It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once

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  1. conceive
    have the idea for

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but onceconceived, it haunted me day and night.

Keep in mind the difference between the author and his fictional creation: despite writing from a first-person point of view, Poe is laughing at the narrator. This is seen in the word "conceive" which the narrator uses to connect to the chosen definition, but Poe uses to also suggest pregnancy and birth (inconceivable for a male). See the descriptions surrounding the word "sufficient" where the narrator seems to be both laboring mother and child being born.

  1. gradual

proceeding in small stages

Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees—very gradually—I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

  1. dissimulation

the act of deceiving

You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work!

  1. sufficient

of a quantity that can fulfill a need or requirement

And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head.

  1. vex

disturb the peace of mind of

And this I did for seven long nights—every night just at midnight—but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.

  1. profound

showing intellectual penetration or emotional depth

So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

The example sentence focuses on describing how the old man would have to be intellectually profound to figure out that the narrator had been looking in on him at night. But "profound" also means "deep and complete"--Poe suggests that it is the old man's profound sleep, and not anything the narrator did, that prevented the discovery.

  1. sagacity

the ability to understand and discriminate between relations

Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers—of mysagacity.

  1. stifled

held in check with difficulty

It was not a groan of pain or of grief—oh, no!—it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe.

As a verb, "stifle" means "smother or suppress" and "conceal or hide"--the example sentence uses the past tense form of the verb as an adjective to describe the old man's groan. This stifled groan foreshadows the method of murder, the concealment of the body, and the narrator's struggle to suppress his guilt.

  1. dreadful

causing fear or terror

Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me.

  1. supposition

a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence

Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain.

  1. envelop

enclose or enfold completely with or as if with a covering

All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim.

The word is also used in descriptions of a beating heart: "It was a low, dull, quick sound—-much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton." Compare with the note for "stifled"--both foreshadow later actions and emotions. Here, the narrator connects the verb to Death, which he personifies to separate from himself.

  1. mournful

filled with or evoking sadness

And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel—although he neither saw nor heard—to feel the presence of my head within the room.

  1. resolve

reach a decision

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, Iresolved to open a little—a very, very little crevice in the lantern.

  1. stealthy

marked by quiet and caution and secrecy

So I opened it—you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily—until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

  1. hideous

grossly offensive to decency or morality; causing horror

I saw it with perfect distinctness—all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

"Hideous" also means "so extremely ugly as to be terrifying"--both definitions fit because the narrator describes the eye's physical features (which he compares to a vulture's) as well as its nature ("Evil Eye" that made his blood run cold).

  1. stimulate

cause to act in a specified manner

It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

  1. refrain

resist doing something

But even yet I refrained and kept still.

Poe is a poet as well as a short story writer. This is suggested by the word "refrain" which also means "a phrase or verse repeated at intervals throughout a song or poem." This poetic device can be seen throughout the story, but is most evident with this example sentence, which uses "refrain" as a verb but also serves as a refrain whose idea and words are repeated in the same paragraph.

  1. concealment

the condition of being hidden

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body.

  1. hastily

in a hurried manner

The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence.

  1. cunningly

in a sly or crafty manner

I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye—not even his—could have detected any thing wrong.

"Cunningly" and "cleverly" are synonyms connected to being smart, often in a dishonorable way. The use of both adverbs seems unnecessary, but it emphasizes the narrator's pride, which he adds to with mentions of his "sagacity" and "wise precautions." The repetitive points about how smart he is are contradicted by almost everything else he describes about his thoughts and actions.

  1. wary

marked by keen caution and watchful prudence

There was nothing to wash out—no stain of any kind—no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that.

  1. suavity

the quality of being charming and gracious in manner

There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police.

  1. audacity

aggressive boldness or unmitigated effrontery

In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wildaudacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

  1. distinct

clearly or sharply defined to the mind

The ringing became more distinct:—It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness—until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

The first use of the adjective connects to the chosen definition, since at this point, the narrator's head was aching and he thought that was causing the ringing in his ears. By the end of the example sentence, "distinct" also means "constituting a separate entity or part" since the ringing had taken on a life of its own.

  1. vehement

marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions

I talked more quickly—more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased.

  1. gesticulation

a deliberate and vigorous motion of the hands or body

I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violentgesticulations; but the noise steadily increased.

  1. mockery

showing your contempt by derision

They heard!—they suspected!—they knew!—they were making a mockery of my horror!

  1. derision

contemptuous laughter

Anything was more tolerable than this derision!

  1. hypocritical

professing feelings or virtues one does not have

I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer!

  1. dissemble

hide under a false appearance

I shrieked, " dissemble no more! I admit the deed!—tear up the planks! here, here!—It is the beating of his hideous heart!"
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