The Catcher in the Rye Vocabulary Words

Instructor: Erin Burke

Erin has taught college level english courses and has a master's degree in english.

This lesson will explore some of the more difficult vocabulary words from J.D. Salinger's 'The Catcher In The Rye'. We will define a list of these words in the order they appear in the novel.

The Catcher in the Rye

Holden's Voice

The Catcher In The Rye is narrated by Holden Caulfield, speaking in a sort of stream-of-consciousness that draws the reader right into the story. Holden is a teenager, and he talks like one, using swear words and slang. Although the setting of the story is the 1950s, many of Holden's speech mannerisms ring true in teen-speak today. For example, he often trails off with the phrase 'and all…' ('He's my brother and all') or overuses the word 'hell' ('pretty as hell'; 'playful as hell' etc.). But despite the prevalence of conversational--even slangy--language, The Catcher In The Rye also contains many 'grown up' words, so to speak. We will define some of the more difficult words from the novel below. It's by no means an exhaustive list of all important vocabulary, but a good starting point for the reader.

Vocabulary From Chapters 1-11

hemorrhage -strong flow of blood.

ostracize - to exclude someone from a group.

innumerable - too many to be counted.

qualm -an uneasiness with something one has done.

swell - an old-fashioned word meaning really good.

crude - tasteless, indecent.

rostrum - a raised platform.

compulsory- required.

sadistic - getting pleasure from someone else's pain.

falsetto - an artificially high voice.

fiend - someone with an irrational enthusiasm for something.

halitosis - bad breath.

pacifist - someone who opposes violence.

monastery - residence for a religious community.

conscientious - taking extreme care and making a great effort.

unanimous - completely agreed upon.

matinee - an afternoon theatrical performance.

incognito - hiding one's identity.

telegram - an old-fashioned way of relaying messages through a telegraph.

burlesque - bawdy theater entertainment.

suave - sophisticated and charming, smooth.

intoxicate - to make drunk.

sterling - high quality.

Vocabulary From Chapters 12-21

touchy - easy to offend.

crooked - immoral or dishonest.

nonchalant - cool, unconcerned.

sophisticated - having worldly knowledge and experience, refined.

chateau -a fancy country house in France.

atheist - someone who does not believe in god.

chisel - to trick or fraud someone.

cadet - someone who is a military trainee.

spendthrift - someone who spends money irresponsibly.

bourgeois -middle class, conventional.

mutiny - rebellion against authority.

blasé - acting cool or unconcerned.

clique - an exclusive group of people.

brook - a natural spring of water.

sacrilegious - being irreverent toward something viewed as sacred.

furlough - a temporary leave from military duty.

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