H The eighth letter of the English alphabet, commonly classed among the consonants, but perhaps without sufficient reason, as it is pronounced with the mouth-organs in the same position as that of the succeeding vowel. H is used with certain consonants to form digraphs representing sounds which are not found in the alphabet, as sh, th; also to modify the sounds of some other letters, as when placed after c and p, with the former of which it represents a compound sound like that of tsh, as in charm, with the latter the sound of f, as in phase, phantom. In some words, mostly derived or introduced from foreign languages, h following c and g indicates that those consonants have the hard sound before e, i, and y, as in chemistry, Ghent; in some others it has the sound of ch, as in chicane. — Webster, 1882
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The following is an incomplete list of the remaining indexed main headings. Once a completed entry has been uploaded, it will be removed from the list below and added to the links above. Subheadings, reference locators, and cross-referenced subentries are not included in this list. Always consult the completed entry for referenced source of definition used below.
hack – A two-seated buggy.
hail, weather – Frozen rain, or grains and lumps of ice precipitated from the clouds, where they are formed by the congelation of vapor. The pieces of ice, considered separately, are called hailstones.
hail, greeting – An exclamation, usually of respectful, and sometimes of reverent, salutation; occasionally, of familiar greeting. To call after loudly; to accost; to salute. To name; to designate; to call.
hair – The collection or mass of filaments growing from the skin of an animal, and forming an integument or covering for a part of the head.
Hairpin – Nickname for Amy’s beau, Jim, in Burr Oak.
half breed / half-breed – Variation of half-blood: Proceeding from a male and female of different breeds or races, having only one parent of good stock; hence, degenerate.
Half-Pint / little half-pint –Nickname for Laura Ingalls used by Charles Ingalls due to her small size.
halter – A strong strap or cord; especially, a rope or strap and head-stall for leading or confining a horse.
ham – The thigh of any animal; a beef, mutton, or venison ham; especially the thigh of a hog cured by salting and smoking.
hames – The two curved pieces of wood or metal in the harness of a draught-horse to which the traces are fastened, and which lie upon the collar, or have pads attached to them fitting the horse’s neck.
handkerchief – A piece of cloth, usually silk or linen, carried about the person for the purpose of wiping the face or hands.
hang – To put to death by suspending;- a common form of capital punishment; as, to hang a murderer.
Mr. Hanson – Fictional man from whom Charles Ingalls acquired the Plum Creek land in a trade. The land was a preemption claim, not a direct purchase or trade.
Happy Hunting Ground – The afterlife, a place where game is plentiful and hunting is easy.
hardscrabble – Involving hard work and struggle.
Hard Winter – Historically in Dakota Territory, the winter of 1880-1881. The Hard Winter was Wilder’s working title for what was changed to the “less harsh-sounding” The Long Winter.
hardwood – Wood that comes from a broadleaf tree (oak, ash, &c.) as distinguished from the conifers.
harness – The equipment of a draught horse, for a wagon, coach, gig, chaise, &c.
Benjamin Harrison – Signer of the Declaration of Independence (1740?-1791)
Charles and Martha Harrison – Fictional name of sibling students in the Bouchie School; Wilder used Peterson in Pioneer Girl. Laura’s students were most likely Charles and May Rundle.
harrow – n. An instrument of agriculture, usually formed of pieces of timber or metal crossing each other, and set with iron or wooden teeth. It is drawn over plowed land to level it and break the clods, and to cover seed when sown. v.t. To draw a harrow over for the purpose of breaking clods and leveling the surface, or for covering seed sown; to break or tear with a harrow; as, to harrow land or ground.
harvest – The season of gathering a crop of any kind; the time of reaping the corn and grain. That which is reaped. To reap or gather.
hassock – A thick mat for kneeling in church.
haunch – The hip; that part of an animal body which lies between the last ribs and the thigh; the rear; the hind part.
haw / Haw! – To turn to the near side, or toward the driver; said of cattle or a team;- most frequently in the imperative; often with here; as haw, haw here;- words used by teamsters in guiding their teams. To haw and gee, or haw and gee about, to lead this way and that way at will; to lead by the nose; to master or control.
hawk – A bird resembling the falcons, except in the shortness of its wings, having a beak which curves from the base to the tip, and a head thick set with feathers. Most of the species are rapacious, and some were formerly trained to hunt and catch other birds.
hay – Grass cut and dried for fodder.
Rutherford B. Hayes – Nineteenth president of the United States (1822-1893).
hazel – 1. A shrub or plant of the genus Corylus, as the C. avellana, bearing a nut containing a kernel of a mild, farinaceous taste; the filbert. The American species are C. Americana, which produces the common hazel-nut, and C. rostrata. 2. Pertaining to the hazel, or like it; of a light-brown color, like the hazel-nut.
hazelnut – The nut or fruit of the hazel.
head-cheese / headcheese – A dish made of portions of the head and feet of swine cut up fine and pressed into the form of a cheese.
hearth – 1. The pavement or floor of brick or stone in a chimney, on which a fire is made; the floor of a fire place, and from which is a passage for smoke to ascend. 2. The house itself, as the abode of comfort to its inmates and of hospitality to strangers.
heat rash – Prickly heat.
heathen – An individual of the pagan or unbelieving nations, or those which worship idols and do not acknowledge the true God; a pagan; an idolater; an irreligious, unthinking person.
heat-wave / heat wave – A long period of unusually hot weather.
heaven – The dwelling place or immediate presence of God; the home of the blessed; the abode of bliss; – a term used by Jewish, Christian, and Pagan writers, in various senses, according to their different doctrines.
heft – Weight; ponderousness. The greater part of bulk of any thing.
heifer – A young cow.
Hell diver – A small greyish-brown North American grebe, Podilymbus podiceps, with a small bill.
hem – The border of a garment, doubled and sewed to strengthen it and prevent the raveling of the edge.
hemlock – An evergreen tree common in North America (Abies Canadensis); hemlock spruce.
herb – A plant having a soft or succulent stalk or stem, that dies to the root every year, and is thus distinguished from a tree and a shrub, which have ligneous, or hard, woody stems.
heron – A wading bird of the genus Ardea, with very long bill, legs, and neck, and having the claw of the middle toe toothed. It is remarkable for its directly ascending flight, and was formerly hunted by hawks. The blue heron, found in the United States, is the A. Herodias. The night-heron, or Qua bird of the south, is A. nucticorax.
herring – A fish of the genus Clupea (C. harengus). Herrings move in vast shoals, coming from high northern latitudes in the spring, to the shores of Europe and America, where they are taken and salted in great quantities.
Hessians – A native or inhabitant of Hesse. Of, or relating to Hesse, in Germany.
“Her voice was ever gentle, low, and soft, an excellent thing in woman” – From Shakespeare’s King Lear, Act v. Scene 3: “Her voice was ever soft, / Gentle, and low,— an excellent thing in woman.”
hew – To cut with an ax; to fell with a sharp instrument. To form or shape with a sharp instrument. To cut in pieces; to chop; to hack.
hickory – An American tree of the genus Carya, of which there are several species. The shagbark is the C. alba, and has a very rough bark; it affords the hickory-nut of the markets. The pig nut, or brown hickory, is the C. glabra. The swamp hickory is C. amara, having a nut whose shell is very thin and the kernel bitter.
Hide and Go Seek – A game in which one or more players conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more seekers.
“The Highland Fling” – A vigorous Scottish dance consisting of a series of complex steps performed solo, originally to celebrate victory.
High Prairie – Grasslands as opposed to land near water.
highroad – A highway; a much frequented or traveled road.
hilarious – Mirthful; merry.
hippopotamus – A pachydermatous mammal allied to the hog, having a thick and square head, a very large muzzle, small eyes and ears, thick and heavy body, short legs terminated by four toes, a short tail, two ventral dugs, skin without hair, except at the extremity of the tail. It inhabits nearly the whole of Africa, and has been found of the length of seventeen feet. It delights in the water, but feeds on herbage on land. There are several species.
history – 1. A written statement of what is known; an account of that which exists or has existed; a record; a description. 2. An account of that which is known to have occurred; a record of the past; a narrative of events; a true story, in distinction from a romance; a statement of the progress of a nation or an institution, with philosophical inquiries respecting effects and causes; — In distinction from annals, which relate simply the facts and events of each year, in strict chronological order, without any observations of the annalist; and from biography, which is the record of an individual’s life.
hitch – A catch; anything that holds, as a hook; an impediment; an obstacle.
hoarfrost – Hoar is white, or grayish-white; as, hoar frost; hoar cliffs.
hoe – n. An instrument for cutting up weeds and loosening the earth in fields and gardens, being a plate of iron, with a handle, which is set at an acute angle with it. v.t. To cut, dig, scrape, or clean with a hoe; as, to hoe the earth in a garden; to hoe the beds; also, to clear from weeds, or to loosen the earth about, with a hoe; as, to hoe corn.
hoe-cake – A coarse cake, of Indian meal, baked before the fire, and sometimes on a hoe; a johnny-cake.
hog – A well-known domesticated animal, of the genus Sus, of gluttonous and filthy habits, kept for the fat and meat, called, respectively, lard and pork, which it furnishes; swine; porker;- specifically, a castrated boar.
hold, musical – A character placed over or under a note or rest, and indicating that it is to be prolonged; – called also pause.
High Holms – Fictional name used in Pioneer Girl for Hiram Forbes, second husband of Docia Ingalls.
Mr. Holms – Man who helps school children home during 1880 blizzard in Pioneer Girl; in published The Long Winter, this became Mr. Foster.
holster – A holder for a gun or other firearm, typically made of leather and worn at the belt.
homesick – A morbid and uncontrollable sorrowing for home when absent; nostalgia.
homespun – Spun or wrought at home; of domestic manufacture; coarse, plain.
homestead – The home or seat of a family; place of origin. A person’s dwelling place, with that part of his landed property which is about and contiguous to it. / In the Little House books, a homestead always refers to a tract of land settled on under the Homestead Act of 1862.
hood – That which covers the head and shoulders; especially, a soft covering for the head worn by women.
hoops – A circle, or combination of circles, of thin whalebone, metal, or other elastic material, used for expanding the skirts of ladies’ dresses; crinoline;– used chiefly in the plural.
hop-scotch – Scotch-hopper – A play in which boys hop over scotches or lines in the ground.
horehound – A plant of the genus Marrubium (M. vulgare), which has a bitter taste, and is a weak tonic.
hornet – A large, strong wasp (Vespa crabro), of a dark brown and yellow color. It is very pugnacious, feeds upon insects, as well as the juices of fruits and flowers, and its sting is very severe. Its nest is constructed of a woody fiber, of the color of a dead leaf, and the layers of comb are hung together by columns.
hornpipe – A lively air or tune, of compound triple time, with nine crotchets in a bar—six down and three up. A characteristic British dance; as, the Derbyshire hornpipe.
horse – A hoofed quadruped of the genus Equus (E. caballus), having one toe to each foot, a mane, and a long, flowing tail. It is exclusively herbivorous, having six broad grinding teeth on each side of each jaw; and six incisors and two canine teeth both above and below. The mares have the canines rudimentary or entirely wanting. It has all four legs furnished with warts, or castors, which distinguishes it from the ass. It is supposed to be originally a native of Central Asia. The horse excels in strength, speed, docility, courage, and nobleness of character, and is used for drawing, carrying, bearing a rider, and like purposes.
horse-buyer – One whose business is to purchase horses for resale or breeding purposes.
horsehair – The hair of horses, especially that of the mane and tail.
horsepower – A machine operated by one or more horses; a horse-engine. A unit or standard by which the capabilities of steam-engines and other prime-movers are measured; estimated at 33,000 pounds raised one foot in a minute. Work is an exertion of pressure through space. The unit by which quantities of work are measurable, is the labor necessary to raise one pound through the height of one foot. The rate at which work is done, is expressed in horse-power, and one horse-power is equivalent to the work done by continuous exertion at the rate of 33,000 lbs. raised through one foot in one minute; that is, to the performance of 33,000 units of work per minute. As a horse can exert such a force but six hours a day, one machinery horse-power is equivalent to that of 4.4 horses.
horseshoe – A shoe for horses, consisting of a narrow plate of iron bent into a form somewhat like the letter U, so as to fit the foot.
horse thief / horse-thief – One who steals horses.
hotel – A house for entertaining strangers or travelers; a hostel or hostelry; an inn or public house; especially, one of some style or pretensions.
little log house – Wilder’s alternate description of a cabin.
“How!” – A shout; a halloo; a loud cry.
Hubbard squash – A winter squash of a variety with a green or yellow rind and yellow flesh.
hug – To press closely within the arms; to embrace closely; to clasp to the bosom; to grasp or grip.
hullo – A variation of the greeting hello.
humdinger – A person, thing, action, or statement of remarkable excellence or effect.
Hurley family – Burr Oak family George and Julia Hurley, whose daughter married John Holly and lived in Walnut Grove.
Huron, Dakota Territory – Town on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad in Beadle County, originally consisting of 11 blocks.
husk – The external covering of certain fruits or seeds of plants; glume; hull; rind; chaff; – in the United States, especially applied to the covering of the ears of maize.
hustle – To move hastily and with confusion; to hurry.
hyena – A carnivorous mammal allied to the dog, from which it differs by having only four toes to each foot, a bristly mane, the hips very much lower than the shoulders, and an odor from a gland under the tail. Its habits are nocturnal, and it generally feeds upon carrion. It is found in Africa and Asia.
hymn – An ode or song of praise; especially a religious ode; a sacred lyric; a song of praise or thanksgiving to a deity or to God; a psalm intended to be used in religious service; as, the Homeric hymns; Watt’s hymns.
hypocrite – 1. A dissembler; one who assumes a false appearance. 2. One who feigns to be the other and better than he really is; one who, for the purpose of deceiving, or of winning favor, puts on a fair outside seeming; a false pretender to virtue or piety; one who assumes an appearance of piety and virtue.