Vocab Builder: Dogtown

I have previously created vocabulary lists before Tinkers, a lyrical novel by Paul Harding (and I will do more from that lovely book soon). Today, I want to offer one from a different type of book. This time the book in question is a narrative nonfiction work about an area local to me. Dogtown by Elyssa East. About a colonial ruin in Gloucester, MA, the book aims to uncover Dogtown’s hidden depths and tries to understand what the area has to offer. All example sentences come from the book.

  • peripatetic, adjective: related to moving from place to place.

Hartley, a peripatetic, lonesome soul, had been obsessed with Dogtown’s primordial, highland expanse, which he painted on three separate occasions in the 1930s.

  • demarcate, verb: to set the limits or boundaries of something.

The Babson and Goose Cove Reservoirs demarcate Dogtown’s border to the southeast and west, respectively.

  • sere, adjective: dried up, whithered.

This sere, barren wasteland was the “most peculiar scenery of the Cape,” as Henry David Thoreau put it, noting its “hills strewn with boulders, as if they had rained down, on every side” in his Journal on September 23, 1858.

  • talismanic, adjective: of or related to something believed to have magic powers

Hartley’s Dogtown pictures had their own strange, brooding gleam, that flaming pool, those talismanic rocks.

  • hardscrabble, adjective: related to soil that is extremely poor for farming.

For over three hundred seventy-five years, this small city’s livelihood and identity have come from the ocean, not its hardscrabble interior.

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About Erin Brenner

With a BA and an MA in English, Erin has been an editing professional for 15 years, working on a variety of media, especially online. Her niche is business/marketing and online. In addition, she has experience teaching editing to non-editors and coaching writers. In 2008, Erin was bitten by the social media bug...hard. Follow her on Twitter, @ebrenner, and get a daily vocabulary word, a link to the article of the day, and much more. You can also find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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