Grades K-2 Grades 3-5 Grades 6-8 Grades 9-12 Parents and Teachers Home


Please note: The definitions provided in this glossary relate to the words as they are used on Ben's Guide. There may be other definitions for these words.

amend -- To change the wording or meaning of a motion, bill, constitution, etc. by formal procedure. For example, Congress may amend the Constitution.

alien -- A resident of another country who has not yet become a citizen of the country where s/he now lives.

American Revolution -- The struggle by which the United States won independence from Great Britain (1775-1783).

Articles of Confederation -- The first constitution of the 13 American states, adopted in 1781 and later replaced in 1787 by the Constitution of the United States.

bas-relief -- A three-dimensional sculpture in which the figures project slightly from the background. Also called low relief.

census -- A periodic, official count of the number of persons living in a country.

checks and balances -- Limits imposed on all branches of government by giving each the right to amend acts of the other branches.

citizen -- A member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection.

congressional district -- A division or part of a state; each district elects one person to the House of Representatives.

constituent -- A person who is represented by an elected official.

Constitution -- The document which establishes the basic principles of the American government.

delegate -- A person who acts for or represents another or others.

Emancipation Proclamation -- An order issued during the Civil War by President Lincoln ending slavery in the Confederate states.

Founding Fathers -- The delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

hasty pudding -- A baked dish made mostly of cornmeal, milk, and molasses. It's not pudding like Jell-O pudding, it's more of a mush. At the time, pudding was the term used for the dessert course of a meal.

House of Representatives -- One house of the U.S. Congress, members are granted to each state based upon its population.

immigrant -- A person who moves from one country to another to live permanently.

macaroni -- A fancy and overdressed ("dandy") style of Italian clothing widely imitated in England at the time. When Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap and called himself a "Macaroni", he was proudly proclaiming himself to be a country bumpkin (an awkward and unsophisticated person), because that was how the English regarded most colonials at that time.

national -- A citizen of a nation who is entitled to its protection.

obelisk -- An upright 4-sided usually monolithic pillar that gradually tapers as it rises and terminates in a pyramid.

sentinel -- A soldier stationed as a guard to challenge all comers and prevent a surprise attack.

separation of powers -- The system of dividing the powers and duties of a government into different branches.

valor -- Boldness or bravery in facing great danger, especially in battle.

veto -- To cancel or postpone a decision, bill, etc. For example, the president of the United States may veto a bill that has been passed by Congress.