Vocabulary Builder | The Great Chicago Fire

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Add 20 new words to your vocabulary bank. Learn about these words in the context of sentences and a text about the Great Chicago Fire in this Vocabulary Builder Episode from English Plus Podcast.

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I am using an automatic transcript service as it is not possible for me to do it on my own and I cannot afford human transcription at the moment. The service claims to have about 95% accuracy, which means there will still be some mistakes, so my apologies for having a less than perfect transcript, but I hope I can afford human transcription soon and I will solve this problem. However, the service is pretty good, and the transcript is almost perfect.

Transcript

Welcome to a new episode from English plus podcasts. Today’s episode is vocabulary builder, and we will talk today about the great Chicago fire. And also we will learn 20 new words. But before we start, let me remind you that you can find the transcript of this episode in a link. I will leave in the description and you will also find a link that will take you to Patreon.

[00:00:29] Or you can become a patron of the show and support English plus podcast, and then you will get a BDF practice worksheet custom made for every single episode we release. And now without further ado, let’s start with our episode and let’s talk about the great Chicago fire. Chicago was a sprawling metropolis in 1871, yet it was also a city ripe for disaster.

[00:00:56] First Chicago was built almost entirely of wood wooden grain elevators, lumber, mills, hotels, dilapidated houses and barns, bridges, and even streets paved with pine blocks were perfect. Sources of kindling. Second Chicago also made store bought and sold a surplus of inflammable goods. As a result in the hot, dry summer of 1871, Chicago winds had a right to be concerned.

[00:01:27] By early October, Chicago’s crack firefighters were exhausted. Having spent a grueling week extinguishing 24 fires. However, on the evening of October the eighth, the firefighters stamina would be tested. Again. It is rumor that at eight 30 in the evening, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in the barns starting the great Chicago fire in just a few minutes, the barn was ablaze.

[00:01:55] In an hour, the entire block was burning in the street. The bellow of trapped cows could be heard as building, after building burned. The flames simply could not be stopped. All efforts proved funeral by the following morning, much of Chicago lay in ashes. The great Chicago fire was finally checked by rainfall and by the use of gunpowder yet the losses were staggering.

[00:02:22] In all 300 deaths were reported more than 100,000 people were left homeless and 17,500 buildings were demolished, but nothing could destroy the will of the people to rebuild the city. Soon, the rebuilding began architects flock to the city in droves, eager for the chance to build high into the sky. City planners also came as a result.

[00:02:49] Chicago became the beneficiary of bold new ideas of construction, city planning and technology in just a few years, the city became the open air gallery of skyscrapers, grand boulevards and parks that it still is today. So that was our text about the great Chicago fire. Now let’s focus on some of the words we have in the text, and let’s talk about them in greater detail.

[00:03:16] Uh, first we said Chicago was built almost entirely of wood. We talked about wooden grain, elevators, lumber, mills, hotels, and dilapidated houses and barns. What is the meaning of dilapidated? And that is spelled D I L a P I D a T E D. Dilapidated. When we say dilapidated. A building that is dilapidated is old.

[00:03:43] And in generally bad condition, for example, we can say the old house had become so dilapidated that no one could live in it anymore. So that was dilapidated. Let’s talk about the second word we have in the text. And that is surplus S U R P L U S. Let’s see how we used it in the text. We said second Chicago also made, stored, bought and sold a surplus of inflammable goods.

[00:04:12] Now, when we’re talking about surplus, what does that mean? If there is a surplus of something there is more than is needed. For example, we say the surplus of food produced each year in the United States is desperately needed to feed hungry people all over the world. So that is the meaning of surplus, extra things, things that are more than what we need.

[00:04:37] Sometimes it’s a good thing, of course. And sometimes it’s not a bad thing, but it is not a good thing to keep and not share with other people. So that is the meaning of surplus. Let’s move on to talk about the third word in the text. And that is grueling. G R U E L I N G. Now in the text, we said by early October, Chicago’s crack firefighters were exhausted.

[00:05:03] Having spent a grueling week extinguishing 24 fires. Now, when we talk about grueling, are we talking about something relaxing? And here we’re talking about firefighters who just put out 24 fires in a week. So definitely we’re not talking about an easy or stress free situation. A grueling activity is extremely difficult and tiring to do just like the thing the firefighters had to go through over a week.

[00:05:34] And for example, we say after the grueling climb, two of the mountaineers collapsed, exhausted. So that is grueling. Now let’s move on to talk about the next word. And that is Belo B E L L O w. What is the meaning of bellow first? Let’s see how we used it in the text. Now in the text, we said in an hour, the entire block was burning in the street.

[00:05:57] The bellow of trapped cows could be heard. So the bellow obviously is the sound could be heard. And we’re talking about the bellow of cows. Well, what does that mean? When a large animals, such as a bull or an elephant bellows, it makes a loud and deep noise. For example, we say the wounded Buffalo began to bellow in pain.

[00:06:21] So that was Bello. What about the next word feudal or in British English? It is pronounced a few times. So it is F U T I L E funeral in the text. We said the flame simply could not be stopped. All efforts proved futile. So does that mean successful? No, obviously not because they tried everything they can and they couldn’t put out the fire.

[00:06:45] So it was funeral. If you say something is feudal, you mean there is no point in doing it usually because it has no chance of succeeding. For example, after several futile attempts to save it, the captain ordered the ship abandoned. It was funeral, no point they were not going to succeed. And that brings us to the last word in the text that we want to focus on.

[00:07:11] And that is beneficiary. Beneficiary is spelled B E N E F I C I a R Y. Beneficiary. Now here. We said, as a result, Chicago became the beneficiary of bold new ideas in construction, city planning and technology. So beneficiary, when we talk about a person who is the beneficiary of something, that means is helped by it.

[00:07:39] Someone who is the beneficiary of something is helped by it. And in this case, we’re talking about Chicago. Chicago was helped by this. Good things happen because they were the beneficiaries. And we use that a lot. When we talk about wills after a person’s death, for example, we say the beneficiary of the dead man’s will, was the main suspect in the murder case.

[00:08:01] So that is a good thing for a mystery novel, for example. Now with that being said, we talked about dilapidated surplus, grueling, bellow, funeral, and beneficiary in the text, but that’s not everything. Of course, we still have 14 more words to go. I will give you examples of these words. Then we will talk about their meanings.

[00:08:20] So let’s start with our very first word botch. B O T C H botch. Now let’s take a look at this example, the inexperienced assistant botched the business letter. He was trying to compose and had to rewrite it so that it work. No, obviously not. And here we have other clues, the inexperienced assistant and inexperienced people make mistakes, but here, this person botched the business letter.

[00:08:48] And if you bought something. That you are doing, you do it badly or clumsily. So here we know that the inexperienced assistant did it badly or clumsily to the point that they had to rewrite it. So that was botch. And now for the next word, cluttered, C L U T T E R. Let’s take a look at this example. Why must you clutter up your mind with so many trivial and useless scraps of information?

[00:09:17] Why must you clutter up your mind? So when you clutter up a place or something in this case, your mind, what does that mean? If things or people clutter, a place, they feel it in an untidy way and that is cluttered and it can happen to your mind as well. Clutter is a lot of things in an untidy state, especially things that are not useful or necessary.

[00:09:39] And that is so true about our example here. Why must you clutter up your mind with so many trivial and useless scraps of information, focus on the important stuff. So that was cluttered. Now let’s move on to talk about the next word. Dismantle. D I S M a N T L E. Let’s take a look at this example, after the final performance, all the actors worked with the stage hands to dismantle the set.

[00:10:08] So to dismantle, does it mean to put together? Well, maybe before the show, but after the show, the show is over. You want to dismantle. If you dismantle a machine or structure, you carefully separated into its different parts. It’s not like demolish or destroy demolish or destroy. That is because you don’t need it anymore.

[00:10:31] But this mantle you do it carefully because you will use it again. You will put it together again somewhere else or some other time. So that is the meaning of dismantle. Now let’s move on to talk about the next word we have. And that is farce, F a R C E farce. Let’s take a look at this example, the humor in the play was so broad and the plot was so ridiculous that the critic term, the plate a force.

[00:10:57] So a forest is a kind of play. Obviously we can use it for real life as well. Well, and we’ll talk about it in a second, but first let’s talk about it in terms of a play, a forest is a humorous play in which the characters become involved in complicated and unlikely situations, but it is a humorous play and it is filled with ridiculous situations, but they’re humorous.

[00:11:21] So that is a farce, but as I told you, forest can be used also for other situations. Other than please, if you describe a situation or event as a force, you mean that it is so disorganized or ridiculous that you cannot take it seriously. So that is a farce. Now let’s move on to talk about the next word.

[00:11:41] Hospitable, H O S P I T a B L E hospitable. Let’s take a look at this example, known for their generosity to strangers. The local inhabitants offered a hospitable welcome to our tour group. So hospitable welcome. They’re generous. They’re generosity to strangers. So we’re talking about a positive word obviously, but what does that mean?

[00:12:07] A hospitable person is friendly, generous, and welcoming to guests or people they have just met. So it doesn’t mean that you do that with people, you know, no hospitable with everybody, especially with people you don’t know, especially to strangers. So that is the meaning of hospitable. Now let’s move on to talk about the next word layer.

[00:12:28] L a I R layer. Let’s take a look at this example, the police were making careful preparations to trap the smugglers in their layer. So, what is the meaning of layer? We usually use layer for animals, but here we used it with smugglers. It can be used for both actually, but it’s obviously a place where you hide.

[00:12:49] It’s not a place where you live. It’s a place where you hide. So a layer is a place where a wild animal lives, usually a place which is underground or well-hidden. Well, animals do that to protect themselves from other animals mainly. And in this case, smugglers do that to protect themselves from the police, but the police were making preparations to trap them there.

[00:13:11] Anyway, so that is the word layer. Now let’s talk about the next word. Lavish, L a V I S H lavish. Let’s take a look at this example, the couple received lavish wedding gifts from their closest friends, lavish wedding gifts. Does that mean cheap wedding gifts? Do you think, or is it the opposite? If you describe something as lavish, you mean that it is very elaborate and impressive and a lot of money has been spent, Don it maybe sometimes it’s too much.

[00:13:43] Sometimes you may use this word to criticize how much a person spends on something. But in general, it just means elaborate impressive. And a lot of money has been spent on it. In this case, it might be a good thing. Okay. They got lavish wedding gifts. They need that from their closest friends. So that’s about lavish.

[00:14:03] Let’s move on to talk about the next word. Morbid, M O R B I D. Let’s take a look at this example, the police captain was afraid that the officer was taking a morbid interest in the crime. Well, it’s always a good thing to take interest in the crime, especially if you’re a police officer, but here the captain was worried because he was afraid that the officer was taking a morbid interest in the crime.

[00:14:29] So what does that mean? Obviously it is something negative. If you describe a person or their interest in something as morbid, you mean that they are very interested in unpleasant things, especially death. And you think this is strange? Well, obviously in most cases it is strange and that’s why the captain was afraid, or at least he was worried.

[00:14:51] So that was morbid. Let’s move on to talk about the next word notorious. N O T O R I O U S. Let’s take a look at this example, Chicago had its share of notorious gangsters in the 1930s in the 1930s. There were a lot of gangsters in Chicago. And here we’re talking not only about gangsters, we’re talking about notorious gangsters like Al Capone, for example, that is a notorious gangster.

[00:15:18] So when we say notorious, are we meaning famous? Well, obviously it is, but. It is when you are famous for something bad to be notorious means to be well-known or famous for something bad. So that is notorious. Now let’s move on to talk about the next word, pamper P a M P E R. Let’s take a look at this example.

[00:15:41] If my end continues to pamper that child, he may grow into an irresponsible adult. So what does it mean to pamper a child? What does it mean to pamper someone? If you pamper someone, you make them feel comfortable by doing things for them or giving them expensive or luxurious things sometimes in a way, which has a bad effect on their character.

[00:16:06] Of course, pampering somebody is not always bad, but sometimes it can be bad, especially if it is done to a child. If you pamper a child, especially if you do it too much, this person may grow into an irresponsible adult. Like in the examples I just talked about. So that was pamper. What about the next word?

[00:16:26] Parasite, P a R a S I T E parasite. Let’s take a look at this example, uninvited. He hung around with a players so much that the team considered him a real parasite. First of all, we know that this person was uninvited. He hung around too much. So the team considered him a real parasite. If you disapprove of someone, because you think that they get money or other things from other people, but do not do anything in return.

[00:16:56] You can call them a parasite. Of course, parasite originally is a small animal or plant that lives on or inside a larger animal or plant and get its food from it. So that is a parasite. Doesn’t do anything for it, but gets everything from this bigger animal or bigger plant. And some people can be parasites as well.

[00:17:17] We can call people as well, parasites, like in this example, So that was parasite. Now let’s talk about the next word. Shirk. S H I R K shirk. Let’s take a look at this example. People who tend to shirk their responsibilities are not to be relied upon. You cannot depend on people who shirk their responsibilities.

[00:17:40] So, obviously we’re talking about something negative. We’re talking about people who do not take things seriously. People who do not keep their promises, people who shirk their responsibilities, if someone does not shirk their responsibility or duty, they do what they have a responsibility to do. So obviously if they shirk their responsibility, they don’t do.

[00:18:02] But they have a responsibility to do it is their responsibility, but they just don’t do it on purpose maybe because they’re careless or maybe they just do it on purpose. It doesn’t matter. The more important thing is that this is their responsibility and they don’t do it. So they shirk their responsibility.

[00:18:19] So that was sure. Now let’s talk about the next word. Timidity T I M I D I T Y. Timidity, let’s take a look at this example. It is hard. Leave that a teenager, so courageous and able on a camping trip. Can show so much to meditate when invited to a dance. So here, we’re talking about a courageous teenager, especially on a camping trip, and we can see that all the time, especially in teenagers sometimes too much.

[00:18:47] They do things without thinking. That’s why they’re so courageous. But it’s a good thing of course, to have courageous teenagers, but they can show so much timidity when invited to a dance and invited to a dance. It’s a whole different story. So what is the meaning of timidity then when you describe the timidity of some people you are criticizing for being too cautious or slow to act, because they are nervous about the possible consequences of their actions.

[00:19:13] So that is timidity. It’s not about being too afraid, only too afraid, but they’re too cautious, too afraid or too slow to act. So that is timidity. Now let’s talk about the next and final word for today. And that is Vito V E T O. For example, the president decided to veto the bill presented to him by Congress.

[00:19:32] And of course, video can be used as a verb or as a noun. If you, you know, something, if someone in authority actually veto something, the forbidden it or stop it. Being put into action by here, the president decided to veto the bill. He tries to stop the bill and he has the power to do that. So Vito is usually used with people in authority.

[00:19:53] Obviously they have this power, they can use it, but of course they use it only when it’s absolutely necessary. With that being said, that will be all the words that I wanted to share with you today. We talked about the great Chicago fire. We learned six words from that text, and then we learned 14 other words that you can add to your active vocabulary bank.

[00:20:13] Remember that you can find the transcript of this episode in a link. I will leave in the description. And if you want to practice these words in crossword puzzles, word searches, and a lot of other interesting activities. Become a patron of English plus podcast, support the show and get a PDF practice worksheet custom made for every single episode we release.

[00:20:33] That’ll be all for today. This is your host, Danny. Thank you very much for listening to another episode from English plus podcast. I will see you next.

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