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Station Eleven Vocabulary
Terms in this set (41)
Lasting only a short time, brief, short-lived; not lasting, enduring, permanent, or eternal. See also transient, below.
The condition or quality of un-original-ness. Banal, the adjective form of this word, is in more common use; it means "lacking originality or freshness, over-used, commonplace."
A strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition; a goal or objective that is strongly desired. (This word can also mean, in a medical context, the act of inhaling or sucking in.) From the Latin roots ad, meaning "towards," and spirare, meaning "to breathe."
Going above or beyond ordinary limits; surpassing, exceeding. From the Latin roots trans, meaning "across," and scendere, meaning "to climb."
Wild; existing in a natural state and not domesticated or cultivated; having reverted to the wild state; characteristic of wild animals, ferocious. (This word is most commonly used as an adjective, but in Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel also uses it as a noun. Why do you think she uses it this way?)
inscrutable (49, 67)
Unable to be understood through investigation or analysis; not easily understood, mysterious, un-knowable. See also unfathomable, below.
Glowing or white with heat; intensely bright, brilliant. Can also be used metaphorically for brilliant people or works of art.
A delay or brief stop to something painful, difficult, or irritating; an interval of relief.
Likely to occur at any moment; about to happen. NOTE: Be careful not to confuse this word with a similar-sounding one...
High in station, rank, or reputation; distinguished in one's field; conspicuous or prominent (this last definition can be used for objects or things, not just people, e.g. eminent mountain peaks or an eminent nose).
Unable to be defeated or subdued; unbeatable.
Used to describe a place: barren, devastated; empty, deserted, lonely. Used to describe a person's emotions: abandoned by friends or by hope, forlorn, dreary, dismal, gloomy.
Prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; epidemic over a large area. Can also be used as a noun meaning "a pandemic disease." From the Greek roots pan, meaning "all," and demos, meaning "people." (Can you think of other words that come from these roots?)
To follow or track like a dog, especially with hostile intent. Used as an adjective, dogged means "persistent in effort; not letting up."
Excessive or profuse, generous; not holding back. Used in this way, the word is neutral and can describe something positive or negative. However, its connotation is more often negative and it can also mean "unmerciful, harsh; severe."
Insincere, lacking in frankness; falsely innocent, open, or mild. (Ingenuous, of course, means the opposite: "open and sincere to the point of being naive.")
The quality or state of being tranquil; calmness, peacefulness, quiet, serenity.
A destructive fire, usually an extensive one; less commonly, a destructive war or conflict.
The complete, final destruction of the world, especially as described by prophecy such as the biblical Book of Revelation; an event that involves or creates widespread destruction or disaster on an awesome scale.
unfathomable (207 and elsewhere)
Not able to be completely known or understood; incomprehensible. A fathom is a nautical unit of measurement (equal to six feet), usually used to measure the depth of the ocean. To fathom means to measure the depth of something with a weighted line, but metaphorically it means "to fully comprehend or understand; penetrate to the truth of." Another word that St. John Mandel uses more than once is fathomless, meaning "impossible to measure the depth of," but also "impossible to understand, incomprehensible." Notice the connection of these words to inscrutable, above. Why do you think these words, particularly the ones that have to do with water, are so prominent in the text?
Unable to be avoided or escaped; unalterable; certain, necessary, sure to happen.
Characterized by melancholy (sad) longing or yearning (desiring something); pensive or thoughtful in a melancholy way.
The condition or state of being decrepit, meaning "worn out or weakened by old age or long use; feeble (for a person); dilapidated (for an object)."
A living being that embodies a spirit; a person or thing that is regarded as perfectly representing or exhibiting some quality or idea. From the Latin roots in-, meaning "into," and carn-, meaning "flesh."
The shape that a story takes as it moves from its beginning to its end. Station Eleven is narrated in a complex way. How might you describe its narrative arc?
The opening of a story that sets the scene, introduces characters, etc.
A central issue of the story that creates dramatic interest.
A stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events is determined, a turning point; a dramatic, emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person's life; a condition of political, social, or economic instability or danger.
The moment of greatest tension, when the outcome is to be decided.
The conclusion of the story or ending of the crisis.
The final resolution, sometimes occurring in stages, of the intricacies of a plot, as in a complex story, drama, or novel; the outcome of a doubt-filled series of occurrences. From the French word meaning "the untying of a knot."
To mark or distinguish; to describe or illustrate the character of.
In literature, a reference to something else, such as a myth or fairy tale, another work of literature, or a historical event.
A story, poem, or picture in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation; an extended symbolic system within a story, poem, or picture; a representation of an abstract subject through concrete characters and events in a story, poem, or picture.
A community or society, usually fictional, that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. From the Greek roots dys-, meaning "bad" or "hard," and topos, meaning "place." You should also know its opposite...
An imaginary community or society in which the social conditions, government, and laws are perfect, resulting in complete happiness for the residents. From the Greek roots ou- ("not") and topos and therefore meaning literally, "no place."
Lasting only for a short time, fleeting; impermanent. Can also be used as a noun to mean "a person who is staying or working in a place for only a short time." The noun meaning "impermanence" is transience, a homophone of the plural transients.
A mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, such as a funeral song or lament for the dead. The adjective form is elegiac, meaning "expressing sorrow or lamentation, particularly for the loss of a person or for a happy time that is in the past."
Characterized by the combined pleasure and sadness caused by remembering a former place, time, or state. Nostalgia is the noun form. From the Greek roots nostos ("return home") and algos ("pain").
The ability or capacity to recover quickly from difficulty or misfortune. Resilient is the adjective form.
Identifying with or experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. Distinguished from a similar word, sympathy, in that empathy requires shared experience where sympathy does not. Both words are from the Greek root pathos, meaning "suffering." (Pathos is used by English-speakers today to mean "the quality or power, in a work of art or a real experience, of causing pity or compassion. Pathetic is the adjective form.)
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