The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Vocabulary

Terms from the adventure tale, by Mark Twain.

"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. Getty Images/Buyenlarge/Archive Photos

Mark Twain is known for his way with words. His character's vernacular often mirrored the colorful language of those around him. While the way Twain wrote was common during his time the English language has evolved and as such some words have fallen out of fashion. Many readers find it handy to keep dictionaries on hand when the read to look up words they don't know. Here's a vocabulary list from Twain's popular novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Use these terms for reference, study, and discussion.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: By Chapter (by appearance)


Chapter 1

  • spectacles- eyeglasses
  • conscience- people's internal voice of morality
  • vanity- having excessive pride, especially in one's appearance
  • vexed- to be annoyed or frustrated
  • sagacity- to have good judgment
  • lapels- the parts of a garment that fold back on the chest
  • diligence- constant effort to accomplish a task or goal
  • roundabout- a circular or indirect route
  • ambuscade- to ambush
  • guile- a crafty deception
  • bona fide- true
  • deduce- come to a conclusion
  • diffident- to lack confidence

Chapter 2

  • beguiled- to influence using trickery
  • reluctance- unwilling
  • alacrity- cheerful readiness
  • delectable- highly pleasing
  • reposeful- full of calm
  • melancholy- an unhappy or gloomy state of emotion
  • mulatto- an offensive term for someone of bi-racial heritage
  • taw- a fancy marble often used as the shooter
  • inspiration- to cause someone to come up with an idea
  • tranquility- a state of peacefulness
  • ridicule- to make fun of
  • anticipation- a state of expectation
  • melodious- producing a melody
  • starboard- right-hand side
  • ponderously- heavy
  • jeer- to speak derisively
  • dilapidated- run-down or falling apart
  • obliged- bound by necessity or obligation
  • wended- to go

Chapter 3

  • balmy- pleasant weather
  • intrepid- fearless
  • diluted- to make weaker
  • virtuous- to have high moral standards
  • clod- a stupid person
  • eminence- recognized superiority
  • evanescence- to disappear or vanish
  • furtive- attempting to avoid notice
  • grotesque- repulsively ugly
  • pliant- pliable
  • exultation- a feeling of elation
  • perplexed- confused
  • audacious- a willingness to take bold risks
  • morosely- gloomy
  • beseeching- to ask urgently
  • desolate- a bleak bare space
  • dismal- depressing
  • felicity- intense happiness
  • blighted- to spoil
  • martyr- someone killed for their beliefs

Chapter 4

  • benediction-to bestow a blessing
  • prospective- likely to happen at a future date
  • grandeur- splendor
  • contrived- deliberately created
  • scarify- to remove debris
  • disconcerted- unsettle
  • tallow- a substance made from animal fat
  • edifice- a large building
  • eclat- brilliant display
  • mien- a person's look or manner
  • prodigious- remarkable or impressive
  • dupe- deceive
  • wily- skilled at deceit

Chapter 5

  • venerable- given  a lot of respect
  • laggard- someone who falls behind
  • predestined- determined by fate
  • pathos- evokes pity or sadness

Chapter 6

  • odious- extremely unpleasant 
  • expectorate- to cough or otherwise remove mucus from lungs
  • pariah-outcast
  • animosity- hostility
  • caricature- a depiction of someone with exaggerated features or traits usually for comedic effect
  • derrick- a kind of crane
  • portentous- to drone on in a solemn manner
  • ostentation- a vulgar display

Chapter 7

  • wane- to decrease
  • andiron- a metal support that holds burning wood in a fireplace
  • upbraid- untie

Chapter 8

  • frivolity-lacking seriousness
  • ecstasy- overwhelming happiness
  • cogitating- to think deeply about something
  • incantations- words used in a magic spell
  • accouterments- additional items of dress or equipment worn or used for a specific activity

Chapter 9

  • perceptible- able to be seen
  • ingenuity- being clever
  • ghastly- causing great horror
  • ensconced- to establish or settle in a safe place
  • innumerable- too many to count
  • monotonous- dull and unchanging
  • pallid- to be pale or feeble usually due to illness
  • vagrant- a homeless person
  • ruffian- a violent person
  • stolid- calm and dependable

Chapter 10

  • dire- urgent
  • fetters- chains used to retrain
  • lugubrious- looking sad or dismal
  • flogged- beaten
  • colossal- large

Chapter 11

  • infernal- characteristic of hell
  • haggard- worn down from fatigue
  • miscreant- a person who behaves badly
  • blanched- turn white
  • inquests- legal inquiry into a situation
  • vogue- prevailing fashion
  • gory- showing violence or blood
  • grisly- causing horror

Chapter 12

  • phrenological- the study of the size and shape of the skull as an indicator of character or intelligence.
  • clandestinely- secretive
  • gravity- weight
  • consternation- feelings of anxiety
  • avariciously- extreme greed

Chapter 13

  • forsaken- abandon
  • succumb- fail to resist
  • foliage- leaves
  • festooning- adorn with decorations
  • peril- danger
  • waif- a homeless person
  • purloined- steal

Chapter 14

  • pervading- to spread
  • obtruded- to become noticeable in an unwelcome way
  • gaudy- extravagantly bright or showy
  • credulous- gullible
  • conflagration- an extensive fire
  • limpid- free of color
  • ravenous- extremely hungry
  • regalia- emblems of royalty
  • sumptuous- expensive looking
  • quicksilver- mercury
  • derision- to mock

Chapter 15

  • shoal-  large number of fish
  • skiff-shallow boat
  • yaw- to twist around a moving axis
  • conjectured- an opinion formed from incomplete information
  • bereaved- to grieve a loved one

Chapter 16

  • mutinous- refusing to obey an order
  • sullen- gloomy
  • plausible- a reasonable argument
  • stupendous- impressive
  • retching- to vomit
  • peal- the loud ringing of bells or thunder
  • unflagging- tireless

Chapter 17

  • loitered-to wait idly without cause
  • anguished- to suffer
  • abashed to cause to feel ashamed
  • soliloquized- to talk to yourself

Chapter 18

  • menagerie- a collection of wild animals
  • notoriety- fame
  • vindictive- a strong desire for revenge
  • reconciliation- to restore friendly relations

Chapter 19

  • rubbage- garbage
  • ingenious- clever

Chapter 20

  • scornful- to express contempt
  • urchin- a poor child
  • smote- to have struck a blow

Chapter 21

  • gilded- wealthy
  • ferule- an instrument used to punish children
  • dominie- schoolmaster
  • gesticulation- a dramatic gesture
  • edification- to educate

Chapter 22

  • temperance- to abstain from alcohol
  • abstain- hold off from
  • convalescent- a person recovering from an illness
  • mesmerizer-to enthrall
  • forbearance- self-control
  • incongruous- not in harmony with surroundings

Chapter 23

  • verdict- decision
  • stolid- calm and dependable
  • delirium- a hallucination

Chapter 25

  • cipher-a secret code

Chapter 26

  • attrition- gradually reducing the strength of a person or unit

Chapter 27

  • vague- not specific
  • ungraspable- impossible to comprehend
  • gunwale- the upper edge of the side of a ship
  • ostentatious- a vulgar display designed to impress

Chapter 29

  • labyrinth- a complicated network of passages
  • stile- an arrangement of steps that people but not animals can climb over

Chapter 30

  • relic- an object surviving from an earlier time
  • tedious- boring and repetitive
  • stupor-a state of near unconsciousness

Chapter 31

  • wearisome- tiresome
  • sinuous- has many curves
  • sediment- matter that settles to the bottom
  • imperishable- enduring forever
  • gratification-pleasure
  • novelties- qualities of being new
  • apathy- lack of interest

Chapter 32

  • quest-a journey 
  • frantic- wild or distraught
  • auditory- able to be heard
  • expedition- a journey

Chapter 33

  • obstruction - a thing that impedes
  • vestibule- a hall
  • precipice- a steep rock
  • sumach- a shrub in the cashew family
  • foundry- a metal workshop
  • humiliation- to cause shame

Chapter 34

  • fretting- worrying
  • dramatic- sudden and striking
  • counterfeit- fake
  • clamorous- a loud noise
  • effusive- expressing gratitude
  • circumstances- a fact relevant to an event
  • astonishment- great surprise
  • compliments- express praise
  • laudations- praise
  • complimentary- express praise or give freely
  • perplexed- confused
  • unanimous- people in full agreement
  • explanation-justification for something 

Chapter 35

  • windfall- unexpected good fortune, usually involving money
  • conspicuous-to stand out
  • magnanimous- generous or forgiving
  • picturesque- visually attractive
  • chronicle- a written account
  • juveniles-youths
  • prosperous- material success