'Frankenstein' Vocabulary

Discover the vocabulary of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley's classic Gothic horror novel. Through word choice and descriptive language, Shelley creates a world of dark experiments, deformity, and savagely beautiful landscapes. Learn more about some of the most important vocabulary terms in Frankenstein.

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Abhorrence

Definition: the feeling of hatred or disgust

Example: "I wished to see him again, that I might wreak the utmost extent of abhorrence on his head and avenge the deaths of William and Justine." (Chapter 9)

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Alchemist

Definition: someone who transforms matter, usually in the attempt to change various metals into gold

Example: "With a confusion of ideas only to be accounted for by my extreme youth and my want of a guide on such matters, I had retrod the steps of knowledge along the paths of time and exchanged the discoveries of recent inquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchemists." (Chapter 3)

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Asseveration

Definition: a solemn, serious statement of something

Example: "His tale is connected and told with an appearance of the simplest truth, yet I own to you that the letters of Felix and Safie, which he showed me, and the apparition of the monster seen from our ship, brought to me a greater conviction of the truth of his narrative than his asseverations, however earnest and connected." (Chapter 24)

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Aver

Definition: to state to be true

Example: "I took their word for all that they averred, and I became their disciple." (Chapter 2)

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Benevolence

Definition: the trait of kindness

Example: "If any being felt emotions of benevolence towards me, I should return them a hundred and a hundredfold; for that one creature’s sake I would make peace with the whole kind!" (Chapter 17)

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Despondence

Definition: the state of being hopeless or in despair

Example: "As she walked along, seemingly incommoded by the burden, a young man met her, whose countenance expressed a deeper despondence." (Chapter 11)

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Dilatoriness

Definition: the fact of being late or delayed

Example: "The winter, however, was spent cheerfully, and although the spring was uncommonly late, when it came its beauty compensated for its dilatoriness." (Chapter 6)

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Disquisition

Definition: an essay or dissertation on a specific topic

Example: "The disquisitions upon death and suicide were calculated to fill me with wonder." (Chapter 15)

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Dogmatism

Definition: laying out ideas as undeniably true without considering other opinions or facts

Example: "His gentleness was never tinged by dogmatism, and his instructions were given with an air of frankness and good nature that banished every idea of pedantry." (Chapter 4)

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Ennui

Definition: a feeling of boredom or melancholy

Example: "I was ever overcome by ennui, the sight of what is beautiful in nature or the study of what is excellent and sublime in the productions of man could always interest my heart and communicate elasticity to my spirits." (Chapter 19)

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Fetter

Definition: a restriction on someone's freedom; a chain

Example: "He looks upon study as an odious fetter; his time is spent in the open air, climbing the hills or rowing on the lake." (Chapter 6)

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Ignominious

Definition: worthy of shame, or causing shame or embarrassment

Example: "Justine also was a girl of merit and possessed qualities which promised to render her life happy; now all was to be obliterated in an ignominious grave, and I the cause!" (Chapter 8)

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Imprecate

Definition: to cast a curse or call evil upon someone or something

Example: "Oh, earth! How often did I imprecate curses on the cause of my being! The mildness of my nature had fled, and all within me was turned to gall and bitterness." (Chapter 16)

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Indefatigable

Definition: untiring or persistent

Example: "He said that ‘These were men to whose indefatigable zeal modern philosophers were indebted for most of the foundations of their knowledge..." (Chapter 3)

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Panegyric

Definition: a public lecture or written work praising someone or something

Example: "After having made a few preparatory experiments, he concluded with a panegyric upon modern chemistry, the terms of which I shall never forget..." (Chapter 3)

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Physiognomy

Definition: the features on a person's face; or, the practice of judging someone's character based on their outward appearance

Example: "I attended the lectures and cultivated the acquaintance of the men of science of the university, and I found even in M. Krempe a great deal of sound sense and real information, combined, it is true, with a repulsive physiognomy and manners, but not on that account the less valuable." (Chapter 4)

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Prognosticate

Definition: to predict or foresee a future event

Example: "Dear mountains! my own beautiful lake! how do you welcome your wanderer? Your summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid. Is this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness?’" (Chapter 7)

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Slake

Definition: to quench (a thirst)

Example: "I slaked my thirst at the brook, and then lying down, was overcome by sleep." (Chapter 11)

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Sublime

Definition: so beautiful as to cause immense wonder

Example: "These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving." (Chapter 10)

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Timorous

Definition: timid, lacking confidence

Example: "Several witnesses were called who had known her for many years, and they spoke well of her; but fear and hatred of the crime of which they supposed her guilty rendered them timorous and unwilling to come forward." (Chapter 8)

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Torpor

Definition: a state of laziness or lifelessness

Example: "Elizabeth alone had the power to draw me from these fits; her gentle voice would soothe me when transported by passion and inspire me with human feelings when sunk in torpor. " (Chapter 22)

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Uncouth

Definition: uncivilized, lacking manners or politeness

Example: "Over him hung a form which I cannot find words to describe—gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions." (Chapter 24)

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Verdure

Definition: green vegetation

Example: "It surprised me that what before was desert and gloomy should now bloom with the most beautiful flowers and verdure." (Chapter 13)