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Characters in Past/Present may sometimes use vocabulary words or historic slang that your students may be unfamiliar with. A complete list of such expressions and their meanings can be accessed by players anytime just by clicking the Glossary in the Brain. Certain words and concepts are central to understanding Walter and Anna's story; these are designated as Key Words and are displayed in red at the top of the list.

Key Word Definition
agitators people who encourage others to protest or rebel
boarder someone who rents a bed and takes meals in a private home, or boarding house, but who is not a family member
capitalist someone who uses money to invest in businesses and make even more money; used to describe rich businesspeople
competition other companies going after similar customers
compromise when two parties each give up something in order to come to an agreement
dividend A payment a company gives to its investors
efficient the least wasteful way to go; that which doesn't waste time or money
foreman someone who supervises other workers in a factory
inventory products a business has to sell
investment something that is bought with the hope that it will be worth more in the future
managers the people in charge of planning and running a factory
negotiate when two sides discuss their problems and try to come to an agreement
overseer a boss on a factory floor
profitable makes money
promotion Getting ahead at work by advancing to a more important job
prospectus A document that describes an investment
replacements Workers brought in to replace strikers; also known as "scabs"
socialist Someone who believes that workers should share in the ownership of companies and other property for the common good
Society The wealthiest and best-known families of a town
strike to stop working as a way of protesting working conditions
syndicate A group of individuals or organizations with a common purpose, often involving large amounts of money
telegram A short message sent via wires in the days before long-distance phone calls. When they were received they were printed out on small pieces of paper.
union An organization created to protect workers and to push back against the power of an employer
wages hourly or weekly pay for work done
abandon to leave; get rid of
Andrew Carnegie Millionaire steel tycoon who paid for libraries all across the U.S in the early 20th century
asylum A hospital for the mentally ill
auditor someone who looks at financial records
Auf wiedersehn German for "goodbye"
balance due the amount of money a buyer owes a seller after putting down a deposit on something
bankrupt broke
bean-counters Slang for someone who is overly concerned with how money is spent
beaneaters Boston's National League baseball team, to become the Braves in 1912
bile Anger or irritability
bluffing pretending something is true in order to gain an advantage
bobbin A reel or cylinder on which thread is wound
book passage To order tickets or arrange travel
boon companion good friend
boxcarloads contents of freight train cars
brigands robbers that ambush people
calamity a disaster
cannoli an Italian dessert: a rolled pastry shell filled with sweet ricotta cheese
canucks An insulting name for French Canadians
capital! Exclamation meaning "Excellent!"
cephalopod An animal having tentacles attached to the head, such as an octopus or squid
civic duty something a citizen should do for his or her town
cobblestone a small, round stone used to pave roads
coddling babying, treating too nicely
commitment a firm agreement and promise
compensated paid enough for work done
comrades friends and fellow-workers; used by socialists to suggest brotherhood
concession agreeing to a demand by the other side
confederates friends and fellow-workers
confidence trust
consignment a store might take a product on consignment; if they don't sell it, it goes back to the manufacturer
contraption a machine that seems strangely put together
counsel advice
counteroffer a response to someone else's demand in a negotiation
credentials evidence that a person is qualified to do something
cur An insult meaning a mongrel or mangy dog
custer Gen. George Armstrong Custer, famous for the "Last Stand" of 1876 when his troops were wiped out by Indians in Montana
dandies men devoted to style and fashion
dead wood unnecessary things to be gotten rid of
decadent someone who indulges and spends too much on luxuries
deviltry wicked behavior
diabolical evil
dignity being worthy of respect
dio mio! Italian exclamation meaning "My God"
diplomatic someone involved in government relations with other countries, like an ambassador
donnybrook Irish expression meaning a brawl or intense fight
dyspeptic to have indigestion and irritability
economize to save money on little things
elixir a potion used to cure a medical problem
endorse to approve of a cause or a plan
enlightened being rational, informed, and modern thinking
entrepreneur Somebody who invests money in starting a company and who hopes to make a big profit
exquisite extremely beautiful
financially related to money
financier someone who manages large amounts of money; a banker
florence Nightingale A legendary English nurse from the nineteenth century
forthright direct
fricaseed Meat made into a stew
furlong 1/8 of a mile; 220 yards
gala A fancy party
gambit a scheme or plan
glean to get information from many sources
graciousness having very good manners
grievances complaints or protests
hapless Unfortunate, unlucky
hash Literally a meal made of chopped meat and vegetables; used to describe something that's a mess
heirloom something valuable that is passed down in a family from parent to child
idle not working
ignoramus an ignorant or stupid person
illiterate someone who can't read
incompetence lack of ability; doing it wrong
infernal horrible
inflexible unable to change or compromise
ingrate an ungrateful person
inquiries questions
insolent rude or disrespectful
intelligence knowledge, information
interest The money a bank or moneylender charges you when they give you a loan
intervene get involved, or insert yourself between people or two opposing sides
invaluable very valuable
John D. Rockefeller John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in America in the early 1900s. He was the founder of the Standard Oil Company.
Kinetoscope An early machine to watch movies. Viewers would look through the top to see a short film.
kip a bundle
kugel A noodle pudding eaten in Jewish homes on the Sabbath or other holidays
laquered something sleek and glossy
latrine an army term for an outdoor bathroom without plumbing
lavish expensive and fancy
legitimate accurate; being what one says one is
livelihood Someone's job, or how they earn a living
livery stable A business where horses are kept. An important place in a town before there were many cars.
lucre money
Mein Gott! An exclamation in German meaning "My God!"
meshuggah A Yiddish word meaning "crazy"
middling average; just OK, nothing special
militia a part-time military force under the control of each state, similar to the National Guard
misericordia! Italian expression meaning "Mercy!"
mission work Helping the poor in their neighborhoods, originally done by religious groups
mortgage The loan a bank gives you to buy a house
my dogs are barking! Slang expression meaning "My feet are killing me!"
naught nothing
ne'er-do-well a worthless, good for nothing person
non fa niente Italian for "it doesn't matter"
non-negotiable firm, cannot be changed
nudnik A Yiddish word meaning a pestering, nagging, or irritating person
Odio questo paese! Italian for "I hate this country!"
outhouse An outdoor shed with a toilet. Before running water came to most houses, people had to use outhouses.
paltry small amount
payment on the note If a bank loans you money (the "note"), you have to pay part of the money back periodically
payout a large payment of money
peculiar strange or unusual
peddler someone who sells food or products from a street cart
penitentiary a prison or jail
perishing dying or being ruined
pestilential causing disease
photoplays Another name for movies
pipsqueak a small, insignificant person
position Job; place in the company
precincts surroundings
president Teddy Theodore Roosevelt, who was president from 1901 to 1908
productivity the amount of work that is done in a certain amount of time
prudent Wise; smart about making decisions
pungent a strong smell or taste
purloin steal
Queen of the May A figure in English and Irish folklore who appears at springtime festivals
quota A required amount of something; a minimum that you need to produce
rash reckless, thoughtless
reputation the way other people view someone
riff-raff Slang: the poor and non-powerful people in town
ruffians thugs
saints' bones An extremely hard Italian cookie
sarsaparilla an old-fashioned drink flavored with smilax root, used as a health tonic
scalpel a very sharp blade used by doctors that can cut very precisely
scandalized being shocked by something indecent or rude
scoundrels dishonest people
sfogiatelle A many-layered Italian pastry
shifty someone who seems dishonest
skulking lurking
slaughterhouse a place where animals are killed for food
sleuthing investigating like a detective would
smidgen a little bit
soiree French for "evening"; another way to say "party"
solidarity Sticking together for a common purpose; workers being loyal to each other
sourballs hard candies
spitfire a female with a short temper who is not afraid to express herself
spud potato
stature someone's importance in the community
stoppage when workers stop working
szarlotka Polish apple cake
tannery A place where animal hides are treated with chemicals and tanned in the sun to make leather
tea and crumpets An English afternoon snack of hot tea and a griddle cake
terms the details of an agreement
textile fabric
tipsy Slightly drunk
toughs thugs
transpiring happening or taking place
trice quickly
upper crust Slang: the rich and prominent people in town
upstanding honest or respectable
uptick increase
va bene Italian for "all right"
Vanderbilts and Carnegies two of the wealthiest families in America at the time. The Vanderbilts controlled railroads and the Carnegies controlled the steel industry.
vouched confirmed something was true
waif A homeless or orphaned child
wretched miserable; poor; unfortunate