A Hanging

a hangingThis story by George Orwell is a about an in 1920s Burma. By describing only what happened during the hanging and not telling us the prisoner’s crime, Orwell cleverly supports his : that , and indeed the taking of a human life under any s, is wrong.

Pre-Intermediate Vocabulary Help / Exercises

The words and expressions in our Pre-Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

There are also some words and expressions that are in our Pre-Intermediate word list but have a meaning in the story which is different to the one most commonly used:

  • As the dog runs up and starts jumping around the group on the way to the gallows, the superintendent shouts: “Who let that bloody animal in here?” Here the word is a British term used to make the angry statement sound stronger.
  • As the group continues on, the comments that: “The lock of hair on top of his (the prisoner’s) head danced up and down.” The word here means a length or curl of hair. At the beginning of the story we are told that the man’s head is shaved. What is being described is his .
  • When the hangman pulls the handle on the gallows, there is “a sharp metallic sound”. When used to describe sounds, the word means loud, short, and sudden.
  • When the officials go behind the gallows after the hanging to make sure that the prisoner is dead, the superintendent pushes the body with his stick and announces: “He’s all right.” This is a wonderful example of . The prisoner is dead. Things are obviously not “all right” for him, but they are “all right” for the officials. The unfeeling way in which the superintendent says this (particularly as he is a doctor) adds to Orwell’s point about the wrongs of capital punishment.
  • In describing the great sense of relief the officials felt after the hanging, the narrator says: “One felt a sudden wish to sing, to break into a run, to quietly laugh about it all.” In this case the words mean to begin to do something suddenly.

Intermediate Vocabulary Help / Exercises

The words and expressions in our Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1800 word list are: , bare, bark, , bugle, , , , , , gallows, , hangman, piss, , puddle, relief, rifle, , , sentence, , , , superintendent, , and yard.


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(n: narrative essay) A story about something that happened in the past (often a real event in the life of the author) that includes and supports a thesis [an opinion that the author wishes to discuss or prove].

execution(n: execution, noncount) 1. The act of killing someone, especially as punishment for a crime. The murderer is in prison awaiting execution. (การประหารชีวิต) 2. The act of doing or performing something. Her ideas were brilliant, but her execution (of them) was sloppy. (การดำเนินการ) 5000

thesis(n: thesis pl theses) 1. An opinion that someone wishes to discuss or prove. New evidence supports his thesis. (หลักฐาน ข้อเสนอสนับสนุนการสรุปสมมติฐาน) 2. A long piece of writing on a particular subject that is done to earn a degree at a university. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the effects of global warming. (วิทยานิพนธ์) 6000

capital punishment(n: capital punishment, noncount) Punishment by death; the practice of killing people as punishment for serious crimes. (การลงโทษประหารชีวิต)

(n: circumstance pl circumstances) 1. A condition or fact that affects a situation or event. I can't imagine a circumstance in/under which I would do that. 2. (plural) The way something happens; the specific details of an event. The circumstances of his death were unusual. 3. (plural) The conditions in which someone lives. Their circumstances changed after she lost her job. (สภาวะแวดล้อม) 2000

bare(adj: bare, barer, barest) 1. Not having a covering. bare feet; bare floors; bare skin (เปลือยเปล่า) 2. Empty The cupboard was bare. (โล่ง) 3. Worn thin. The carpet is a bit bare. (เก่าจนเสื่อม) 3000

tree barkbarking dog(n: bark pl barks) 1. The outer covering of a tree. (เปลือกไม้) 2. The loud sound made by a dog when it is angry or excited. (เสียงเห่าของสุนัข)
(v: bark, barks, barked, barking) 1. To make a loud sound like that made by a dog when it is angry or excited. The dog barked at the stranger. (เห่า) 2. To shout or say (something) in a loud and angry way. The captain barked orders to his men. (ตะคอก) 5000

breath(n: breath pl breaths) The air that you take into your lungs and send out from your lungs. His breath smells like garlic. It was so cold I could see my breath. (ลมหายใจ) 3000
(phrasal verb: hold your breath) To stop breathing for a short time, such as when you dive into water or are scared about something. (กลั้นหายใจ)
(phrasal verb: take a deep breath / breathe deeply) To take a lot of air into your lungs. (หายใจลึก)

bugle(n: bugle pl bugles) A musical instrument like a trumpet that is used especially for giving military signals. (แตรเดี่ยว)

cage(n: cage pl cages) A container or enclosure with wire or metal bars for holding birds or animals. (กรง) 4000

camp(n: camp pl camps) 1. A piece of ground with tents pitched on it. (พื้นที่ตั้งเต็นท์หรือกระโจม) 2. A collection of buildings, huts or tents in which people stay temporarily for a certain purpose. A fishing/holiday camp. (ค่ายพัก) 3. A place where soldiers live and work; a military barracks etc. (ค่ายทหาร) 2000

(n: cell pl cells) Any one of the very small parts that together form all living things; the smallest unit of living matter. (เซลล์) 2. A small room (especially in a prison or place where monks or nuns live). (ห้องเล็กๆ) 2000

animal cell prison cell

fingernail(n: fingernail pl fingernails) The thin, hard covering that grows on the top end of each finger. (เล็บมือ) 9000

gallows(n: gallows pl gallows) A structure on which a criminal who has been sentenced to death is killed by being hanged. He was sentenced to death on the gallows. (ที่แขวนคอนักโทษ) 12000

handman(n: hangman pl hangmen) A person whose job is to kill criminals by hanging them. (เพชฌฆาต) 12000

jail(n: jail pl jails) A place where people are kept when they have been arrested and/or are being punished for breaking the law; a prison. (คุก) 4000
In some old stories you will see this word spelled as gaol. This spelling is not used in modern English.

lick(v: lick, licks, licked, licking) To pass the tongue over something so as to make it wet or eat it. (เลีย) 4000

pee(v: piss, pisses, pissed, pissing) (informal and impolite) To urinate; to ​pass ​urine from the ​body; to pee. (ถ่ายปัสสาวะ)
(n: urine, noncount) The ​yellowish ​liquid ​waste that is ​released from the ​body when you ​urinate; pee. (น้ำปัสสาวะ) 6000

pray(v: pray, prays, prayed, praying) 1. To speak to God or someone or something that has special powers in order to express thanks or ask for something. 2. To hope or wish very much for something to happen. (สวดมนต์) 2000
(n: prayer; pl prayers) The words spoken to God when you give thanks or ask for something. (การสวดมนต์; การภาวนา) 2000

puddle(n: puddle pl puddles) A small pool of water (especially from rain) that has collected on the ground. She accidentally stepped in a puddle and got her shoes wet. (แอ่งน้ำขนาดเล็ก) 7000

(adj: regular) Happening over and over again at the same time or in the same way; occurring every day, week, month, etc. The music has a regular [=steady] beat. (เกิดขึ้นเป็นประจำ)
(adv: regularly) At regular times, places etc. His heart was beating regularly. (อย่างเป็นประจำ) 2000

relief(n: relief, noncount) 1. A pleasant and relaxed feeling that someone has when something unpleasant stops or does not happen. Much to everyone's relief, the airplane landed without any problems. 2. The removal or reducing of something that is painful or unpleasant. Exercise is an excellent source of stress relief. (การผ่อนคลาย) 2000

rifle(n: rifle pl rifles) A gun that has a long barrel and that is held against your shoulder when you shoot it. (ปืนยาว) 5000

(n: row pl rows) A straight line of people or things that are next to each other. (แถว)
(v: row, rows, rowed, rowing) To move a boat through water using oars (poles that are flat and wide at one end). (พาย) 2000

row rowing

scene(n: scene pl scenes) 1. That which is or can be seen when you look at something. (ทัศนียภาพ) 2. A loud or noticeable show of anger, especially in a public place. There was quite an ugly scene at the restaurant. (แสดงความโกรธ) 2000

(n: sentence pl sentences) 1. A group of words that form a complete statement and express a statement, question, command, or wish. (ประโยค) 2000 2. The punishment given by a court of law. (คำพิพากษากำหนดโทษของจำเลย) 8000
(v: sentence, sentenced, sentenced, sentencing) To officially state the punishment given to (someone) by a court of law. The judge sentenced him to three years in prison. (ตัดสินคนให้โดนลงโทษ) 8000

shake(v: shake, shakes, shook, shaken, shaking) To move back and forth or up and down with short, quick movements. (สั่น) 2000

shave(v: shave, shaves, shaves, shaving) To cut off [hair, wool, a beard, etc.] very close to the skin. He shaved off his beard. (โกน) 3000

silence(n: silence, noncount) 1. [A period of time] when there is no sound. The teacher asked for silence in the room. I find it hard to sleep unless there is complete silence. (ความเงียบ)
(adj: silent) Used to describe someone or something that is not making noise. (เงียบ)
(adv: silently) In a silent way. (อย่างเงียบ ๆ) 3000

manager(n: superintendent pl superintendents) A person who directs or manages a place, department, organization, etc. (ผู้อำนวยการ) 5000

yard(n: yard pl yards) 1. The area of ground around a house, usually covered with grass or plants. (สนาม) 2. An area of enclosed (fenced) ground used for a special purpose. (ลานบ้าน) 3. An old British unit of length equal to three feet or 0.9144 meters. (หลา) 2000

(adj: bloody; slang, chiefly British) Very, extremely; used to make statement more forceful. A bloody awful mistake. We all had a bloody good time. It was bloody marvellous! (เป็นสแลงใช้ในการเน้นย้ำ)

(n: slang, noncount) Words that are not considered part of the standard vocabulary of a language that are used very informally in speech, especially by a particular group of people. (ภาษาตลาด) 6000

narrator(n: narrator pl narrators) Someone who tells a story; a storyteller. (ผู้เล่าเรื่อง) 7000

lock(n: lock pl locks) 1. A device that keeps something (such as a door, window, or box) from being opened and that is usually opened by using a key. (กุญแจ) 2. A length or curl of hair; a tress. She cut off a lock of his hair. (ปอยผม)
(v: lock, locks, locked, locking) To fasten (something) with a lock or in some other way so that it cannot be opened. She locked the drawer. (ใส่กุญแจ) 1000

sharp(adj: sharp, sharper, sharpest) 1. Having a thin edge that is able to cut things or a fine point that is able to make a hole in things. (แหลมคม) 2. [of changes in direction] Sudden and quick. A sharp turn. (ทันทีทันใด) 3. [of speaking] In an angry or unpleasant way. A sharp voice. (รุนแรง) 4. [of a sound] Loud, short, and sudden. (เสียดแทง) 2000

  • Verbal Irony: The use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think, especially in order to be funny. “What a beautiful view,” he said, as he looked out the window at the wall of the building opposite. The use of verbal irony to achieve a positive change or outcome is called satire. The use of verbal irony to insult or hurt someone or something is called sarcasm.
  • 2.Situational Irony: A situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected. He worried so much about his health that he made himself sick.
  • Dramatic Irony A situation in a movie, book, play, etc. where the audience knows something that the characters in the story are not aware of. One of the best examples of this is where, in Romeo & Juliet, Romeo kills himself because he thinks Juliet is dead whereas the audience knows that she is only sleeping.

emphasis(n: emphasis pl emphases) 1. Special importance or attention given to something. He placed great emphasis on this point. (การเน้นย้ำ) 2. (noncount) A forceful quality in the way something is said or written; firmness. You need to state your arguments with greater emphasis. (ความหนักแน่น) 3. (noncount) Added force (stress) that is given to a word or syllable when speaking. (การเน้น) 2000

(phrasal verb: break into) 1. To enter (a house, building, etc.) illegally and especially by using force. Someone tried to break into our house while we were away. (บุกเข้าไปใน) 2. To begin to do or have (something) suddenly. She broke into tears. The audience broke into applause. (ทำอย่างกระทันหัน) 3. To enter or get started in (something, such as a profession). I knew her when she was a young actress trying to break into show business. (เริ่มต้นทำงานทำสิ่งที่ยากฯลฯ) 4.To interrupt (something). The network broke into the program with a special news report. (พูดขัดจังหวะ)

(v: appeal, appeals, appealed, appealing) 1. To be liked by someone; to be pleasing or attractive to someone. The movie appeals to adults as well as children. She is a very appealing girl. (ดึงดูด) 2. To ask for something (such as help or support) in a serious way. She appealed to her family for help. (อ้อนวอน) 3. To make a formal request for a higher court or for someone in authority to review and change a decision. The murderer appealed against the death sentence. (ขออุทธรณ์) 2000

appealing girl appeal for help appeal for justice

bayonet(n: bayonet pl bayonets) A long knife that is attached to the end of a rifle and used as a weapon in battle. (ดาบปลายปืน) 9000

clumsy(adj: clumsy, clumsier, clumsiest) Moving or doing things in a way that is not smooth or does not look skillful, often causing things to drop or break. (ซุ่มซ่าม) 5000

(n: collar pl collars) 1. The part of a piece of clothing at the neck, especially of a shirt, jacket etc. (คอเสื้อ) 2. A band of leather, plastic, etc., worn around an animal's neck. (ปลอกคอ) 3000

shirt collar dog collar

comedy(n: comedy pl comedies) A play, movie, television program, etc., that is meant to make people laugh. (หนังตลก) 3000

echo(v: echo, echoes, echoed, echoing) To repeat a sound or a statement. (ซ้ำๆ)
(n: echo pl echoes) A sound that is a copy of another sound and is produced when sound waves bounce off a surface (such as a wall). (เสียงสะท้อน) 3000

exclaim“I won!” she exclaimed. 2. To cry out or speak suddenly or with strong feeling. She exclaimed in delight when she saw the Christmas tree. (อุทานเสียงดัง) 6000

handcuffs(v: handcuff, handcuffs, handcuffed, handcuffing) To put handcuffs on (someone). They handcuffed the prisoner before moving him. (ใส่กุญแจมือ)
(n: handcuffs, plural) A set of two metal rings that are joined together and locked around a person's wrists. (กุญแจมือ) 6000

prickly(n: prickle pl prickles) One of usually many sharp points growing on a plant or animal. A porcupine is covered with prickles. (หนาม)
(adj: prickly) Covered with prickles; having many sharp points. Many cactus plants are prickly. (เต็มไปด้วยหนาม) 7000

rupee(n: rupee pl rupees) The basic unit of money in some Asian countries including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. (หน่วยเงินตรารูปี) 11000

(n: sake pl sakes) The benefit or interest of someone or something. Used in phrases with 'for' to say that something is done to help a particular person or thing (e.g. We must do it for the sake of our country). (เป็นประโยชน์)
(interj) Used in phrases with 'for' to express anger, annoyance, surprise, etc. (e.g. For God's sake! For goodness sake! For Heaven's sake! ) 2000

snap(v: snap, snaps, snapped, snapping) 1. To break quickly with a short, sharp sound. He snapped the stick in half. (ทำให้แตกและเกิดเสียงดังแหลม) 2. To (cause to) make a short sharp noise while moving into a position. The lid snapped shut. (ทำเสียงดังแหลม) 3000

squat(v: squat, squats, squatted, squatting) To bend your knees and lower your body so that you are close to your heels or sitting on your heels. He squatted behind the bush to avoid being seen. (นั่งยอง ๆ) 5000

(adj: steady, steadier, steadiest) 1. Not shaking or moving; held firmly in one place or position. You need a steady hand to be a surgeon. (มั่นคง) 2. Not changing as time passes; constant. Prices have remained steady over the last month. (ต่อเนื่อง) 3. Happening or developing in a continuous and usually gradual way. There has been a steady increase in prices. (สม่ำเสมอ)
(adv: steadily) In a steady way. His work is improving steadily. (อย่างมั่นคง; อย่างต่อเนื่อง; อย่างสม่ำเสมอ) 3000

weeds(n: weed pl weeds) A plant that grows where it is not wanted, especially one that covers or kills more desirable plants. We pulled weeds from the garden. (วัชพืช) 3000

sikha(n: sikha pl sikhas) A long tuft, or lock of hair left on top or on the back of the shaven head of a male Orthodox Hindu.