Study Help Full Glossary for The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave


aft toward the back of a boat.

Alexandrian Library the greatest library in the classical world, located in northern Egypt, on the Mediterranean Sea.

arraigned before a court charged with an offense in court.

ascertain to make certain.

blasphemy profane, a sacrilege.

blighting a scourge, devastation.

bow the forward end of a boat.

brethren brothers; fellow members.

calk (or caulk) to waterproof; to make watertight.

Charles Renox Remond (1810-1873) another black orator who toured with Douglass, giving anti-slavery speeches.

chattel belongings; property; slaves.

Columbian Orator a collection of classic speeches, dialogues, and plays edited by Caleb Bingham and published in 1797. Douglass patterned his own lectures after these classic speeches.

desolate a deserted place.

digressing rambling.

divest her of this heavenly quality take away the goodness in her.

ell about 45 inches; a British unit of measurement.

flagellation flogging.

forte strength.

gnats insects or flies, especially those that are bloodsucking.

gratification enjoyment and satisfaction.

gup a swindler or cheater.

habiliments clothing.

a halter about their neck a rope around their neck, or in danger of death.

He that knoweth . . . many stripes. The passage is from Luke 12:47.

"I was hungry . . . he took me in." The passage is from Matthew 25:35.

imbibe to absorb; to take part in.

Jack and Nell . . . Tony, Doll, and Sam names representative of slaves.

Jacob Jepson a rich slave owner, a neighbor of Colonel Lloyd's.

jargon idioms; words used within a subculture.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) American abolitionist and poet. Douglass quotes from Whittier's poem "The Farewell: Of a Virginia Slave Mother to her Daughter Sold into Southern Bondage."

larboard the left-hand side of a ship, facing forward.

manifestation a show, or demonstration.

motes specks of dust.

MS the abbreviation for manuscript.

natural elasticity the ability to absorb tension; a resilience to harshness.

odiousness contemptible, detestable.

offal parts of an animal killed for food, which are thrown away.

overseer one who manages slaves and keeps them well disciplined and productive.

Patrick Henry (1736-1799) an American revolutionary, famous for his "Give me liberty or give me death" stance.

perdition hell.

Pharisees followers of an ancient Jewish sect, advocating strict observance of traditions and laws of the Hebrew faith. Jesus condemned them as hypocrites. Here, Douglass is comparing Christian slaveholders to Pharisees.

Pilate and Herod the Roman governor and ruler of Galilee, respectively, who condemned Christ to the Cross.

profligate dissipation extravagant spending.

quailed to be afraid; to show a loss of courage.

religious sanction Divine authorization.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) an Irish playwright who argued for Irish emancipation from English rule.

rod five and a half yards.

schooner a ship with two or more masts, as well as fore and aft sails.

servile subservient, submissive.

a severe cross indeed a heavy burden.

sloop a single-masted sailing boat.

starboard the right-hand side of a ship, facing forward.

stern harsh.

vestige a remnant; a trace of.

votaries people devoted to a cause or religion.