Johnny Tremain Vocabulary

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

When reading a historical fiction novel, vocabulary can be especially tricky. Don't lose any of the excitement of 'Johnny Tremain' because you don't know the meanings of some of the words. Preview the following lesson before you read!

Vocabulary in Johnny Tremain

As you read Esther Forbes's Johnny Tremain, it's a good idea to get familiar with some of the following words to help your understanding of the story. You will come across words in the book that are specific to the Revolutionary War, words that reflect the time period, and even words that are specific to one coastal Massachusetts town. Get to know these words so they don't get in the way of you understanding what's going on with Johnny and his fellow cast of characters!

And don't forget: if you come across some words that aren't on this list, you can try using context clues to understand them, which just means figuring out words based on what's going on in the sentence. If that doesn't work, turn to your dictionary to define them.

General Terms Seen Throughout the Novel

Whig- a member of a political party that believed in the American Revolution

Tory- a member of a political party that opposed the American Revolution and felt loyalty to England

Sons of Liberty- a group that opposed the Stamp Act and worked for American independence

Minute Men- a militia that worked for American independence and could be ready to fight 'in a minute'

Grenadier- a member of the British army

Chapters One Through Three

Wharf- a pier

Swinish- like a hog

Autocratic- like a tyrant

Brackish- water that is a combination of salt water and fresh water

Pious- very religious

Wrathfully- very angrily

Crucible- a container to heat metal to high temperatures

Squabs- a young pigeon

Chapters Four Through Six

Snuff- powdered tobacco

Obdurate- stubborn

Lamentably- regrettably

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