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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 linked 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 = 668

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a pipe of
a "pipe" or "butt" was a size of wine or beer cask, equal to 120 gallons. This is an old unit of volume measurement for wine, used in England until 1824.
Read More >

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
a priori
Latin phrase meaning "from the earlier"; Knowledge that comes from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience.

used in:
The Premature Burial
The Imp of the Perverse
abase
To lower or be lowered in rank, prestige, or esteem. To be made to feel guilty.

used in:
William Wilson
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Abernethy
John Abernethy was a British surgeon known for being very blunt or even rude to his patients.
Read More >

used in:
The Purloined Letter
abeyance
Suspension, temporary inactivity.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Premature Burial
Some Words With a Mummy
Mesmeric Revelation
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
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 (2 leagues).

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
abstruse
Difficult to understand.

used in:
Ligeia
The Gold Bug
Berenice
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
accede
To express approval or give consent; give in to a request or demand.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
accoutred
Dressed, clothed, outfitted.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
acetous
Producing or resembling vinegar.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
Achilles' Heel
A fatal weakness in spite of overall strength. Achilles was a character in mythology who was invincible everywhere except his heel.
Read More >

used in:
William Wilson
acrid
Sharp and harsh or unpleasantly pungent in taste or odor.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
acumen
Keenness and depth of perception. Power to see what is not evident to the average mind.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Oblong Box
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.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Hop-Frog
Mesmeric Revelation
The Mystery of Marie Roget
ad libitum
In accordance with desire.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
addling
Confusion. A spoiling or rotting condition.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
admonition
Cautionary advice about something imminent, especially imminent danger.

used in:
William Wilson
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.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
Aeolus
The Greek god of the winds.

used in:
Eleonora
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Premature Burial
aghast
Terrified, struck with amazement, showing signs of terror or horror.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Oval Portrait
The Pit and the Pendulum
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Eleonora
The Spectacles
Dream-Land
Aidenn
Arabic word for paradise or heaven.

used in:
The Raven
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
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.

used in:
The Bells
amatory
Of, relating to, or expressing sexual love.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
animadversion
A critical comment or remark.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
anomalous
Deviating from the normal; aberrant or abnormal.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Premature Burial
The Black Cat
The Spectacles
William Wilson
The Mystery of Marie Roget
Antares
Antares (Alpha Scorpii) is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky.

used in:
The Spectacles
antechamber
Hall, lobby, reception room.

used in:
Berenice
Antediluvians
People living before the great flood described in the Bible.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Cask of Amontillado
Some Words With a Mummy
apothegm
A short, pithy, and instructive saying.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
Appennines
Now spelled "Apennines", a mountain system, running the entire length of the Italian peninsula.

used in:
The Oval Portrait
appetency
Appetite, having a fixed and strong desire.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Spectacles
aqua regia
Aqua Regia is a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. It can dissolve gold, which single acids alone cannot do.

used in:
The Gold Bug
aquiline
Curving like an eagle's beak, or resembling an eagle.

used in:
Ligeia
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".
Read More >

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
Archimedes
Archimedes of Syracuse (c. 287 – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Generally considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time, he derived many geometrical theorems, including the area of a circle, the surface area and volume of a sphere, and an accurate approximation of pi.

Archimedes was also one of the first to apply mathematics to physical phenomena, founding hydrostatics and statics, including an explanation of the principle of the lever.
Read More >

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
archipelago
A group of islands.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
ardor
Extreme energy or vigor. Sexual excitement.

used in:
Ligeia
The Oval Portrait
Eleonora
William Wilson
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
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.

used in:
Ligeia
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Asphodel
Various Old World usually perennial herbs of the lily family with flowers in usually long erect racemes.

used in:
Berenice
Eleonora
The Island of the Fay
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.

used in:
The Premature Burial
asseveration
A strong and earnest statement or affirmation.

used in:
The Premature Burial
athwart
Across. In opposition to.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
au troisieme
French for "on the third," but the meaning is the fourth floor, because the count starts after the ground floor.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
austere
Stern and cold in appearance or manner.

used in:
The Oval Portrait
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Spectacles
avarice
Greediness, excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
William Wilson
avator
An old spelling of "avatar", an incarnation in human form. Today, avatars are graphic representation of people in chat rooms or online forums.

used in:
The Masque of the Red Death
Avaunt
Go away!

used in:
Lenore
avoirdupois
A system of weights based on a pound containing 16 ounces or 7,000 grains. It can also simply mean heaviness.

used in:
The Gold Bug
axiom
A statement accepted as true as the basis for argument or inference. An established rule or principle.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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".

used in:
Ligeia
Mesmeric Revelation
azure
a bright blue color

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
The Valley of Unrest
émeutes
disturbance, trouble.
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
bagtelle
Usually a short and light piano piece. Also spelled "bagatelle".

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
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?"

used in:
The Raven
bar sinister
1. A diagonal band on a coat of arms going from top right to bottom left, indicating bastardy

2. A state or characteristic which is dishonorable or shameful; a stigma

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
bas-relief
Sculptural relief in which the projection from the surrounding surface is slight and no part of the modeled form is undercut.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Batavia
Known today as Jakarta, the port capital of Indonesia.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
Batrachomyomachia
The Battle of Frogs and Mice, a comic epic or parody on the Iliad.

The word by itself means "a silly altercation."

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
bauble
A small ornament. Something of little value. A fool's scepter.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
beam-ends
Fallen over. The situation of a vessel when turned over so that her deck (beams) is inclined toward the vertical.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
beau ideal
A perfect embodiment of a concept.

used in:
The Spectacles
bedewed
To wet with or as if with dew.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
The Masque of the Red Death
bedight
To dress or decorate especially in splendid or impressive attire.

used in:
Ligeia
The Conqueror Worm
Eldorado
beetling
Projecting, jutting out.

used in:
Eleonora
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
beguiling
Leading by deception

used in:
The Raven
behemoth
Something of monstrous size or power. A mighty animal described in Job 40:15-24 as an example of the power of God:

"Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron..."

used in:
Silence - A Fable
beldame
An old woman.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
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.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Spectacles
Belphegor
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.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
benighted
lacking enlightenment or knowledge or culture; overtaken by the night.

used in:
Ligeia
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.

used in:
The Premature Burial
besotted
Very drunk

used in:
William Wilson
bier
A movable frame on which a coffin or a corpse is placed before burial or cremation or on which it is carried to the grave.

used in:
Lenore
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.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
bivalve
Having a shell composed of two valves. Clams, oysters, and scallops are examples of bivalves.

used in:
The Gold Bug
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Premature Burial
blackguard
An old-fashioned term for a scoundrel; a person, particularly a man, who behaves in a dishonorable or contemptible way.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
bon ton
Fashionable manner or style. High society.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
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.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Hop-Frog
boudoir
A woman's dressing room, bedroom, or private sitting room.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
brocade
A rich silk fabric with raised patterns in gold and silver.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
Some Words With a Mummy
brusquerie
Abruptness of manner.

used in:
The Gold Bug
buffoons
Clowns, ludicrous figures.

used in:
The Masque of the Red Death
bugaboo
An imaginary object of fear. Something that causes fear or distress out of proportion to its importance.

used in:
The Premature Burial
cadaverously
Like a cadaver or a corpse.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Calculus
A central branch of mathematics dating back to the ancient greeks.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Mystery of Marie Roget
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Mesmeric Revelation
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Campanella
Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639), a Dominican theologian, philosopher and poet.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Fall of the House of Usher
candelabrum
A candlestick with multiple branches allowing it to hold a number of candles. Also spelled "candelabra".

used in:
The Oval Portrait
The Masque of the Red Death
caoutchouc
Rubber, something made of or resembling rubber.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
The Balloon Hoax
Cape Hatteras
A thin, broken strand of islands in North Carolina that arch out into the Atlantic Ocean away from the US mainland, then back toward the mainland, creating a series of sheltered islands between the Outer Banks and the mainland. For thousands of years these barrier islands have survived onslaughts of wind and sea.
Read More >

used in:
The Oblong Box
Captain Kidd
William Kidd, also known as Captain William Kidd or simply Captain Kidd (1654 – 1701), was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy after many exploits in the Caribbean and other locations around the world.
Read More >

used in:
The Gold Bug
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.

used in:
The Premature Burial
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.

used in:
William Wilson
carnival season
The Carnival of Venice is an annual festival, held in Venice, Italy. It was first held in 1162 and consisted of over two months of revelry. It was very famous during the eighteenth century. People typically wore masks and it encouraged wild partying and pleasure. Carnival masks are now famous.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
carpetbag
A traveler's bag made of carpet and widely used in the U.S. in the 19th century.

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
cartilaginous
Composed of, relating to, or resembling cartilage.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
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.

used in:
Hop-Frog
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
castellated
Having battlements and high walls like a castle.

used in:
Ligeia
The Masque of the Red Death
catacomb
An underground cemetery consisting of a subterranean gallery with recesses for tombs, as constructed by the ancient Romans.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
Some Words With a Mummy
Catalani
Angelica Catalani (1780-1849), a famous Italian singer.
Read More >

used in:
The Purloined Letter
catalepsy
A condition of suspended animation and loss of voluntary motion in which the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Premature Burial
Some Words With a Mummy
cattymount
Now spelled "catamount", short for cat-a-mountain, any of various wild cats, like a cougar or a lynx.

used in:
The Premature Burial
censer
A covered incense burner, usually swung from a chain at funerals or other religious ceremonies.

used in:
Ligeia
The Raven
chagrin
A gnawing, corroding grief. To be vexed or annoyed.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Spectacles
William Wilson
The Mystery of Marie Roget
chaise longue
A long chair used for reclining.

used in:
The Spectacles
Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794), was a French writer who was famous for his sarcasm.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
chanticleer
Rooster or Cock.

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
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.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Charles Green
Charles Green (1785-1870), was Britain's most famous balloonist of the 19th century.

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
charnel
A building or chamber in which bodies or bones are deposited.

used in:
Ligeia
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Premature Burial
Chiromancy
The art of Palm Reading.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
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.

used in:
The Premature Burial
chrysalis
A pupa of a butterfly. A protecting covering. A sheltered state or stage of being or growth.

used in:
Ligeia
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC) was a statesman of Ancient Rome, and is generally considered the greatest Latin prose stylist.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
circumlocution
The use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea.

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
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.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
clandestinely
Marked, held, or conducted secretly.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
Cleomenes
Cleomenes III lived from about 260 to 219 BC He was king of Sparta from 235 to 222 BC
Read More >

Cleomenes is also a secondary character in "A Winter's Tale", a play by Shakespeare.
Read More >

used in:
Ligeia
cloister
A place or state of seclusion. An area within a monastery or convent to which the religious are normally restricted.

used in:
Berenice
coadjutors
Assistants; Those who work together with one another.

used in:
The Gold Bug
coal gas
A mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, produced by burning coal. Like hydrogen, this mixture is combustible.

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
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.


used in:
The Angel of the Odd
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.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
colloquy
Conversation, dialogue, a high-level serious discussion.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Some Words With a Mummy
Mesmeric Revelation
conflagration
A large disastrous fire.

used in:
The Black Cat
Congo River
The Congo River, formerly known as the Zaire River, is the second longest river in Africa, shorter only than the Nile, as well as the second largest river in the world by discharge volume, following only the Amazon.
Read More >

used in:
Silence - A Fable
consequently crank
The condition of a ship that has not been loaded properly and leans to one side or can be tipped over easily.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
contretemps
An inopportune or embarrassing occurrence or situation.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
conundrums
Intricate and difficult problems. Riddles whose answers involves puns.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
coppice
A thicket, grove, or growth of small trees.

used in:
The Gold Bug
coquetries
Flirtations.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
corpulent
Having a large bulky body. Obese.

used in:
Hop-Frog
cosmogony
A theory of the origin of the universe.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
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.

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
coxcombry
Vain and conceited behavior. Comes from "cockscomb", the comb of a rooster.

used in:
William Wilson
cravat
A necktie. A band or scarf worn around the neck.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Some Words With a Mummy
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.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
crotchet
A highly individual and usually eccentric opinion or preference

used in:
The Gold Bug
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
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.

used in:
Hop-Frog
cynosure
A person or thing that is the center of attention.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
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.

used in:
Ligeia
Silence - A Fable
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.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
de Grâve
A French red or white wine.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
De mortuis nil nisi bonum
"Concerning the dead, people should say nothing except good."

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
debauchery
Excessive indulgence in sensual or sexual pleasures

used in:
William Wilson
The Mystery of Marie Roget
debonair
1. Gentle and courteous.

2. Confident, stylish, and charming.

used in:
Lenore
decamped
Departed suddenly or secretly.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
decorum
Propriety and good taste in conduct or appearance.

used in:
The Raven
The Masque of the Red Death
The Spectacles
decrepitude
Wear from old age.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
deigning
Condescending reluctantly and with a strong sense of the affront to one's superiority that is involved.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
demur
Hesitation (as in doing or accepting) usually based on doubt of the acceptability of something offered or proposed.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Spectacles
denouement
The final outcome of a complex sequence of events.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Spectacles
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

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
despotism
A system of government in which the ruler has unlimited power.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
William Wilson
dint
By force of; because of

used in:
The Purloined Letter
Berenice
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Mystery of Marie Roget
The Oblong Box
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Directorium Inquisitorum
A manual on how to torture Catholic heretics, published in Barcelona in 1503.
Read More >

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
dirge
a mournful song, piece of music, or poem

used in:
Lenore
disapprobation
Condemnation. The act or state of disapproving.

used in:
The Masque of the Red Death
discomfited
Put into a state of perplexity and embarrassment. Disconcerted.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Some Words With a Mummy
disconsolate
Downcast, dejected, cheerless.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
discordantly
In disagreement with, conflicted.

used in:
Berenice
The Man of the Crowd
disingenuous
Dishonest, typically by pretending to know less about something than they really do.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
disinter
To take a body out of its grave or tomb.

used in:
The Premature Burial
dissemble
Hide under a false appearance.

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
dissimulation
Hiding under a false appearance.

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
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.

used in:
Silence - A Fable
doffed
To remove an article of clothing from the body. To take off (the hat) in greeting or as a sign of respect.


used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Spectacles
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?

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
domiciliary
Provided or taking place in the home. Providing shelter and living space.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
donjon-keep
Dungeon

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
dotage
A condition of decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness, usually attributed to old age.

used in:
Ligeia
Some Words With a Mummy
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.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
The Oblong Box
draught
The British spelling of "draft", a single act of drinking or inhaling. For example, a draft of beer or liquor.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Cask of Amontillado
William Wilson
draughts
British name for the game of checkers.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Druidical
Like one of an ancient Celtic priesthood appearing as a magician or wizard.

used in:
Ligeia
ducal
Of or relating to a Duke.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
dyspeptic
indigestion or ill humor.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Premature Burial
eclat
Ostentatious display. Dazzling effect. Brilliance.

used in:
Hop-Frog
educed
Brought out. Extracted. Evoked.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
effulgence
Brilliance, radiant splendor.

used in:
Ligeia
egregious
Obviously bad. Flagrant.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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.

used in:
Dream-Land
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.
Read More >


used in:
William Wilson
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.
Read More >

used in:
Eldorado
Dream-Land
elucidation
Explanation that makes something clear; clarification.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
emaciation
In a very thin state, wasted away.

used in:
Berenice
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
en peu passees
In few steps

used in:
The Spectacles
ennui
Boredom, a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Man of the Crowd
ennuye
Bored, weary in spirits, emotionally exhausted.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
entrails
Internal parts, usually the organs of a human body.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
ephemeron
Something short-lived or of no lasting significance.

used in:
Eleonora
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.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
epigram
A terse, sage, or witty and often paradoxical saying. A concise poem dealing pointedly and often satirically with a single thought or event.

used in:
The Island of the Fay
The Spectacles
The Mystery of Marie Roget
epithet
Expression. A characterizing word or phrase accompanying or occurring in place of the name of a person or thing.

used in:
Ligeia
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
equivocal
Uncertain. Undecided. Subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Black Cat
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
The Spectacles
The Oblong Box
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
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.

used in:
Eleonora
erudition
Learning; extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books.

used in:
Ligeia
Berenice
eschew
To avoid or shun, especially on moral or practical grounds.

used in:
The Premature Burial
Some Words With a Mummy
escritoire
A writing table or desk.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
ethereal
Heavenly. Of or relating to the regions beyond the earth.

used in:
Ligeia
Eleonora
Eupatrids
One of the hereditary aristocrats of ancient Athens.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
euphony
Pleasing or sweet sound. The acoustic effect produced by words so formed or combined as to please the ear.

used in:
The Bells
evanescent
Something that vanishes like vapor, passing especially quickly into and out of existence.

used in:
The Premature Burial
William Wilson
evinced
Displayed clearly; revealed.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Man of the Crowd
The Angel of the Odd
The Black Cat
Mesmeric Revelation
The Oblong Box
exacerbate
To make more violent, bitter, or severe.

used in:
The Gold Bug
excoriations
Abrasions of the skin. Places where the skin is worn off.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Roget
expectorate
To spit; to eject from the throat or lungs by coughing or hawking and spitting.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
expedient
Suitable for achieving a particular purpose in a given circumstance.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Purloined Letter
The Premature Burial
The Black Cat
The Mystery of Marie Roget
expostulation
Reasoning earnestly with a person for purposes of talking them out of something.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Bells
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Falstaffian
Falstaff was a fat, convivial, roguish character in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV.


used in:
The Angel of the Odd
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
farthingale
A series of hoops worn especially in the 16th century beneath a skirt to expand it at the hipline.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
fastidious
Possessing or displaying careful, meticulous attention to detail; difficult to please; exacting.

used in:
The Spectacles
William Wilson
The Oblong Box
fathom
As a unit of measurement, a fathom is six feet.

15 fathoms = 90 feet
40 fathoms = 240 feet

It also means, "to understand".

used in:
Ligeia
The Purloined Letter
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
The Oblong Box
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.

used in:
William Wilson
fête
(pronounced fate or fett) A lavish, often outdoor, celebration or festival; a large elaborate party.

used in:
The Masque of the Red Death
Hop-Frog
felicity
Happiness. The quality or state of being happy.

used in:
The Black Cat
fetid
Having a heavy offensive smell.

used in:
Hop-Frog
filigreed
Ornamental work especially of fine wire of gold, silver, or copper applied chiefly to gold and silver surfaces.

used in:
The Oval Portrait
The Spectacles
filliping
Flicking, striking or tapping with a quick motion.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
fiorituri
Taken from "fior" which means "flower" in Italian, fioratura refers to the actual flowery, embellished vocal line within an aria.

used in:
The Spectacles
flagon
1. A large container in which drink is served, typically with a handle and spout.

2. A large bulging short-necked bottle.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
flambeau
A flaming torch.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
Hop-Frog
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.

used in:
Hop-Frog
flush deck
A continuous deck of a ship laid from stem to stern without any break.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
footpads
Thieves who rob pedestrians. Muggers.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
foredoomed
A fancy way to say "doomed".

used in:
The Premature Burial
fortnight
Two weeks.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Balloon Hoax
The Spectacles
fouled our anchor
The anchor became entangled in the chain or rope that it was connected to.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
francs
French dollars.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Roget
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
frieze
A sculptured or richly ornamented band (as on a building or piece of furniture).

used in:
The City in the Sea
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.
Full Text >

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
fustian
Excessively embellished or affected writing or speech.

used in:
The Premature Burial
G--, the Prefect
The chief officer or chief magistrate.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
gainsayed
Contradicted, opposed, declared to be untrue or invalid.

used in:
The Island of the Fay
gaiters
Cloth or leather leg coverings reaching from the instep to above the ankle or to mid-calf or knee.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
galvanic
Relating to, or producing a direct current of electricity.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Premature Burial
Some Words With a Mummy
William Wilson
gaze aerienne
Airy gauze

used in:
The Spectacles
gelatinous
Resembling gelatin or jelly.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
gemmary
Pertaining to gems or jewels.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
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.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Roget
General Lasalle
Antoine-Charles-Louis, Comte de Lasalle was a French cavalry general during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, often called "The Hussar General".
Read More >

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
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".

used in:
Silence - A Fable
gesticulation
Expressive gestures, usually made with the hands and arms, showing strong feeling, action, or passion.

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Man of the Crowd
The Cask of Amontillado
ghee
A clarified butter without any solid milk particles or water. Ghee is used in India and throughout South Asia in daily cooking.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
gimlet
A small tool with a screw point, grooved shank, and cross handle for boring holes.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
gingham
A clothing fabric usually of yarn-dyed cotton in plain weave.


used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
girting
Surrounding, encircling. More commonly spelled "girding".

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
glutinous
Having the quality of glue; gummy

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
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.
Read More >

used in:
A Valentine
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".

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
gossamer
Something light, delicate, or insubstantial. A cobweb, for example.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Black Cat
grandiloquent
A lofty, extravagantly colorful, pompous, or bombastic style, manner, or quality especially in language.

used in:
The Gold Bug
grisette
A young working-class Frenchwoman.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It is situated between Finland's west coast and Sweden's east coast.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
gunwale
Upper edge or topmost planking of the side of a ship or boat. Was also called gunnel.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
habiliment
Clothing. The dress characteristic of an occupation or occasion.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Man of the Crowd
The Masque of the Red Death
Some Words With a Mummy
William Wilson
The Mystery of Marie Roget
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.

used in:
Berenice
harangue
A ranting speech or writing. A lecture.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
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.

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
hauteur
Arrogance, haughtiness

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
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.
Read More >

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
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.

used in:
Silence - A Fable
The Valley of Unrest
Helusion
Paradise. More often spelled Elysion or Elysium.

used in:
Eleonora
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.
Read More >


used in:
The Masque of the Red Death
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.

used in:
The Masque of the Red Death
William Wilson
Herodes Atticus
Herodes Atticus, or Atticus Herodes, was a distinguished and rich Greek aristocrat and sophist who served as a Roman senator. Appointed consul at Rome in 143, he was the first Greek to hold the rank of consul ordinarius, as opposed to consul suffectus.
Read More >

used in:
William Wilson
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.

used in:
Eleonora
hessian
A German mercenary serving in the British forces during the American Revolution.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
hillocks
Small hills.

used in:
The Island of the Fay
hogshead
A large cask or barrel. A U.S. unit equal to 63 gallons.

used in:
The Black Cat
Homeric
Relating to, or characteristic of the Greek poet Homer, author of the Iliad and Odyssey.

used in:
Ligeia
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.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
horticulturist
A person who specializes in the art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Houri
One of the beautiful maidens that in Muslim belief live with the blessed in paradise. In general, a voluptuously beautiful young woman.

used in:
Ligeia
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
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..."

used in:
Ligeia
hyperobtrusive
Especially obvious. Excessively vivid. Garish.

Poe made this word up and it was later added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
hyperquizzitistical
It appears that Poe made this word up.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
hypocritical
Being a hypocrite. Saying one thing but acting or thinking in a contradictory manner.

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
I Capuleti
I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues) is an Italian opera in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini. The libretto by Felice Romani was a reworking of the story of Romeo and Juliet for an opera by Nicola Vaccai called Giulietta e Romeo and based on the play of the same name by Luigi Scevola written in 1818, thus an Italian source rather than taken directly from William Shakespeare.

used in:
The Spectacles
ichor
A thin watery or blood-tinged discharge.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
idiosyncrasy
A peculiarity of temperament. An individual hyper-sensitiveness, as to a drug or food.

used in:
Berenice
The Premature Burial
The Man of the Crowd
Mesmeric Revelation
The Mystery of Marie Roget
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.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
imbibed
Received into the mind and retained. Absorbed.

used in:
Ligeia
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
imbued
Infused. Permeated, as if with dye.

used in:
Ligeia
The Conqueror Worm
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
The Spectacles
William Wilson
immolation
to be killed as a sacrificial victim.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Cask of Amontillado
improvisatori
Those that improvise, like actors or poets.

used in:
The Masque of the Red Death
impunity
Freedom from any punishment, loss, or consequences.

used in:
The Premature Burial
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Cask of Amontillado
William Wilson
in articulo mortis
The moment of death

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
In pace requiescat
"Rest in Peace".

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
in sooth
In truth; In reality

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Oval Portrait
inanition
Loss of vitality that results from lack of food and water. The absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual vitality or vigor.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
incipient
Beginning. Becoming apparent.

used in:
Ligeia
The Oval Portrait
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
incubus
A nightmare. An oppressive thought like a nightmare. An evil spirit that has sexual intercourse with women while they are sleeping.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
inculpate
Incriminate; blame.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
ineffable
Indescribable. Incapable of being expressed in words.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
Eleonora
The Spectacles
inhumed
buried, as in a grave.

used in:
The Premature Burial
inimitable
Not capable of being imitated. Matchless.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Hop-Frog
William Wilson
Inquisition
1. Intensive questioning or investigation.

2. 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.
Read More >

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Mystery of Marie Roget
intemperance
Habitual or excessive consumption of alcohol. In general, a lack of moderation.

Poe had a problem with alcohol himself.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
The Black Cat
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Irene
Poe wrote a poem called "Irene" in 1831. It was later published as "The Sleeper".

used in:
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.


used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
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.
Read More >

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
jewels of Golconda
The region of Golkonda, India is known for the diamond trade that has produced some of the world's most famous gems, including the Koh-i-Noor, the Hope Diamond, Nassak Diamond and the Noor-ul-Ain.
Read More >

used in:
The Gold Bug
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.
Read More >

used in:
Ligeia
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.

used in:
Berenice
Jupiter
In Roman mythology, Jupiter is the king of the gods. He was the god of the sky and thunder. He is known as Zeus in Greek mythology. His brother's name was Pluto and his sister was Ceres.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Spectacles
juxtaposition
The act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Purloined Letter
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
Some Words With a Mummy
kirschenwasser
A cherry brandy manufactured chiefly in the Black Forest in Germany.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
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.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
La Bruyère
"Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir être seul" translates to "This great misfortune, of not being able to be alone"

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
Lachadive islands
Now spelled "Laccadive", a group of islands and coral reefs in the Arabian Sea off the southwest coast of India.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
laconic
Using or involving the use of a minimum of words; concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious.

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.

used in:
Ligeia
Lafitte
1. in The Angel of the Odd, it is probably Domaine à Lafitte Armagnac, a French brandy. Armagnac is the oldest brandy distilled in France, and since the 14th century, was consumed for its therapeutic benefits.

2. Jean Lafitte, a French pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
lambent
Flickering. Playing lightly on or over a surface.

used in:
Ligeia
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.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
The Oblong Box
Last Supper
The Last Supper is a late 15th-century mural painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is one of the Western world's most recognizable paintings.
Read More >

used in:
The Oblong Box
laudanum
Laudanum is a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine).

Reddish-brown and extremely bitter, laudanum contains almost all of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. Laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of conditions, but its principal use was as a pain medication.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
Leibnitz
Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716). Along with Newton, jointly credited for the development of the modern calculus.
Read More >

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
lethargic
Sluggish, indifferent

used in:
The Premature Burial
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.

used in:
The Sleeper
levity
1. Humor or frivolity, especially the treatment of a serious matter with humor

2. Lightness

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Balloon Hoax
William Wilson
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
litterateur
A professional writer.

used in:
The Premature Burial
locution
A word or expression characteristic of a region, group, or cultural level.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
Lofoten
Lofoten was the original name of the island Vestvågøya. The highest point on the island is the 964-metre (3,163 ft) tall mountain Himmeltindan.
Read More >

Today, Lofoten is an archipelago and a traditional district in the county of Nordland, Norway. Lofoten is known for a distinctive scenery with dramatic mountains and peaks, open sea and sheltered bays, beaches and untouched lands.
Read More >

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
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."
Read More >

used in:
Ligeia
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.
Read More >

used in:
Mesmeric Revelation
lustrum
A period of five years. A purification of the whole Roman people made in ancient times after the census every five years.

used in:
Eleonora
William Wilson
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.
Read More >

used in:
Ligeia
Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a Florentine statesman and political philosopher.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Fall of the House of Usher
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.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
maelstrom
Edgar Allan Poe's short story "A Descent into the Maelström" (1841), brought the term maelstrom, meaning strong whirlpool, into the English language.

A whirlpool is a body of rotating water produced by opposing currents or a current running into an obstacle. Small whirlpools form when a bath or a sink is draining. More powerful ones in seas or oceans may be termed maelstroms.
Read More >

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
magnetoesthetics
Poe made up this word. In context it probably means the study of attraction or "Animal Magnetism" between men and women.

used in:
The Spectacles
Maison
French for House or building.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Malays
People of the Malay Peninsula, eastern Sumatra, parts of Borneo, and some adjacent islands.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
Malibran
Maria Felicia Malibran (24 March 1808 – 23 September 1836) was a Spanish singer who commonly sang both contralto and soprano parts, and was one of the best-known opera singers of the 19th century. Malibran was known for her stormy personality and dramatic intensity, becoming a legendary figure after her death at age 28. Contemporary accounts of her voice describe its range, power and flexibility as extraordinary.
Read More >

used in:
The Spectacles
manoeuvre
1. A movement or series of moves requiring skill and care.

2. To carefully guide or manipulate (someone or something) in order to achieve an end.

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
William Wilson
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.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
manumitted
To let go, send;
To release from slavery.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Mare Tenebrarum
"Sea of Darkness".

used in:
Eleonora
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Premature Burial
mattock
A digging and grubbing tool with features of both an axe and a pick.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Médoc
A red wine produced in Médoc, the area along the left bank of the Gironde estuary in southwestern France.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
meerschaum
A tobacco pipe made from a fine, off-white mineral, known as meerschaum. Around 1723 meerschaum began replacing clay pipes and quickly became prized as the perfect material for providing a cool, dry, flavorful smoke.

Its funny that Dupin smokes a meerschaum, because years later, one of Sherlock Holmes' trademarks is his calabash meerschaum pipe.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Angel of the Odd
menages-humored
Domestically suited, domesticated.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
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!"

used in:
A Valentine
mendicants
Baggars, homeless people.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
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.
Read More >

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Mesmeric Revelation
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
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".

used in:
The Purloined Letter
mien
Air or bearing especially as expressive of attitude or personality; demeanor.

used in:
The Raven
misanthropy
A dislike of mankind; antisocial behavior.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Oblong Box
mizen-mast
The aftermost mast of a ship.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
moiety
One of two equal parts. Half of something.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
mollified
Appeased. Soothed in temper or disposition.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
monastic
Relating to monasteries or to monks or nuns. Resembling a secluded or simple life.

used in:
Berenice
monition
Warning of impending danger.

used in:
William Wilson
monody
An ode sung by one voice (as in a Greek tragedy). An elegy or dirge performed by one person.

used in:
The Bells
monomania
Excessive concentration on a single object or idea.

used in:
Berenice
monomaniac
A person with monomania, the excessive concentration on a single object or idea.

used in:
Berenice
morass
Marsh, swamp.
Something that is difficult to deal with.

used in:
Silence - A Fable
morceau
Morsel. Also a short literary or musical piece.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
Moresque
Having the characteristics of Moorish art or architecture.

used in:
The Oval Portrait
Mosken
Mosken is a small uninhabited rocky island in Værøy Municipality in Nordland county, Norway. The 1.5-square-kilometre (0.58 sq mi) island is located in the Lofoten archipelago about halfway between the islands of Værøya to the south and Moskenesøya to the north. The Moskenstraumen maelstrom-- one of the most powerful in the world-- is located on the north side of the island.
Read More >

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
Moskoe-ström
The Moskstraumen or Moskenstraumen is a system of tidal eddies and whirlpools, one of the strongest in the world, that forms at the Lofoten archipelago in Nordland county, Norway between the Norwegian Sea and the Vestfjorden. Moskstraumen is unusual in that it occurs in the open sea whereas most other whirlpools are observed in confined straits or rivers.
Read More >

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Balloon Hoax
mummer
Actor, one who goes merrymaking in disguise during festivals.

used in:
The Masque of the Red Death
Mussulman
A follower of the religion of Islam; a Muslim.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
Naiad
In Greek mythology, the Naiads were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks.

used in:
Berenice
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.

used in:
For Annie
Napoleons
French 20-franc gold coins.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
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.

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
Neapolitans
Natives or inhabitants of Naples, Italy.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
Nemo me impune lacessit
"No one provokes me with impunity". This motto appears on the royal arms of Scotland.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
nepenthe
A potion used by the ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow; Something capable of causing oblivion of grief or suffering.

used in:
The Raven
neufchatelish
Refers to Neufchâtel-en-Bray (town of Normandy - France). Town famed for its cheese-making.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Newfoundland
Any of a breed of very large heavy highly intelligent black, black and white, or bronze dogs developed in Newfoundland.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Nicholas Klimm
Baron Ludwig Holberg (1684-1754) wrote a story about a voyage to the land of death and back.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
Night Thoughts
A poem about life, death, and immortality, written by British author Edward Young in 1742.
Read More >

used in:
The Premature Burial
nihility
Nonexistence; nothingness

used in:
Mesmeric Revelation
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Cask of Amontillado
nom de plume
A "Pen Name", or a pseudonym adopted by an author for various reasons.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Purloined Letter
non-plussed
Perplexed. To cause to be at a loss as to what to say, think, or do.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Norman
A native or inhabitant of Normandy. One of the Scandinavian conquerors of Normandy in the 10th century.

used in:
Ligeia
Nourjahad
A reference to "The History of Nourjahad", written in 1767 by Frances Sheridan.

used in:
Ligeia
Nouvelle Heloise
A romantic novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau written in 1761. It was banned in France at the time it was written.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
obeisance
A gesture of respect, like kneeling or bowing before a king.

used in:
The Raven
obstreperous
Marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness; Stubbornly resistant to control.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
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.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
William Wilson
occiput
The back part of the head or skull.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Ocracoke Inlet
Ocracoke was one of the first inlets made use of by colonists on North Carolina's Outer Banks, first host to a party of colonists who journeyed through it and up to Roanoke Island in 1585. It became the most important inlet for delivery of goods to the mainland, especially to New Bern and Bath.
Read More >

used in:
The Oblong Box
ocular
Having something to do with the eyes.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Hop-Frog
The Spectacles
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.
Read More >

used in:
Eleonora
omnibus
A horse-drawn omnibus was a large, enclosed horse-drawn vehicle used for passenger transport before the introduction of motor vehicles. It was used in the 19th century in both the United States and Europe, and was one of the most common means of transportation in cities. Typically, two wooden benches along the sides of the cabin held sitting passengers facing each other. The driver sat on a separate, front-facing bench, typically outside the enclosed cabin.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
omnipotence
All powerful, like a god; having unlimited or very great power.

used in:
William Wilson
omnipresence
Something always present or constantly encountered, like the internet or people looking at their phones.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
William Wilson
ossification
The natural process of bone formation; the hardening (as of muscular tissue) into a bony substance; a mass or particle of ossified tissue.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Otello
Otello is an opera in three acts by Gioachino Rossini, first performed in 1822. The work is based on a French adaptation of the story (Othello, ou le More de Venise by Jean-François Ducis, 1792), not Shakespeare's play Othello.

Also, this opera should not to be confused with the 1887 opera of the same name by Verdi.
Read More >

used in:
The Spectacles
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.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Hop-Frog
outre
Bizarre; Violating convention or propriety.

used in:
The Spectacles
packet-ship
Medium-sized sailing vessels used extensively during the 18th and 19th centuries for domestic mail, passenger, and freight transportation.
Read More >

used in:
The Oblong Box
paean
A joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph.

used in:
The Bells
Lenore
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.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
palazzo
an Italian term for a large or impressive building, like a palace or a mansion.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
William Wilson
pall
A heavy cloth draped over a coffin; an overspreading element that produces an effect of gloom

used in:
Ligeia
The Conqueror Worm
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."

used in:
The Raven
palliative
Reducing the violence of a disease; easing symptoms without curing the underlying disease.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
pallid
Pale, lacking color.

used in:
Ligeia
The Raven
The Conqueror Worm
The Haunted Palace
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Oval Portrait
palpably
Easily perceptible by the mind. Capable of being touched.

used in:
Ligeia
The Purloined Letter
Berenice
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Premature Burial
Mesmeric Revelation
The Mystery of Marie Roget
pantaloons
Close-fitting trousers usually having straps passing under the instep and worn especially in the 19th century.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
Some Words With a Mummy
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.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
William Wilson
paradoxical
A paradox is a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true.

used in:
Berenice
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Imp of the Perverse
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.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
Parian
Of or relating to the island of Paros noted for its marble used extensively for sculpture in ancient times.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
Parisian
Of or relating to Paris, France.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Spectacles
The Mystery of Marie Roget
paroxysms
Convulsions or fits. Sudden violent emotions or actions.

used in:
The Premature Burial
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
partisan
A firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
pasquinaded
Publicly made fun of, lampooned. Pasquino was the name given to a statue in Rome on which lampoons were posted.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
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.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
patrician
Aristocrat. A person of breeding and cultivation. A member of one of the original citizen families of ancient Rome.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
patronym
Relating to a name derived from the name of a father or male ancestor.

used in:
The Spectacles
William Wilson
Peccavimus
1. Latin for "We have sinned".

2. The title of a Latin prayer song, composed by Paolo Agostini in 1643.

used in:
Lenore
pectoral muscles
Any of the muscles which connect the ventral walls of the chest with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder.

used in:
The Premature Burial
peine forte et dure
French for "hard and forceful punishment", was a method of torture in which a defendant who refused to plead ("stood mute") would be subjected to having heavier and heavier stones placed upon his or her chest until a plea was entered, or he/she died.

used in:
William Wilson
pendulous
Poised without visible support.

used in:
The City in the Sea
The Island of the Fay
penuriousness
Stinginess, given to or marked by extreme frugality.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
peregrinations
Travels on foot, long walks.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
perforations
Openings or holes.

used in:
Ligeia
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
pernicious
Highly injurious or destructive; wicked.

used in:
Berenice
Persepolis
The ancient capital of the Persian empire. It was plundered and burned by Alexander the Great.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
pertinacity
Adhering resolutely to an opinion, purpose, or design. Perversely persistent.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Black Cat
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
The Mystery of Marie Roget
The Oblong Box
petticoat
A petticoat or underskirt is an article of clothing, a type of undergarment worn under a skirt or a dress. Its precise meaning varies over centuries and between countries.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
petulantly
Rudely or insolently. Characterized by temporary or capricious ill humor.

used in:
The Premature Burial
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
phantasm
Illusion, ghost, a product of fantasy, a mental representation of a real object.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Island of the Fay
The Black Cat
The Masque of the Red Death
phantasmagoric
A constantly shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined. An exhibition or display of optical effects and illusions.

used in:
Ligeia
The Fall of the House of Usher
William Wilson
phrenologist
A person who studies the conformation of the skull based on the belief that it is indicative of mental faculties and character.

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
phthisis
A progressively wasting or consumptive condition; especially pulmonary tuberculosis.

used in:
Mesmeric Revelation
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
physiognomy
Inner character or quality revealed outwardly. The art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
pine
1. As a verb, to yearn intensely and persistently especially for something unattainable.

2. As a noun, any type of conifer tree, often used for construction and furniture. Before the 19th century, pines were often referred to as firs.

used in:
The Oval Portrait
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
The Oblong Box
pique
1. A feeling of irritation or resentment.

2. To stimulate interest or curiosity.

used in:
William Wilson
placid
Tranquil, gentle, quiet, or undisturbed.

used in:
Ligeia
The Raven
Berenice
plebeian
One of the common people; a member of the Roman plebs

used in:
The Spectacles
William Wilson
plenitude
An abundance; being full or complete

used in:
William Wilson
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.
Read More >

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Pluto
The Roman god of the underworld.

used in:
The Black Cat
Plutonian
Relating to Pluto, the god of the underworld in Roman mythology.

used in:
The Raven
poop
A deck raised over the after part of the spar deck. A vessel is pooped when the sea breaks over her stern.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
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.

used in:
The Haunted Palace
The Fall of the House of Usher
posteriori
Reasoning from observed facts.

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
praenomen
An ancient Roman's first or personal name.

used in:
William Wilson
praeternatural
Supernatural, or inexplicable by ordinary means.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
precocity
Having mature qualities at an unusually early age.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
prevarication
To deviate from the truth.

used in:
The Gold Bug
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
Procrustean
Marked by arbitrary often ruthless disregard of individual differences or special circumstances.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
prodigious
Enormous, unusually large, causing amazement or wonder.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Purloined Letter
The Fall of the House of Usher
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
Some Words With a Mummy
Hop-Frog
The Oblong Box
profligacy
Reckless extravagance or wastefulness in the use of resources.

used in:
William Wilson
promulgate
To make known by open declaration.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Mystery of Marie Roget
propitious
Benevolent, being of good omen.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
provincialists
A native or inhabitant of a province.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Spectacles
Ptolemaeus
Claudius Ptolemaeus (c.100-c.178), was an ancient geographer, astronomer, and astrologer who lived and worked in Egypt.
Read More >

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
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".

used in:
Berenice
puncheon
A large cask of varying capacity.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
The Cask of Amontillado
punctilious
Concerned about precise accordance with the details of codes or conventions.

used in:
The Spectacles
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.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
purloiner
Thief, burglar.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
putrescent
Undergoing the process of decay; rotting.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
Pyrrhonism
The doctrines of a school of ancient extreme skeptics who suspended judgment on every proposition.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
quaff
To drink deeply

used in:
The Raven
quiescence
Inactivity, repose, tranquility.

used in:
Berenice
The Premature Burial
Mesmeric Revelation
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.
Read More >

used in:
Hop-Frog
raconteur
A person who excels in telling anecdotes.

used in:
The Island of the Fay
Radcliffe
Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823). English novelist, a most original and distinguished writer of Gothic romances, fond of vivid description, startling events and horrors.
Read More >

used in:
The Oval Portrait
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.

used in:
The Bells
rara avis in terris
Latin for "A rare bird upon the earth".

used in:
Hop-Frog
ratiocination
Deductive reasoning; a reasoned train of thought.

used in:
Mesmeric Revelation
The Mystery of Marie Roget
recherche
Exquisite, pretentious, overblown.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
reconnoiter
Get a general idea of the surroundings; scout; make a military observation of an area

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
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.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
reduplication
An act or instance of doubling or reiterating.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
rencontre
A violent meeting. Can also be a contest between forces or individuals, like combat.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
rencounter
A random or chance meeting with someone.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
requiem
1. A church Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead.

2. A musical composition setting parts of a requiem Mass.

used in:
Lenore
revel
A wild party or celebration.

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
The Masque of the Red Death
reverie
The condition of being lost in thought; daydreaming.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Berenice
The Mystery of Marie Roget
rheum
A watery discharge from the mucous membranes especially of the eyes or nose.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
The Cask of Amontillado
rheumatism
Any of various conditions characterized by inflammation or pain in muscles, joints, or fibrous tissue; rheumatoid arthritis.

used in:
The Spectacles
Rhine
A river in Europe, flowing from Switzerland to the Netherlands, bordering Austria and Germany.

used in:
Ligeia
ribands
Ribbons used as decorations.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
Roanoke Island
The site of an English settlement initially established in 1585 by Sir Walter Raleigh. A group of about 120 men, women and children arrived in 1587. Governor John White returned to England later that year for supplies. Due to impending war with Spain, White was unable to return to Roanoke Island until 1590. When he arrived, the colony had vanished. The fate of those first colonists remains a mystery to this day and is one of America's most intriguing unsolved mysteries.
Read More >

used in:
The Oblong Box
Rochefoucauld
La Rochefoucauld, le Prince de Marcillac (1613-1680), was the greatest maxim writer of France.
Read More >

used in:
The Purloined Letter
roquelaire
A knee-length cloak worn especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also spelled "roquelaure".

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
The Cask of Amontillado
rubicund
Ruddy, having a healthy reddish color.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
Rue
1. Sorrow, remorse, or regret

2. The french word for "Street". "Rue Morgue" would then be translated as "Morgue Street".

3. Genus of about 40 species of perennial shrubs and strongly aromatic herbs. The leaves have been used for centuries in traditional medicines.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Island of the Fay
For Annie
The Mystery of Marie Roget
ruminating
To go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly. To chew repeatedly for an extended period.

used in:
Berenice
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.

used in:
The Bells
sagacious
Having or showing keen discernment, sound judgment, and farsightedness. Shrewd.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Black Cat
The Masque of the Red Death
The Mystery of Marie Roget
sagacity
Shrewdness. Having keen perception of the senses.

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
Mesmeric Revelation
William Wilson
sallied
Leaped, burst forth.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
salt-cellar
A heavy bowl used to store and dispense salt before salt shakers became popular.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
sanctimonious
Having a "holier-than-thou" attitude; excessively or hypocritically pious.

used in:
The Spectacles
sanguine
Confident and optimistic.

It also means "bloodred" or consisting of or relating to blood. Another interesting word choice by Poe.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Spectacles
Saracenic
A member of a nomadic people of the deserts between Syria and Arabia. Arab.

used in:
Ligeia
sarcophagus
Coffin, particularly ones from ancient Egypt.

used in:
Ligeia
The Premature Burial
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.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Oval Portrait
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.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Some Words With a Mummy
Scholiasts
Commentators, annotators. People who write marginal remarks.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
scimitar
A saber having a curved blade with the edge on the convex side and used chiefly by Arabs and Turks.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
scintillating
Brilliantly clever, stimulating, or witty

used in:
A Valentine
scruples
Mental reservation; an ethical consideration or principle that inhibits action.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
scud
1. Move fast in a straight line because or as if driven by the wind.

2. Nautical- To run before a gale with little or no sail set.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
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.


used in:
The Gold Bug
The Pit and the Pendulum
sedge
Any of a family of usually tufted marsh plants.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
sedition
Incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Purloined Letter
sepulchre
A place of burial, usually a tomb.

used in:
Annabel Lee
The Sleeper
The Premature Burial
Some Words With a Mummy
The Mystery of Marie Roget
seraphic
Like an angel

used in:
The Spectacles
seraphs
An order of angels; The 6-winged angels standing in the presence of God.

used in:
Ligeia
The Raven
The Conqueror Worm
Annabel Lee
Eleonora
sharpers
Swindlers, cheating gamblers.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
Simonides
A greek poet from the 7th century B.C.

used in:
Berenice
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.

used in:
Berenice
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
simoon
A hot, dry, dust-laden wind blowing in the desert, especially in Arabia.

used in:
Silence - A Fable
sinciput
The forehead, or the upper half of the skull.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
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.
Read More >

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
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.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Angel of the Odd
sodden
Dull or expressionless especially from continued indulgence in alcoholic beverages.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
soiree
(swa-ray) A party or reception held in the evening.

used in:
The Spectacles
sojourn
A temporary stay.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
soliloquy
The act of talking to oneself. A dramatic monologue that gives the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflection.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Somnambula
La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) is an opera semiseria in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani.
Read More >

used in:
The Spectacles
spurious
False. Forged. Outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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).

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
stereotomy
Stonecutting. The science or art of cutting stones into certain figures or sections, as arches, and the like.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
stertorous
Characterized by a harsh snoring or gasping sound

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
stockinet
A soft elastic usually cotton fabric used especially for bandages and infants' wear.

used in:
Hop-Frog
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.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
Stygian river
In Greek mythology, the river Styx forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld.

used in:
Lenore
suavity
Being smooth though often superficially gracious and sophisticated.

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
Some Words With a Mummy
sublunary
Belonging to this world; Earthly

used in:
William Wilson
sullen
Gloomy; Bad-tempered and sulky.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Pit and the Pendulum
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
William Wilson
Sullivan's Island
Sullivan's Island is located at 32°45'48" North, 79°50'16" West (32.763456, -79.837911)

Edgar Allan Poe was stationed there in Fort Moultrie from 1827 to 1828. As of the year 2000, there are 1911 people residing in the town.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Balloon Hoax
Sully
Thomas Sully (June 19, 1783 - November 5, 1872) was a well-known U.S. (English-born) painter, mostly of portraits.
Read More >

used in:
The Oval Portrait
sulphureous
An older spelling of "sulfurous". Relating to, or containing sulphur. Also relating to, or dealing with the fires of hell.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
Sunda islands
The Lesser Sunda Islands are a number of smaller islands between 800 and 1200 miles east of Jakarta (formerly Batavia), Indonesia.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
sunder
To sever. To separate by or as if by violence.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
supercilious
Proud, coolly and patronizingly haughty.

used in:
The Man of the Crowd
supererogation
The act of performing more than is required by duty, obligation, or need.

used in:
The Imp of the Perverse
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Mesmeric Revelation
William Wilson
superinduced
To introduce as an addition over or above something already existing.

used in:
Berenice
The Premature Burial
The Mystery of Marie Roget
supernumerary
In excess of the normal number; extra

used in:
The Oblong Box
surcease
To put an end to; discontinue.

used in:
The Raven
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.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
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).

used in:
The Gold Bug
Swedenborg
Emmanual Swedenborg was Swedish mystic and philosopher. He published works the mystery of soul-body interaction during the early 1740s.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
sybils
Women regarded as oracles or prophets by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
Silence - A Fable
syllabification
The act, process, or method of forming or dividing words into syllables. Also "syllabication".

used in:
The Premature Burial
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Sylph
An immortal yet soulless (elemental) being that inhabits the air. They are mentioned by the medieval physician Paracelsus.

used in:
Berenice
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.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
syncope
Loss of consciousness resulting from insufficient blood flow to the brain.

used in:
The Premature Burial
tacitly
In a way that is understood or implied without being directly stated.

used in:
The Mystery of Marie Roget
Tadmor
An ancient desert city mentioned in the Bible as being fortified by Solomon.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
taffrail
The railing around a ship's stern.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
tapers
As a noun, a taper is a slender candle.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
tarn
A bog or marsh. Can also be a mountain lake.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Island of the Fay
tattoo
1. An indelible mark or figure fixed upon the body by insertion of pigment under the skin.

2. A rapid, rhythmic tapping or drumming.

3. An evening drum or bugle signal recalling soldiers to their quarters.

used in:
The Tell-Tale Heart
teetotum
A small spinning top usually inscribed with letters.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
tempest
A violent, windy storm.

used in:
The Raven
The Fall of the House of Usher
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
Silence - A Fable
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
The Balloon Hoax
The Oblong Box
tempestuous
Stormy; violent; characterized by strong and turbulent or conflicting emotion.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
William Wilson
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.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Spectacles
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.

used in:
Berenice
The Man of the Crowd
Thebes
The capital of Egypt during part of the Eleventh Dynasty. Its archaeological remains offer a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
Thule
Thule, pronounced "thoo-lee", was the northernmost part of the ancient world, usually an island, and often Iceland.

Ultima Thule
1. in medieval geographies may also denote any distant place located beyond the "borders of the known world."

2. the extreme limit of travel and discovery.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
Dream-Land
thunderstricken
Astonished. Overwhelmed, as if struck by lightning.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
tinctured
Affected. Infused or instilled with an idea or property. Also to tint or stain with a color.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
The Black Cat
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.]

used in:
The Bells
Toledo
A city in Spain where many of the Inquisitorial trials of the Spanish Inquisition were held.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
tons burthen
The cargo capacity of the ship.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
torpid
Numb. Having lost motion or the power of exertion or feeling. Sluggish in functioning or acting.

used in:
The Premature Burial
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.

used in:
The Spectacles
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).

used in:
Ligeia
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
trebled
As a verb, treble means to grow to three times the size, amount, or number.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
Hop-Frog
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.

used in:
The Premature Burial
trepidation
Fear, apprehension.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Angel of the Odd
Some Words With a Mummy
The Spectacles
trumpery
A trivial or worthless article. A piece of junk. Complete nonsense.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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.

used in:
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
tubercles
small, abnormal discrete lumps in the substance of an organ or in the skin; especially the specific lesions of tuberculosis.

used in:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
tunica albuginea
The tough fibrous covering of the testicles or the dense, white fibrous tissue of the eye.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
turpitude
Depravity; wickedness.

used in:
William Wilson
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.

used in:
A Valentine
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.

used in:
The Premature Burial
unequivocal
Unquestionable. Leaving no doubt.

used in:
The Premature Burial
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Man of the Crowd
The Spectacles
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
unfeigned
Sincere, honest.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
unruffled
Poised and serene especially in the face of setbacks or confusion. Smooth.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
vacillating
Hesitating. Going back and forth between two opinions or courses of action.

used in:
Berenice
The Premature Burial
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
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).

used in:
The Spectacles
veloute
A white sauce made of chicken, veal, or fish stock and cream and thickened with butter and flour.

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
venerable
Calling forth respect through age, character, and attainments. Made sacred especially by religious or historical association.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
William Wilson
verdant
Green in tint or color. Also, unripe in experience or judgment.

used in:
Ligeia
The Island of the Fay
veriest
A typical example. Properly entitled to the name or designation.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
William Wilson
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.

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
vestige
A trace, mark, or visible sign left by something. A bodily part or organ that is small and degenerate or imperfectly developed.

used in:
Berenice
vexation
The state of being annoyed, frustrated, or worried.

used in:
The Angel of the Odd
The Spectacles
William Wilson
viand
An item of food.

used in:
The Pit and the Pendulum
vicissitudes
Natural changes or mutations visible in nature or in human affairs. Favorable or unfavorable events or situations that occurs by chance.

used in:
The Gold Bug
vielle cour
"Old Yard"

used in:
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
vignette
1. A portrait photograph which fades into its background without a definite border.

2. A short descriptive literary sketch, a brief incident or scene.

used in:
The Oval Portrait
Vin de Barac
This is probably Vin de Barsac. Sauternes is a French sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux, France. Barsac lies within Sauternes and is entitled to use either name.

used in:
William Wilson
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.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
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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used in:
The Purloined Letter
vituperate
Berate, scold, to use harsh condemnatory language.

used in:
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
vociferated
To cry out loudly, shout.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Oblong Box
volition
The act of making a choice. The capability of conscious choice and decision and intention.

used in:
Ligeia
Mesmeric Revelation
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
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.

used in:
Hop-Frog
voluminously
Having or marked by great volume or bulk. Consisting of many folds, coils, or convolutions.

used in:
The Bells
vouchsafed
To grant or furnish often in a gracious or condescending manner. To grant as a privilege or special favor.

used in:
The Gold Bug
wainscoting
Wooden paneling that lines the lower part of the walls of a room.

used in:
William Wilson
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
The Man of the Crowd
The Black Cat
The Spectacles
wan
Dim, faint, pallid, suggesting poor health.

used in:
Ligeia
The Conqueror Worm
The Fall of the House of Usher
Silence - A Fable
waylaid
Ambushed. Attacked by surprise.

used in:
The Purloined Letter
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.

used in:
Ligeia
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
Welsh rabbit
Melted and often seasoned cheese poured over toast or crackers.

used in:
Some Words With a Mummy
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.

used in:
The Balloon Hoax
wont
As a noun, a wont is a habitual way of doing something. Pronounced like "want".

used in:
The Fall of the House of Usher
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Cask of Amontillado
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Hop-Frog
William Wilson
The Oblong Box
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.

used in:
The Cask of Amontillado
Hop-Frog
Xerxes
The king of Persia (486-465), invaded Greece by bridging Hellespont. The invasion ultimately failed, signaling beginning of decline of Achaemenid Empire.

used in:
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
yawl
A ship's small boat.

used in:
Manuscript Found in a Bottle
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.

used in:
The Gold Bug
zeal
Enthusiasm for a person, cause, or object.

used in:
The Gold Bug
Some Words With a Mummy
The Mystery of Marie Roget



See also, "Words coined by Poe".