Vocabulary in A Jury of Her Peers

Vocabulary Examples in A Jury of Her Peers:

A Jury of Her Peers 8

""They think it was such a—funny way to kill a man." She began to laugh; at sound of the laugh, abruptly stopped...."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

This is a strange moment in the story. Mrs. Peters reports that the men consider the strangling a “funny way to kill a man.” The word “funny” seems to mean “peculiar” or “odd,” and yet Mrs. Peters then bursts into a brief fit of laughter, as if she had interpreted the word to literally mean “comedic.” Perhaps the word invited Mrs. Peters to take a comedic look at the events, triggering a fit of laughter in the face of the grimness and absurdity at hand.

"red up..."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

The Middle English verb “redden” means “to free from” or “to clear.” The phrase “red up” comes from this verb, and today means “to clear up” or “to tidy up.”

"scarey..."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

Notice that the word “scary” is spelled “scarey” here, but that it still means “frightened.” This spelling of the word mostly common in 19th to 20th century North America, and thus helps establish the setting. This spelling also indicates a dialect, that suggests that the setting might be rural mid-west or south-west.

""Wright was close!"..."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

In this context, “close” means stingy or oppressive. Mrs. Hale sees Minnie’s tattered skirt as evidence that her husband was so stingy that he would not buy her new clothes. In the patriarchal society in which these women live, women are supposed to take care of the house and men are supposed to take care of the women. Minnie’s shabby clothes and kitchen are signs that Mr. Wright did not keep up his end of this social contract: he did not take care of his wife.

""slicked up."..."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

To “slick up” is an informal colloquial phrase meaning to make fresh or ready, to spruce up. The narrator puts quotation marks around this phrase when she repeats it in order to point out its colloquial nature and signal that Mrs. Hale speaks in a particular country dialect.

""Well, can you beat the women!..."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

“Can you beat the women” is an expression that rhetorically asks the question “can you do better than that?” or “can you exceed that?” In using this expression, Mr. Peters is not sincerely complimenting the women for worrying about Minnie’s jars. Instead, he is saying that “you cannot exceed women in their ridiculousness.” He expresses this disbelief because he does not value the hard work that went into making those jars. He does not believe that this is a serious matter to worry about.

"pleatin..."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

“Pleatin’” or “pleating” is a verb that means to gather into folds or interlace strands of something to form a plait. In this context, Mr. Hale probably uses the word to say that Minnie was playing with or picking at her apron. Minnie’s movement is absent-minded and it makes it clear that she is focusing on something else.

"two-seated buggy...."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

A “two-seat buggy” is a light horse-drawn carriage for two people that has four wheels and a light folding top hood. It was used mostly in North America before cars became mass consumer products.