Full Glossary for Slaughterhouse-Five
Adolphe Menjou (1890–1963) twentieth-century film actor known for his character roles; among his films are I Married a Woman (1958) and Step Lively (19441).
Appomattox a town in south-central Virginia; on April 9, 1865, at the Appomattox Courthouse, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, ending the American Civil War.
Ausable Chasm Located in northeast New York, the chasm was caused by the plunging Ausable River, creating spectacular waterfalls, rushing rapids, and fantastic rock formations.
Balkanized a term originally referring to the political division of the Balkans in the early twentieth century; today, it means dividing a region or territory into small units.
bandsaw a power saw for woodworking, consisting of a toothed metal band coupled to and driven around two wheels.
Barca-Lounger an upholstered lounge chair similar to a La-Z-Boy recliner.
the battle for Hill 875 near Dakto a battle during the Vietnam War beginning November 3, 1967, and lasting 22 days.
the Battle of the Bulge the last German offensive on the Western Front during World War II, occurring between December 16, 1944, and January 16, 1945, in the Ardennes region of southern Belgium; "Bulge" refers to the wedge that the Germans drove into the Allied lines before being repulsed back.
Breslau also known as Wroclaw, a city in southwest Poland; assigned to Poland by the Potsdam Conference.
Bronze Star a U.S. military decoration awarded either for heroism or for meritorious achievement in ground combat.
The Brothers Karamazov Written by the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky and first published between 1879 and 1880, this novel addresses one dysfunctional family's search for values and unity.
Buchenwald a village in central Germany; site of a Nazi concentration camp during World War IL
calcimine a white or tinted liquid used as a wash for walls and ceilings.
cannonball stove also referred to as a cannon stove; a round, cast-iron stove, hence the term "cannonball."
carbolic acid a poisonous compound used in resins, plastics, and pharmaceuticals.
carbon-monoxide poisoning Colorless and odorless, carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas formed by the incomplete combustion of carbonaceous material, such as gasoline.
Carlsbad Caverns a group of limestone caverns in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeast New Mexico.
Celine Louis-Ferdinand Celine (1894–1961); French writer known for his tortured, angry novels portraying a world without values, beauty, or decency.
Charles Darwin (1809–82) British naturalist who developed a theory of evolution referred to today as Darwinism; Darwinism states that all species develop through natural selection based on the ability to survive and reproduce.
cockles idiomatically, one's innermost feelings.
Colt .45 automatic the popular name of the .45 caliber Colt U.S. Army M1911 Al semiautomatic pistol; named for Samuel Colt (1814–1862), the American firearms inventor who developed the first revolver.
Coventry a city in central England that was heavily bombed by the Germans during World War II, laying waste to over 50,000 homes.
Crimea a region and peninsula of southern Ukraine in eastern Europe, on the Black Sea.
Croesus the last king of Lydia (560–546 B.C.), an ancient and Roman province in southwest Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea; slang for a wealthy man.
croquet an outdoor game in which players, using long-handled mallets, drive wooden balls through a series of wickets.
deedlee-balls small balls usually made from yarn; often used as accessory decorations.
delousing to get rid of lice by physical or chemical means.
derringer pistol a small, short-barreled pistol that has a large bore; named for Henry Derringer (1786–1868), an American gunsmith.
Doric columns heavy columns with plain, saucer-shaped capitals and no base.
double pneumonia an acute or chronic disease marked by the inflammation of both lungs.
dum-dums hollow-point small-arms bullets designed to expand upon impact, inflicting gaping wounds.
Dunkirk a city in northwest France on the North Sea; in World War II, more than 330,000 Allied troops were evacuated from its beaches in the face of enemy fire (May–June 1940).
the Dutch Reformed Church a religious organization originating in the Netherlands and known for its belief in predestination.
Earl Warren (1891–1974) chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1953 to 1969, during which time the Court ruled on many social issues, including civil rights.
Eheu, fugaces labuntur anni Latin, meaning "Alas, the years slip by"; one of the mature observations of the Roman poet Horace (65–8 B.C.).
Elbe River a major European river flowing through Germany, including the city of Dresden, and the Czech Republic.
flibbertigibbet a silly or scatterbrained person.
fourragere an ornamental braided cord usually looped around the left shoulder of a uniform.
Frank Sinatra An American singer and actor born in 1915, he was idolized for his striking good looks and his smooth baritone voice; "ole Blue Eyes" won an Academy Award for his role in From Here to Eternity, a war movie.
Frauenkirche a church in Dresden designed by George Bahr between 1726 and 1743; the church was destroyed during the Allied bombing, but its ruins have been kept as a memorial.
French doors a pair of doors of light construction, with glass panes extending for most of their length.
Gay Nineties the 1890s, an era characterized by a carefree attitude, that all's right with the world.
Genoa a city in northwest Italy on an arm of the Ligurian Sea.
Gideon Bible the bible used by members of an interdenominational and international society known for placing bibles in hotel rooms.
Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832); German writer renowned for his two-part dramatic poem Faust, published in 1808 and 1832.
Golgotha a hill outside ancient Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified; also known as Calvary.
the Great Depression the period of drastic decline in the U.S. economy from 1929 to 1940; immortalized in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939).
the Green Berets members of a U.S. Army Special Forces outfit known for their heroic deeds during wartime; an elite troop of soldiers trained in counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare.
Guggenheim money money from a fund set up in 1925 by Simon Guggenheim and his wife to further the development of scholars and artists by monetarily assisting them in their research endeavors.
Harry S Truman (1884–1972) the thirty-third president of the U.S. (1945–53); authorized the use of the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945.
Hiroshima the Japanese city destroyed on August 6, 1945, during World War II, when U.S. forces dropped the first atomic bomb in warfare. Nagasaki, another Japanese city, was destroyed three days later by a second atomic bomb.
Indian file single file.
Indian Summer a period of mild weather occurring in late autumn.
Ivanhoe an 1819 historical romance by Sir Walter Scott about the life of Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a fictional Saxon knight.
Jerry a German soldier.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) German composer and organist of the late baroque period.
John Birch Society an ultra-conservative organization founded by Robert H. W. Welch, Jr., in 1958, and named for a U.S. intelligence officer killed by Chinese Communists soon after the end of World War II.
John Wayne (1907–79) American actor known for his ruggedness as a self-styled individualist in Western films; he also starred as the hero in numerous World War II films, including The Sands of Iwo Jima.
Konigstein a castle in Dresden in which art treasures were stored during the Allied bombing; also served as a POW camp for important prisoners.
Kreuzkirche a church in Dresden destroyed during the Allied bombing on February 13, 1945, but since rebuilt.
Lake Placid a village in northeast New York in the Adirondack Mountains; site of the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980.
Leica an expensive German camera introduced in 1924 and still manufactured today; known for the quality not only of the camera itself, but also for its excellent lenses.
Leipzig, Chemnitz, Plauen all cities located in east-central Germany, southwest of Berlin.
the Lions Club a service club organization founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1917, with member clubs throughout the U.S.
Lucretia A. Mott ( 1793–1880); middle initial is C for Coffin, not A as Vonnegut writes American suffragist who advocated that women should have the same rights as men; Mott was instrumental in organizing the first convention for women's rights, held at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848.
Lufthansa a German airline company formed in 1926.
Luftwaffe saber the ceremonial sword carried by members of the German air force, known as the Luftwaffe before and during World War II.
Luxembourg a country in northwest Europe; created as a duchy in 1354 and declared a neutral territory in 1867.
madrigal an unaccompanied vocal composition for two or three voices.
Maori a Polynesian people living in New Zealand, an island country in the South Pacific, southeast of Australia.
Marseilles a city in southeast France on an arm of the Mediterranean.
Martha's Vineyard an island off the southeast coast of Massachusetts known for its fabulously expensive living quarters and as an exclusive vacation resort.
Martin Luther (1483–1546) German theologian and leader of the Reformation.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–68) American cleric and civil rights leader in the 1950s and 1960s; winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, four years before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
millipedes insects with long, segmented bodies and two pairs of legs attached to each segment; when they scurry across a surface, they look as if they have a thousand legs.
mince pie a pie made from mincemeat, a mixture of finely chopped apples, raisins, spices, suet, and sometimes flavored with rum or brandy.
morphine a drug extracted from opium and generally used as a sedative.
mustard gas an oily liquid used in warfare, it blisters the lungs once it is inhaled.
Mutt and Jeff comic strip characters, introduced in 1904, who were especially popular in the 1940s; Mutt was short and plump, and Jeff was tall and thin.
Norman Mailer American novelist born in 1923; best known for his World War II novel The Naked and the Dead (1948).
Palestine often called "the Holy Land"; a historical region between the eastern Mediterranean shore and the Jordan River.
the Parthenon the chief temple of the goddess Athena, built on the Acropolis at Athens between 447 and 432 B.C.
Pearl Harbor the Hawaiian harbor where most of the U.S. naval fleet was when Japanese planes attacked without warning on December 7, 1941; afterward, the U.S. declared war against Japan.
Pirates of Penzance A comic opera with lyrics by W S. Gilbert and music by Arthur Sullivan, it debuted in London on April 3, 1880.
Pope Innocent the Third pope from 1198 to 1216.
potbellied stove a short, rounded, usually freestanding stove, in which wood or coal is burned.
Prussians citizens of a member-state of republican Germany; Prussia was established in 1918 and formally abolished after World War II.
Purple Heart a U.S. military decoration awarded to members of the armed forces wounded in action.
Queen Elizabeth the First (1533–1603) Queen of England and Ireland (1558–1603) who reestablished Protestantism in England.
The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane's 1895 novel about the American Civil War, depicting the psychological turmoil of a cowardly soldier in combat.
Robert Kennedy (1925–68) American politician who served as U.S. Attorney General (1961–64) under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, and, after Kennedy's death, under President Lyndon B. Johnson; assassinated in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan while campaigning for the presidency.
rumpus room a room for plays and parties, often in the basement of a house or building.
Shetland pony a small pony originating in the Shetland Islands, in northern Scotland.
Silesia a region of central Europe primarily in southwestern Poland and the northern Czech Republic.
Silver Star a U.S. military decoration awarded for gallantry, or courage.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) English scientist who invented differential calculus and formulated the theory of universal gravitation.
Spanish thumbscrew an instrument of torture used to compress the thumb, causing extreme pain.
SPARS Women's Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard; derived from the U.S. Coast Guard's motto, Semper Paratus, meaning "Always Prepared."
"The Spirit of '76" an 1876 oil painting by Archibald MacNeal Willard (1836–1918), called "Yankee Doodle"; it captures the fighting qualities of the colonial troops in the three main figures, two drummers and a fife player.
Theodore Roethke An American poet (1908–63), his lyrical verse is characterized by introspection; he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems The Waking: Poems 1933–1953 (1953).
Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) the twenty-sixth president of the U.S. 1901–09); won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05).
The Three Musketeers the three main characters (Athos, Porthos, and Aramis) in Alexandre Dumas' French historical romance The Three Musketeers (1844).
Tiger tank a heavily armored tank, weighing 56 tons and mounting a long 88-mm. gun, used by the Germans during World War II.
Tobruk a city in northeast Libya on the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
Tuileries Gardens the public gardens located in the center of Paris and designed for Louis XIV.
Uncle Tom's Cabin A novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in book form in 1852, it dramatizes the plight of slaves and is often cited as one of the causes of the American Civil War.
V-1 a robot bomb deployed by the Germans in World War II.
V-2 a long-range, liquid-fuel rocket used by the Germans as a ballistic missile in World War II.
vertigo the sensation of dizziness often caused by the fear of heights.
Vietnam A country in southeast Asia, it was partitioned into North Vietnam and South Vietnam after 1954, and reunited in 1976 after the end of the Vietnam War (1954–75).
Von der Kuppel . . . Das hat der Feind gethan! German, meaning "From the cupola of the Church of Our Lady, I saw the sad ruins among the beautiful city buildings; the church sexton praised the architect for having built the bombproof church and cupola. Then the sacristan, musing about the ruins that lay all around us, said critically, using few words: 'The devil has done this!' "
vox celeste Latin, meaning "celestial voice."
vox humana Latin, meaning "human voice."
WACS Women's Army Corp.
WAFS Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron.
WAVES Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service.
William Blake (1757–1827) English poet and engraver, perhaps best known for his book of poems Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794).