especially for wine, beer, or ale.

ticking strong, heavy cloth, often striped, used for casings of mattresses, pillows, etc.

tincture a dye.

to alter my condition to marry.

Tonquin (Tonkin) the Gulf of Tonkin, an arm of the South China Sea between Hainan Island and the coast of southern China; here, the first port visited by the Hopewell.

towardly child a friendly child.

transcendentals philosophers who propose to discover the nature of reality by investigating the process of thought rather than the objects of sense experience.

trencher a wooden board or platter on which to carve or serve meat.

Van Diemen's Island former name for Tasmania.

varlet a scoundrel; knave.

veracity habitual truthfulness; honesty.

the verge the edge; here, meaning the edge of the Flying Island.

the vortices of Descartes, were equally exploded in Descartes' philosophy, a vortex is a whirling movement about an axis, that accounts for differences in kinds of material bodies, etc.; the meaning here is that Descartes's philosophical positions were refuted.

wattled built with wattles, a sort of woven work made of sticks intertwined with twigs or branches.

wen a benign skin tumor, especially of the scalp, consisting of a fatty cyst.

wherry a light rowboat used on rivers.

young princes of the blood the nobility; here, meaning the succession of royalty.