Heart of Darkness Glossary

The glossary is written in the following format, in alphabetical order.

Word (part of speech) [pronunciation]
Example sentence

If a word you do not know is not in our glossary, you may wish to look it up on your own in an online dictionary.


Abomination (noun) [uh-bahm-ih-nay-shun]
Something that is greatly disliked or abhorred; a vile, detestable, or shameful action, condition, habit, etc.
This movie is an abomination to mankind!


Ajar (adj.) [uh-jahr]
(Of a door or other opening) slightly open
The window was ajar, letting in a bitter cold breeze through the house


Alacrity (noun) [uh-lak-rit-ee]
Cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness; liveliness
He answered the phone with alacrity after waiting hours to hear the news


Aristocrat (noun) [uh-riss-tuh-krat]
A person who has tastes, manners, etc. that are characteristic of nobility; anything regarded as the best, most elegant, or stylish
She dressed like an aristocrat even though she wasn’t considered wealthy


Ascetic (1. Noun) (2. Adj.) [uh-she-tic]
1. A person characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons; someone who lives a very simple life2. Very abstinent; austere; exceedingly strict or severe in religious exercises
1. The monk was an ascetic his whole life. 2. She was so ascetical in her refusal to dance in front of people.


Barge (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [barj]
1. A flat-bottomed boat for carrying freight, typically on canals and rivers, either under its own power or towed by another2. To move forcefully or roughly
1. The barge was carrying lumber.2. He barged into the room angrily.


Beguile (verb) [bee-gahyl]
To influence by trickery, flattery, coercion; to take away from by cheating or deceiving; to charm or diver; to pass time pleasantly
There are many attractions to beguile the tourists


Benign (adj.) [beh-nine]
Gentle; kind; gracious
Our nanny was benign and soft-spoken; she would never punish us or yell


Blunder (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [bl-uhn-der]
1. A gross, stupid, or careless mistake2. To make a stupid mistake; to move about carelessly; to botch or ruin; to ramble or speak thoughtlessly; babble
1. This trip was a blunder. We should never have gone.2. Wilson blundered into the corner with his hip and shouted in pain.


Brood (verb) [brood]
Showing deep unhappiness of thought.
She has been brooding over losing the game all day.




Calamity (noun) [kuh-lam-ihdy]
An event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster
He has endured far more calamities than any person ought to; no wonder he’s so reclusive


Calipers (noun) [kale-up-erz]
An instrument for measuring thickness and internal or external diameters inaccessible to a scale, consisting usually of a pair of adjustable pivoted legs
“Can you get me the calipers?”


Catacomb (noun) [kat-uh-kohm]
An underground cemetery, especially one consisting of tunnels and rooms with recesses dug out for coffins and tombs
The thief trespassed into the catacomb to steal jewels from the coffins


Commingle (verb) [kuh-ming-guhl]
To mix or mingle together; combine; to become blended or united with others; to form connections
It seems like everyone at the dinner party is commingling just fine.


Condensed (adj.) [con-dens]
Compressed or concentrated; made denser or more concise
It’s odd to see all your belongings condensed into one truck when you’re moving out


Conflagration (noun) [kahn-flu-grey-shun]
A destructive fire, usually an extensive one
The conflagration took the entire national park.


Confounded (adj.) [kuhn-foun-did]
Bewildered; confused; perplexed
The sudden change in temperature confounded us all.


Congenial (adj.) [kuhn-jeen-ee-uhl]
Agreeable, suitable, or pleasing in nature; suited or adapted in spirit, feeling, tempers, etc.; compatible
Their interactions were congenial; I think they’re hitting it off well.


Connoisseur (noun) [kahn-uh-soo’r]
A person who is especially competent to pass critical judgements in an art, particularly one in fine arts or matters of taste; a discerning judge of the best in any field
That woman is a connoisseur of fine wine; she passed her master sommelier test.


Conspiracy (noun) [kuhn-speer-uh-see]
A secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal
They conspired together to rob a bank.


Contorted (adj.) [kuhn-tort-ihd]
Twisted in a violent manner; distorted; convoluted
The pungent smell of the sewage contorted her face in revulsion.


Conviction (noun) [cun-vic-shun]
Something certain; a judgement of guilty in court; a strong belief
She held a deep conviction that eating meat was wrong and inhumane.


Countenance (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [kown-ten-uhns]
1. Appearance; face; visage; facial expression2. (Used with an object) to permit or tolerate; to approve, support, or encourage
1. Her countenance looked unphased and vague for someone who had just witnessed a tragedy2. Mary countenanced her beloved pet’s misbehavior by cooing over it and thinking it hilarious that it urinated on the floor.


Crestfallen (adj.) [krest-faw-luhn]
Dejected; lacking in spirit; discouraged; having a drooping head
Tony’s crestfallen expression broke her heart.




Declivity (noun) [deh-kliv-ih-dee]
A downward slope of the ground
I heard the little girl next door broke her arm tripping over the declivity in the sidewalk


Deficient (adj.) [dih-fish-uhnt]
Lacking some element or characteristic; defective; flawed; insufficient; inadequate.
Being deficient in calcium will cause weak bones.


Demoralize (verb) [dee-more-uh-lize]
To deprive a person of spirit, courage, discipline; to throw a person into disorder and confusion; bewilder; corrupt
There is an age restriction on R-rated films so as not to demoralize the youth of their innocence


Diaphanous (adj.) [die-af­-us-nus]
(especially of fabric) light, delicate, and translucent
The moisture over the window turned into a diaphanous film of crackled ice


Digress (verb) [die-gress]
To deviate or wander away from the main topic or purpose in speaking or writing; depart from the principal line of argument
“I apologize, I digress; what were we talking about again?”


Dilate (verb) [dahy-late]
To make wider or large; to cause to expand; to spread out
I hate it when they dilate my pupils at the optometrist office; it makes everything so bright


Disdainful (adj.) [dis-dayn-fuhl]
Showing contempt or lack of respect; scornful.
They were both disdainful after the divorce.



Efface (verb) [ih-fays]
To wipe out; do away with; expunge; erase; withdrawal
We defaced the wall with graffiti, so the cop made us efface it


Efficient (adj.) [if-fish-ent]
Performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort; having and using requisite knowledge, skill, and industry; competent; capable
The production line needs to be efficient as possible.


Eloquent (adj.) [ehl-uh-kwuhnt]
Having or exercising the power of fluent, forceful, and appropriate speech; movingly expressive
His eloquent speech brought the audience to tears during the graduation ceremony


Emissary (noun) [ehm-ih-sare-ee]
A representative sent on a mission or errand
The captain sent an emissary to tell the teammates the game was rescheduled


Enigma (noun) [en-ihg-muh]
A puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation; a person of puzzling or contradictory character
She seemed to be something of an enigma; I can’t quite put into words how to describe her


Ensign (noun) [en-sahyn]
A badge of office or authority
She was awarded the pruple heart medal: the ensign on bravery and courage


Entrails (noun) [ehn-treylz]
The internal pars of a trunk of an animal body; the intestines; the internal parts of anything
Someone was caught in the entrails of the machine and made it stop working


Epoch (noun) [eh-puhk]
A period of history marked by certain characteristics or notable events; the beginning of a distinctive period in the history of anything
The moment the flag went up I knew this to be the beginning of a great epoch


Erroneous (adj.) [uh-roh-nee-uhs]
Containing error; mistaken; incorrect; wrong
These erroneous charges need to be dropped immediately


Evoke (verb) [ee-vohk]
To bring out or recall to the conscious mind.
That film evokes all kinds of emotions in me.


Exquisite (adj.) [eks-quiz-it]
Extremely beautiful, and, typically, delicate
There is a “do not touch” sign in front of the exquisite glass figurines at the gift shop


Exuberant (adj.) [ihg-zoo-ber-uhnt]
Enthusiastic; overly abundant; extremely vital, joyful, and vigorous; overflowing; lentiful
The crowd gave an exuberant welcome to their hero




Farce (noun) [fahrs]
A light, humorous play in which the plot depends upon a skillfully exploited situation rather than upon the development of character; foolish show; mockery; a ridiculous sham
He continued the farce even though everyone knew he wasn’t sincere


Futile (adj.) [fyoo-tahyl]
Incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless; unsuccessful; unimportant
Convincing my son to eat his peas was a futile effort.



Gait (noun) [gayt]
A manner of walking, running, trotting, stepping; typically of a horse
 He walked with a heavy gait down the hall toward the front door, with his suitcase in hand.




Hinder (verb) [hihn-dur]
To get in the way of or make more difficult; cause an obstacle; obstruct
The fallen long in the road is hindering my drive



Ignorant (adj.) [ihg-nor-uhnt]
Having a lack of knowledge or information; uninformed.
Never having been on a boat before, she felt ignorant in front of the crew


Imbecile (1. Noun) (2. Adj.) [ihm-buh-suhl]
1.      A dunce; blockhead; dolt; a person who has low levels of intelligence2.      Stupid; silly; absurd
1.      Don’t stand there like an imbecile! Do something!2.      The film was imbecile compared to the last one we went to see


Immutable (adj.) [ihm-mewt-uh-buhl]
Not changeable; something that stays the same.
His ways are immutable; nothing we do seems to affect him.


Imperceptible (1. adj.) (2. noun) [ihm-pur-sep-tuh-buhl]
1. Very slight, gradual, or subtle2. Something not capable of being perceived by the senses
1. I had an imperceptible change of heart right before the plane took off, as I was journeying out on my own for the first time2. Most people believe it is a waste of time to try and understand imperceptibles, but I am not most people.


Indefatigable (adj.) [ihn-dih-fat-ih-guh-buhl]
Incapable of being tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring
Olympic runners are indefatigable on the track.


Inferno (noun) [ihn-fern-oh]
Hell; a place or region that resembles hell
Bewtween the blazing heat of summer and the constant fighting, this house felt more like an inferno than a home


Insipid (adj.) [ihn-sip-ihd]
Without distinctive, interesting, or stimulating qualities; vapid
We went on one date but that was enough. The whole evening was insipid and underwhelming


Interminable (adj.) [in-tur-min-a-buhl]
Endless (often used hyperbolically).
We get bored of interminable conversations


Invoice (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [ihn-voys]
1. An itemized bill for goods or services provided, containing individual prices, the total charge, and terms2. (used with an object) to present an invoice to or for
1. Here is the invoice for the construction work
2. We were invoiced for the shipment of office supplies we received last week.



Jetty (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [jeh-tee]
1. A pier or structure of stones or piles projected out to sea to protect the shore or pier, or to change the current2. To construct part of a building so that it projects beyond lower construction
1. Sarah walked out onto the jetty, even though signs warned her of the slippery rocks and strong current. 2. The realtor highlighted the bay window that jettied out above the first floor of the house.


Jovial (adj.) [joh-vee-uhl]
Endowed with or characterized by a hearty, joyous humor, or a spirit of good fellowship
His laughter was jovial and bright



Lament (verb) [luh-ment]
To feel or express sorrow or regret for; to mourn over
Many people wear black to lament the death of a loved one


Languid (adj.) [lan-gwid]
Lacking in vigor or vitality; slacking or slow
The languid afternoon was hot and humid with no breeze.


Loiter (verb) [loy-tr]
To liner aimlessly; to move in a slow, idle manner; to waste time, or dawdle over work
I loitered on my way to work today and ended up spending an hour at a coffee shop


Lugubrious (adj.) [luh-goo-bree-uhs]
Mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner.
Her lugubrious cries echoed throughout the house.


Luminous (adj.) [loom-in-us]
Full of or shedding light; bright or shining, especially in the dark
It is important for construction workers to wear luminous vests when they are working at night.


Lurid (adj.) [loo-rihd]
Gruesome; horrible; revolting
The smell was lurid in the old abandoned apartment that belonged to Mrs. Winsby.




Mephistopheles (noun) [mehf-uh-stahff-uh-leez]
(Medieval demonology)  One of the seven chief devils and the temper of Faust (Faust is the chief character of a medieval legend, represented as selling his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power)
I heard him call her Mephistopheles as he threw her belongings out the window last night


Monotonous (adj.) [muh-not-n-us]
Lacking in variety; tediously unvarying; dull; boring
The professor’s voice was so monotonous; half of the lecture hall was sleeping within ten minutes of class


Moribund (adj.) [mohr-ih-buhnd]
In a dying state; near death; on the verge of extinction; stagnant; not progressing
As I was walking through the nursing home, I noticed how moribund everyone looked. It was unsettling.


Morose (adj.) [muh-rohs]
Gloomy; sullen; ill-humored; expressing gloom; as a person or a mood
James was morose for years after the accident


Mutiny (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [mew-tin-ee]
1. A revolt or rebellion against authority2. To commit the offence of revolting against authority
1. There was a mutiny of sailors against their captain2. They mutinied by throwing him off of the ship




Oblique (adj.) [oh-bleek]
Slanting or sloping; diverging from a straight line or given course; indirectly stated or expressed; not straightforward; underhanded
Her explanation was so oblique that I knew she was lying.


Obsequious (adj.) [uhn-see-kwee-uhs]
Obedient; dutiful
The police dog was obsequious and alert at all times with his handler


Offing (noun) [off-ing]
The more distant part of the sea in view
You could barely see their boat way out in the offing


Ominous (adj.) [ahm-ih-nus]
Emitting evil or harm; foreboding; threatening; scary
The house became ominous once the power went out.




Parasol (noun) [pair-uh-sawl]
A lightweight umbrella used as a sunshade
She walked around with a bright yellow parasol resting on her shoulder


Particularize (verb) [par-tik-yuhl-ar-ize]
To mention or indicate specifically; to state or treat in detail
Please particularize what you’re trying to tell me; you’re being too vague


Partisan (1. Noun) (2. Adj.) [pahr-tiz-uhn]
1. Supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, especially a person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance2. Of, or relating to, or characteristic of partisans; partial to a specific party, person, etc.
1. They were partisans of the presidential candidate at the political rally
2. These partisan politics allow for no room to change course


Philanthropic (adj.) [fill-an-thrahp-ik]
To do good for others without expecting anything in return; benevolent
Doctors Without Borders’ philanthropic donation was well received in the community


Pestiferous (adj.) [puh-stif-er-uhs]
Bringing or bearing a disease; pernicious; evil; mischievous; troublesome or excessively annoying
The children were being pestiferous, so I sent them to their rooms


Pestilence (noun) [pehs-till-uhns]
A deadly or viral epidemic disease; the bubonic plague; something considered to be harmful, destructive, or evil
The pestilence of war seems to be never ending.


Placid (adj.) [pla-sid]
(Of a person or animal) not easily upset or excited; (especially of a place or stretch of water) calm and peaceful, with little movement or activity.
A sloth seems to be the most placid animal on earth, the way it lunges about for hours on end.


Precipice (noun) [preh-suh-pis]
A cliff with a vertical, near vertical, or overhanging face; a situation of great peril or danger
I was at this precipice in my life; I knew my decision would change everything forever.


Precedence (Noun) [press-ih-dense]
The order to be observed as diplomatic protocol; the act or fact of coming before something else
We must set a precedence for the other employees at this company to work hard


Predecessor (noun) [preh-duh-ses-err]
A person who held a job or office before the current holder
David has a lot to live up to; his predecessors sure left big shoes to fill.


Prevaricator (noun) [pree-vahr-ih-kayt-er]
A person who speaks falsely; a liar; someone who avoids the precise truth
A prevaricator would tell you that a white lie isn’t technically a lie


Prodigy (noun) [prah-dih-jee]
A person, especially a child, having extraordinary talent or ability; a marvelous example; a wonder; abnormal
Many famous classical musicians were child prodigies in their talent


Profound (adj.) [proh-fownd]
(Of a state, quality, or emotion) very great or intense; (of a person or statement) having shown great knowledge or insight
William Shakespeare was a profound writer; he contributed thousands of words to the English language



Rapacious (adj.) [ruh-pay-shuhs]
Given to seizing for the satisfaction of greed; predatory; (of animals) subsisting by the capture of living prey.
The rapacious children devoured the chocolate cake within seconds


Recrudescence (noun) [reck-roo-des-uhns]
Breaking out afresh into a renewed activity; revival; the reappearance into active existence.
Her recrudescence was something to marvel at after the death of her husband; it had been so long since we’d seen her out of the house


Repose (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [ree-pohz]
1. The state of being at rest; peace, tranquility, calm; sleep or slumber2. (used with an object) to lie at rest; to be still; to lie dead
1. While in repose, he looked as though all was right in the world2. The sea reposed after the storm




Sagacious (adj.) [suh-gay-shuhs]
Having or showing acute mental discernment and keen practical sense; shrewd; meticulous
Our sagacious lawyer found a loophole in the prosecution


Satiated (adj.) [say-shee-ay-tid]
Satisfied; one’s appetite or desire is fulfilled
He was satiated to say the least; he sat there comfortably for an hour after dinner.


Scrutinize (verb) [skroo-tin-ahyz]
To examine in detail with careful or critical attention
The judges scrutinized their performance with great intensity during the audition


Sedentary (adj.) [said-en-tare-ee]
Accustomed to sitting or resting a great deal; take little exercise.
My brother complains that his accounting job is too sedentary.


Sententious (adj.) [sehn-ten-shuss]
Given to excessive moralizing; self-righteous; someone who frequently expresses statements of general truth or principle
The poet had a sententious way about him during the meet and greet


Sepulchre (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [sep-uhl-kerr]
1. A small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried; tomb2. When used with an object, to bury or place into a speulchre
1. This sepulchre was built in 1505 and is still a functioning tomb today2. We had to sepulchre the casket in a mausoleum


Skulk (verb) [skuhlk]
To hide for some evil reason; to move stealthily; slink.
The cat was skulking around the house; I knew she did something naughty.


Somber (adj.) [sahm-err]
Gloomily dark; shadowy; dimly lighted
The funeral was somber, except for the stained glass windows that flowed in the sunlight


Somnambulism (noun) [sohm-nam-byuh-liz-uhm]
She went through her days like a somnambulist.


Sordid (adj.) [sohr-did]
Squalid; wretchedly poor and run-down;shabby
The hotel room was sordid and had an odor so pungent that we had to leave immediately.


Spectral (adj.) [spek-truhl]
Ghostly; phantom; a terrifying spirit figure.
Her spectral form gave me a fright.


Supercilious (adj.) [soo-per-sihl-ee-uhs]
Haughtily disdainful or contemptuous as a person or facial expression; arrogant; scornful
His supercilious demeanor made everyone at the party feel uncomfortable and unwelcome




Tenebrous (adj.) [teh-nuh-bruhs]
Dark; gloomy; obscure
The abandoned warehouse felt tenebrous at this time of night


Tentative (adj.) [ten-(t)uh-tiv]
Not certain or fixed; provisional
This schedule is tentative until further notice


Trenchant (adj.) [trehm-chuhnt]
Incisive or keen; vigorous; effective; energetic; clearly or sharply defined; clear-cut; distinct
His trenchant sense of humor is often times off putting to those who speak with him


Tumult (noun) [too-muhlt]
Violent and noisy commotion or disturbance of crowd or mob; uproar; a general outbreak; riot; uprising
The tumult was becoming dangerous and excessively violent at the capital building




Uncanny (adj.) [uhn-can-ee]
Having or seeming to have a supernatural or inexplicable basis; beyond ordinary or normal; extraordinary; mysterious
The resemblance was uncanny; I thought she had died decades ago


Uncouth (adj.) [uhn-kooth]
Awkard; clumsy; unmannerly; strange and ungraceful in appearance or form
It seems like everyone has an uncouth uncle who only embarrasses the rest of the family.




Venerable (adj.) [ven-er-uh-buhl]
Commanding a great deal of respect, especially because of age, wisdom, or character
She is a venerable member of congress


Vengeance (noun) [vehn-jins]
Infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like on a person by another who has been harmed by that person; violent revenge
He came back with a vengeance to kill.


Veriest (adj.) [vare-ee-ist]
Utmost; most complete
Even the veriest stupidity couldn’t lead to such a mistake


Vexed (adj.) [vekst]
Irritated or annoyed; much discussion or disputes over; tossed about as waves
We were vexed by the situation.


Voluble (adj.) [vahl-yew-buhl]
Characterized by a ready and continuous flow of words; fluent; glib; talkative
Politicians are highly voluble and it sometimes gets them into trouble with reporters


Voracious (adj.) [voh-ray-shuhs]
Craving or consuming large quantities of food; exceedingly eager or avid
I was a voracious reader all my life




Wanton (adj.) [wahn-tuhn]
Without regard for what is right, humane or just; done maliciously; uncalled for; reckless
She was wanton in her decision to leave; she just wanted revenge on her mother


Wharf ( 1. Noun) (2. Verb) [wawrf]
1. A structure built on the shore projecting out into the water; a dock; a pier2. To place, store, or dock on a wharf
1. You could just barely see the wharf come into view from the ship2. The boat was wharfed to the post on the beach so as not to drift away




Yarn (1. Noun) (2. Verb) [yarn]
1. A long or rambling story, especially one that is implausible.2. The telling of a long exaggerated story
1. The old man was telling a yarn again.2. The widow next door yarns on her porch to anyone who is willing to listen.