Study Help Full Glossary for The Grapes of Wrath


babbitt a soft white metal of tin, lead, copper, and antimony in various proportions, used to reduce friction as in bearings.

bandanna a large, colored handkerchief, usually with a figure or pattern.

barbarians people regarded as primitive, savage, and so on.

belligerently in a hostile or quarrelsome manner.

boil an inflamed, painful, pus-filled swelling on the skin, caused by localized infection.

bolls the roundish seed pods of a plant, especially of cotton or flax.

Bolshevicky here refers a member of the Bolshevik party, a majority faction (Bolsheviki) of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, which formed the Communist Party after seizing power in the 1917 Revolution.

boxcars fully enclosed railroad freight cars.

carrying charges the costs associated with property ownership, as taxes, upkeep, and so on.

cat slang for Caterpillar: trademark for a tractor equipped on each side with a continuous roller belt over cogged wheels, for moving over rough or muddy ground.

cat-walk a narrow, elevated walk or platform, as one along the edge of a bridge or over the engine room of a ship.

chambray a smooth fabric of cotton, made by weaving white or unbleached threads across a colored warp: used for dresses, shirts, and so on.

Cherokee a member of a North American Indian people formerly inhabiting a large area of the south Allegheny Mountains, now in Oklahoma and North Carolina.

clout power or influence.

con-rod bearing a reciprocating rod connecting two or more moving parts of a machine, as the crankshaft and a piston of an automobile.

cord any force acting as a tie or bond.

coroner a public officer whose chief duty is to determine the causes of any deaths not obviously due to natural causes.

corrugated iron sheet iron or steel with parallel grooves and ridges to give it added strength in construction.

cottonwood a rapidly growing lowland tree.

coupe a closed, two-door automobile.

Cracker Jack trademark for a confection of sweet, glazed popcorn and peanuts.

crags steep, rugged rocks that rise above others or project from a rock mass.

croppers sharecroppers.

croquet an outdoor game in which the players use mallets to drive a wooden ball through a series of hoops placed in the ground.

cultivators implements or machines for loosening the earth and destroying weeds around growing plants.

culvert a pipe-like construction of stone, concrete, or metal, that passes under a road, railroad track, footpath, or through an embankment.

cynically in a manner that indicates a belief that people are motivated in all their actions only by selfishness.

denunciation a public accusation or strong condemnation of someone or something.

Depression the period of economic depression which began in 1929 and lasted through most of the 1930s.

diesel a type of internal-combustion engine that burns fuel oil.

disconsolately so unhappy that nothing will comfort; inconsolable; dejected.

dispossessed deprived of the possession of something, especially land, a house, and so on.

dogs slang term for feet.

drawers underpants with either short or long legs.

Dutch-oven a metal container for roasting meats, with an open side placed so that it is toward the fire.

eddied moved with a circular motion against the main current.

embalming the process of treating a dead body with various chemicals, usually after removing the viscera, to keep it from decaying rapidly.

epaulets shoulder ornaments for certain uniforms, especially military uniforms.

exhortation a plea or sermon urging or warning people to do what is required.

fallow land plowed but not seeded for one or more growing seasons, to kill weeds, make the soil richer, and so on.

feral untamed; wild.

ferment to excite; agitate.

fetid having a bad smell, as of decay.

flagged sent (a message) by signaling.

foxtails plants with cylindrical spikes bearing spikelets interspersed with stiff bristles.

freshets a sudden overflowing of a stream because of melting snow or heavy rain.

gaunt thin and bony.

gelding a castrated male horse.

Geronimo (c. 1829-1909), Apache Indian chief.

gingham a yarn-dyed cotton cloth, usually woven in stripes, checks, or plaids.

graft the act of taking advantage of one's position to gain items such as money and property dishonestly, as in politics.

hackles the hairs on a dog's neck and back that bristle, as when the dog is ready to fight.

hams a) the backs of the thighs; b) the thighs and buttocks together.

handbill a small printed notice or advertisement to be passed out by hand.

harrows frames with spikes or sharp-edged disks, drawn by a horse or tractor and used for breaking up and leveling plowed ground, covering seeds, rooting up weeds, and so on.

haycocks small, conical heaps of hay drying in a field.

head of wild oats the uppermost part of a plant's foliage.

heliograph a permanent image formed on a glass plate by an early photographic process.

hobnailed describing boots or heavy shoes with short, broad-headed nails in the soles.

Hooverville any of the encampments of displaced persons especially prevalent during the 1930's; "Hoover" is a reference to the President of the United States at the time, Herbert Hoover.

intermittent stopping and starting at intervals.

J.P. Morgan (1867-1943) U.S. financier; known as "Jack," to distinguish from his better-known father, J.P. "Pierpont" Morgan.

jack [old slang] money.

jalopy [slang] an old, ramshackle automobile.

Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826), American statesman, third president of the United States (1801-1809), drew up the Declaration of Independence.

Jehovites members of a proselytizing Christian sect founded by Charles T. Russell (1852-1916).

jimson weed a poisonous annual weed.

kerosene lamps lamps that burn kerosene, a thin oil distilled from petroleum or shale oil.

lemon [slang] something, especially a manufactured article, that is defective or imperfect.

Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich (1870-1924), Russian leader of the Communist revolution of 1917, premier of the U.S.S.R. (1917-1924).

levee an embankment built alongside a river to prevent high water from flooding bordering land.

lifer [slang] a person sentenced to imprisonment for life.

lodge a local chapter of a fraternal organization.

lynchin' to murder (an accused person) by mob action and without lawful trial, as by hanging.

mallet a long-handled hammer with a cylindrical wooden head, used in playing croquet.

Marx, Karl (Heinrich) (1818-1883), German social philosopher and economist, in London after 1850, founder of modern socialism.

McAlester State Penitentiary near McAlester, Oklahoma.

meerschaum a soft, claylike, heat-resistant mineral used for tobacco pipes.

meetin' an assembly or place of assembly for worship.

migrant a farm laborer who moves from place to place to harvest seasonal crops.

Mother Hubbard a full loose gown for women.

muslin any of various strong, often sheer cotton cloths of plain weave; especially, a heavy variety used for sheets, pillowcases, and so on.

nestin' to place or settle; in or as in a nest.

newsreel a short motion picture of recent news events, shown as part of the program in motion picture theaters.

oat beard a hairy outgrowth on the head of certain grains and grasses.

Okie a migratory agricultural worker, forced to migrate from Oklahoma or other areas of the Great Plains because of drought and farm foreclosure in the 1930s.

"on-relief" aid in the form of goods or money given, as by a government agency, to persons unable to support themselves.

Paine, Thomas (1737-1809), American Revolutionary patriot, writer, and political theoretician, born in England.

panhandle a strip of land projecting like the handle of a pan. Here refers to the western extension of Oklahoma.

pauper any person who is extremely poor.

pellagra a chronic disease caused by a deficiency of nicotinic acid in the diet and characterized by gastrointestinal disturbances, skin eruptions, and mental disorders.

perplexity the condition of being perplexed; bewilderment; confusion.

Pilgrim's Progress a religious allegory by John Bunyan (1678).

pone cornbread in the form of small, oval loaves.

premium an additional amount paid or charged.

prodigal here refers to the wastrel son in biblical scripture who was welcomed back warmly on his homecoming in repentance (Luke 15:11-32).

proprietor one who owns and operates a business establishment.

Purty Boy Floyd infamous Depression-era bank robber; known for his kindness to poor people.

pustules small elevations of the skin containing pus.

putrescence the state or condition of something that is decomposing or rotting.

quarantine any isolation or restriction on travel or passage imposed to keep contagious diseases, insect pests, and so on from spreading.

rakishly dashingly; jauntily.

red agitators political radicals or revolutionaries, especially applied to Communists, who stir up people in support of a cause.

repel to drive or force back; hold or ward off.

salts refers here to smelling salts; an aromatic mixture, used as an inhalant in relieving faintness, headaches, and so on.

Salvation Army an international organization for religious and philanthropic purposes among the very poor.

Sam Browne belt a military officer's belt with a diagonal strap across the right shoulder, designed to carry the weight of a pistol or sword.

self-abasement a humbling or abasement of oneself.

serfs persons in feudal servitude, bound to a master's land and transferred with it to a new owner.

service clubs clubs, such as Rotary and Kiwanis, organized to provide certain services for their members and to promote the community welfare.

servile humbly yielding or submissive.

shim a thin, usually wedge-shaped piece of wood, metal, or stone used for filling space, leveling, and so on, as in masonry.

shirtwaist a woman's blouse or bodice tailored more or less like a shirt.

shuck to remove a shell, pod, or husk.

side-meat meat from the side of a pig; specifically, bacon or salt pork.

sidled moved sideways, especially in a shy or stealthy manner.

signet ring a finger ring containing a seal, often in the form of an initial or monogram.

single-action Colt a type of revolver invented by American Samuel Colt (1814-1862) — the hammer must be cocked by hand before each shot.

singletree a wooden bar swung at the center from a hitch on a plow, wagon, and so on, and hooked at either end to the traces of a horse's harness.

skitters slang term for diarrhea.

spam trademark for a kind of canned luncheon meat made from pieces of seasoned pork and ham pressed into a loaf.

speaking in tongues ecstatic or apparently ecstatic utterance of usually unintelligible speechlike sounds, as in a religious assembly, viewed by some as a manifestation of deep religious experience.

squatters persons who settle on public or unoccupied land.

St. Louis Fair the World's Fair of 1900 held in St. Louis, Missouri. The World's Fair is an exposition at which arts, crafts, industrial, and agricultural products of various countries of the world are on display.

stereopticon a kind of slide projector designed to allow one view to fade out while the next is fading in.

stir-bugs [slang] prison inmates.

straw bosses supervisors who have little or no authority to support their orders.

strike a concerted refusal by employees to go on working in an attempt to force an employer to grant certain demands, as for higher wages, better working conditions, and so on.

strikebreaking the act of one who attempts to break up a strike, often by intimidating striking workers.

syphilis an infectious venereal disease usually transmitted by sexual intercourse or acquired congenitally.

tappet a sliding rod in an engine or machine moved by intermittent contact with a cam and used to move another part, as a valve.

tarpaulin a waterproof sheet spread over something to protect it from getting wet.

Tehachapi mountain just east of Bakersfield.

tenant a person who farms land owned by another and pays rent in cash or in a share of the crops.

to act flip [colloq.] to act flippantly or impertinently.

touring car an early type of open automobile, often with a folding top, seating five or more passengers.

truck skinner a skinner is a mule driver; here refers to a truck driver.

tunics short coats worn by soldiers, policemen, and so on.

two bits [informal] 25 cents.

two-by-four any length of lumber two inches thick and four inches wide when untrimmed.

union something united or unified; a whole made up of parts; esp. an organization or confederation uniting various individuals, political units, and so on.

vagrant one who wanders from place to place without a regular job, supporting oneself by begging.

vigilantes members of vigilance committees, groups that keep order or punish crime without legal authority.

win'fall peaches here refers to windfall peaches; something blown down by the wind, as fruit from a tree.