WORD LISTS

Vocabulary from "Free Radicals" by Alice Munro

October 10, 2013
In someone else's hands, the tale of a widow who has just survived a bout of cancer could be depressing. Alice Munro's "Free Radicals" however, is a keenly observed short story with a very intriguing character at the center, one who you won't soon forget.

Canadian author Alice Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. Munro is known for her moving short stories. "Free Radicals" is an example of one such story, appearing in The New Yorker in 2008.
diligent
(She had been such a diligent wine drinker that many forgot that she was now forbidden to drink at all.)
stricken
She held them off, without sounding nobly grief- stricken or unnaturally cheerful or absent-minded or confused.
elicit
She had not even informed the people who lived at a distance, to elicit such notes.
estranged
Not Rich’s ex-wife in Arizona or his semi- estranged brother in Nova Scotia, though those two might have understood, perhaps better than the people near at hand, why she had proceeded with the non-funeral as she had done.
unseemly
Her younger friends found this sort of talk unseemly and evasive.
evasive
Her younger friends found this sort of talk unseemly and evasive.
quirk
Playing his favorite music, holding hands together, telling stories that praised Rich while touching humorously on his quirks and forgivable faults.
scanty
She puts on lipstick and pencils her eyebrows, which are now very scanty, and out of her lifelong respect for a narrow waist and moderate hips she checks on the achievements she has made in that direction, though she knows that the proper word for all parts of her now might be “scrawny.”
moderate
She puts on lipstick and pencils her eyebrows, which are now very scanty, and out of her lifelong respect for a narrow waist and moderate hips she checks on the achievements she has made in that direction, though she knows that the proper word for all parts of her now might be “scrawny.”
scrawny
She puts on lipstick and pencils her eyebrows, which are now very scanty, and out of her lifelong respect for a narrow waist and moderate hips she checks on the achievements she has made in that direction, though she knows that the proper word for all parts of her now might be “ scrawny.”
procession
At one time, she thought that she could not live without coffee, but it turned out that it was really just the large warm mug she wanted in her hands, that was the aid to thought or whatever it was she practiced through the procession of hours, or of days.
ruckus
The usual ruckus followed, trite and painful, and ended with Bett going off to California, then Arizona, Nita quitting her job at the suggestion of the registrar, and Rich missing out on becoming dean of arts.
trite
The usual ruckus followed, trite and painful, and ended with Bett going off to California, then Arizona, Nita quitting her job at the suggestion of the registrar, and Rich missing out on becoming dean of arts.
rudimentary
Nita did not inherit the smaller carpenter’s apron, but she read her books cheerfully in the midst of construction and disorder, made rudimentary dinners on a hot plate, and went for long exploratory walks, coming back with ragged bouquets of tiger lilies and wild carrot, which she stuffed into empty paint cans.
ragged
Nita did not inherit the smaller carpenter’s apron, but she read her books cheerfully in the midst of construction and disorder, made rudimentary dinners on a hot plate, and went for long exploratory walks, coming back with ragged bouquets of tiger lilies and wild carrot, which she stuffed into empty paint cans.
lissome
Later, when she and Rich had settled down, she felt somewhat embarrassed to think how readily she had played the younger woman, the happy home-wrecker, the lissome, laughing, tripping ingénue.
ingenue
Later, when she and Rich had settled down, she felt somewhat embarrassed to think how readily she had played the younger woman, the happy home-wrecker, the lissome, laughing, tripping ingénue.
verge
One time, when she was on the verge of menopause, Nita had teased Rich into making love up there—not on the ties, of course, but on the narrow grass verge beside them—and they had climbed down inordinately pleased with themselves.
efficiency
Rich had seemed to her such a tower of efficiency and competence, so vigorous and firm a presence that she had always believed, quite unreasonably, that he would survive her.
competence
Rich had seemed to her such a tower of efficiency and competence, so vigorous and firm a presence that she had always believed, quite unreasonably, that he would survive her.
immersion
Not just with Rich’s death but with her own immersion in illness.
inquisitor
Sometimes she tried to explain why, to an imaginary inquisitor.
genial
The body, as she saw it now, was certainly skinny but more wasted than boyish, affecting a genial slouch.
prominent
His face was long and rubbery, with prominent light-blue eyes.
persistence
A jokey look, but a persistence, too, as if he generally got his way.
spite
And, in spite of all that bulge of flesh, an expression of some satisfaction and cunning.
cunning
And, in spite of all that bulge of flesh, an expression of some satisfaction and cunning.
swathe
The sister had fallen forward, so there was no face to be seen, just her great flowery swathed knees and dark hair with its elaborate and outdated coiffure.
coiffure
The sister had fallen forward, so there was no face to be seen, just her great flowery swathed knees and dark hair with its elaborate and outdated coiffure.
prolonged
“Don’t want my life prolonged if it means drinkin’ junk like that.
rheumatic
She was one of those girls who had rheumatic fever as a child and coasted along on it, couldn’t play sports or do anything much, always having to sit down and have a rest.
quiver
When it did, the room quivered.
benign
Such as the poisonous aspects of certain familiar and generally benign plants.
provincial
It was a policeman, not the one from the village but one of the provincial traffic police.
culvert
The driver rolled it down into the culvert and totalled it.

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