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Billy Budd, Sailor
Herman Melville

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ineffable 1. Incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable. 2. Not to be uttered; taboo: the ineffable name of the Deity.

ineffectual 1. a. Insufficient to produce a desired effect: an ineffectual effort to block the legislation. b. Useless; worthless: an ineffectual treatment for cancer. 2. Lacking forcefulness or effectiveness; weak: an ineffectual ruler.

inimical 1. Injurious or harmful in effect; adverse: habits inimical to good health. 2. Unfriendly; hostile: a cold, inimical voice.

injunction 1. The act or an instance of enjoining; a command, a directive, or an order. 2. Law. A court order prohibiting a party from a specific course of action.

insinuate 1. To introduce or otherwise convey (a thought, for example) gradually and insidiously. 2. To introduce or insert (oneself) by subtle and artful means.

insolvent 1. a. Unable to meet debts or discharge liabilities; bankrupt. b. Insufficient to meet all debts, as an estate or a fund. 2. Of or relating to bankrupt persons or entities.

insignia 1. A badge of office, rank, membership, or nationality; an emblem. 2. A distinguishing sign.

interloper 1. One that interferes with the affairs of others, often for selfish reasons; a meddler. 2. Archaic. a. One that trespasses on a trade monopoly, as by conducting unauthorized trade in an area designated to a chartered company. b. A ship or other vessel used in such trade.

intrigue 1. a. A secret or underhand scheme; a plot. b. The practice of or involvement in such schemes. 2. A clandestine love affair.

invidious 1. Tending to rouse ill will, animosity, or resentment: invidious accusations. 2. Containing or implying a slight; discriminatory: invidious distinctions. 3. Envious.

irascible 1. Prone to outbursts of temper; easily angered. 2. Characterized by or resulting from anger.

ironclads Generally, the term applies to all ships clad with iron for defense. At the time of the narrative, however, there had been no large-scale development for protecting ships in this way. It is the gradual improvement of artillery during the 18th century that laid the foundation for the emergence of the ironclad in the 19th century.


James, G. P. R.  James (1799-1860) was a prolific and popular nineteenth-century British novelist. As another editor (F. Barron Freeman) has pointed out, Melville probably meant to quote William James, the author of the 1880 Naval History of Great Britain.
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