agglomerative
composed of a mass clustered together
akimbo
with hands on hips and elbows bent outward
annunciations
acts of announcing or of being announced (from the March 25 church festival of Annunciation, which commemorates the announcement of the Incarnation of the Virgin Mary)
arustle
not, strictly speaking, a proper English word, but an evident Bradbury invention that obviously means “in a state of rustling”
assay
to examine or analyze (from the process of weighing and measuring ore to determine the amount of precious ore in it)
Avoirdupois
French name for the system of weights based on pounds and ounces that is still used in the U.S.; in chapter 53, “Avoirdupois the Magnificent” is probably the carnival’s name for its freak show fat man
baroque
ornate, extravagantly ornamental
beatification
the condition of being blessedly happy or exalted above all others; from the traditional Roman Catholic practice in which the Pope declares that a deceased person is enjoying the happiness of heaven and is therefore suited for religious honor and public cult in certain places
bumbershoots
fanciful and archaic slang for umbrellas, possibly derived from a combination of "umbrella" and "parachute"
caliper
an instrument that consists of two arms, legs, or jaws that press on the sides of something to measure it
calligraphic
fancy penmanship; beautiful formal handwriting
calliope
a musical instrument consisting of a keyboard that releases steam through metal pipes and whistles to make a scale of tones; often associated with merry-go-rounds
cameo
Though most often used today to refer to a famous person’s brief guest appearance in a film or television show, in the 19th and early 20th century this word referred to a piece of jewelry in which stone or shell was carved so that a person or god’s profile stood out in relief.
candlepower
Brightness of light, as measured in candelas, the base unit of luminous intensity in the International System of Units. Near the conclusion of chapter 39, Bradbury turns the concept upside-down in the phrase “black candlepower,” as if there were a way to measure amounts of darkness (or evil).
catacombs
underground cemetery or passageway, often with reference to such structures dating from Roman and early Christian times
Criminently
An expression of surprise or annoyance, probably a Midwestern variation of “criminy,” which in turn is thought to be an Americanization of the Italian “crimine” for “crime.” One theory is that this was a euphemism or garbled version of “crime in Italy.” Bradbury employs this expression often: it turns up, for instance, in The Halloween Tree and Death Is a Lonely Business. Elsewhere it is sometimes rendered as “criminentlies.”
croupier
An employee of a gambling casino who collects and pays debts and assists at the gaming tables
crustacea
any members of a large class of creatures, Crustacea, that are mostly aquatic, have a hard shell, a pair of appendages on each body segment, and two pairs of antennae (for example, lobsters, shrimp, crabs, wood lice, water fleas, and barnacles)
cumulus
a class of cloud shaped with puffs and mounds over a flat bottom, so that they resemble cauliflower
cuneiform
written language consisting of slim, wedge-shaped forms, used by the Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and ancient Persians
cyclopean
of or characteristic of a Cyclops; huge, massive
deadfalls
traps, especially for large game, in which a heavy weight is set to fall on and crush the prey
desiccated
thoroughly dried up, dehydrated
drolls
buffoons, clowns, fat little men (archaic)
effulgence
quality of shining forth brilliantly; radiance
élan
élan
facsimiles
exact copies (from Latin fac simile, “to make similar”)
Fantoccini
puppets operated by strings or mechanical devices (from the Italian for "shadow puppets"); Bradbury uses the term significantly in connection with the makers of a robot grandmother in the short story "I Sing The Body Electric!"
flintrock
hard as an opaque silica stone that was used for primitive tools
fluming
not, technically speaking, a word; Bradbury probably coined it from “flume,” an open, artificial channel that directs water away from its natural route, usually from behind a dam, for hydraulic mining (gold, tin, etc.), for moving logs, and for powering water mills. It is perhaps used here to characterize an audible sigh blown through pursed lips by Will’s father.
folios
usually an old book made by folding large printed sheets in half, or two or three times (the most famous being the so-called “First Folio” of Shakespeare’s plays)
gemmed
adorned with precious stones, or looking as if it were
gesticulations
excited gestures
guidons
small flags, especially those carried by a small military unit for identification; or the persons who carry such flags
hedgerow
A row of trees or bushes that encloses or separates fields. In chapter 40, Bradbury refers to “hedgerow mazes,” a popular English gardening construction over several centuries, in which wealthy estates had mazes designed and cultivated large enough for people to walk through without being able to see over or through them, as a pastime.
hemstitched
sewn in cross threads in a series of little groups
infilled
Filled in, as with sediment in a riverbed, or with development in vacant urban lots
irascible
irritable, easily given to anger
ironmongery
implements made of iron
labyrinths
Places constructed or full of intricate passageways and blind alleys. It comes from Greek myth and was the name for a gigantic maze on the island of Crete, designed by Daedalus, to house the man-eating Minotaur that Theseus eventually slew. Labyrinths and hedgerow mazes (see “hedgerow”) are often used for sinister and threatening implications, because a person may be lost and confused in them, but at the end of chapter 40, the book applies these concepts to libraries, which are undeniably good places in Bradbury’s work, so he is using the terms in a neutral sense, to refer to a location that is intricate and complex, and where one might get lost in a good sense.
leprous
infected with leprosy; scaly, with thin dry scales that flake off like dandruff
Leviathan
anything of gigantic size, but especially a sea monster; perhaps most famously referred to in the Bible, in the Book of Job, chapter 41 (“Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?...”) and, following Job, the title of Thomas Hobbes’s 1651 book of political philosophy which likened the state and all its people to Leviathan, with the king as its head
malodorous
possessing an offensive or unpleasant smell
mastodon
large, extinct mammal that was related to and resembled mammoths and elephants, and differed chiefly in the form of its molar teeth, which were designed for browsing the leaves of bushes and trees, rather than grazing on grasses the way mammoths did
milkweed
any of a variety of plants that secrete a milky juice or latex; Will uses “milkweed plume” to characterize the sight of white throwaways dancing across town, because they resemble a burst of sap from a squeezed plant
moonstone
gem consisting of a semitransparent or translucent, opalescent, pearly-blue adularia, or feldspar; loosely, any milky stone or opal of varying color that gives off a fiery reflection in bright light. Note: The Moonstone is the title of a famous early detective novel published in 1868 by the British author Wilkie Collins, so it’s rather appropriate that a moonstone is invoked at the moment Mr. Halloway unmasks the true identity of “Jed.”
mountebanks
con men who sell quack medicines
multitudinous
consisting of a great multitude of individuals or particles; This word turns up famously in a line from Macbeth, Act II, scene ii, lines 57-60, after Macbeth has just murdered King Duncan and, looking at the blood on his hands, tells himself he will never be able to wash them -- that is to say, the sin of murder -- off himself: "Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine, / Making the green one red."
newels
posts or railings on a stairway
palanquin
a conveyance that originated in eastern Asia, consisting of a an enclosed litter for one person carried on the shoulders of men by means of long poles
panoply
A magnificent and impressive array
paraffin
A waxy, crystalline, flammable substance distilled from wood, coal, petroleum, or shale oil that is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and is used in coating and sealing, in candles, in compounding rubber, and in drugs and cosmetics.
pavane
a stately couple dance at court that was introduced to southern Europe by England in the 16th century; also, the kind of slow music with duple rhythm that accompanied this sort of dance
phoenixes
mythical birds of great beauty supposed to live 500 years, burn themselves in a funeral pyre, then rise fresh from the ashes to begin another 500-year cycle (Note: in Fahrenheit 451, the command vehicle driven by Captain Beatty is called a Phoenix)
phosphorescent
luminous without accompanying heat
phrenologists
Practitioners of the now-discredited science of phrenology, popular in the 19th century, which involved studying the shape and irregularities of the skull in the belief that they indicated the person’s mental abilities.
plinth
the lowest stone block in a foundation base
polarities
positive or negative states of electrical charge (used loosely here to refer to people's personalities)
postoperative
Following a surgical operation, or having undergone surgery
proboscis
a long, flexible snout; or a human nose when especially prominent
promptitude
speed, promptness
pterodactyls
generic term for a variety of flying (more accurately, gliding) dinosaurs of the late Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, which have a rudimentary tale and reduced teeth. Note: named as inhabitants of Mr. Dark’s tattoo map in chapter 53, they serve as the unnamed metaphor for the carnival’s tent canvases flapping in the wind, like “a great prehistoric thunder-kite display of leprous wings,” at the end of chapter 50.
puling
whining, whimpering
ravener
Person who feeds greedily, a plunderer
recumbent
Lying down, resting, prone
revivifying
Causing or helping to come back to life (from "revive")
rictus
gaping grimace
rimed
covered with a coating of tiny, white, granular ice crystals, like frost (This rare but simple word is a favorite of Bradbury’s: it also turns up in an icebox scene in his short story “One Timeless Spring.”)
rococo
ornate or florid in literary style (after a style of architecture that originated in France about 1720 that mixed different materials in elegant manner and employed ornamentation of shellwork, foliage, and other elaborate decorations)
scarification
designs on the skin made by shallow cuts sometimes rubbed with color to make a permanent scar design
semaphore
originally, a system of flag signals to communicate letters and words at sea from one ship to another, or from an aircraft carrier to an airplane; from there, a system of towers, electronic railroad signals, and much more recently, an abstract data type that restricts access to a computer information pool
sgraffito
decorative technique in which cuts are made in the surface of pottery, ceramics, paint, or plaster to expose a different shade or color underneath (in chapter 32, Bradbury applies to the sound of mice feet, that cut through the silence in a way that sounds like a sgraffito tool)
shrapnel
bomb, mine, or shell fragments
sibilant
having, containing, or producing the sound of, or a sound resembling, the hissing of an s or sh
skirled
produced a high, shrill, wailing tone, as if from bagpipes
snuffing, snuffed
inhaling/inhaled air through the nose forcefully and noisily
soughs
rustling, murmuring, or sighing deep breaths
tenterhooked
This adjective is also, technically, not a word, but was invented by Bradbury from a noun. A tenter is a frame or track with hooks or clips along two sides that is used for drying or stretching cloth. Tenterhooks are the sharp hooked nails used to fasten the cloth on a tenter. Bradbury uses it as a verb in a way that recalls a phrase that used to be common: when a person is said to be “on tenterhooks,” he is in a state of strain, uneasiness, suspense, or tension.
throwaway
handbill or advertising pamphlet designed to be tossed after quick reading (This word plays an interesting role in James Joyce’s Ulysses, when some men overhear Leopold Bloom speak of some ad throwaways and mistakenly believe he is dropping a hot tip on a racehorse called Throway -- who really did win the Gold Cup race at Ascott on June 16, 1904, the day the novel is supposed to take place -- and beat him up afterward, thinking he’s won a lot of money, when he knows knowing about it.)
tremulous
characterized by or affected with tremors or timidity
tripes
poor, worthless, and offensive things
vainglorious
filled with excessive vanity, boastful
vellumed
Covered with the fine-grained, unsplit hide of a lamb, kid, or calf prepared especially to writing on or binding and covering books; can also refer to a strong cream-colored paper
verminous
Consisting of or being small, common, diseased animals such as fleas or lice that are difficult to control; forming a breeding place for or infested by vermin
whiffled
blew with light, shifting gusts of whistling air
whorls
swirling ridges of a fingerprint