Paideia – Poe Words

Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s most celebrated writers, is an eloquent master of words. It is therefore no surprise that the 57 beginning words in this list may look daunting to many younger readers at first glance. However, once you master the 149 words in this list, you will have gained a more colorful vocabulary, allowing you to excel in your English classes now and in the future. Besides, these words are excellent spelling bee words because they are both difficult and commonly used in literature.

Some recommended additional study aids are Kaplan’s SAT Score-Raising Classic for Poe words and a collection of Poe words from this site.

As many readers already know, Edgar Allan Poe has crafted numerous fascinating short stories with his own signature, his colorful personality and writing style. One aspect of him I find inspiring is that he coined many words that are still in use today. It is difficult to study hard words, but it is even harder to create words of your own. Another interesting fact: in Merriam Webster’s Third, there is one word with an etymology directly related to Poe. That word is edgar, and it refers to any of several small busts of Edgar Allan Poe awarded annually by a professional organization of writers to authors in various branches of mystery writing. It would be really nice to see one of our spellers winning the Edgar Award someday.

If you examine the words more closely, you will find that many Poe Words are of Dutch, English, French, and Latin origin. We know that Edgar Allan Poe was educated with English, Latin, and French. In fact, there is only one word of Italian origin in the list, campanile, which traveled from Latin to Italian and is defined as a bell tower, usually freestanding. There are two words of unknown origin in this list, squander and mahogany.

The above discovery is important and will help us study the Poe Words category. We know that English and Latin origin words are relatively predictable in their spelling patterns and pronunciations. And after studying the Spell It! word categories from English, Latin, and Dutch, you should have an easy time with these words, unless they are neologisms from the witty poet himself. But words of French origin can be very unpredictable, particularly for those with no background in speaking French, and even with the knowledge gained from studying the Spell It! French word list. They have silent letters, double letters, strange endings, and weird pronunciations. For this reason, I have created a list with some of the trickiest French origin words from the Poe Words category, so that we can pay closer attention to them.  You will see that most of the selected French origin words have unusual patterns that we studied in the Spell It! French lesson (Lesson Six: Why Do I Get All the French Words?), and many of them have double letters and special ending patterns as well. Here, you will find the thirty words with their pronunciation symbols. Be sure to study their pronunciations before our meeting. Our goal is to make sure that everyone knows how to pronounce these words correctly based on the pronunciation key provided by MW3. And I might use these words in our next quiz!



For spellers who are eager to learn all the words in this word list, I have attached the words here. If you can prove to me that you have studied all the words in this category when you come to our next meeting, I will award you with an Edgar Allan Poe stamp! (Seriously, I have twenty Edgar Allan Poe postage stamps. They look really cool, so study hard!)

On a final note, please learn the definitions of these words in context. A great way to do this is to read some short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and be on the lookout for interesting words. The most valuable way to use your spelling knowledge is to become a better writer, and a perfect way to do that is to be equipped with a varied, precise vocabulary.


I will see you at our study session!