Study Help Full Glossary for The Poisonwood Bible


a-ana (Kikongo) Child.

Afrikaans A language that developed from 17th-century Dutch and is an official language of South Africa. Also called Taal.

akala (Kikongo) Man.

attaché A person officially assigned to the staff of a diplomatic mission to serve in a particular capacity: a cultural attaché; a military attaché.

aurora borealis Luminous bands or streams of light that are sometimes visible in the night skies of northern regions and are thought to be caused by the ejection of charged particles into the magnetic field of the earth. Also called northern lights.

authenticité (French) Authenticity.

babushka A woman's head scarf, folded triangularly and worn tied under the chin.

bákala mpandi (Kikongo) Good, strong man.

baki (Kikongo) Thief.

bàndika (Kikongo) To kill with an arrow; sex between a husband and wife.

bängala (Kikongo) Poisonwood tree.

bangala (Kikongo) Something precious and dear.

bantu (Kikongo) People.

barnstorming party To go about (the country) performing plays, giving lectures or campaign speeches, playing exhibition games, and so on, especially in small towns and rural districts. Originates from the use of barns as hangars in the early days of aviation, to tour (the country) giving short airplane rides, exhibitions of stunt flying, and so on.

batiza (Kikongo) To terrify.

báza (Kikongo) Twins.

Beelezi (Kikongo) Belgians.

béene (Kikongo) Truth.

béene-béene (Kikongo) As true as the truth can be.

bënduka (Kikongo) Any of a family (Hirundinidae) of small, swift-flying, insect-eating passerine birds with long, pointed wings and a forked tail, including the barn swallow and purple martin: most species migrate, often between widely separated summer and winter homes.

benduka (Kikongo) Crooked walker.

bidibidi (Kikongo) Bird.

bidila dipapfumu (Kikongo) Cemetery for ngana, religious leaders.

bikinda (Kikongo) Spirits of the dead.

biläla (Kikongo) Song of mourning.

braai (Afrikaan) Barbecue or party.

á bu (Kikongo) No matter; more or less.

cadeau (French) A gift or present.

casques bleus (French) Police with blue helmets.

citoyen (French) Citizen.

école secondaire (French) Secondary school such as a high school.

commerçant (French) Storekeeper or merchant.

Congo A country of west-central Africa with a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Called Zaire for many years. Now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

conniption Tantrum; fit of anger; hysteria.

de trop (French) Too much.

demijohn A large, narrow-necked bottle made of glass or earthenware, usually encased in wickerwork.

dikonko (Kikongo) Edible locusts and crickets.

dimba (Kikongo) Listen.

dundee (Kikongo) Several meanings, including an antelope, a small plant, a hill, and the price you pay for something.

exodus A departure of a large number of people. The Exodus marked the departure of the Israelites from Egypt.

Filaires Any of nematode worms that are parasitic in vertebrates and are often transmitted as larvae by mosquitoes and other biting insects. The adult form lives in the blood and lymphatic tissues, causing inflammation and obstruction that can lead to elephantiasis.

fufu (Kikongo) A staple food in the tropics made from the root of a scrub.

fufu nsala (Kikongo) Forest-dwelling, red-haired rat that prefers darkness.

fyata (Kikongo) Being poor, without money.

gree-gree (Kikongo) A charm worn around the neck to ward off evil.

hantu (Kikongo) A place or time.

hemiplegia Paralysis affecting only one side of the body.

hootenanny A meeting of folk singers, as for public entertainment.

ici (French) Here.

impala Medium-sized, reddish antelope of central and south Africa.

invertebrate zoology The study of animals that do not have a backbone or spinal column.

jezebel A loose, immoral woman.

Jim Crow laws The systematic practice of discriminating against and suppressing African Americans, following the Civil War and continuing until the Civil Rights Movement.

kakakaka (Kikongo) E.coli bacteria, which spreads a disease that causes the destruction of intestine; also means hurry up.

Khrushchev, Nikita Premier of the U.S.S.R. from 1958 to 1964.

kibáazu (Kikongo) A curse.

kintu (Kikongo) All animals or inanimate objects, things that are not muntu.

ko ko ko Sound made to simulate knocking on a door when the house does not have a door.

kukweka (Kikongo) Courtship ritual.

kuntu (Kikongo) The quality of being something: beautiful; hideous; lame; and so on.

kwashiorkor (Kikongo) Severe protein malnutrition, especially in children.

la cité (French) City.

léa (Kikongo) Nothing much.

leba (Kikongo) Fig tree.

l'enveloppe (French) Envelope.

lenzuka (Kikongo) People who are outcasts from the village because they are viewed as bad luck.

Livingstone, Dr. David A Scottish missionary and explorer in Africa.

maintenant (French) Now; at the present time.

malala (Kikongo) Oranges with blood-red juice.

malaria An infectious disease characterized by cycles of chills, fever, and sweating, caused by the parasitic infection that is transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito.

mama (Kikongo) Mother; also used before the name or title of a woman.

mamba Extremely poisonous African tree snakes similar to the cobras.

manene (Kikongo) Path or trail.

mangwansi (Kikongo) Green beans.

manioc A shrubby tropical American plant widely grown for its large, tuberous, starchy roots, which are eaten as a staple food in the tropics after leaching and drying to remove cyanide. Cassava starch is also the source of tapioca. Also called cassava.

mankondo (Kikongo) Bananas.

mankulu (Kikongo) Ancestors.

marchè (French) Marketplace.

martyrdom The suffering of death by a martyr; extreme suffering of any kind.

maw The mouth, stomach, jaws, or gullet of a voracious animal, especially a carnivore; the opening into something felt to be insatiable.

mawalalal (Kikongo) Rain in the distance that does not move toward you.

mbote (Kikongo) Hello or goodbye.

mbote ve (Kikongo) No good.

melee A noisy, confused fight or hand-to-hand struggle among a number of people.

midiki (Kikongo) Milk.

mondele (Kikongo) White daughter.

mongo (Kikongo) Mountain.

mookoo (Kikongo) One.

muntu (Kikongo) Any living, dead, or unborn person or a god.

mvúla (Kikongo) A pale white termite that comes out after a rain.

mvundla (Kikongo) Rabbit.

mwana (Kikongo) Children.

nanasi (Kikongo) Pineapple.

nanasi mputu Papaya.

ndolo (Kikongo) Rain.

ngana (Kikongo) Religious leader.

ngondi (Kikongo) Types of weather.

ngonndo (Kikongo) Red and black monkey.

nguba (Kikongo) Peanut.

nguka (Kikongo) Caterpillars.

nkazi ndolo (Kikongo) Gentle rain.

nkento (Kikongo) Woman.

nkisi (Kikongo) Charm made to ward off evil.

nkoko (Kikongo) River.

nkundi (Kikongo) Friend.

nommo (Kikongo) The force gives life; word.

nommo bandu (Kikongo) The littlest one on the bottom; the reason for everything.

nsongonya (Kikongo) Swarm of migratory ants that eat all vegetation and animals in their path.

ntu (Kikongo) Existing without nommo.

nuni ndolo(Kikongo) Thunderstorm.

nuus (Afrikaan) News.

nyoka (Kikongo) Snake.

nzolani (Kikongo) Most precious one.

nzole (Kikongo) A double-size pagne that symbolizes the unity of marriage.

nzolo (Kikongo) Dearly beloved.

okapi A forest mammal related to the giraffe but smaller and having a short neck, reddish-brown body, creamy white cheeks, and whitish stripes and bands on the legs.

pagne (Kikongo) Wax-printed fabric approximately 12 yards long that is wrapped around a woman's hip and tied at the waist.

palindrome A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward.

papier hygiénique (French) Toilet paper.

Piggly Wiggly Grocery store chain popular in parts of the United States.

pirogues A canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk.

poisonwood A medium-sized tree with poisonous sap that causes dermatitis.

prix-fixe (French) Fixed price.

pygmy A member of any of various peoples having an average height less than 5 feet; an individual considered to be of little or no importance.

quinine A bitter, colorless, amorphous powder derived from certain cinchona barks and used in medicine to treat malaria.

résidence (French) Home.

sarong A skirt consisting of a length of brightly colored cloth wrapped about the waist that is worn by men and women.

Schistosomiasis Any of various generally tropical diseases caused by infestation with schistosomes, characterized by infection and gradual destruction of the tissues of the kidneys, liver, and other organs. Also called bilharziasis, snail fever.

supplémentaire (French) Additional.

tata (Kikongo) Father; used before the name or title of a man.

tours de maître (French) Towers of the masters.

tribes of Ham The book of Genesis in the Bible refers to Noah's curse on Ham's son, Canaan, in which Noah condemns all of Canaan's descendents to a life of slavery.

tsetse flies Any of a family of small flies, including the species that carries the trypanosomes that causes sleeping sickness.

umvundla (Kikongo) Jungle rabbit.

vermifuges A medicine that expels intestinal worms.

Whipworm Roundworms with a whiplike front portion that is parasitic in the intestines of mammals.

zulu (Kikongo) Sky.

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