Wordlist

Edgar Allan Poe was fluent in several languages and had a very large vocabulary. Many times he used a word because of the way it sounded. Poe used some fairly obscure words that you may not be familiar with. Because of this, I have created the following list of words and phrases. When these words appear in a story or poem on this site, they are automatically hyperlinked to their definitions.

I am constantly adding words to this list. If you find a word or phrase that you think should be added, please let me know. Total words = 588

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a pipe of
The Portuguese word for barrel is pipa. A pipe is, in fact, a large, lengthy barrel or cask with tapered ends. It's used for aging and shipping wine.
a priori
Found by deduction. Derived by reasoning from self-evident propositions.
abase
To lower or be lowered in rank, prestige, or esteem. To be made to feel guilty.
abductor muscle
Any muscle used to pull a body part away from the midline of the body. For example, the abductor muscles of the legs spread the legs away from the midline and away from one another.
Abernethy
John Abernethy was a British surgeon known for being very blunt or even rude to his patients.
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abeyance
Suspension, temporary inactivity.
about a league
Originally, a league was the distance a person could walk in 1 hour, usually about 3 miles. In English units, during the 19th century, it was most often 3 nautical miles, or 3.45 miles. While the nautical mile is still used today, the league is no longer used to measure distance.

Most people know the term "league" from the title of the book by Jules Verne, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". The number in this story refers to the distance travelled by the fictional submarine, not how deep it went. The deepest part of any ocean on earth is just over 7 miles.
abstruse
Difficult to understand.
accede
To express approval or give consent; give in to a request or demand.
accoutred
dressed, clothed, outfitted.
Achilles' Heel
A fatal weakness in spite of overall strength. Achilles was a character in mythology who was invincible everywhere except his heel.
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acrid
Sharp and harsh or unpleasantly pungent in taste or odor.
acumen
Keenness and depth of perception. Power to see what is not evident to the average mind.
acute
1. An angle less than 90 degrees, like the angles of a triangle.
2. Characterized by sharpness or severity, such as acute pain.
3. Sensitive physical or intellectual perception, like an acute sense of smell or an acute thinker.
ad libitum
In accordance with desire.
addling
Confusion. A spoiling or rotting condition.
admonition
cautionary advice about something imminent, especially imminent danger.
AEgipans
Centaurs with the bodies of goats instead of horses. AEgipan was a woodland god similar to Pan (though with four legs), the son of Zeus who aided the gods in the battle of the Titans.
Aeolus
The Greek god of the winds.
Afrasiab
Afrasiab is a character from Firdowsi's great Persian epic, "Shahnama" (The Epic of Kings), written around 1000 AD. It is a remarkable work, containing 62 stories, 990 chapters, and 60,000 rhyming couplets, making it more than seven times the length of Homer's Iliad.
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aghast
Terrified, struck with amazement, showing signs of terror or horror.
Aidenn
Arabic word for paradise or heaven.
aigrette
A feather-shaped piece of jewelry worn in the hair or on a hat. From the French word "egret", a white heron prized for its plumage.
alarum
An old spelling of "alarm". This is the way Shakespeare spelled it. Here, it provides 3 syllables instead of 2 for the rhythm of the verse.
amatory
Of, relating to, or expressing sexual love.
aneurism
An aneurysm (or aneurism) is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by disease or weakening of the vessel wall. Aneurysms most commonly occur in the brain and in the main artery coming out of the heart. The bulge in the blood vessel can burst and lead to death at any time.
anomalous
deviating from the normal; aberrant or abnormal.
Antares
Antares (Alpha Scorpii) is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky.
antechamber
Hall, lobby, reception room.
Antediluvians
People living before the great flood described in the Bible.
aperture
An opening or hole. Today, this word usually refers to the size of the opening in a lens that lets light into a camera.
apothegm
A short, pithy, and instructive saying.
Appennines
Now spelled "Apennines", a mountain system, running the entire length of the Italian peninsula.
appetency
Appetite, having a fixed and strong desire.
Apuleius
Lucius Apuleius, a first century Roman, wrote a latin story called "The Golden Ass". It is an amusing work that relates the ludicrous adventures of one Lucius, a virile young man who is obsessed with magic. His enthusiasm leads to his accidental transformation into an ass.
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aqua regia
Aqua Regia is a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. It can dissolve gold, which single acids alone cannot do.
aquiline
Curving like an eagle's beak, or resembling an eagle.
Arabian Nights
A collection of stories within a story. The character Shahrazad narrates a set of fairy tales to the King Shahriyar, leaving him in suspense each night to prevent him from executing her. Some of the tales Shahrazad spins were later translated into familiar stories like, "Aladdin's Lamp", "Sinbad the Sailor", and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves".
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archipelago
A group of islands.
ardor
Extreme energy or vigor. Sexual excitement.
Artesian wells
Wells in which the water is under pressure and flows to the surface naturally. Artesian wells are named after the former province of Artois in France, where the first one was drilled by Carthusian monks in 1126.
arts of the toilet
Originally, "toilet" was the act of dressing and grooming oneself. Arts of the toilet referred to the skills used to apply makeup and groom the hair. From the French toilette cloth on which items used for grooming are placed.
Ashtophet
Most likely refers to "Ashtoreth, the Phoenician and Egyptian goddess of love and fertility and "Tophet", a version of hell associated in the Old Testament with the Egyptian worship of Moloch.
asphaltum
A dark bituminous substance that is found in natural beds and is also obtained as a residue in petroleum refining and that consists chiefly of hydrocarbons. Tar that has hardened.
Asphodel
Various Old World usually perennial herbs of the lily family with flowers in usually long erect racemes.
asphytic
having asphyxia, a lack of oxygen or excess of carbon dioxide in the body that is usually caused by interruption of breathing and that causes unconsciousness.
asseveration
A strong and earnest statement or affirmation.
athwart
Across. In opposition to.
au troisieme
French for "on the third," but the meaning is the fourth floor, because the count starts after the ground floor.
austere
Stern and cold in appearance or manner.
author of the Chronicles
Jean Froissart (c.1337 - c.1405) was one of the most important of the chroniclers of medieval France. For centuries, Froissart's Chronicles have been recognized as the chief expression of the chivalric revival of the 14th century Kingdom of England and France.
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avarice
Greediness, excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain.
avator
An old spelling of "avatar", an incarnation in human form. Today, avatars are graphic representation of people in chat rooms or online forums.
avoirdupois
A system of weights based on a pound containing 16 ounces or 7,000 grains. It can also simply mean heaviness.
axiom
A statement accepted as true as the basis for argument or inference. An established rule or principle.
Azrael
The "Angel of Death" in Moslem and Jewish legend.

Azrael is also the name of Gargamel's cat in the 1981 animated series, "The Smurfs".
bacchanalian
The Bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman god Bacchus. The term has since been extended to refer to any drunken revelry.
bagtelle
Usually a short and light piano piece. Also spelled "bagatelle".
balm in Gilead
Gilead, a region of Palestine, known for its balm, a healing ointment.

"Is there balm in Gilead?" is like saying, "Are there palm trees in Florida?". It's a rhetorical question.

This line is also spoken in the Bible, Jeremiah 8:22 (King James Version):

"Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?"
bas-relief
Sculptural relief in which the projection from the surrounding surface is slight and no part of the modeled form is undercut.
Batavia
Known today as Jakarta, the port capital of Indonesia.
Batrachomyomachia
The Battle of Frogs and Mice, a comic epic or parody on the Iliad.

The word by itself means "a silly altercation."
bauble
A small ornament. Something of little value. A fool's scepter.
beam-ends
Fallen over. The situation of a vessel when turned over so that her deck (beams) is inclined toward the vertical.
beau ideal
A perfect embodiment of a concept.
bedewed
To wet with or as if with dew.
bedight
To dress or decorate especially in splendid or impressive attire.
beetling
Projecting, jutting out.
beguiling
Leading by deception
behemoth
Something of monstrous size or power. A mighty animal described in Job 40:15-24 as an example of the power of God.
beldame
An old woman.
Bellini
Born in Sicily, Vincenzo Bellini was an Italian opera composer. A child prodigy, legend has it he could sing an air of Firoavanti at eighteen months, began studying music theory at two, the piano at three, and by the age of five could play well.
Belphegor of Machiavelli
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote Belphegor, a satire on marriage in which a demon comes to earth to prove that women damn men to hell.
benighted
lacking enlightenment or knowledge or culture; overtaken by the night.
Beresina
A river in Belarus, once part of the Soviet Union. Napoleon Bonaparte's army suffered significant losses when crossing the Berezina in November 1812 during his retreat from Russia. Since then "Berezina" is used in French as a synonym of catastrophe.
besotted
Very drunk
billet
A chunky piece of wood (as for firewood). A bar of metal. A piece of semifinished iron or steel nearly square in section made by rolling an ingot.
bivalve
Having a shell composed of two valves. Clams, oysters, and scallops are examples of bivalves.
Black Hole at Calcutta
Calcutta was renamed to Kolkata in 2001. It was the capital of British India until 1912. The Black Hole of Calcutta was a small dungeon where Indian troops held British prisoners of war in 1756. According to a disputed account, 123 of 146 prisoners died of heat exhaustion in the confined conditions, though historians now believe the number to be at most 43.
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Blue Distance of Tieck
Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853) was a German writer who was part of the Romantic movement of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
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bon ton
Fashionable manner or style. High society.
Borneo
Borneo (including the Kalimantan provinces of Indonesia, Sabah and Sarawak of Malaysia, and Brunei) is the third largest island in the world. It has an area of 743,330 sq km (287,00 sq mi), and is located at the center of the Malay archipelago and Indonesia. Borneo is considered part of the geographic region of Southeast Asia.
boudoir
A woman's dressing room, bedroom, or private sitting room.
brocade
A rich silk fabric with raised patterns in gold and silver.
brusquerie
Abruptness of manner.
buffoons
Clowns, ludicrous figures.
bugaboo
An imaginary object of fear. Something that causes fear or distress out of proportion to its importance.
cadaverously
Like a cadaver or a corpse.
Calculus
A central branch of mathematics dating back to the ancient greeks.
caloric
Heat; A supposed form of matter formerly held responsible for the phenomena of heat and combustion. While it is no longer believed that some invisible particle causes heat and fire, the modern word "calorie" is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree Celsius.
cameos
Gems carved in relief. A small piece of sculpture on a stone or shell cut in relief in one layer with another contrasting layer serving as background.
Campanella
Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639), a Dominican theologian, philosopher and poet.
candelabrum
A candlestick with multiple branches allowing it to hold a number of candles. Also spelled "candelabra".
caoutchouc
Rubber, something made of or resembling rubber.
Carathis
A character in "The History of the Caliph Vathek", a Gothic novel written by William Thomas Beckford. It was composed in French in 1782.
caricature
A drawing or other figure or description in which the peculiarities of a person or thing are so exaggerated as to appear ridiculous; a parody.
carpetbag
a traveler's bag made of carpet and widely used in the U.S. in the 19th century.
cartilaginous
Composed of, relating to, or resembling cartilage.
Caryatid
A sculpted female figure serving as an architectural element such as a column or a pillar. The male counterpart of a caryatid is referred to as a telemon or Atlas (plural, atlantes). A caryatid supporting a basket on her head is called a canephora.
cassock
A garment resembling a long frock coat worn by the clergy of certain churches when officiating, and by others as the usually outer garment.
castellated
Having battlements and high walls like a castle.
Catalani
Angelica Catalani (1780–1849), a famous Italian singer.
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catalepsy
A condition of suspended animation and loss of voluntary motion in which the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed.
cattymount
Now spelled "catamount", short for cat-a-mountain, any of various wild cats, like a cougar or a lynx.
censer
A covered incense burner, usually swung from a chain at funerals or other religious ceremonies.
chagrin
A gnawing, corroding grief. To be vexed or annoyed.
chaise longue
A long chair used for reclining.
Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794), was a French writer who was famous for his sarcasm.
chanticleer
Rooster or Cock.
charlatanerie
One making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability. A "charlatan" is a person who pretends to have knowledge or ability for fraudulent purposes.
Charles Green
Charles Green (1785-1870), was Britain's most famous balloonist of the 19th century.
charnel
A building or chamber in which bodies or bones are deposited.
Chiromancy
The art of Palm Reading.
Chirurgical Journal
"Chirurgeon" is an old word for surgeon. The journal may or may not have existed but there was a Medico-Chirurgical Society of Dresden in 1817.
chrysalis
A pupa of a butterfly. A protecting covering. A sheltered state or stage of being or growth.
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC–43 BC) was a statesman of Ancient Rome, and is generally considered the greatest Latin prose stylist.
circumlocution
The use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea.
clairvoyance
The power or faculty of discerning objects not present to the senses; for example the ability to see ghosts or spirits, to read minds, or predict the future.
clandestinely
Marked, held, or conducted secretly.
Cleomenes
Cleomenes III lived from about 260 to 219 BC He was king of Sparta from 235 to 222 BC
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Cleomenes is also a secondary character in "A Winter's Tale", a play by Shakespeare.
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cloister
A place or state of seclusion. An area within a monastery or convent to which the religious are normally restricted.
coadjutors
Assistants; Those who work together with one another.
coal gas
A mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, produced by burning coal. Like hydrogen, this mixture is combustible.
cocaigne
London was referred to by the Normans as the "Land of Sugar Cake" (Old French: pais de cocaigne), an imaginary land of idleness and luxury. A humorous appellation, the word 'Cocaigne' referred to all of London and its suburbs, and over time had a number of spellings: Cocagne, Cockayne, and in Middle English, Cocknay and Cockney.
coir
A stiff coarse fiber from the outer husk of a coconut. The coir fibre is relatively water-proof and is the only natural fibre resistant to damage by salt water. The major use of white coir is in rope manufacture.
colloquy
Conversation, dialogue, a high-level serious discussion.
conflagration
A large disastrous fire.
consequently crank
The condition of a ship that has not been loaded properly and leans to one side or can be tipped over easily.
contretemps
An inopportune or embarrassing occurrence or situation.
conundrums
Intricate and difficult problems. Riddles whose answers involves puns.
coppice
A thicket, grove, or growth of small trees.
coquetries
Flirtations.
corpulent
Having a large bulky body. Obese.
cosmogony
A theory of the origin of the universe.
Cotopaxi
A volcano in Ecuador, at 5,897 meters (19,347 feet), the second highest in the country, and one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. There have been more than 50 eruptions of Cotopaxi since 1738.
cravat
A necktie. A band or scarf worn around the neck.
Crebillon
Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon (1674-1762), was a French poet. The quote at the end of "The Purloined Letter" is from "Atree et Thyeste", written in 1707.

It can be translated as, "So grievous a plan, if not worthy of Atree, is dignified by Thyeste."

In Greek mythology, Atreus and Thyestes were brothers who were rivals and committed terrible crimes against each other.
crotchet
A highly individual and usually eccentric opinion or preference
cupola
A dome-shaped ornamental structure located on top of a larger roof or dome, often used as a lookout or to admit light and remove stale air.
daughters of Delos
The three daughters of king Anius of Delos, Oeno (wine), Spermo (wheat) and Elais (oliveoil). Their grandfather was Dionysus, and he gave them the powers to change water into wine, grass into wheat and berries into olives. When the Greek fleet set out to make war in Troy, it was the daughters who stocked their ships. Agamemnon was so impressed with this that he kidnapped them. Dionysus saved them by turning them into white doves.
De Beranger
"His heart is a lute strung tight; As soon as one touches it, it resounds."
from "Le Refus" (1831) by Pierre-Jean de Beranger, a French poet and song writer.
De mortuis nil nisi bonum
"Concerning the dead, people should say nothing except good."
death watches
Deathwatch beetles. Any of various small beetles (family Anobiidae) that are common in old houses where they bore in woodwork and furniture and make a tapping noise as a mating call.
decamped
Departed suddenly or secretly.
decorum
Propriety and good taste in conduct or appearance.
decrepitude
Wear from old age.
deigning
Condescending reluctantly and with a strong sense of the affront to one's superiority that is involved.
demur
Hesitation, (as in doing or accepting) usually based on doubt of the acceptability of something offered or proposed.
demur
Hesitation (as in doing or accepting) usually based on doubt of the acceptability of something offered or proposed.
denouement
The final outcome of a complex sequence of events.
derision
The use of ridicule or scorn to show contempt.

"...By pouring their derision upon anything we did And exposing every weakness however carefully hidden by the kids." -Pink Floyd
despotism
A system of government in which the ruler has unlimited power.
dint
By force of; because of
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian. The earliest date Diodorus mentions is his visit to Egypt in the 180th Olympiad (between 60 and 56 BC). This visit was marked by his witnessing an angry mob demand the death of a Roman citizen who had accidentally killed a cat, an animal sacred to the ancient Egyptians.
Directorium Inquisitorum
A manual on how to torture Catholic heretics, published in Barcelona in 1503.
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disapprobation
Condemnation. The act or state of disapproving.
discomfited
Put into a state of perplexity and embarrassment. Disconcerted.
disconsolate
Downcast, dejected, cheerless.
discordantly
In disagreement with, conflicted.
disinter
To take a body out of its grave or tomb.
dissemble
Hide under a false appearance.
dissimulation
Hiding under a false appearance.
Dodona
At Dodona in Epirus, northwestern Greece, was a prehistoric oracle devoted to the Greek god, Zeus and the Mother Goddess identified as Dione. The shrine of Dodona was the oldest Hellenic oracle, according to the fifth-century historian Herodotus and in fact dates to pre-Hellenic times. Priests and priestesses in the sacred grove interpreted the rustling of the oak (or beech) leaves to determine the correct actions to be taken.
doffed
To remove an article of clothing from the body. To take off (the hat) in greeting or as a sign of respect.
doggerel
Loosely styled and irregular in measure especially for burlesque or comic effect. Applies to either clothing or poetry. The original Middle English term was "Dogge Dog". Hmmm, sound familiar?
dogma
Something held as an established opinion. A point of view put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds. A doctrine concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church.
domiciliary
Provided or taking place in the home. Providing shelter and living space.
donjon-keep
Dungeon
dotage
A condition of decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness, usually attributed to old age.
double-reefed
To reef is to reduce the size of a sail by using ropes running through eyelets in the sail. This is usually done in high winds to protect the sails.
draughts
British name for the game of checkers.
Druidical
Like one of an ancient Celtic priesthood appearing as a magician or wizard.
ducal
Of or relating to a Duke.
dyspeptic
indigestion or ill humor.
Earthquake at Lisbon
In 1755, the Lisbon earthquake took place on November 1, at 9:20am. It was one of the most destructive and deadly earthquakes in history, killing between 60,000 and 100,000 people. The quake was followed by a tsunami and fire, resulting in the near total destruction of the city.
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eclat
Ostentatious display. Dazzling effect. Brilliance.
educed
Brought out. Extracted. Evoked.
effulgence
Brilliance, radiant splendor.
egregious
Obviously bad. Flagrant.
Eidolon
An eidolon is the astral double of a living being; a phantom-double of the human form; a shade or perispirit; the kamarupa after death, before its disintegration. The phantom can appear under certain conditions to survivors of the deceased.
Elah-Gabalus
Usually spelled Elagabulus, emperor of Rome from 218-222, who indulged in the wildest debaucheries. He was one of the most reviled Roman emperors to early historians. Finally, his grandmother had him assassinated.
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Eldorado
A place used as a metaphor to represent an ultimate prize that one might spend their life seeking. It could represent true love, heaven, happiness, or success.
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emaciation
in a very thin state, wasted away.
ennui
Boredom, a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction.
ennuye
Bored, weary in spirits, emotionally exhausted.
entrails
Internal parts, usually the organs of a human body.
ephemeron
Something short-lived or of no lasting significance.
Epicurus
Epicurus was a philosopher from 300 B.C. He thought the highest pleasure (tranquility and freedom from fear) was obtained by knowledge, friendship, and living a virtuous and temperate life. He lauded the enjoyment of simple pleasures, by which he meant abstaining from bodily desires, such as sex and appetites.
epigram
A terse, sage, or witty and often paradoxical saying. A concise poem dealing pointedly and often satirically with a single thought or event.
epithet
Expression. A characterizing word or phrase accompanying or occurring in place of the name of a person or thing.
equivocal
Uncertain. Undecided. Subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse.
Erebus
In Greek mythology, Erebus, or Érebos was a primordial god, personification of darkness, offspring of Chaos. He was brother of Nyx and father of Aether.
Eros
Greek god of love, where the word "erotic" comes from. Also, love conceived in the philosophy of Plato as a fundamental creative impulse having a sensual element.
erudition
Learning; extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books.
eschew
To avoid or shun, especially on moral or practical grounds.
escritoire
A writing table or desk.
escutcheon
A defined area on which armorial bearings are displayed and which usually consists of a shield. A protective or ornamental plate or flange. The part of a ship's stern on which the name is displayed.
ethereal
Heavenly. Of or relating to the regions beyond the earth.
Eupatrids
One of the hereditary aristocrats of ancient Athens.
euphony
Pleasing or sweet sound. The acoustic effect produced by words so formed or combined as to please the ear.
evanescent
Something that vanishes like vapor, passing especially quickly into and out of existence.
evinced
Displayed clearly; revealed.
exacerbate
To make more violent, bitter, or severe.
excoriations
Abrasions of the skin. Places where the skin is worn off.
expectorate
To spit; to eject from the throat or lungs by coughing or hawking and spitting.
expedient
Suitable for achieving a particular purpose in a given circumstance.
expostulation
reasoning earnestly with a person for purposes of talking them out of something.
facilis descensus Averni
"The descent into Hell is easy", a quote from Virgil's "Aeneid", written around 20 BC. "Averni" translates to "Hell" because Lake Avernus was believed to be the entrance to the underworld.
fag end
A poor or worn-out end. The last part or coarser end of a web of cloth. The untwisted end of a rope.
Falstaffian
Falstaff was a fat, convivial, roguish character in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV.
fandango
Most important of the modern Spanish dances, for couples. The dance begins slowly and tenderly, the rhythm marked by the clack of castanets, snapping of fingers, and stomping of feet.
farthingale
A series of hoops worn especially in the 16th century beneath a skirt to expand it at the hipline.
fastidious
Possessing or displaying careful, meticulous attention to detail; difficult to please; exacting.
fathom
As a unit of measurement, a fathom is six feet.

15 fathoms = 90 feet
40 fathoms = 240 feet

It also means, "to understand".
fauces
The narrow passage from the mouth to the pharynx, situated between the soft palate and the base of the tongue; -- called also the isthmus of the fauces. On either side of the passage two membranous folds, called the pillars of the fauces, inclose the tonsils.
felicity
Happiness. The quality or state of being happy.
fete
A lavish often outdoor entertainment, a large elaborate party.
fetid
Having a heavy offensive smell.
filigreed
Ornamental work especially of fine wire of gold, silver, or copper applied chiefly to gold and silver surfaces.
filliping
Flicking, striking or tapping with a quick motion.
fiorituri
Taken from "fior" which means "flower" in Italian, fioratura refers to the actual flowery, embellished vocal line within an aria.
flambeau
A flaming torch.
flax
Flax fibres are amongst the oldest fibre crops in the world. The use of flax fibre to make cloth dates back to pre-Roman times. Coarser grades are used for the manufacturing of twine and rope.
flush deck
A continuous deck of a ship laid from stem to stern without any break.
foolscap
A size of paper formerly standard in Great Britain, measuring 17.2 cm x 21.6 cm, or simply a piece of writing paper.
footpads
Thieves who rob pedestrians. Muggers.
forecastle
That part of the upper deck forward of the fore mast. Also, the forward part of the vessel, under the deck, where the sailors live, in merchant vessels.
foredoomed
A fancy way to say "doomed".
fortnight
Two weeks.
fouled our anchor
The anchor became entangled in the chain or rope that it was connected to.
francs
French dollars.
Freemasons
A worldwide fraternal organization where members are joined together by shared ideals of both a moral and metaphysical nature. Certain aspects of Freemasonry are not generally revealed to the public. Its members have "secret handshakes" and other ways to recognize each other.
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frieze
A sculptured or richly ornamented band (as on a building or piece of furniture).
Fuseli
A well known British painter (1741-1825). He favored the supernatural, and pitched everything on an ideal scale, believing a certain amount of exaggeration necessary. He took this idea to extremes; and the violent and intemperate action which he often displays destroys the grand effect of many of his pieces.
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fustian
Excessively embellished or affected writing or speech.
G--, the Prefect
The chief officer or chief magistrate.
gainsayed
contradicted, opposed, declared to be untrue or invalid.
gaiters
Cloth or leather leg coverings reaching from the instep to above the ankle or to mid-calf or knee.
galvanic
Relating to, or producing a direct current of electricity.
gaze aerienne
Airy gauze
gelatinous
Resembling gelatin or jelly.
gemmary
Pertaining to gems or jewels.
gendarme
A police officer. A member of a body of soldiers especially in France serving as an armed police force for the maintenance of public order.
genii
A magic spirit believed to take human form and serve the person who calls it. Can also refer to angels. More commonly spelled "genie".
gesticulations
Expressive gestures made in showing strong feeling or in enforcing an argument.
gesticulation
A motion of the body or limbs in speaking, or in representing action or passion, and enforcing arguments and sentiments.
ghee
A clarified butter without any solid milk particles or water. Ghee is used in India and throughout South Asia in daily cooking.
gimlet
A small tool with a screw point, grooved shank, and cross handle for boring holes.
gingham
A clothing fabric usually of yarn-dyed cotton in plain weave.
girting
Surrounding, encircling. More commonly spelled "girding".
glutinous
Having the quality of glue; gummy
Gordian knot
The Gordian knot is a legend where Alexander the Great tried to untie a complicated knot and when he couldn't solve the puzzle, sliced it in half with his sword.
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Gorgias
An ancient Greek philosopher, and rhetorician. In his work, he argued that:
1) Nothing exists
2) Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it.
3) Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can't be communicated to others.

Gorgias is credited with having invented the philosophy of nihilism, the view that the world, and especially human existence, is without meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. Movements such as Dada, Deconstructionism, and Punk have been described by various observers as "nihilist".
gossamer
Something light, delicate, or insubstantial. A cobweb, for example.
grandiloquent
A lofty, extravagantly colorful, pompous, or bombastic style, manner, or quality especially in language.
gunwale
Upper edge or topmost planking of the side of a ship or boat. Was also called gunnel.
habiliment
Clothing. The dress characteristic of an occupation or occasion.
Halcyon
Halcyon was a bird, now believed to have been the kingfisher. It was supposed to have a calming influence on the sea at the time of winter solstice. Folklore held that during the "halcyon days", from seven days before the solstice until seven days after it, storms would not occur at sea. By extension, halcyon has come to mean the best period of one's life or career, or a period of great happiness.
harangue
A ranting speech or writing. A lecture.
Harrison Ainsworth
William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882) was a British historical novelist. In 1839, he wrote "Jack Sheppard", the story of the notorious English burglar and thief.
hauteur
arrogance, haughtiness
heaving the lead
A lead weight hollowed out at the bottom is fitted to a lead line, so that it may be armed with tallow, this allows the nature of the bottom to be ascertained when a lead line is used by a seaman to find the depth of water when a ship is navigating in restricted or shallow water.
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Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a wide-spread and diverse group of islands off the west coast of Scotland. The area is known for its rough seas and high winds.
Helusion
Paradise. More often spelled Elysion or Elysium.
Hernani
A famous play written in 1830 by French dramatist Victor Hugo.

The play was classified as "Romantic" and was opposed by people who were referred to as "Classicists". On opening night, Hugo was determined to fill the auditorium with his fans so he handed out special "red" tickets. Loyal groups were seated next to anyone that might be tempted to try to hiss the cast off the stage. The auditorium turned into a spectacular field of battle; Liberals versus Royalists, Romantics versus Classicists, free expression versus aesthetical conformism and the young versus the old.
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Herod
"Herod the Great" was the King of Judea around the time of Christ's birth (0 BC). He was known for his extravagance.

Herod was also known for his violence and cruelty. He executed his wife after she had 5 of his children. Later, he had his brother-in-law and a couple of his sons executed. In the Bible, Matthew's gospel describes how Herod had all children under 2 years old killed, in an attempt to prevent the birth of the Messiah.
Hesper
The Hesperides were the Greek goddesses of evening or sunset. They are tied to their imagined location in the distant west, and Hesperis is the personification of the evening.

The "Garden of the Hesperides" is Hera's orchard in the west, where either a single tree or a grove of immortality-giving golden apples grew.
hessian
A German mercenary serving in the British forces during the American Revolution.
hillocks
Small hills.
hogshead
A large cask or barrel. A U.S. unit equal to 63 gallons.
Homeric
Relating to, or characteristic of the Greek poet Homer, author of the Iliad and Odyssey.
homoeopathists
Those who practice Homeopathy. ("Homoeopathy" is an alternative spelling). Homeopathy is alternative methods of medical treatment, pioneered by German scientist Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. The remedies are prepared from natural substances to precise standards and work by stimulating the body's own healing power.
horticulturist
A person who specializes in the art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants.
Houri
One of the beautiful maidens that in Muslim belief live with the blessed in paradise. In general, a voluptuously beautiful young woman.
Huguenot
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the name of Huguenots came to apply to members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. Above all, Huguenots became known for their fiery criticisms of worship as performed in the Roman Catholic Church, in particular the focus on ritual and what seemed an obsession with death and the dead.
hyacinthine
Of the color of a hyacinth, either the gem or the flower.

In the Odyssey, Homer wrote, "... she also made the hair grow thick on the top of his head, and flow down in curls like hyacinth blossoms..."
hyperobtrusive
Especially obvious. Excessively vivid. Garish.

Poe made this word up and it was later added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
hyperquizzitistical
It appears that Poe made this word up.
hypocritical
Being a hypocrite. Saying one thing but acting or thinking in a contradictory manner.
ichor
A thin watery or blood-tinged discharge.
idiom
An expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.
idiosyncrasy
A peculiarity of temperament. An individual hyper-sensitiveness, as to a drug or food.
ignes fatui
"Foolish Light". An old term for the light sometimes seen in marshes and swamps, when seeping methane gas self-ignites, creating flickering lights. To travellers, these lights (seemingly the lights from distant lanterns) could act as a dangerous lure, tricking them off the safe path and onto treacherous ground.
imbibed
Received into the mind and retained. Absorbed.
imbued
Infused. Permeated, as if with dye.
immolation
to be killed as a sacrificial victim.
improvisatori
Those that improvise, like actors or poets.
impunity
Freedom from any punishment, loss, or consequences.
in articulo mortis
The moment of death
In pace requiescat
"Rest in Peace".
in sooth
In truth; In reality
inanition
Loss of vitality that results from lack of food and water. The absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual vitality or vigor.
incipient
Beginning. Becoming apparent.
incubus
A nightmare. An oppressive thought like a nightmare. An evil spirit that has sexual intercourse with women while they are sleeping.
ineffable
Indescribable. Incapable of being expressed in words.
inhumed
buried, as in a grave.
inimitable
Not capable of being imitated. Matchless.
Inquisition
The Spanish Inquisition. An institution by which people in Spain were converted to Christianity by force. It was considered a "cleansing" of the people. A court, operated by Church authorities, would determine if a person was a "heretic". A heretic could be a Jew, a Muslim, or anyone who didn't claim to be a christian or follow the Catholic Church. Heretics were tortured, burned at the stake, or executed. The Inquisition finally ended in 1834, during Poe's lifetime.
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intemperance
Habitual or excessive consumption of alcohol. In general, a lack of moderation.

Poe had a problem with alcohol himself.
invention of Hero
Hero (or Heron) of Alexandria (c.10–c.70) was a Greek engineer and geometer. His most famous invention was the first documented steam engine, the aeolipile.
Irene
Poe wrote a poem called "Irene" in 1831. It was later published as "The Sleeper".
jaggeree
Now spelled "jaggery", it is an unrefined brown sugar made from palm sap. Jaggery is a nutritive sugar, high in vitamins and mineral salts. It is also very rich in iron, which helps prevents anemia.
Java
The island of Java is located in South Asia, next to the island of Sumatra, and below Borneo, Cambodia, and Vietnam. While Java is only the 13th largest island in the world, it is the most populous island in the world, with a larger population than Australia.
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Joseph Glanvill
Joseph Glanvill (1636-1680) was an English writer, philosopher, and clergyman. He wrote Sadducismus Triumphatus, which contained a valuable collection of seventeenth century folklore about witches.
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Jove
In Roman mythology, Jupiter (sometimes shortened to Jove) held the same role as Zeus in the Greek pantheon. He was called Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Jupiter Best and Greatest) as the patron deity of the Roman state, in charge of laws and social order.
juxtaposition
The act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side.
Kabbala
An interpretation of the Torah (Hebrew Bible), or the religious mystical system of Judaism claiming an insight into divine nature. A unique, universal and secret knowledge of God, the laws of nature and of the universe.
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kirschenwasser
A cherry brandy manufactured chiefly in the Black Forest in Germany.
Kraken
Probably no legendary sea monster was as horrifying as the Kraken. According to stories, this huge creature, resembling a giant squid, could reach as high as the top of a sailing ship's main mast. The Kraken would attack a ship, wrap its arms around the hull and capsize it. The crew would drown or be eaten by the monster.
Lachadive islands
Now spelled "Laccadive", a group of islands and coral reefs in the Arabian Sea off the southwest coast of India.
laconic
Using or involving the use of a minimum of words; concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious.
Lady Rowena Trevanion
"Lady Rowena" was also a character in the book, Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott in 1820.

Poe writes, "Lady Rowena Trevanion, of Tremaine." In Disney's version of "Cinderella", Lady Tremaine is Cinderella's wicked stepmother. In the original version of Cinderella, written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1812, the stepmother does not have a name.
lambent
Flickering. Playing lightly on or over a surface.
larboard
The old name for the left hand side of a ship. It was officially changed to 'port' in 1844, to avoid confusion with starboard.
Leibnitz
Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716). Along with Newton, jointly credited for the development of the modern calculus.
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lethargic
sluggish, indifferent
Lethe
Forgetfulness. In Greek mythology, the Lethe is one of the rivers that flow through the realm of Hades. Called the River of Oblivion, the shades of the dead had to drink from this river to forget about their past lives on earth.
Liriodendron Tulipiferum
Family: Magnoliaceae (magnolia family)
Common Names: tulip poplar, tulip tree, yellow poplar.

This large, stately deciduous tree is fairly common in the eastern United States. The tulip poplar can grow to heights of over 100 ft (30.5m) with trunk diameters of 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) not uncommon.
litterateur
A professional writer.
locution
A word or expression characteristic of a region, group, or cultural level.
Lord Verulam
One of the titles of Francis Bacon, born in London, 1561. He was a brilliant writer and philospher. He originated the saying, "Knowledge is Power".

Bacon's actual quote, paraphrased by Poe in "Ligeia" is, "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion."
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luminiferous ether
In ancient times, "luminiferous ether" was the substance which was thought to fill the upper regions of space, beyond the clouds. In the 19th century, it was the term used to describe a medium for the propagation of light.

Einstein's theories seem to disprove the existence of an ether, but even to this day, not all scientists agree.
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lustrum
A period of five years. A purification of the whole Roman people made in ancient times after the census every five years.
Luxor
The temple of Luxor was built in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes by King Amenhotep III, 1390 BC.

Today, the Luxor is a hotel and casino in Las Vegas that is shaped like a pyramid. The original Luxor temple in Egypt was not a pyramid.
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Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) was a Florentine statesman and political philosopher.
Mad Trist
A "story within a story", apparently created by Poe in "The Fall of the House of Usher". The narrator is reading the story and at the same time hears sounds that seem to coincide with what he is reading.
Madonna
Madonna is a medieval Italian term for a noble or otherwise important woman. In Western Christian art tradition this word is used for the works depicting the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.
magnetoesthetics
Poe made up this word. In context it probably means the study of attraction or "Animal Magnetism" between men and women.
Maison
French for House or building.
Malays
People of the Malay Peninsula, eastern Sumatra, parts of Borneo, and some adjacent islands.
mansardes
A mansard roof has two slopes on all sides with the lower slope steeper than the upper one. Usually there are attic rooms with windows placed within the lower slope.
manumitted
To let go, send;
To release from slavery.
Mare Tenebrarum
"Sea of Darkness".
Massacre of St. Bartholomew
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre was a wave of Catholic mob violence against the Huguenots (French Protestants), under the authority of Catherine de Medici. Starting on August 24, 1572, the massacres spread throughout Paris and later to other cities, during which as many as 70,000 may have been killed.
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mattock
A digging and grubbing tool with features of both an axe and a pick.
meerschaum
A tobacco pipe. A fine light white clayey mineral that is a hydrous magnesium silicate found chiefly in Asia Minor and is used especially for tobacco pipes.
menages-humored
Domestically suited, domesticated.
Mendez Ferdinando
Fernão Mendes Pinto was a Portuguese explorer and writer born in 1509. The stories he wrote of his life were so unusual and exaggerated that they were not believed. The Portuguese expression, "Fernão, Mentes? Minto!" makes fun of his name. It means, "Fernão, do you lie? Yes, I lie!"
mendicants
Baggars, homeless people.
Mesmer
Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) discovered what he called animal magnetism and others often called mesmerism. Mesmer's ideas led to the development of hypnosis in 1842.
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metaphor
A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them; for example, "All the world's a stage".
mien
Air or bearing especially as expressive of attitude or personality; demeanor.
mizen-mast
The aftermost mast of a ship.
moiety
One of two equal parts. Half of something.
mollified
Appeased. Soothed in temper or disposition.
monastic
Relating to monasteries or to monks or nuns. Resembling a secluded or simple life.
monody
An ode sung by one voice (as in a Greek tragedy). An elegy or dirge performed by one person.
monomania
Excessive concentration on a single object or idea.
monomaniac
A person with monomania, the excessive concentration on a single object or idea.
morass
Marsh, swamp.
Something that is difficult to deal with.
morceau
Morsel. Also a short literary or musical piece.
Moresque
Having the characteristics of Moorish art or architecture.
Moultrie
William Moultrie was an American general in the Revolution. He repulsed British attack on Sullivan's Island in Charleston Harbor in 1776, and defended Charleston again in 1779.
mummer
Actor, one who goes merrymaking in disguise during festivals.
Mussulmans
Muslims
Naiad
In Greek mythology, the Naiads were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks.
naphthaline
The modern spelling is naphthalene. A white solid with a strong smell; is also called mothballs, moth flakes, white tar, and tar camphor. Naphthalene is a natural component of fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.

In humans, exposure to large amounts of naphthalene may damage or destroy red blood cells. Some of the symptoms of this condition are fatigue, lack of appetite, restlessness, and pale skin.
Napoleons
French 20-franc gold coins.
Nassau balloon
In 1837, Charles Green, Robert Holland, and Thomas Monck Mason really did take a balloon trip from London, England to Weilburg, Germany. Poe used this well known event to add credibility to his story.
Neapolitans
Natives or inhabitants of Naples, Italy.
necromancy
sorcery: the belief in magical spells that harness occult forces or evil spirits to produce unnatural effects in the world; conjuring up the dead, especially for prophesying.
Nemo me impune lacessit
"No one provokes me with impunity". This motto appears on the royal arms of Scotland.
nepenthe
A potion used by the ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow; Something capable of causing oblivion of grief or suffering.
neufchatelish
Refers to Neufchâtel-en-Bray (town of Normandy - France). Town famed for its cheese-making.
Newfoundland
Any of a breed of very large heavy highly intelligent black, black and white, or bronze dogs developed in Newfoundland.
Nicholas Klimm
Baron Ludwig Holberg (1684-1754) wrote a story about a voyage to the land of death and back.
Night Thoughts
A poem about life, death, and immortality, written by British author Edward Young in 1742.
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nihility
Nonexistence; nothingness
nitre
Also spelled "niter". Nitre is a clear or white mineral crystal of potassium nitrate. It usually is found as massive encrustations and effervescent growths on cavern walls and ceilings where solutions containing alkali potassium and nitrate seep into the openings. Niter has been known since ancient times. The name is from Hebrew néter, for salt derived ashes. It is also known as Saltpetre.
nom de plume
A "Pen Name", or a pseudonym adopted by an author for various reasons.
non distributio medii
Fallacy of the undistributed middle. A seemingly logical reasoning that is not always true.

Example:
1. All students carry backpacks.
2. My father carries a backpack.
3. Therefore, my father is a student.

This logic sounds good at first but there are obviously problems with it. Even if the first two statements are true, it doesn't mean my father is a student.
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non-plussed
Perplexed. To cause to be at a loss as to what to say, think, or do.
Norman
A native or inhabitant of Normandy. One of the Scandinavian conquerors of Normandy in the 10th century.
Nourjahad
A reference to "The History of Nourjahad", written in 1767 by Frances Sheridan.
Nouvelle Heloise
A romantic novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau written in 1761. It was banned in France at the time it was written.
obeisance
A gesture of respect, like kneeling or bowing before a king.
obstreperous
Marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness; Stubbornly resistant to control.
obtuse
1. An angle greater than 90 degrees. For example, the angles of a stop sign are obtuse.
2. Dull, blunt, not pointed.
3. A stupid person.
occiput
The back part of the head or skull.
ocular
Having something to do with the eyes.
Oedipus
The son of Laius and Jocasta who in fulfillment of an oracle unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.

The "Oedipus complex" is a concept developed by Sigmund Freud in the early 20th century, and is disputed by psychologists today.
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ossification
The natural process of bone formation; the hardening (as of muscular tissue) into a bony substance; a mass or particle of ossified tissue.
Ourang-Outang
The modern spelling is orangutan. A largely herbivorous arboreal ape of Borneo and Sumatra that is about two thirds as large as the gorilla and has brown skin, long sparse reddish brown hair, and very long arms.
outre
Bizarre; Violating convention or propriety.
Pagan
A follower of a polytheistic religion, as in ancient Rome. One who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods.
pall
A heavy cloth draped over a coffin; an overspreading element that produces an effect of gloom
Pallas
Pallas is probably Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Poe himself writes,

"...the bust of Pallas being chosen, first, as most in keeping with the scholarship of the lover, and, secondly, for the sonorousness of the word, Pallas, itself."
palliative
Reducing the violence of a disease; easing symptoms without curing the underlying disease.
pallid
Pale, lacking color.
palpably
Easily perceptible by the mind. Capable of being touched.
pantaloons
Close-fitting trousers usually having straps passing under the instep and worn especially in the 19th century.
pantheistical
Doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the universe. The worship of all gods of different creeds, cults, or peoples indifferently.
paradox
A statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true. An argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises. A person that possesses seemingly contradictory qualities or phases.
paradoxical
A paradox is a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true.
parallelogram
A geometric figure with sides that are parallel and equal. A square and a rectangle are both parallelograms. A diamond (as in playing cards) is also a parallelogram.
Parian
Of or relating to the island of Paros noted for its marble used extensively for sculpture in ancient times.
Parisian
Of or relating to Paris, France.
paroxysms
Convulsions or fits. Sudden violent emotions or actions.
partisan
A firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.
pasquinaded
Publicly made fun of, lampooned. Pasquino was the name given to a statue in Rome on which lampoons were posted.
passes for Amontillado
A dry sherry noted for its delicate bouquet, resembling the wine of Montilla, Spain, from which it derives its name. A blend of pale, dry sherries of the palma type, it assumes in aging a darker color.
patrician
Aristocrat. A person of breeding and cultivation. A member of one of the original citizen families of ancient Rome.
pectoral muscles
Any of the muscles which connect the ventral walls of the chest with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder.
pendulous
Poised without visible support.
penuriousness
Stinginess, given to or marked by extreme frugality.
peregrinations
Travels on foot, long walks.
perforations
Openings or holes.
pernicious
Highly injurious or destructive; wicked.
Persepolis
The ancient capital of the Persian empire. It was plundered and burned by Alexander the Great.
pertinacity
Adhering resolutely to an opinion, purpose, or design. Perversely persistent.
petulantly
Rudely or insolently. Characterized by temporary or capricious ill humor.
phantasm
Illusion, ghost, a product of fantasy, a mental representation of a real object.
phantasmagoric
A constantly shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined. An exhibition or display of optical effects and illusions.
phrenologist
A person who studies the conformation of the skull based on the belief that it is indicative of mental faculties and character.
phthisis
A progressively wasting or consumptive condition; especially pulmonary tuberculosis.
physiognomy
Inner character or quality revealed outwardly. The art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance.
pine
As a verb, to yearn intensely and persistently especially for something unattainable.
placid
Tranquil, gentle, quiet, or undisturbed.
plebeian
One of the common people; a member of the Roman plebs
Plutarch
Mestrius Plutarch (c.45-c.120) was a Greek historian, biographer and moralist. He was best known for his character studies of famous Greeks and Romans. He was a senior priest at the Oracle of Delphi. His works greatly influenced Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Milton, and Sir Francis Bacon.
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Pluto
The Roman god of the underworld.
Plutonian
Relating to Pluto, the god of the underworld in Roman mythology.
poop
A deck raised over the after part of the spar deck. A vessel is pooped when the sea breaks over her stern.
Porphyrogene
Poe may have created the form of the word for his poem.

porphyrogenite
A Byzantine emperor's son born in the purple or porphyry room assigned to empresses, hence a prince born after his father's accession; a person born into the nobility.
posteriori
Reasoning from observed facts.
praeternatural
Supernatural, or inexplicable by ordinary means.
precocity
having mature qualities at an unusually early age.
prevarication
To deviate from the truth.
prima donna
Italian for "first lady." the female star of an opera. In modern usage, it has come to mean a a vain and temperamental person.
Procrustean
Marked by arbitrary often ruthless disregard of individual differences or special circumstances.
prodigious
Enormous, unusually large, causing amazement or wonder.
promulgate
To make known by open declaration.
propitious
Benevolent, being of good omen.
provincialists
A native or inhabitant of a province.
Psyche
The tale of Eros and Psyche first appeared as a digressionary story told by an old woman in Lucius Apuleius' novel, The Golden Ass, written in the second century. Apuleius probably used an earlier folk-tale as the basis for his story. Read on its own, it is for the most part a mixture of straightforward fairy tale and parody.
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Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemaeus (c.100–c.178), was an ancient geographer, astronomer, and astrologer who lived and worked in Egypt.
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Ptolemy Hephestion
Apparently this person does not exist.

"... In brief, Poe invented a geographer from a desert region who mapped a non-existent ocean which swept men into darkness, in a work conceived as the illumination of man's understanding of the order of the universe and dedicated to the most distinguished explorer and geographer of his own day."

- from Harriet R. Holman's article discussing Poe's work, "Eureka".
puncheon
A large cask of varying capacity.
punctilious
Concerned about precise accordance with the details of codes or conventions.
purloined
To take something wrongfully and often by a breach of trust. It is about the same as stealing but not exactly. In Poe's story, the Queen sees the Minister take the letter but cannot say anything to stop him due to the nature of the letter itself.
purloiner
Thief, burglar.
Pyrrhonism
The doctrines of a school of ancient extreme skeptics who suspended judgment on every proposition.
pæan
A joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph.
quaff
to drink deeply
quiescence
Inactivity, repose, tranquility.
Rabelais
François Rabelais (1493-1553) was a Renaissance writer, born in France. In his first book of the "Gargantua" series, Rabelais sang the praises of the wines from his hometown through vivid descriptions of the "eat, drink and be merry" lifestyle. Despite the great popularity of his books, they were condemned by academics and the Roman Catholic Church.
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raconteur
A person who excels in telling anecdotes.
Radcliffe
Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823). English novelist, a most original and distinguished writer of Gothic romances, fond of vivid description, startling events and horrors.
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rapture
Ecstasy. A state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion. A mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things.
rara avis in terris
Latin for "A rare bird upon the earth".
recherche
Exquisite, pretentious, overblown.
recusant
One who refuses to accept or obey established authority. An English Roman Catholic of the time from about 1570 to 1791 who refused to attend services of the Church of England and thereby committed a statutory offense.
reduplication
An act or instance of doubling or reiterating.
regulus of cobalt
Pure Cobalt was regulus of cobalt (CoAsS). Named by the copper miners of the Hartz Mountains after the evil spirits the "kobolds" which gave a false copper ore.
rencontre
A violent meeting. Can also be a contest between forces or individuals, like combat.
revel
A wild party or celebration.
reverie
The condition of being lost in thought; daydreaming.
rheum
A watery discharge from the mucous membranes especially of the eyes or nose.
rheumatism
Any of various conditions characterized by inflammation or pain in muscles, joints, or fibrous tissue; rheumatoid arthritis.
Rhine
A river in Europe, flowing from Switzerland to the Netherlands, bordering Austria and Germany.
ribands
Ribbons used as decorations.
Rochefoucauld
La Rochefoucauld, le Prince de Marcillac (1613-1680), was the greatest maxim writer of France.
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roquelaire
A knee-length cloak worn especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also spelled "roquelaure".
rubicund
Ruddy, having a healthy reddish color.
Rue
The french word for "Street". "Rue Morgue" would then be translated as "Morgue Street".
ruminating
To go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly. To chew repeatedly for an extended period.
runic
Runes were characters of several alphabets used by the Germanic peoples until the 13th century. They were first used over 1500 years ago by the East Goths, and later appeared throughout England and Scandinavia. The word "rune" itself comes from an early Anglo-Saxon word meaning "secret" or "mystery", and they remain an enigma to the modern world.
sagacious
Having or showing keen discernment, sound judgment, and farsightedness. Shrewd.
sagacity
Shrewdness. Having keen perception of the senses.
sallied
Leaped, burst forth.
sanctimonious
having a "holier-than-thou" attitude; excessively or hypocritically pious.
sanguine
Confident and optimistic.

It also means "bloodred" or consisting of or relating to blood. Another interesting word choice by Poe.
Saracenic
A member of a nomadic people of the deserts between Syria and Arabia. Arab.
sarcophagus
Coffin, particularly ones from ancient Egypt.
sate
An old spelling of "sat", past tense of "sit". "Sate" also means to indulge past the point of being merely satisfied. It implies losing interest in something because of doing it too much.
Satyrs
Deities in Greek mythology having the torso of a man and the body of a horse or goat (2 legs). Pan was a Satyr who lived in the woods, played a flute, and was fond of unrestrained revelry.
Scarabaeus
Any of a family (Scarabaeidae) of stout-bodied beetles with lamellate or flabellate antennae. A stone or earthenware glazed beetle used in ancient Egypt as a talisman, ornament, and a symbol of resurrection.
Scholiasts
Commentators, annotators. People who write marginal remarks.
schooner-rigged smack
An English Fishing Smack was a wooden sailing vessel with two masts, and usually around 60 feet in length. The Smack brought home the fish to Market for most of the 19th Century and even in small numbers up to the Second World War.
scimitar
A saber having a curved blade with the edge on the convex side and used chiefly by Arabs and Turks.
scintillating
brilliantly clever, stimulating, or witty
scruples
Mental reservation; an ethical consideration or principle that inhibits action.
scythe
A farming implement composed of a long curving blade fastened at an angle to a long handle.

The Grim Reaper, the personification of death, is usually pictured as a cloaked skeleton holding a scythe.
sedge
Any of a family of usually tufted marsh plants.
sedition
Incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.
Seneca
Around 50 AD, Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote, "Nil sapientiae odiosius acumine nimio" (Nothing is more hateful to wisdom than excessive cleverness). Seneca wrote this about his student, Nero.

Later, when Nero was Emperor of Rome, he ordered Seneca to commit suicide.
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sepulchre
A place of burial, usually a tomb.
seraphim
An order of angels;
The 6-winged angels standing in the presence of God.
seraphs
An order of angels;
The 6-winged angels standing in the presence of God.
sharpers
Swindlers, cheating gamblers.
Simonides
A greek poet from the 7th century B.C.
simoom
A hot dry violent dust-laden wind from Asian and African deserts. The name comes from the Arabic for poison, since nomads have a lot of trouble with these quick sandstorms.

It is unclear why Poe used this word in "Manuscript Found in a Bottle". He probably meant typhoon.
sinciput
The forehead, or the upper half of the skull.
Sir George Cayley
An English inventor who built various flying machines. In 1853, 4 years after Poe's death, Cayley designed and built a working, piloted glider, nearly fifty years before the Wright Brothers. He also invented self-righting life-boats, tension-spoke wheels, automatic signals for railway crossings, and seat-belts.
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snuff-box
A small container for holding snuff, a preparation of pulverized tobacco to be inhaled through the nostrils, chewed, or placed against the gums.
sodden
Dull or expressionless especially from continued indulgence in alcoholic beverages.
soiree
(swa-ray) A party or reception held in the evening.
sojourn
A temporary stay.
soliloquy
The act of talking to oneself. A dramatic monologue that gives the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflection.
Solomon de Caus
Little is known about the life of Salomon de Caus (1576-1626). He invented a steam powered fountain that used a round container of water that was heated by a flame. He described solar-powered steam engines, but it is unclear whether or not he ever attempted to build one.
Somnambula
La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) is an opera semiseria in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani.
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spurious
False. Forged. Outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities.
Spurzheimites
Followers of Spurzheim. Johann Gaspar Spurzheim (1776-1823) appears to have first popularized the word "phrenology," meaning "the study of the mind." According to Spurzheim's system, the cerebral faculties were either affective (pertaining to emotions and tendencies, such as combativeness, cautioness, and hope) or intellectual (perceptive and reflective, such as size, weight, calculation, time, and comparison).
Stamboul
Istanbul, historically Byzantium and later Constantinople, is Turkey's most populous city, and its cultural and financial center. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents.
stereotomy
Stonecutting. The science or art of cutting stones into certain figures or sections, as arches, and the like.
stertorous
characterized by a harsh snoring or gasping sound
stockinet
A soft elastic usually cotton fabric used especially for bandages and infants' wear.
studding-sail
Light sails set outside the square sails, on booms rigged out for that purpose. They are only carried with a fair wind and in moderate weather.
suavity
Being smooth though often superficially gracious and sophisticated.
Sullivan's Island
Sullivan's Island is located at 32°45'48" North, 79°50'16" West (32.763456, -79.837911)

Edgar Allen Poe was stationed there in Fort Moultrie from 1827 to 1828. As of the year 2000, there are 1911 people residing in the town.
Sully
Thomas Sully (June 19, 1783 - November 5, 1872) was a well-known U.S. (English-born) painter, mostly of portraits.
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sulphureous
An older spelling of "sulfurous". Relating to, or containing sulphur. Also relating to, or dealing with the fires of hell.
Sunda islands
The Lesser Sunda Islands are a number of smaller islands between 800 and 1200 miles east of Jakarta (formerly Batavia), Indonesia.
sunder
To sever. To separate by or as if by violence.
supercilious
Proud, coolly and patronizingly haughty.
supererogation
The act of performing more than is required by duty, obligation, or need.
superinduced
To introduce as an addition over or above something already existing.
surcease
To put an end to; discontinue.
surcingle
A belt, band, or girth passing around the body of a horse to bind a saddle or pack fast to the horse's back.
Swammerdamm
Johann Jacob Swammerdamm, wrote "Historia Insectorum generalis" (1669), which was later translated into English as "The Book of Nature" or, "The History of Insects" (1758).
Swedenborg
Emmanual Swedenborg was Swedish mystic and philosopher. He published works the mystery of soul-body interaction during the early 1740s.
sybils
Women regarded as oracles or prophets by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
syllabification
The act, process, or method of forming or dividing words into syllables. Also "syllabication".
Sylph
An immortal yet soulless (elemental) being that inhabits the air. They are mentioned by the medieval physician Paracelsus.
symposium
A social gathering at which there is free interchange of ideas. A formal meeting at which several specialists deliver short addresses on a topic or on related topics.
syncope
Loss of consciousness resulting from insufficient blood flow to the brain.
Tadmor
An ancient desert city mentioned in the Bible as being fortified by Solomon.
taffrail
The railing around a ship's stern.
tapers
As a noun, a taper is a slender candle.
tarn
A bog or marsh. Can also be a mountain lake.
teetotum
A small spinning top usually inscribed with letters.
tenor
The drift of something spoken or written. The concept, object, or person meant in a metaphor.

The voice part next to the lowest in a 4-part chorus. Also, the melodic line usually forming the cantus firmus in medieval music.
Tertullian
Tertullian is a controversial figure in the history of Christianity. On one hand, he was the theologian who introduced the term trinity (L. trinitas) to the Christian vocabulary. On the other hand, he left the orthodox Catholic Church late in his life and joined a cult, and was thus never declared a saint by the Church.
Thebes
The capital of Egypt during part of the Eleventh Dynasty. Its archaeological remains offer a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height.
Thule
Thule, pronounced "thoo-lee", was the northernmost part of the ancient world, usually an island, and often Iceland.

Ultima Thule in medieval geographies may also denote any distant place located beyond the "borders of the known world."
thunderstricken
Astonished. Overwhelmed, as if struck by lightning.
tinctured
Affected. Infused or instilled with an idea or property. Also to tint or stain with a color.
tintinnabulation
The ringing or sounding of bells. A jingling or tinkling sound as if of bells.

[This word is frequently misspelled as "tintinabulation". In an 1849 printing of Poe's poem, it was spelled correctly. In an 1850 printing, it was misspelled. Poe was dead before either printing.]
Toledo
A city in Spain where many of the Inquisitorial trials of the Spanish Inquisition were held.
tons burthen
The cargo capacity of the ship.
torpid
Numb. Having lost motion or the power of exertion or feeling. Sluggish in functioning or acting.
tournure
A woman's shape or figure; Any device used by women to expand the skirt of a dress below the waist; French bustle used to replace petticoats.
transcendentalism
Philosophy that advocates that there is an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical and is only realized through a knowledgeable intuitive awareness that is conditional upon the individual. The concept emerged in New England in the early-to mid-nineteenth century (during Poe's lifetime).
trebled
As a verb, treble means to grow to three times the size, amount, or number.
Trepanning
A form of surgery in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the skull, while leaving the membrane around the brain intact. It was performed to reduce abnormal intracranial pressure. Trepanation is generally no longer practiced and is now illegal in most parts of the world.
trepidation
Fear, apprehension.
trumpery
A trivial or worthless article. A piece of junk. Complete nonsense.
trysail
A small fore-and-aft sail hoisted abaft the foremast and mainmast in a storm to keep a ship's bow to the wind.
tubercles
small, abnormal discrete lumps in the substance of an organ or in the skin; especially the specific lesions of tuberculosis.
tunica albuginea
The tough fibrous covering of the testicles or the dense, white fibrous tissue of the eye.
twins of Leda
In Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux were twins born of Leda and fathered by Zeus, who disguised himself as a swan and seduced her. The twins are also the two brightest stars in the Gemini constellation.
typhus
A name given to several similar diseases caused by Rickettsiae bacteria. Symptoms are headache, fever, chills, exhaustion, and rash. Also known as "prison fever" and as "ship fever", because it becomes prevalent in crowded conditions in prisons and aboard ships.

Typhoid fever is a completely different disease caused by various strains of Salmonella, and should not be confused with typhus.
Ultima Thule
The farthest and northernmost part of the habitable ancient world. The extreme limits of human survival.
unequivocal
Unquestionable. Leaving no doubt.
unfeigned
Sincere, honest.
unruffled
Poised and serene especially in the face of setbacks or confusion. Smooth.
vacillating
Hesitating. Going back and forth between two opinions or courses of action.
vaudeville
A light often comic theatrical piece frequently combining pantomime, dialogue, dancing, and song. Stage entertainment consisting of various acts (as performing animals, acrobats, comedians, dancers, or singers).
veloute
A white sauce made of chicken, veal, or fish stock and cream and thickened with butter and flour.
venerable
Calling forth respect through age, character, and attainments. Made sacred especially by religious or historical association.
verdant
Green in tint or color. Also, unripe in experience or judgment.
veriest
A typical example. Properly entitled to the name or designation.
Ververt et Chartreuse
Two poems by Jean Baptiste Gresset (1709-1777), best known for "Ververt" or "Vert-Vert". The poem is about a parrot, owned by a convent of nuns, that mistakenly learns swear words.
vestige
A trace, mark, or visible sign left by something. A bodily part or organ that is small and degenerate or imperfectly developed.
viand
An item of food.
vicissitudes
Natural changes or mutations visible in nature or in human affairs. Favorable or unfavorable events or situations that occurs by chance.
vielle cour
"Old Yard"
vignette
A picture where the image fades off gradually into the surrounding paper, a short descriptive literary sketch, a brief incident or scene.
virtuoso
One skilled in the fine arts, in antiquities, and the like; a collector or ardent admirer of curiosities, etc. In music, a virtuoso is a performer on some instrument who excels in the technical part of his art.
vis inertiae
The force of inertia. Newton's first law is the law of inertia: When no force acts on an object (or when the forces acting on it cancel), it moves in a straight line at constant speed.
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vituperate
Berate, scold, to use harsh condemnatory language.
vociferated
To cry out loudly, shout.
volition
The act of making a choice. The capability of conscious choice and decision and intention.
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet (1694–1778), better known by the pen name Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, deist and philosopher. One of Voltaire's stories is about a character named Zadig.
voluminously
Having or marked by great volume or bulk. Consisting of many folds, coils, or convolutions.
vouchsafed
To grant or furnish often in a gracious or condescending manner. To grant as a privilege or special favor.
waistcoat
Another name for a vest. Once a virtually mandatory piece of men's clothing, it is rarely seen in today's world of casual dress. It is still worn as part of a formal, three piece suit.
wan
Dim, faint, pallid, suggesting poor health.
waylaid
Ambushed. Attacked by surprise.
well of Democritus
According to legend, the well of Democritus was bottomless. It should also be noted that Democritus, a contemporary of Socrates and Plato, is known for laying the foundation for the modern atomic theory, declaring that matter cannot be destroyed but merely changes from one form to another.
Welsh rabbit
Melted and often seasoned cheese poured over toast or crackers.
William Henson
William Samuel Henson was an engineer and inventor who was familiar with the aeronautical work of George Cayley. In 1843, he received a patent on his design for a steam engine powered airplane. None of his attempts to build it were successful.
wont
As a noun, a wont is a habitual way of doing something. Pronounced like "want".
wore motley
To wear the costume of a "motley fool" or a court jester. This was a multi-colored outfit and funny hat with bells hanging from it. On most decks of playing cards, the Joker is pictured in this outfit.
Xerxes
The king of Persia (486-465), invaded Greece by bridging Hellespont. The invasion ultimately failed, signaling beginning of decline of Achaemenid Empire.
yawl
A ship's small boat.
Zaffre
Zaffre is a crude oxide of cobalt obtained by heating cobalt ore in a current of air. It was used to prepare smalt and to stain glass blue during Victorian times.
zeal
Enthusiasm for a person, cause, or object.



See also, "Words coined by Poe".