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Vocabulary - Colonial Research Associates Vocabulary - Colonial Research Associates


Vocabulary Words for Women of the American Revolution:

Lost Voices of America’s First Generation


Chapter One: The 18th-Century Woman

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Suffragette: The word suffrage means the right to vote, especially in public and political elections. Suffragette was a term given to women who actively and publically campaigned in the 19th and early-20th centuries for women to have the vote.

Retaining: To keep possession of.

Affluent: From the Latin, meaning “to flow towards,” to be affluent is generally accepted as a term for someone or something that is abundantly prosperous and wealthy – wealth flows toward them.

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Insight: The ability or instance of understanding clearly the nature of a thing; an instinctive awareness or sensitivity.

Embedded: To fix or become fixed firmly and deeply, in this case in an accepted cultural norm.

Proponents: People who argue in favor of something; supporters of a cause or belief.

Bestow: To present something as a gift or award.

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Vulnerable: Open to attack and difficult to defend.

Imperial: Something (in this case policies) that belongs to or relates to an empire.

Tines: Sharp, projecting points or prongs like the long, pointed ends of a fork.

Pension: A payment made by employers, in this case a government, to former employees or their dependents.

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Yearning: A deep longing or desire.

Proximity: Nearness or closeness in space, time, order, occurrence, or relation.

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Indignities: To treat someone in a humiliating manner; to injure them by attacking their pride or self-worth.

Tangible: Real or actual; having a physical existence; capable of being touched.

Paternity: Descent from the line of a father.

Shunning: Deliberately avoiding contact in any manner as a form of public humiliation for an action, stance, or heritage.

Adamant: To be completely unmovable in a stance, attitude, or position taken; unyielding and unshakable, in spite of all arguments or appeals to do otherwise.


Chapter Two:

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Presiding: To sit in or hold a position of authority or control.

Intact: Together, sound, whole, unblemished; not altered, broken, or impaired.

Estate: A large piece of landed property, typically with a very large, elegant house.

Boycotts: Refusing to have dealings with or buy things from a person or organization, in this case anything made in Great Britain.

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Derived: Come from; originated.

Juggernaut: Any large, powerful, destructive force or object. May be used to describe an army, a fleet, a powerful sports team, etc.

Trauma: A powerful shock to a person’s system produced by a dramatic event, in this case childbirth.

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Surrogate: A substitute.

Retribution: The act of punishment or revenge.

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Rural: Relating to, or characteristic of, the country or country life.

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Bout: A period of time doing something or dealing with something; a contest or session of time. This is why boxing matches and times of illness are called bouts.

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Sharecroppers: Tenant farmers whose form of rent is a portion of the crops that they raise.


Chapter Three:

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Militia: Militias were military units made up of private citizens who served their states on a part-time basis in times of crisis or emergency. During the American Revolution, American militias were a welcome addition to the professional army when needed. But professional British soldiers had little respect for colonial militias and treated them poorly. Today, we refer to our state militias as the National Guard.

Notoriety: Reason or cause for being widely known.

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Comrades: Companions, associates, friends.

Treachery: Violation of trust, in this case to violate the basic trust that one human being would not – should not – be murdered by another.

Commemorate: To honor or keep alive a memory.

Blockhouse: A fortified structure with ports or loopholes through which defenders may fire their weapons.

Garrison: Technically, a garrison is a fortified military post – most often a permanent location. But it is also correct for the soldiers stationed at these posts to be referred to as “the garrison.”

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Ensuing: Upcoming action in the sequence of events.

Trudge: To walk wearily because of a long, exhausting march.

Courier: A special messenger, typically traveling in a hurry, to deliver urgent news or reports.

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Refugees: People who flee from the dangers of war, persecution, or harm and seek safety somewhere else.

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Factions: Groups or cliques within larger groups.

Captive: One who has been taken by force and held against their will.

Restitution: The act of compensation for a loss, in this case it was the loss of valuable lands taken from Sarah McGinnis by the new American government

Meager: Inadequate; not sufficient to fully restore or replace.

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Gallies: A shallow, or shoal, draft vessel that in the early days of the U.S. Navy relied mainly upon its sails but could be rowed with long oars called sweeps.

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Bombarded: To attack with concentrated artillery fire.


Chapter Four:

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Corps: A military unit with a specialized function (medical corps, intelligence corps, Marine Corps, etc.)

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Enlisted: To enroll voluntarily for military service.

Rancid: Having a rank, unpleasant, stale smell, in this case due to spoilage and decay.

Noxious: Harmful to health, in this case due to filthiness.

Rampant: Unchecked, unrestrained; without cure or proper treatment.

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Indentured Servant: During this time in history Europeans hoped to get a new start in life in the colonies of North America. But the cost of travel was very expensive and a great many of these people couldn’t afford the cost. But the New World was desperate for workers and these people were desperate for a change in their lives, so they signed contracts promising to work for little or no pay for typically seven years and then regain their independence. The investors paid for their cost of travel, food, shelter, clothing, and tools to work with. Often there was promise of a year’s worth of food and clothing, a gun, and even land waiting at the end of their terms of indenture, but most of the time such promises were conveniently forgotten.

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Valor: Boldness or determination when facing danger, particularly in battle.

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Intensive: Increased emphasis.


Chapter Five:

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Surveyor: Someone who determines the exact form, boundaries, position, etc., of a tract of land or a section of the country by taking precise measurements with specialized instruments.

Scorn: Open contempt or disdain for a person or thing.

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Zealous: Enthusiastic devotion for a cause, person, or organization that, in some cases, becomes fanatical.

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Espionage: The use of spies to discover military or political secrets of other nations and empires, especially in a time of war.

Destitute: Impoverished; broke; without means of nourishment or support.

Sentry: A soldier who guards or prevents unauthorized access to a place, keeps watch for danger, etc.

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Duplicity: Deceit, deception, fraud, trickery, double-dealing – necessary qualities for being a spy.

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Foraging: The finding of food by any means necessary, especially when out in the countryside: hunting, fishing, gathering, stealing, etc.

Vendor: A person who sells things.

Brigade: A military unit having its own headquarters and consisting of two or more regiments, squadrons, groups, or battalions.

Treasonous: Actions, words, and thoughts of a traitor, which is someone who commits the crime of treason against their government.

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Patrons: As with the word clientele, patrons are a group or body of customers who might be considered “regulars” because they faithfully patronize, or support, a business.

Shrouded: To hide or veil something with secrecy and obscurity.


Chapter Six:

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Magnate: A person of extreme importance, political influence, and/or wealth. Scholars argue whether the word is Polish or Hungarian in its origins, but it was originally a reference to members of the upper houses of parliament.

Guerilla warfare: (guh-rill-a) Guerrilla warfare is a Spanish term that means “little war.” Throughout history civilians who chose to defend their lands against regular armies have formed loose-knit military united that rely upon speed, surprise, ambush, and sabotage – in other words, they fight dirty! – in order to have any hope of defeating large professional armies. Thomas Brown’s East Florida Rangers were formed for this purpose, to create as much confusion and cause as much damage as possible without putting an entire army in the field.

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Wholly: Entirely, totally, completely.

Allegiance: Loyalty or devotion to a person, place, belief, or cause.

Virtuous: Conforming to moral and ethical principles.

Counterparts: A person or thing closely resembling another, only from an opposite side.

Amidst: Among, within.

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Dire: Troubling, urgent, desperate.

Levied: To impose and collect a tax, by force if necessary.

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Siege: To surround and attack a fortified place in such a way that keeps help and supplies from reaching those inside. The idea is to cause those inside the fortress to run out of supplies and food, forcing them to surrender. A siege can last for months.

Ignorant: Lacking in knowledge or education; unlearned. This word does not mean unintelligent. Many people are extremely intelligent, but untrained or unfamiliar in areas that may seem basic to others, such as a doctor who doesn’t understand sports.

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Onslaught: A violent attack or assault, in this case one that spread from Virginia down to East Florida.

Memoir: An autobiography of one’s life and experiences.

Schooner: Any types of sailing vessels having a foremast and mainmast, with or without other masts, and having fore-and-aft sails on all lower masts.

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Itinerant: A person who travels from place to place for business, duty, or as in this case, a noble cause.


Schooner Freedom, St. Augustine, FL. (St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum in background)


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Deposed: To be removed from an office or position of authority, in this case under threat of being captured by those in rebellion.

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Pacifists: A person who is opposed to violence of any kind. Many religious beliefs teach total pacifism, which calls for its followers to refuse military service.

Lootings: To have robbed or stolen openly by force, as in war, raids, or riots. Other terms for this action are plundering and pillaging.

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Colleague: a friend, business associate, fellow officer in the military, or member of a fraternity, sorority, department, profession, etc.

Dutiful: Performing a task as expected or required without question.


Chapter Seven:

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Articulate: Able to express oneself clearly, distinctly, and intelligently.

Apprentices: Young people, typically teens, who work for a master of their craft in order to learn a trade.

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Evangelist: A protestant minister or layperson (non-professional) who travels from place to place to preach, rather than having a permanent church.

Frivolous: Lack of seriousness or sense; unnecessary.

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Doctrine: A body or system of teachings and principles relating to a particular topic.

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Chronicler: A person who records events chronologically, such as historical happenings. Interesting note: chroniclers are historians, but historians are not always chroniclers.

Indigo: Plants of the leguminous family that can be processed to make a blue-violet dye that is peculiar to these plants.

Putrefied: A foul state of decomposition; fully rotted.

Vats: Very large containers, tanks, or tubs used to store/hold/heat liquids.

Province: Another word for colony. During the 18th century a province might be any territory governed as a unit of an empire that is located outside of the capital, large cities, or physical boundaries of the primary country. Considered to be lacking in sophisticated culture



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Rhetoric: In this case, speech or ideals that pretend to be significant but lack sincerity or true meaning.

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Deplorable: Wretched; horrible; very bad.