Vocabulary in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (first chapter)

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

When I started working on this website, I published a few articles about English vocabulary I considered interesting. I prepared drafts for more articles, but I decided not to continue working on them and concentrate on articles people would probably find more useful.

Today I found this gem when going through the drafts. It’s just a list of vocabulary from the first chapter of (the British version of) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling that I thought could be unknown to many learners.

Even though I think making a comprehensive list of vocabulary from the whole book would be quite useful, I am afraid that so many quotations from it would already constitute a copyright infringement, so I am not going to do that. Nevertheless, here’s at least some interesting vocabulary from the first chapter:

tawny /ˈtɔːni/ – having a brownish-yellow colour.
… none of them noticed a large tawny owl …
tantrum /ˈtæntrəm/ – a sudden hysterical burst of anger.
… Dudley was now having a tantrum …
tabby cat or just tabby /ˈtæbi/ – a cat with brown or grey fur marked with dark lines.
… there was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive …
pinprick /ˈpɪnprɪk/ – a very small area or hole, such as one made by a pin.
… the only lights left in the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance …
to exasperate /ɪɡˈzæspəreɪt/ – irritate, annoy, make angry.
… ‘I know you haven’t,’ said Professor McGonagall, sounding half-exasperated, half-admiring …
to tremble /ˈtrembl/ – to shake uncontrollably.
… Professor McGonagall’s voice trembled …
glum /ɡlʌm/ – sad, quiet and unhappy.
… Dumbledore nodded glumly. …
grudging /ˈɡrʌdʒɪŋ/ – unwilling, reluctant.
… ‘I’m not saying his heart isn’t in the right place,’ said professor McGonagall grudgingly …
to slink /slɪŋk/ – to move somewhere very quietly and slowly.
… he could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner …

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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