"A Streetcar Named Desire," Vocabulary from the play 70 words

1. desire the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state NOTES: The title is a metaphor for the theme of the story. The streetcar is named Desire after the name of the (actual) street to which it goes. Incidentally, a "streetcar" is a rail vehicle that runs on tracks, used as public transportation. Nowadays, they are not as popular as they used to be, and not as many cities use them. EXAMPLE SENTENCE:
A Streetcar Named Desire

not practical or realizable; speculative NOTES: This quotation is from the opening poem. Even though this is a play that is meant to be performed, it is also a wonderful book to read, and the presence of this poem underscores the fact that it includes more than stage directions. EXAMPLE SENTENCE:
And so it was I entered the broken world To trace the visionary company of love, its voice An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled) But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

usually depicts Stanley's actions. EXAMPLE SENTENCE:
And so it was I entered the broken world To trace the visionary company of love, its voice An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled) But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

just around the corner, or a few doors down the street, from a tinny piano being played with the infatuated fluency of brown fingers.


cosmopolitan composed of people from or at home in many parts of the world; especially not provincial in attitudes or interests EXAMPLE SENTENCE:
The white woman is Eunice, who occupies the upstairs flat; the colored woman a neighbor, for New Orleans is a cosmopolitan city where there is a relatively warm and easy intermingling of races in the old part of town.


attenuate weaken the consistency of (a chemical substance) EXAMPLE SENTENCE:
The sky that shows around the dim white building is a peculiarly tender blue, almost a turquoise, which invests the scene with a kind of lyricism and gracefully attenuates the atmosphere of decay.


bellow shout loudly and without restraint NOTES: This is another routine reaction from Stanley used in the stage directions. EXAMPLE SENTENCE:


hurl throw forcefully NOTES: Though first showing up in the opening poem, this word is used in the stage directions, and it 5.

infatuated marked by foolish or unreasoning fondness EXAMPLE SENTENCE:
In this part of New Orleans you are practically always



There he throws back his head like a baying hound and bellows his wife's name: "Stella! Stella. the limit beyond which something happens or changes EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 19. sweetheart! Stella!” characterized by high spirits and animation EXAMPLE SENTENCE: She begins to speak. subtle. sort of to put the stopper on. "stare. glare Her delicate beauty must avoid a strong light. background a person's social heritage: previous experience or training EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Such as his civilian background! 11. I’m not going to be hypocritical. delicate exquisitely fine and subtle and pleasing. a quick look NOTES: Compare with the vocabulary word. EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 17." EXAMPLE SENTENCE: I won’t be looked at in this merciless glare! I was on the verge of— lunacy. susceptible to injury NOTES: This word. spasmodic affected by involuntary jerky muscular contractions. vivacity 16.. 12. almost. stare look at with fixed eyes EXAMPLE SENTENCE: They stare at each other across the yellow-checked linoleum of the table. I know that . I’m going to be honestly critical about it! 18. so to speak. resembling a spasm EXAMPLE SENTENCE: They catch each other in a spasmodic embrace." EXAMPLE SENTENCE: She laughs. glance Well. 8. nip 13. a small drink of liquor EXAMPLE SENTENCE: I am going to take just one little tiny nip more. as used in the sample sentence. and easily broken. verge NOTES: Compare with the vocabulary word. 14. radiant radiating or as if radiating light EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Stella looks up with a radiant smile. hypocritical professing feelings or virtues one does not have EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Oh. 9. but her glance at Blanche is a little anxious. reproach express criticism towards EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 10. "stare. an angry stare 15. with feverish vivacity as if she feared for either of them to stop and think. Stella—you’re going to reproach me. is using every sense of its meaning: exquisitely fine.

his radio. such as his heartiness with men. his love of good drink and food and games. his love of good drink and food and games. his radio. that bears his emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer. 25. functioning in a supporting capacity EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 28.you’re bound to reproach me—but before you do— take into consideration—you left! Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes. 22. EXAMPLE SENTENCE: So we’ll go to one of the little places in the Quarter afterwards and you’d better give me some money. such as his heartiness with men. his appreciation of rough humor. leaving the door open on the perpetual “blue piano” around the corner. we hear some of the following dialogue. that bears his emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer. everything that is his. everything that is his. EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Branching out from this complete and satisfying center are all the auxiliary channels of his life. but all the burden descended on my shoulders. auxiliary 20. preen with the order reversed . Branching out from this complete and satisfying center are all the auxiliary channels of his life. vice versa 30. gaudy tastelessly showy As the men enter. baby. quarter a district of a city having some distinguishing character NOTES: Note that in the sample sentence it is capitalized. and when you’re swindled under the Napoleonic code I’m swindled too. his car. perpetrate perform an act. It looks to me like you have been swindled. 24. usually with a negative connotation EXAMPLE SENTENCE: I don’t understand what happened to Belle Reve but you don’t know how ridiculous you are being when you suggest that my sister or I or anyone of our family could have perpetrated a swindle on anyone else. inherent in the nature of something EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 27. burden an onerous or difficult concern EXAMPLE SENTENCE: I’m not meaning this in any reproachful way. EXAMPLE SENTENCE: In the state of Louisiana we have the Napoleonic code according to which what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband and vice versa. dialogue the lines spoken by characters in drama or fiction EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 29. perpetual uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Stanley enters the kitchen from outside. swindle deprive of by deceit EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 26. 21. implicit implied though not directly expressed. It is in fact the very colorful French Quarter of New Orleans. 23. his appreciation of rough humor. his car.

a red-andwhite check. At times. The music is often mingled with unintelligible voices that underscore this new environment that is hot. humid. piece by piece. all from one boy. usually includes taking something or somebody along EXAMPLE SENTENCE: What’s in the back of that little boy’s mind of yours? That I am absconding with something. 38. Steve. 39. smoldering showing scarcely suppressed anger EXAMPLE SENTENCE: He crosses through drapes with a smoldering look. this word is used ironically in order to be sarcastic. glamorous . attempting some kind of treachery on my sister? There are thousands of papers. EXAMPLE SENTENCE: The "blue piano” plays for a brief interval. and noisy to Blanche. the raw colors of childhood's spectrum. yellowing with antiquity. “I am the glamorous type. antiquity extreme oldness EXAMPLE SENTENCE: These are love-letters. a light green. cordial politely warm and friendly NOTES: In the sample sentence. and they are men at the peak of their physical 32. blues a type of folksong that originated among Black Americans at the beginning of the 20th century. I am the glamorous type!” 34. not providing for the future EXAMPLE SENTENCE: NOTES: The music that runs in the background of the story sets a a mood that is inseparable from the story. it almost shows up to emphasize the emotions or the events that are happening. lurid glaringly vivid and graphic. improvident 33. affecting Belle Reve as. a purple. solid blues. abscond run away. our improvident grandfathers and father and uncles and brothers exchanged the land for their epic fornications—to put it plainly! 37. romance and excitement EXAMPLE SENTENCE: not provident. has a melancholy sound from repeated use of blue notes 36. marked by sensationalism EXAMPLE SENTENCE: The kitchen now suggests that sort of lurid nocturnal brilliance. stretching back over hundreds of years. 35. It is almost like the weather that comes and goes.dress or groom with elaborate care EXAMPLE SENTENCE: having an air of allure. coarse lacking refinement or cultivation or taste EXAMPLE SENTENCE: The poker players—Stanley. Look at these feathers and furs that she come here to preen herself in! 31. Mitch and Pablo— wear colored shirts. EXAMPLE SENTENCE: I understand there’s to be a little card party to which we ladies are cordially not invited! I once went out with a doll who said to me.

you make up for it by treating inanimate objects with such a fury! 50. ajar slightly open EXAMPLE SENTENCE: The outside door is slightly ajar on a sky of summer brilliance. What I mean is—he thinks I’m sort of—prim and proper. prim 47. inanimate not endowed with life EXAMPLE SENTENCE: You must have had lots of banging around in the army and now that you’re out. getting into his car—Cadillac convertible. about dusk. cultivate foster the growth of EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Is this a Chinese philosophy you’ve—cultivated? a deliberate pretense or exaggerated display EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 52. dusk having unsuitable feminine qualities 43.. as coarse and direct and powerful as the primary colors. threshold . on Christmas Eve. and Stanley’s gaudy pyjamas lie across the threshold of the bathroom. as with fear or pain EXAMPLE SENTENCE: She returns his look without flinching. sonnet a verse form consisting of 14 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Why. quaint strange in an interesting or pleasing way EXAMPLE SENTENCE: affectedly dainty or refined EXAMPLE SENTENCE: I’m compiling a notebook of quaint little words and phrases I’ve picked up here. the space that a door can close EXAMPLE SENTENCE: The table is sloppy with remains of breakfast and the debris of the preceding night. 51. flinch draw back. effeminate 46. Blanche speaks with an affectation of demureness." EXAMPLE SENTENCE: At each noise Blanche winces slightly. 40. that’s from my favorite sonnet by Mrs. the entrance (the space in a wall) through which you enter or leave a room or building. 42. wince draw back. must have been a block longl 49. as with fear or pain NOTES: Similar in meaning to "flinch. you know! 41. affectation 48.manhood. the time of day immediately following sunset EXAMPLE SENTENCE: I ran into Shep Hundeigh—I ran into him on Biscayne Boulevard. Browning. 45. 44.. lurch walk as if unable to control one's movements EXAMPLE SENTENCE: He lurches up and tosses some watermelon rinds to the floor.

a man who is the lover of a girl or young woman EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Is it because I’ve been stood up by my beau? resembling or characteristic of a phantom EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Now she is placing the rhinestone tiara on her head before the mirror of the dressing-table and murmuring excitedly as if to a group of spectral admirers. telegram a message transmitted by telegraph NOTES: This was an older form of communication. inert unable to move or resist motion EXAMPLE SENTENCE: He picks up her inert figure and carries her to the bed. 60. destitute poor enough to need help from others EXAMPLE SENTENCE: How strange that I should be called a destitute woman! 64. although he wasn’t the least bit effeminate looking—still —that thing was there. cold drink always give me a brand new outlook on life! 63.EXAMPLE SENTENCE: There was something different about the boy. gaze a long fixed look NOTES: 55. EXAMPLE SENTENCE: I received a telegram from an old admirer of mine. soil make soiled. 54. incompatible not easy to combine harmoniously EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Our attitudes and our backgrounds are incompatible. vicious stories that he had gotten from you! 56. outlook a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations EXAMPLE SENTENCE: A hot bath and a long. a softness and tenderness which wasn’t like a man’s. 59. spectral . not clearly understood or expressed EXAMPLE SENTENCE: There is some obscure meaning in this but I fail to catch it 62. filthy. beau 58. or dirty EXAMPLE SENTENCE: As the drinking and packing went on. 57. 61. a nervousness. saccharine overly sweet EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Blanche is singing in the bathroom a saccharine popular ballad which is used contrapuntally with Stanley’s speech. obscure 53. slander an abusive attack on a person's character or good name EXAMPLE SENTENCE: And to repeat slander to me. a mood of hysterical exhilaration came into her and she has decked herself out in a somewhat soiled and crumpled white satin evening gown and a pair of scuffed silver slippers with brilliants set in their heels.

sinuous curved or curving in and out EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Blanche stands quite still for some moments—the silverbacked mirror in her hand and a look of sorrowful perplexity as though all human experience shows on her face. 69. sinuous shapes. At the sound of Blanche’s voice Mitch’s arm supporting his cards has sagged and his gaze is dissolved into space. the Matron is a peculiarly sinister figure in her severe dress. divest take away possessions from someone EXAMPLE SENTENCE: Divested of all the softer properties of womanhood.Compare with the vocabulary word. gravity a manner that is serious and solemn EXAMPLE SENTENCE: in a softened tone EXAMPLE SENTENCE: The luxurious sobbing. muted . 66. "stare." EXAMPLE SENTENCE: 67. 70. 65. the sensual murmur fade away under the swelling music of the “blue piano” and the muted trumpet. 68. Lurid reflections appear on the walls in odd. perplexity trouble or confusion resulting from complexity EXAMPLE SENTENCE: The gravity of their profession is exaggerated— the unmistakable aura of the state institution with its cynical detachment. matron a woman in charge of nursing in a medical institution EXAMPLE SENTENCE: A Doctor and a Matron have appeared around the corner of the building and climbed the steps to the porch.