Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

I am learning about John, the King of England from 1199 until 1216. Watching the Shakespeare play “The Life and Death of King John” and following along in the playbook motivated me to find out more about him.

The American Educator Encyclopedia pointed out that he rebelled against Henry II, his father, and Richard I, his elder brother, and claimed the throne at Richard’s death, which ousted Richard’s son Arthur of Brittany as the rightful heir to the throne of England.

John is best remembered as the monarch who was forced to sign the Magna Charter in June 1215, the year before he died.

I invite you to watch a splendid two and a half hour performance of this history play by Shakespeare. Search for “The Life and Death of King John (YouTube).” I would like to learn your comments about it.

1. Which two words are associated with King John?

A. saint

B. lack

C. athletic

D. excommunicated

E. illegitimate

2. The name of King John’s mother was

A. Chatillon (shah-TIL-ee-uhn).

B. Constance (CON-stance).

C. Elinor (EL-uh-nor).

D. Blanch (BLANCH). 
E. Zallapueneria (ZAL-uh-pue-nehr-ee-uh).

Let’s see how you are doing. During John’s youth he had few possessions and was therefore known as “John the Lackland.” In 1205 John refused to accept Pope Innocent III’s nomination of Stephen Langton as archbishop; eventually, John was excommunicated. So, No. 1 is D and B. As for No. 2, all except E are the names of characters in Shakespeare’s play. Elinor was the name of John’s mother. Nowhere except in Vaughan’s Vocabulary is the name Zallapueneria published. (I fabricated it, but doesn’t it have a nice sound?)

3. oust (OUST)

A. to usurp

B. to drive out or expel (someone) from a position or place

C. to hoodwink or fool, especially in political matters

D. to bring about

4. hegemony (hi-JIM-uh-knee)

A. leadership or dominance especially by one country over others

B. corrupt political system

C. when a leader rules for at least 10 years, as with King John

D. hereditary legitimacy

No. 3 is B. Hegemony is also pronounced “HEJ-uh-moh-nee.” The Spark Notes website pointed out that hereditary legitimacy is a main concern in Shakespeare’s King John, but hereditary legitimacy is not the answer to hegemony. A is the answer. King John’s English throne was hegemonic.

Last week’s mystery word is reunion.

This week’s mystery word to solve is used early in the play and spoken by Elinor. It is a noun that means distrust. This word’s first four letters are the same as the abbreviation for the Dubai International Film Festival.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D., of Eupora is a speech and theater professor at East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle. Contact him at