John Muir - Glossary

A   anemometer   a device used for measuring wind speed
    avalanche   large amounts of snow and ice which become dislodged, and fall rapidly down a mountainside
B   bairn (Scots)  

child or baby. (Bairn is used in the north and east of Scotland, wean is used in the south and west)


a bird, from the same family as the blackbird, that lives in South America. Bobolinks have white or yellow feathers on their heads

C   chasm  

a deep, steep-sided opening in the earth’s surface


a small songbird, from the same family as a sparrow or bluetit, that lives in North America and Canada


a huge, continuous expanse of land, which can contain many countries. The world’s continents are Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Australia and Antarctica

    crevasse   a deep, open crack, usually in a glacier
D   destruction  

damage to an object, building or place that cannot be repaired

G   gangly (Scots)   tall, thin and not very graceful

a large sea bird, a bit like a gull. Gannets are black and white and live near coasts in many parts of the world, especially in the UK


an exceptionally intelligent person, or someone with an exceptional skill

    glacier   a huge mass of ice, made from layers and layers of compacted snow. Glaciers form on land and move very, very slowly over it
    glaikit (Scots)   stupid, foolish or absent-minded
    greet (Scots)   ‘greeting’ is a Scots word for crying or weeping
I   inlet  

a narrow passage of water connecting the sea to the land

K   kin   family
L   legacy  

what a person leaves behind after they die: what others remember about them

M   malinky (Scots)   person or body
N   nuthatch  

a small bird, often brightly coloured, who lives in woodland. Nuthatches are mostly found in North America and Asia

P   perilous   dangerous or risky
R   rascal  

an affectionate term for a mischievous or cheeky person

S   scootchers  

John Muir’s made-up word for adventures or game of ‘dares’


scurvy is a rare disease that results from not getting enough vitamin C. Once upon a time it was common in sailors. ‘Scurvy dogs’ is a sea-faring term for sailors who are considered bad, dirty or diseased

    skylark   a small brown and white songbird with a crest on its head. Skylarks live mainly in Europe, Asia and North Africa

California, Florida, Grand Canyon, Indiana, Sierra Nevada Mountains, San Francisco, Savannah, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Yosemite are all places in America.