Heroes & Villains
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A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  J  |  K  |  L  |  M
N  |  O  |  P  |  Q  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W  |  X  |  Y  |  Z
A  
abortive failing to achieve an objective, not finishing
Addison's disease a disease that occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of certain hormones; it can cause weight loss, muscle weakness, tiredness and low blood pressure
affluent wealthy
AFL/CTO a federation or group of labour
aggravated made worse
aggressor someone who attacks or behaves in a hostile way
Allies / Allied countries that combined forces in World War 2 to defeat, Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito, they included Britain, the USSR and the USA
American dream the idea held by many in the USA (and the hope of new settlers there) that through hard work, courage and determination one can achieve prosperity
amplification expansion, addition
amplify add to
anarchical without any form of political authority; in a state of lawlessness and disorder
annul cancel
anomaly deviation from normal
antagonism hostility that results in opposition
apostle one who pioneers an important reform movement, cause, or belief; a strong supporter
apparatus equipment
apprehension dread, uneasy thoughts about the future
arbiters people with the power to settle matters or decide things
area bombing strategy of dropping large amounts of bombs on geographical areas such as entire towns rather than on individual structures
arrears being behind, being in debt
aspersions unfavourable remarks, attacks on a person's character
Assembly (General Assembly of the United Nations) All member states of the United Nations are represented in the Assembly, which can discuss and vote on any subject within the scope of the UN, except those disputes being dealt with by the Security Council.
atom bomb / atomic bomb This bomb gets its explosive power from the energy released when the nuclei of atoms of elements such as plutonium or uranium split (fission) in a chain reaction. This produces a shockwave that can destroy buildings and intense heat that can start fires for a range of several miles. Currents created by the explosion of the bomb suck dust and other material up into a fireball, creating a mushroom-shaped cloud, and fallout of radioactive materials from the atmosphere contaminates air, water and soil. The first atomic bombs were built in the USA and used against Japan during World War 2, immediately killing an estimated 66,000 in Hiroshima and 39,000 in Nagasaki, with more dying later on.
atrocities appalling acts, especially acts of unusual cruelty done to civilians or prisoners by an armed force
Axis partnership between Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, and Hirohito's Japan
   
B  
ballistic missile a missile that is guided in the first part of its flight but then falls freely as it approaches its target
barbarous savage, cruel
baseless without a basis in fact
bereaved suffering the loss of a loved one
Berlin capital city of Germany until the end of World War 2, it was divided in 1945 into different sectors controlled by Britain, USA, France and USSR
bigoted being a bigot (one who favours one's own group, religion or race and is intolerant of others)
bigotry attitude or behaviour that is intolerant or prejudiced
Black Muslims a group founded in 1930 in the USA, whose members have Muslim values and believe in economic independence for black Americans (also known as the Nation of Islam)
blitz heavy bombing from the air, e.g. the bombing of London by German aircraft during 1940-41
blockade the isolation of an area by ships or forces to stop the movement of traffic or trade
Bolsheviks a left-wing group that followed Lenin and eventually became the Russian communist party, they seized power in Russia in November 1917
Bomber Command RAF department in charge of air raids against Germany during World War 2
bourgeois in Marxist thought, being property owners and exploiters of the working class; capitalist; middle class
boycott a planned campaign to punish the providers of goods or services by refusing to buy or use them
belated done too late
   
C  
calibre a standard of quality or worth
capital wealth in the form of money or property used or gained in business; material wealth used in the production of more wealth; capitalists as a group
capitalism an economic system based on private ownership of capital, where the means of production and distribution are privately owned and people make profits in a free market
capitalist a person who invests capital in a business, especially a large business; someone who believes in the capitalist system where people are free to profit by owning their own businesses
capitulation the act of giving up, surrender
Castro, Fidel leader of Cuba from 1959 who made his country the first communist state in the western hemisphere and became a symbol of communist revolution in Latin America
caustic cutting, sarcastic
cessation an end, a ceasing
cession a surrendering of territory to another country in a treaty
charade an obvious pretence
Chiang Kai-Shek leader of the Nationalist government in China from 1928 and leader of that government in exile in Taiwan, after defeat by Mao in 1949, until his death in 1975
Churchill, Winston British Prime Minister in the war years 1940-5 and again in 1951-55
civil rights the legal rights and freedoms belonging to the citizens of a state
Civil Rights Act, 1964 a law that changed United States society by banning discrimination in public facilities, government and employment, outlawing segregation of the races in schools and housing, and protecting women from discrimination as well as men
civil war a war between two or more groups from within the same country
clauses sections of a formal or legal document
clique a small exclusive group of people
collective security a system for international peace, a belief that unity between countries and joint action will provide protection against aggressive nations
collectivisation Soviet government policy forcing peasants to give up their individual farms and join large group (collective) farms shared by many farmers
combustible capable of catching fire and burning
commencement start
Communism a form of socialism that abolishes private ownership, a theory of social organisation where property is owned collectively (not by private individuals) and labour is organised for the common advantage of everyone (a classless society), in practice it can mean a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and an authoritarian party holds power
commutation reduction of a penalty to a less severe one
complexion character or appearance, viewpoint or attitude
component a part e.g. a part for a machine
conceivable reasonable; likely; possible
conciliation the settlement of a dispute through friendly behaviour and agreement
condemn to express strong disapproval
condominium joint rule by two or more nations or a plan to achieve it
conflagration large uncontrolled destructive fire
conformity acting according to certain standards or opinions, acting in agreement with
constitution the system of basic laws and principles that describe the purpose and limits of government in the USA
consul official appointed by a government to act on its behalf in a foreign country
contingency plans plans for how to deal with possible future events
countenance consent to; allow
countermeasures actions taken to counter or oppose another action, e.g. if planes come to bomb a city, the city might have anti-aircraft guns as a countermeasure
covenant promise or agreement, in this case the founding document of the League of Nations
   
D  
debased lowered in quality or value, corrupted
decadent in a state of decline or decay, especially moral decay and self-indulgence
decypher decode
defensive intended for defending, for withstanding or deterring an attack (not offensive)
delimitation a line that indicates a boundary
demilitarisation to replace military control with civilian control; to ban military forces in an area
demobilisation the act of changing from a war footing to peace, including disbanding troops
deputation a group of people appointed to represent others
deranged disturbed; insane
desegregation the ending of laws and practices which separated black and white public facilities; see also integration
despotic ruled by a despot (a ruler with absolute power)
détente a relaxing of tensions between rival nations, e.g. with increased contact, negotiations, talks
devoid completely lacking
devolve pass on to another, delegate
digest summary, condensed book
diligence earnest and persistent effort put towards a task
dimensions size, extent
direct action to put direct and immediate pressure on the community by actions such as strikes, boycotts, sit-ins or demonstrations, to achieve a political or social purpose
directive (directif) order, instruction
disarmament the act of laying down arms, especially the reduction or abolition of a country's military forces and weapons
discords tension and disagreements; confused or harsh sounds; lack of harmony
discrimination treatment or consideration based on grounds of race or class; treatment that is actively prejudiced in its manner
disenfranchised deprived of the right to vote
disintegration total destruction
dislocation disruption, a movement of something from its normal place
divisiveness division; conflict; disagreement
draw an inference draw conclusions
Duce a leader - Mussolini was called Il Duce
   
E  
elementary school school for the first four to eight years of a child's formal education; also called primary school
eloquent good at expressing oneself, for example a persuasive or powerful or moving speaker
emancipation proclamation Abraham Lincoln's declaration on slavery in 1862 saying that all slaves in all states that had withdrawn from the Union during the Civil War were free
emasculated deprived of force or effectiveness; weakened
embargo a government order banning the sale or transport of certain goods to or from another nation
eminently in an outstanding manner
en clair not in code, in ordinary language
endeavour try, make an effort
endorse approve; recommend; stand behind
engulfs overwhelms; overflows; covers
enjoined forbid
ensued followed as a result; took place after
entails requires, involves, results in
enumerated listed
equalitarianism the principle of the equality of all people
equilibrium a condition in which all acting influences are cancelled out by others, resulting in a stable, balanced or unchanging system
escalation increase
exalted glorified, raised in status
execution the act of doing something
exemplified served as an example of
expatiated spoke at length
extradition the surrender of an accused person or convicted criminal by one state or country to another
extremism ideas beyond the usual or normal ones; political theories or actions that are extreme and hard-line
extremist factions (political) groups whose opinions and actions go beyond the norm; people with extreme views
extremity outermost or farthest point
   
F  
facilitating making easier
farce a mockery; a play that isn’t serious; an empty show; a ridiculous performance
fascism A political movement founded in 1919 by Mussolini, the name also came to be used for similar political movements in other countries e.g. National Socialism in Germany. It stands for a system of government with centralised authority under a dictator, strong controls over society and the economy, suppression of any opposition, often with attitudes of nationalism and racism.
fascist a person who believes in or practises fascism
FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) an organisation of law enforcement agents set up in 1908 and led by J Edgar Hoover from 1924-72, it often investigated political activists who were not accused of any crime
federal law law made by the central US government (as opposed to those laws made by the individual states)
fervour enthusiasm; intense feelings; passion; seriousness
filibuster the use of blocking tactics, especially very long speech-making, for the purpose of delaying laws being passed
firebreaks strips of land that can stop the spread of a fire because there is nothing on them to burn easily (a river could also work in the same way)
firestorm an unusually powerful fire in which strong winds are created that add to the intensity and in which temperatures can reach thousands of degrees
flash burns burns from brief exposure to intense radiation (different to flame burns caused by the flames from a fire)
flouted showed contempt for; ignored
formulated developed, mapped out
fraternal brotherly; relating to brothers; relating to a fraternity (a group of people joined by a common purpose or interest)
   
G  
gainsaying denying
gamma rays a kind of radiation
Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery
   
H  
Harris, Arthur Commander-in-Chief of the RAF Bomber Command from February 1942
hegemony the domination of one state or group over others
Hirohito Emperor of Japan from 1926-89
hydrogen bomb Also called a thermonuclear bomb, this weapon produces a shockwave that can destroy buildings within several miles, light intense enough to cause blindness, heat that can start fires for a range of many miles, and fallout of radioactive materials from the atmosphere that contaminates air, water and soil worldwide. Its great power comes from an uncontrolled chain reaction in which isotopes of hydrogen combine under very high temperatures to form helium in a process that releases energy (nuclear fusion). This is a different process to an atomic explosion and thermonuclear bombs can be thousands of times more powerful than atomic bombs. They can also be made small enough to fit in ballistic missiles to send them long distances to their target.
   
I  
ideological of or relating to ideology (a set of ideas that form the basis of a political, economic, social or cultural system)
illiteracy an inability to read
illuminating lighting, glowing
illustrative acting as an illustration, making clear by use of examples, serving to demonstrate
impending about to happen
imperialist of or relating to imperialism - the policy and practice of extending a nation's authority over other nations by taking their territory or by establishing economic and political domination over them.
impotence the quality of lacking strength or power
improbable unlikely to happen
impunity freedom from punishment or penalty
incendiary a bomb designed to start fires, causing fire
incitement the act of provoking; the act of urging on or encouraging
induce to bring something about by persuasion
industrialisation to develop industry; to organise the production of something as an industry
industrialise organise production into an industry (e.g. instead of people making clothes in their own homes for themselves, they buy clothes from a factory where people are organised to produce clothes together using machinery)
industry sector of an economy made up of manufacturing activities (processing raw materials into finished products, often using machinery in factories); the organised act of making goods for sale; also a specific branch of manufacturing e.g. the mining industry
inherent an essential part or characteristic of something
innumerable too many to count
inoperable unable to be used, not working
inopportune badly timed
instigated urged on
integration the bringing of people of different racial groups together in society; desegregation
intercede to plead on another's behalf
interposition the act of intervening; putting in an action or remark that interrupts; the act of placing one thing (or oneself) between others; coming between things
intoxication a state of wild excitement (like being drunk)
intricate complex
   
J  
jangling harsh sounding; irritating
Jim Crow laws laws in the Southern states that separated blacks from whites (with so-called ‘separate but equal’ facilities), allowed discrimination, and prevented black people from voting (see the Background page for more information)
jurist person who has good knowledge and experience of law
   
K  
Kennedy, J F President of the USA between 1961-63
Khrushchev, Nikita First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953–64 and premier of the Soviet Union from 1958–64
Ku Klux Klan a secret society set up in the South after the Civil War to threaten the black population with assaults, arsons and murders, it was revived in 1915 and spread outside the Southern States to terrorise various ethnic and religious minorities and oppose the Civil Rights movement
kop. short for kopek, a unit of Russian money (100 kopeks = 1 rouble)
Kremlin building in Moscow housing the government of the USSR
kulaks well off Russian peasants
   
L  
Lancs short for Lancaster bombers, Britain's most important aeroplanes for bombing raids during World War 2, which could fly far enough to reach targets deep inside Germany
legislation the process of making laws
liquidation the act of killing
longshoremen workers employed on the wharves of a seaport, especially in loading and unloading ships
lynch to kill a by mob action without due process of law
   
M  
Macmillan, Harold Prime Minister of Britain from 1957-63
manifestations the forms which something takes
marshalling yards place where wagons are put together to make trains, often with a network of tracks to move trains around
masonic relating to Freemasons, a secret society of men that was founded in Britain and spread worldwide
masquerading hiding, disguising
megaton a unit of explosive force equal to that of one million metric tons of TNT
meridian any of the imaginary lines representing degrees of longitude that encircle the earth passing through the north and south poles
metallurgy the science and technology of metals, such as extracting metals from ore or creating products from metal
milliard one thousand million
militancy a fighting attitude; aggressiveness
miry muddy; swampy
mobilisation the act of assembling and getting ready for war or other emergency; the act of organising and making ready for action
monopolies groups or companies with exclusive control over a commercial activity
mooted discussed
moral concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of an action; following standards of what is right or just in behaviour
moral having psychological effects
morale the general mood of an individual or a group of people; the spirit of a group of people that makes them want to win
motorcade a procession of motor vehicles
munitions war material, especially weapons and ammunitions
Mussolini, Benito Italian fascist dictator, prime minister from 1922–43
mustard gas poisonous gas which causes lungs and eyes to burn
   
N  
NAACP(National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) a civil rights organisation founded in 1909 and dedicated to ending inequality and segregation for blacks through non-violent protest, it had both white and black participants, and made significant gains for civil rights through ground-breaking legal cases
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) This is a military alliance established in 1949 to create a counterbalance to Soviet armies in central and eastern Europe. Members agreed that an armed attack against one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. The original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK and the US. Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, West Germany in 1955, and other countries were admitted in the 1980s and 1990s.
negligible so small that it's not significant
non-ferrous metals relating to metals other than iron
novel new; unusual; different
nullification the act of making something invalid or making it have no effect; the refusal of a US state to recognise or enforce a federal law within its boundaries
   
O  
obtrusive noticeable, sticking out
offensive relating to or designed for attack (not defensive)
omnibus including or covering many things at once
onerous costly, burdensome, not easily borne
ordinance command, order, regulation
Organization of American States This organisation was formed to provide for collective security and promote economic, military and cultural cooperation among its members, which include most of the independent countries of the western hemisphere. It has traditionally been anti-communist and Cuba's membership was suspended in 1962.
output an amount produced during a certain time
   
P  
pacifist opposed to war and violence
palpable obvious; capable of being felt
parallel any of the imaginary lines representing degrees of latitude that encircle the earth parallel to the equator
Pathfinder force special night-bombing squadron who were often first over a target to drop flares or incendiaries to guide the main bombing force
patriarch head of the Christian church in Moscow (a title also used in some other countries)
peasants class of agricultural labourers
per capita income average income per person, the total national income divided by the number of people in the nation
pessimism tendency to expect the worst possible outcome
piecework work paid for according to the amount produced (not paid by the hour)
plutocratic relating to government ruled by the wealthy
polarization split; antagonism; difference; separation into two sides that are far apart
populous belt area with lots of people living there
precipitate cause to happen
precision bombing military strategy of bombing precise, individual targets such as single buildings
predominate have greater quantity or importance
preoccupations ideas that hold the attention
pretexts excuses, false reasons given in order to conceal the real reasons
productivity the rate at which goods are produced
progressive continuing, advancing, moving forward, favouring progress towards better conditions or ideas or methods
proletarian of or relating to the proletariat
proletariat a social class made up of those who do manual labour or who work for wages; the class of industrial wage earners who must earn a living by selling their labour because they don't own capital or any means of production
provisional OK for the moment but subject to change
provocation act that provokes, that stirs up actions or feelings such as anger
prudently carefully; sensibly; wisely
purported supposed, assumed
   
Q  
quarantine to isolate physically or politically or economically, to restrict free movement such as the transport of goods (often isolation imposed to prevent the spread of pests or disease)
   
R  
racialist person with a belief that one race is superior to others; policy or practice based on racial considerations
radical extreme; wanting great changes in current practices or conditions
rationalisation the act of organising something according to a system; the organisation of a business according to principles of management to try to increase efficiency
realisable achievable
re-armament the act of equipping a person or group or country with weapons again
reconsecrate to dedicate oneself again to a purpose or goal
Reconstruction the period after the American Civil War, the late 1860s and 1870s, when the Southern states rejoined the United States of America, the slaves were freed, and civil rights legislation was brought in (only to be overturned a few years later)
rectification the act of setting right, correcting or adjusting
redeem to rescue; to restore the honour of; to save from sin (relates to the Christian belief that people were saved from sin due to the suffering of Jesus)
redemptive the act of redeeming or the condition of having been redeemed (see redeem)
re-exports imported goods exported back out of a country again
refraining holding oneself back from doing something
repercussion result or consequence of some action
reprisals acts that are payback for another action, for example using political or military force (short or war) in return for damage or loss suffered
resolute firm, determined
resonant having a lasting presence or effect; powerful; strong and deep in tone; loud
resume to summarise
retaliatory paying back one action (like an attack) with another similar action
Roosevelt, Franklin D. President of the USA from 1933 until his death in 1945
roubles / rubles Russian money
   
S  
sanction a penalty e.g. a ban on the sale or transport of goods, an action usually taken by several countries acting together to penalise a nation that violates international law
sanitized made more acceptable by removing unpleasant aspects or features
scapegoat a person who is blamed for events for which other people are responsible
scrupulously very carefully and exactly; conscientiously
Security Council (of the United Nations) an organisation whose job is maintaining world peace and security, it has 15 members – 5 permanent members and 10 seats held by other nations elected by the Assembly for 2 years
segregation the practice of separating people of different races or classes in schools, housing or public facilities; a form of discrimination
Selassie, Haile emperor of Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
self-purification mentioned in a letter by Martin Luther King where he referred to civil rights activists preparing themselves for non-violent protest and asking themselves if they had what it took to stay non-violent even when being attacked or sent to jail
separatism a social system that provides separate facilities for minority groups; a system of separation of cultural or racial groups
separatist person who wants cultural or racial separation
shock-brigades group of people especially chosen to lead an attack or a movement
simultaneously at the same time
SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) US political organisation formed in 1960 by black college students who wanted to end segregation and have a voice in the civil rights movement
socialism theories or systems of social organisation in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned by the state
socialist countries countries whose governments follow (or aspire to follow) the ideas of socialism
Solomon legendary wise and rich king of 3000 years ago
Southern Christian Leadership Conference established to co-ordinate non-violent civil rights protests, with Martin Luther King as its president from its founding in 1957 until his death in 1968, this umbrella organisation gained its strength from the power and independence of black churches in the South
speculate to buy or sell something in the hope of making a profit from ups and downs in the market
sporadic happening occasionally or at irregular intervals; appearing singly or at scattered places
Stalin, Joseph secretary-general of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1922–53 who ruled the Soviet Union as dictator
strategic important to a strategy or plan of action, essential to the effective fighting of a war, meant to destroy the military ability of an enemy e.g. strategic bombing
strategy plan of action or scheme to achieve a particular goal, often dealing with military command and the planning and conduct of a war
stature status; high level of respect
strenuous energetic, forceful, requiring great effort
subversion the act of trying to overthrow a legal government, the act of destroying someone's or some group's loyalty
succour assistance in a time of difficulty
succumb give in
symbolic serving as a visible sign or symbol standing for some idea; representing; having the character of
   
T  
tacking changing direction
tactical carried out in support of military operations, relating to tactics
tactics military science that deals with achieving objectives set by strategy eg directing troops or aircraft to do particular things or aim for certain targets in order to achieve a strategic goal, a way to achieve a goal, a manoeuvre
tenement a building people live in, especially one rented to tenants
theodolite station a survey instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles, it is a small telescope on a tripod
transient passing with time
traumatised shocked, distressed, hurt, damaged, horrified
Treaty of Versailles the peace treaty in 1919 which concluded World War 1
Truman, Harry S. President of the USA from 1945-53
   
U  
UAW a union - United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
unconditional surrender total surrender without any special terms being made, so that the country surrendering would be at the mercy of those they surrendered to
undershoot to shoot short of a target, to land short of a landing area (the opposite is overshoot, to shoot past a target)
unmindful unaware (so ‘not unmindful’ means ‘aware’)
USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) name for Russia and the other states linked to it between 1922-91
utilised used
utilities services such as electricity, water or public transport
   
V  
vaunted boasted about
velocity speed
virile having or showing masculine strength or power
vocational education training for a specific vocation or job, such as in industry or agriculture or trade
   
W  
Warsaw Pact This treaty established in 1955 a mutual defence organisation for the Soviet Union, Albania (to 1968), Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania. It provided a unified military command and allowed Soviet troops to be on the territories of the other countries, strengthening the Soviet control over its satellites.
   
X  
  There are no entries for the letter X
   
Y  
Young Turks a young person who rebels against authority or who wants reforms; a young member of a political party or movement
   
Z  
  There are no entries for the letter Z