Low Speech

An Introduction to Low Speech:  The words found in this glossary are from low speech, or the common tongue of Mid-World. Within this glossary you will find important words, common phrases, and even some names of people, places, or objects. Ritualized phrases, such as “I have forgotten the face of my father” and “I cry your pardon” were probably originally translations of High Speech phrases. However, since they are spoken in the common tongue throughout the Dark Tower novels, they have been relegated to this section.


      This is the essence of the gunslinger litany, or what a  GUNSLINGER  must learn to do to become an accomplished killer.


      All things work in harmony with the greater tides of fate. All events serve a greater purpose, even if we can’t understand what that purpose might be.


      Arthur Eld—MID-WORLD’s greatest mythical hero and the ancient king of All-World—was a Warrior of the  WHITE. Roland is Arthur Eld’s descendant. Like Roland, Arthur Eld was the Guardian of the  DARK TOWER. Although history credits him with uniting the land, Arthur Eld’s original kingdom lay in the western part of  MID-WORLD, in the baronies later destroyed by John Farson.


      A type of gun. Roland and his childhood friends called these firearms barrel-shooters because of their oversize cylinders. Unlike the cylinders of many other handguns, the cylinder of a barrel-shooter must be revolved by hand after each shot.


      The six Beams are like invisible high tension wires that cross at the nexus of the  DARK TOWER  and hold the Dark Tower in place. They maintain the integrity of time, space, size, and dimension. The Beams can be sensed by those who stand along their paths. Each end of a Beam is anchored by a Portal. There are twelve Portals, each of which is overseen by an animal  GUARDIAN. For information about Beamquakes, see  AVEN KAL  in the  HIGH SPEECH Glossary.


      A billy-bumbler (also called a throcken) looks like a cross between a raccoon, a woodchuck, and a dachshund. Bumblers’ eyes are gold-black and they wag their little corkscrew tails like dogs. Bumblers are intelligent. In the days they lived with men, they could parrot the words they heard, and some could even count and add. Few wild ones seem to remember how to speak, although Jake’s pet, Oy, does. Originally, Bumblers were bred to keep down vermin, including the nasty Grandfather Fleas. They could also predict the coming of a  STARKBLAST.


      Black Thirteen is the last and worst of Maerlyn’s evil seeing spheres which are collectively known as  MAERLYN’S RAINBOW. According to Roland, it is the most terrible object left over from the days of  ARTHUR ELD, although it probably even predates Roland’s illustrious and semimythical ancestor.


      The Arc o’ the Borderlands is the crescent of land that separates  MID-WORLD  from  END-WORLD, location of both  THUNDERCLAP  and the  DARK TOWER. In Calla Bryn Sturgis (setting for the novel Wolves of the Calla), the River Whye divides the green lands of the Callas from the desolate wastes of  THUNDERCLAP.

      The Callas of the Crescent have remained more civilized than most of the other areas of  MID-WORLD  that our tet visits. The Calla folken have roads, law enforcement, and a system of government reminiscent of the democratic process found in New England town meetings. As we find out in Wolves of the Calla, life in the Borderlands has one serious drawback. Once each generation, riders wearing green cloaks and wolf masks gallop out of  THUNDERCLAP  so that they can steal one of each set of twins born in the Borders. When these children are returned they are mentally and physically ruined, or  ROONT.


      The Breakers of  THUNDERCLAP  are both the prisoners and the servants of the  CRIMSON KING. Imprisoned in the  DEVAR-TOI, located in the poisoned land of  END-WORLD, they use their psychic abilities to weaken the  BEAMS, which hold the  DARK TOWER in place. Although few (if any) of the Breakers willingly undertook the job of destroying the macroverse, few of them complain once they experience the diverse pleasures available beneath the Devar’s artificial sun.


      The Children of Roderick (also known as Rods) are a band of  MUTANTs who swore allegiance to  ARTHUR ELD  in the long-ago. They are from lands beyond those known to Roland.


      This is the place we all go to in the end, though each of us arrives there by a different route. The clearing at the end of the path is death—the snip at the end of the life-cord.


      Constant Readers are already familiar with the lord of chaos known as the Crimson King. We met him in one of Stephen King’s other novels, namely Insomnia. If Roland is a soldier of the White, then the Crimson King is his natural enemy. This prince of chaos is a shape-shifter whose true dual form vacillates between that of a scuttling spider and a satanic Santa Claus. In his Santa-like form, the Red King has a huge hooked nose, full red lips (overhung by a single tusklike tooth), an enormous white beard, and long, snowy-white hair. Like Saint Nick, he wears a red robe, though Los’s robe is dotted with lightning bolts and cabalistic symbols. The Red King has opposed Roland from the beginning. Even John Farson, who bore the Red King’s sigul of the staring red eye, was but a pawn of this destructive monster.  THE MAN IN BLACK  (a.k.a. Walter O’Dim) is also a servant of the Crimson King. Unfortunately for Roland (and the rest of the multiverse), the Crimson King is completely bonkers.

    • CRY OFF

      Renege. Stop.


      In  MID-WORLD , the word cully can be used positively. So much so that it seems roughly equivalent to the British term lad. However, you can also use the term cully or cullies to refer to a callow youth, or to foolish young men. In our world,  cully  refers to someone who is easily duped or deceived.


      The Dark Tower is the linchpin of the time-space continuum. It sits in a field of red roses in the fey realm of  END-WORLD, and is supported by the magnetic  BEAMS  which maintain the alignment of time, space, size, and dimension. The Dark Tower is the focus of Roland’s lifelong quest.

    • DARKS

      A dark is a unit of expelled psychic energy and is used to describe units of  BREAKER  Force. In other words, it is a way to measure the amount of psychic energy which the  BREAKERs emit at any one time—a force which is trained to erode the  BEAMS.


      Devil grass is a narcotic weed that grows in the waste lands of  MID-WORLD. It is both poisonous and addictive. Those who become addicted to the grass are usually too poor to afford alcohol. They begin by smoking this nasty weed and end up chewing it. Chewers have green teeth and a rank stench. Devil grass gives its users dreams, nightmares, then death. It kills faster than liquor. Border Dwellers use devil grass for fuel since they have little else to burn. It gives off a greasy light and many believe that beckoning devils dance in the flames


      The needle-like rocks of the Discordia, and the Castle which bears its name, are located deep in  END-WORLD. They sit on the far side of  THUNDERCLAP, on the  PATH OF THE BEAM, adjacent to the deserted village of Fedic. Castle Discordia and the Fedic  DOGAN  are connected by underground passages. Together, they contain 595 operational Doorways Between Worlds. At least one of these doors leads to  TODASH  Space. Another leads to Thunderclap Station. In its heyday, Castle Discordia would have been well-defended. Behind its inner keep is a terrible drop leading to the huge, needle-like rocks of the Discordia. For the magical  DISCORDIA, see  DISCORDIA  in the  HIGH SPEECH Glossary.

    • DOGAN

      A cross between a military control center and a high security experimental laboratory. Most of the Dogans found in  END-WORLD  are shaped like Quonset Huts. During the time of the  GREAT OLD ONES, magic and machinery could be fused in the Dogans.


      The fey region where the  DARK TOWER  is located.


      Roland often uses this phrase. It means "Do it for your honor’s sake." In  MID-WORLD, or at least in the  IN-WORLD  baronies, culture was patriarchal. A  GUNSLINGER  did not just bring honor (or disgrace) upon himself, but upon his father and all of his father’s fathers.

    • GILEAD

      See  GILEAD  in the  HIGH SPEECH Glossary.


      A place of the skull, or a dead place. Roland and  THE MAN IN BLACK  hold palaver here in this ancient killing ground located on the western slopes of the Cyclopean Mountains. To Roland, the golgotha is "the place of the skull." Its floor is dusty with bonemeal and contains the skeletal remains of many small animals. It is here that Walter tells Roland’s fortune, and it is here that Roland experiences a ten-year-long night as well as a tremendous vision of the multiverse.


      The Great Old Ones were the ancient people of  MID-WORLD. Their era was long gone even by the time of  ARTHUR ELD. The Old Ones had a god-like knowledge of technology and the workings of the universe but they were also a violently destructive people. In the timeline of the Dark Tower novels, all that remains of the Great Old Ones are their weapons and their dangerous, half-fried technology


      The Guardians of the Beam are animal totems that protect the Portals located at the terminal points of each  BEAM. Some of the Guardians, like the bear Shardik, are cyborgs. Others, such as the Turtle Guardian, are semi-divine. There are six pairs of Guardians, and each pair protects a single  BEAM. The Guardian pairs are: Bear-Turtle, Elephant-Wolf, Rat-Fish, Bat-Hare, Eagle-Lion, Dog-Horse.


      MID-WORLD’s gunslingers were descended from  ARTHUR ELD, the ancient King of All-World. They were  MID-WORLD’s aristocrats, and functioned as an elite class of fighters, leaders, statesmen, and peacemakers. Although they kept the peace throughout  MID-WORLD , for the most part the gunslingers resided in  GILEAD, the central city of  IN-WORLD. Although they looked much like the cowboys of our world (complete with heavy six-shooters at their hips),  MID-WORLD’s gunslingers actually had much in common with the knights of Arthurian legend. Roland’s father, Steven Deschain, was the gunslingers’ last  DINH. The gunslingers (led by Roland) made their final stand against John Farson’s hordes at the Battle of  JERICHO HILL.


      Every  GUNSLINGER  must learn to recite the following litany: "I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye. I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I shoot with my mind. I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart." The Gunslinger litany is probably translated from High Speech.


      A low speech term that means bandits or outlaws.


      The horn which has been passed from father to son from the time of  ARTHUR ELD  to the time of Roland Deschain. Unfortunately, Roland left the Horn of Eld (also called the Horn of Deschain) next to Cuthbert Allgood’s dead body on the battlefield of  JERICHO HILL.


      I beg your forgiveness.


      This is a term often used by Roland. It is a phrase of shame. If you have forgotten the face of your father, it means that you have behaved dishonorably.


      I’ll bet on it, or I’ll guarantee it. It’s damn true.


      When Stephen King refers to the whole of Roland’s version of earth, he uses the term  MID-WORLD. However, when he refers to specific regions of  MID-WORLD, he uses the terms  IN-WORLD,  OUT-WORLD,  MID-WORLD,  END-WORLD, and the  BORDERLANDS. The term In-World refers to those baronies where (during Roland’s youth) the old civilized ways still held and where some of the old electrical machinery still worked. In-World was ruled by the elite  GUNSLINGERS from the walled city of  GILEAD, barony seat of New Canaan. The sigul of In-World was  ARTHUR ELD’s horse, Llamrei.


      The  GUNSLINGERs (led by Roland) made their final stand here, at the Battle of Jericho Hill. The east side of Jericho Hill was a shale-crumbly drop to the Clean Sea. Its western edge, known as the Hill of Stone Faces, was a long, sloping field filled with great gray-black sculptured visages. Roland’s horn, the  HORN OF ELD, was dropped on Jericho Hill by a dying Cuthbert. Roland never retrieved it


      A  MID-WORLD  greeting. The proper response is, "May you have twice the number."


      Maerlyn's Grapefruit played a large part in the novel Wizard and Glass. Like all of the seeing spheres of  MAERLYN'S RAINBOW, the Grapefruit is alive and hungry and likes to feed on the minds of those who use it. The Grapefruit's energy is sexual. Its magic allows the user to discover other people's secrets.


      There are thirteen glass balls in the Wizard's Rainbow, one for each  GUARDIAN  and one for the  DARK TOWER  itself. Some of these magic balls look into the future; others look into the past or into alternative realities. Still others (such as  BLACK THIRTEEN) can act as doorways into other worlds. All of the balls are alive and hungry. A person begins by using them, but in the end, he or she is used by them and sucked dry. The Wizard's Rainbow represents a corruption of the pure energy of the  WHITE. If the White represents wholeness, and the best human beings can strive for in ideal and action, then the debased colors of the rainbow represent the baser emotions, or the fallen drives of a fallen world. For example,  MAERLYN'S GRAPEFRUIT  resonates with sexual energy, but it is desire, possessiveness, and cruelty without the higher emotions that true love can instill in us.


      In  The Gunslinger, Roland pursues an elusive magician across the endless wastes of the Mohaine Desert. He refers to this man as the “man in black.” At the end of the novel, we discover that the man in black is none other than Roland’s arch nemesis, Walter O’Dim, also known as Marten Broadcloak and “R.F.”


      Mid-World is the name for Roland’s version of earth, but it is also the name of a region of that world. The general world regions that Roland refers to over the course of the Dark Tower novels are  IN-WORLD,  OUT-WORLD,  MID-WORLD, the  BORDERLANDS, and  END-WORLD. As a specific region, Mid-World’s ancient boundaries stretched from a marker near the edge of the Great West Woods to Mid-Forest, then on to Topeka. The city of Lud (which our tet travels through in The Waste Lands) was regional Mid-World’s largest urban center.

      In The Waste Lands, Roland drew a map of his version of earth, also called Mid-World. According to this map (which was metaphysical rather than literal), Mid-World resembled a clock face. Around its circumference were twelve Xs. Opposite Xs were connected by six lines which crossed at the clock face’s central nexus point. According to Roland, the twelve Xs represented the twelve animal  GUARDIAN  who protected the portals leading into and out of Mid-World. The lines represented the six magnetic  BEAMS  which were like invisible high-tension wires that simultaneously held all of the universes together and maintained the divisions between them. The nexus point in the center of the circle, where all the  BEAMS  cross, was the location of the  DARK TOWER  itself.


      This phrase is used throughout the Dark Tower series. It means that things have changed, and that the world is now profoundly different from what it once was. The change has not been for the better.


      Although the  GREAT OLD ONES  and their destructive culture disappeared many generations before the rise of  GILEAD, the poisons they left in soil, water, and air remained. By the time Roland was a young man,  MID-WORLD  was still full of genetically mutated beings that were commonly referred to as muties. The most horrific mutants of  MID-WORLD  are actually the  SLOW MUTANTs. These physically disgusting beings are descended from ordinary men and women, although they often bore little resemblance to their human forebears.


      Nineteen is the number which haunts our  KA-TET  throughout the last three books of the Dark Tower series.


      In  Wizard and Glass, we learned that, during Roland’s youth, geographical terms such as Out-World were more metaphorical than literal. To the  IN-WORLD  citizens of  GILEAD  (barony seat of New Canaan), those baronies located far from the hub of civilization were part of Out-World. They existed "out there," on the outer arc of human culture. In Wolves of the Calla, the same metaphorical use of terms applies, but the center, or hub, of the world changes. To the people of Calla Bryn Sturgis, the Callas of the  BORDERLANDS  form the hub of the known world. Hence, any people who travel to the  BORDERLANDS  from other parts of  MID-WORLD  are considered out-worlders.

    • ROONT

      In Calla Bryn Sturgis, as in the other Callas of the  BORDERLANDS, twins are the norm and singletons are rarities. Once a generation, the green-cloaked  WOLVES  sweep out of  THUNDERCLAP  to kidnap one of every pair of prepubescent twins. Most of the children are returned, but they are returned roont, or ruined. A roont child is a mentally handicapped child. Few of them can speak. Some cannot be toilet-trained. Roonts grow to prodigious size, but they die young. For roonts, both growing and dying are excruciatingly painful.

    • SKIN-MAN

      A skin-man is a shapeshifter. Unlike werewolves, which are human beings who turn into wolves every full moon, a skin-man is a human being who can change shape at will. In addition, a skin-man can transform into any type of creature, real or mythical. Because of this, a skin-man is both incredibly unpredictable and incredibly dangerous. In its human form, a skin-man looks like an ordinary mortal.


      Slow Mutants are mutants descended from human beings. Their ancestors were transformed by radiation poisoning. See  MUTANT.


      Remain true to your mission, your beliefs, etc.


      A starkblast is a storm of enormous proportions that sweeps over a landscape like a hurricane. During the first hour of a starkblast, the temperature can drop to forty limbits below zero and the gale force winds can snap trees like twigs. Ponds freeze in an instant, with a sound like bullets breaking window-panes. Birds turn to ice-statues in the sky and fall like rocks. Grass turns to glass. Unlike other storms, a starkblast is always preceded by unseasonably warm weather. The most reliable predictors of a starkblast are  BILLY-BUMBLERS, who scent the storm coming and so begin turning around in circles. Those who do not find shelter during a starkblast will inevitably die.


      Red-handed stuffy-guys, which can be found all over  MID-WORLD, are a staple of Reaptide festivities. In the days of  ARTHUR ELD, human beings were sacrificed during the autumn festival of  REAP. However, by Roland’s day stuffy-guys, or human effigies, were burned instead. In  MID-WORLD-that-was, stuffy-guys had heads made of straw and eyes made from white cross-stitched thread. Their arms held baskets of produce. In the  BORDERLANDS, their heads were often made of sharproot.


      This phrase is used throughout the Dark Tower series. It means that things have changed, and that the world is now profoundly different from what it once was. The change has not been for the better.


      Jake Chambers’ famous saying. In the final three books of the Dark Tower series, we learn just how true this statement is.


      What is meant to happen will happen.

    • THINNY

      Thinnies are places where the fabric of existence has almost entirely worn away. These cancerous "sores on the skin of existence" have increased in number since the  DARK TOWER  began to fail.


      Threaded stock is normal stock, or animals born without mutations.  MUTIES abound in  MID-WORLD, so threaded stock is extremely valuable. Threaded stock can be bred with other threaded stock to keep the bloodlines pure, but threaded stock can also be born from late-generation  MUTIES.


      In  Wizard and Glass  we learn that the fey realm of Thunderclap sits on the lip of  END-WORLD. In  Wolves of the Calla, we discover that the dark land of Thunderclap sits just east of the  BORDERLANDS, which in turn sit on the eastern edge of  MID-WORLD-that was. Thunderclap is the home of the  DEVAR-TOI, or Big Prison, where the  CRIMSON KING  keeps the psychic  BREAKERS. The Breakers (who are human) are forced to use their wild talents to erode the  BEAMS  so that the foundering  DARK TOWER  will collapse, causing the macroverse to blink out of existence.


      Although this term is from low speech, the concept is a very important one in  MID-WORLD. If a person has  the touch, he or she can read minds and/or see into the past and the future. It is similar to ESP and is half-empathy, half-telepathy.

    • WATCH ME

      A  MID-WORLD  card game. People usually place bets, so it can be rather dangerous. Players are often killed at Watch Me tables. The phrase "Watch Me" can mean "you have a deal."

    • WELL-MET

      We met, and that is important. Good has come from our meeting (implying an element of fate or  KA). "May we be well-met" means "let good come of this meeting."

    • WHEELS

      An archaic form of measurement still used throughout  MID-WORLD  and the  BORDERLANDS.

    • WHITE

      Although the concept of the White probably comes from High Speech, the actual word belongs to the common tongue. In our world, the White is an elemental force akin to faith and can mean faith in God or in a just universe. To the beleaguered inhabitants of  MID-WORLD  and the  BORDERLANDS, the White is the force of good and is the opposite of the Outer Dark—that force of chaos and destruction championed by the  CRIMSON KING.


      The term  Wolves  is the name that the Calla folken give to the green-cloaked predators who sweep out of  THUNDERCLAP  every generation to steal one of each pair of prepubescent twins born in the  BORDERLANDS. The Wolves ride gray horses and wear masks which look like the faces of snarling wolves, yet their bodies resemble those of giant men. As we find out at the end of Wolves of the Calla, the Wolves are actually robots.

High Speech

An Introduction to High Speech:  The words found in this glossary are from a language known as High Speech. High Speech (also called "The Tongue") was the ancient, ritualized language of Mid-World. Low speech—also called the common tongue or the vulgate—was the speech of everyday interaction, but High Speech was the language of gunslingers. It was also the language of ritual and magic.

Although not confined to the courts of Gilead, High Speech was primarily bound to the hierarchies and courtly codes of In-World. While the common tongue contained many fascinating terms and phrases, the spiked letters of High Speech carried the heart of Roland's culture. With the exception of the word  char (which always means “death”), each word in the Tongue had multiple meanings. These meanings were so complex and nuanced that they were (and are) difficult to define precisely.

Like other sacred languages, the words and phrases of High Speech imply an entire philosophy of life, and the speaking of it was ritualized. Gunslinger apprentices were not allowed to utter its words publicly until after they had won their guns. To do so before proving themselves in the yard behind the Great Hall was considered an affront to all that their culture held sacred. As was said earlier, High Speech was the language of gunslingers, but it was also the language used to address spirits, demons, and  dinhs.

    • AN-TET

      The term  tet  refers to people linked by the same destiny or goals.  An-tet  implies intimacy of all kinds. To speak an-tet to someone is to be completely honest and open, to share all. It also means to sit in council. Roland and his trailmates are both  KA-TET  and an-tet. An-tet can also imply sexual intimacy. In  Wizard and Glass, Roland refers to the first time he and Susan made love as the first time they were together  an-tet. A mere sexual encounter does not necessarily imply  an-tet.

    • ANTI-KA

      That force which works against one’s  KA, or destiny. It is a counterforce which tries to stop a person from fulfilling his or her life-mission. The anti-ka which works against Roland’s  KA-TET  was set in motion by the Crimson King.

    • AVEN KAL

      An aven kal is a kind of tidal wave that runs along the  PATH OF THE BEAM. Literally translated, aven kal means "lifted on the wind" or "carried on the wave." The use of  kal  rather than the more usual form  kas  implies a natural force of disastrous proportions, in other words, not a hurricane but a tsunami. In  LOW SPEECH, an  aven kal  is called a Beamquake.

    • AVEN-CAR

      A hunting term which refers to carrying the kill and preparing to make it into something else.


      WHITE  over Red, Thus God Wills Ever.” It also translates as “Good over evil, this is the will of God.”


      The can calah are angels.


      "All breath comes from the woman." Although mortal woman was made from the breath of mortal man, the first man came from the goddess, Lady Oriza.

    • CAN-TAH

      The term can-tah translates as “little god.” The can-tah found in the Dark Tower novels is a tiny scrimshaw turtle. Constant Readers have met the can-tah before, namely in Stephen King’s novel  Desperation. In  Desperation, the can-tah were tiny demonic sculptures depicting the  CAN-TOI—coyotes, snakes, etc.—that served Tak the Outsider. (Tak  is short for  can-tak, which means "big god.")

    • CAN-TOI

      Can-toi  is another term for the low men. The can-toi are rat-headed beings who wear humanoid masks. (The masks are grown and so are made of living latex.) Unlike the  TAHEEN, the can-toi worship the human form and believe that they are slowly transforming into humans themselves. They call this process "becoming."


      Roland uses the term  can-toi-tete  to refer to the desert dogs of Thunderclap.  Can-toi-tete  translates roughly as "little  CAN-TOI" or "tiny  CAN-TOI."

    • CANDA

      That distance (never the same in any two situations) which assures a pair of outnumbered  GUNSLINGERs will not be killed by a single shot.

    • CHAR

      Most words in High Speech have multiple meanings. However,  char  is an exception to this general rule.  Char  has one meaning only, and that is death.  Char  is the root of many  MID-WORLD  terms, including Big Charlie Wind and  CHARYOU TREE.


      As we all know, the High Speech term  char  means death. Hence, a chary man is one who courts death, brings death, or deals death. Think of him as the Grim Reaper’s deputy.

    • CHARY-KA

      This insult is thrown at Roland by one of the Crimson King’s  TAHEEN  just before Roland kills him. It most likely means somebody who is one of death’s ka-mates, or one whose  KA  is aligned with death. It may also imply that although the chary-ka is destined to deal death, he is also destined to suffer from death’s nasty sense of humor.


      Charyou Tree was the ritual bonfire made on the Festival of  REAP. In the days of  ARTHUR ELD, people were burned on this fire. By Roland’s day, STUFFY-GUYS were burned instead. The term Charyou-tree means “Come Reap.”


      Chussit,  Chissit,  Chassit are High Speech terms for the numbers seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen. They are used in the Baby Bunting Rhyme, one of  MID-WORLD’s childhood rhymes.


      Commala is a  MID-WORLD  term for rice. It is also an alternative name for the festival dance known as the Sowing Night Cotillion. The Commala is the courting rite of New Earth, a festival also known as Sowing and Fresh Commala.


      The coming of the little god. The little god is Mordred.

    • DAN-DINH

      The term  dan-dinh  has many meanings. To speak  dan-dinh  is to open your heart and your mind to another. This term also means Little Leader. The literal interpretation of this term is "May I open my heart to your command."

    • DAN-TETE

      (The second part of this word is pronounced  tee-tee.)  Dan-tete means "little savior" or "baby god."


      See  GAN; See also  DARK TOWER  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.


      In  The Gunslinger, we are told that Maerlyn (also known as the Ageless Stranger)  darkles  and  tincts. In other words, he lives backward in time and can live simultaneously in all times. In  The Dark Tower, we learn that the Crimson King also  darkles  and  tincts. At the very end of this final book of the Dark Tower series, we learn that Roland  darkles  and  tincts, too. Roland will not die but will go on forever, repeating his journey to the Tower over and over, until he learns the lessons that  KA  wishes him to learn.


      In High Speech, a dash-dinh is a religious leader.

    • DEH

      Pronunciation of the letter  D  in High Speech.

    • DELAH


    • DEVAR



      Little prison or torture chamber.


      Big prison. The  BREAKERS  of Thunderclap are kept in the Devar-Toi.

    • DIM

      Although technically not part of High Speech,  dim  is an important magical concept in  MID-WORLD.  Dim  has several meanings. Sorcerers and witches can make themselves dim, or difficult to see. When a person is  dim  he or she is not invisible, merely shadowy.  The dim  can also connote a feeling akin to déjà vu. When Susan Delgado meets with Roland she feels the dim, or the sense that she has met him before, and feels faint. When Henchick of the Manni was close to BLACK THIRTEEN, Maerlyn’s evil magic ball, he began to feel dim. In this latter case, dim implies going  TODASH, or slipping between worlds.

    • DINH

      A  dinh  is a leader or a king. It can also mean father, as in "father of his people.” Roland is the dinh of his  KA-TET.


      The  PRIM, or magical soup of creation from which all realities arose. For  CASTLE DISCORDIA, see  DISCORDIA  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary

    • DOGAN

      See  DOGAN  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.

    • FAN-GON

      The exiled one. This term is used to describe Eddie Dean when he returns to New Yorkvia the Unfound Door


      This is actually a gesture much like bowing. To be polite to a new  MID-WORLD  acquaintance, you should raise your fist to your forehead and (if you want to be extra polite) bow over your bended leg.

    • GAN

      The god Gan is the animating spirit of the  DARK TOWER, and he is the deity most closely associated with the  WHITE. Although the Tower appears to be made of stone and glass, it is actually a huge living body. Just as the ancient myths of  MID-WORLD  maintain that the world spun out of Gan’s navel, so both the  BEAMS  and the red roses of Can’-ka no rey spun out from the Tower. Together, Tower,  BEAMS, and roses form a living, singing force field which sits at the heart of  END-WORLD, and it is toward this energy field that Roland, the last of the line of Eld, is inevitably drawn.

    • GILEAD

      Gilead was Roland’s home city. It was located in the Barony of New Canaan and was destroyed by Farson’s hordes when Roland was a young man. The name GILEAD is the same in both High and  LOW SPEECH.


      Technically, the word  glammer  is from  LOW SPEECH. However it represents a very important concept in High Speech, and that is magic or enchantment. Glammer has its own rules. Unfortunately, we mere mortals rarely comprehend them.

    • GRAF

      An apple beer that seems to be a specialty of  MID-WORLD.




      All of one’s worldly possessions. In the case of a traveler, it is what he or she carries.



    • HILE

      A formal  MID-WORLD  greeting. This term is also used to call animals.

    • HODJI

      Hodji means both "dim" and "hood." In the southern provinces of  MID-WORLD, Walter O’Dim was known as Walter Hodji. He was given this nickname for two reasons—first for the hooded cloak he often wore and second for his ability to make himself DIM so that he could move unnoticed.


      See  HORN OF ELD  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.

    • HOWKEN

      The act (and art) of hypnotizing someone, usually using a bullet as a focusing point. In the 2003 version of  The Gunslinger, Roland twirls a bullet howken to hypnotize Jake.

    • JILLY

      Concubine or mistress.

    • JIN-JIN

      Quickly. As in "Get me a piece of chalk and do it jin-jin."

    • KA

      Like many words in High Speech,  ka  has multiple meanings and so is difficult to define precisely. It signifies life force, consciousness, duty, and destiny. In the vulgate, or  LOW SPEECH, it also means a place to which an individual must go. The closest terms in our language are probably  fate  and  destiny, although ka also implies karma, or the accumulated destiny (and accumulated debt) of many existences. We are the servants of ka, but we are also its prisoners. Ka’s one purpose is to turn, and we turn with it, albeit sometimes under different names and in different bodies. In  The Dark Tower (Book VII of the Dark Tower series) ka is compared to a train hurtling forward, one which may not be sane.

    • KA'S BOOK

      The Book of Destiny.


      Young  KA-TET  mates. In the 2003 version of  The Gunslinger, Cort warns Roland that if he takes his test of manhood and fails, he may never see his father, mother, or ka-babbies again.

    • KA-DINH

      Oy believes that Jake is his ka-dinh, or the leader he is bound to by fate.

    • KA-MAI (KA-MAIS)

      KA’s fool, or destiny’s fool. Ka-mais are often miraculously saved by chance or luck—or at least until  KA  tires of their antics and swats them out of the world. Although ka-mais are usually jokers, they often have insights that more serious folk could not or would not grasp on their own.

    • KA-MATES

      Your ka-mates are those people whose fates (or destinies) are entwined with your own. It is another term for the members of your  KA-TET.

    • KA-ME

      Wisely. It is the opposite of  KA-MAI, which means foolishly.

    • KA-SHUME

      This rue-laden term does not have an exact translation. It describes the dark emotion a person feels when a break in his or her  KA-TET  looms.  KA-TETs can only be broken by death or betrayal. Some argue, however, that these things are also aspects of  KA. If this is the case, then ka-shume implies a sense of approaching disaster involving the members of a  KA-TET. Ka-shume is the price paid for attempting to change or divert  KA.

    • KA-TEL

      A  ka-tel  is a class of apprentice  GUNSLINGERs. Roland was the youngest of his  ka-tel, yet he was the first to win his guns.

    • KA-TET

      Ka-tet  means "one made from many."  Ka  refers to destiny;  tet  refers to a group of people with the same interests or goals. Ka-tet is the place where men’s lives are joined by fate. Ka-tet cannot be changed or bent to any individual’s will, but it can be seen, known, and understood. The philosophers of  GILEAD  stated that the bonds of ka-tet could be broken only by death or treachery. However, Roland’s teacher Cort maintained that neither death nor treachery were strong enough to break the bonds of ka-tet, since these events are also tied to  KA, or fate. Each member of a ka-tet is a piece of a puzzle. Each individual piece is a mystery, but when put together, the collective pieces form a greater picture. It takes many interwoven ka-tets to weave a historical tapestry. Ka-tets overlap, often sharing members. A ka-tet is not always bound by love, affection, or friendship. Enemies are also ka-tet. Although usually referred to as positive or at least inevitable, the forces of  KA and ka-tet can sometimes cast a sinister shadow over our lives.

    • KAMMEN

      The  TODASH  chimes, or the bells that you hear when you travel via  TODASH.

    • KAS-KA GAN

      Prophets of  GAN  or singers of  GAN. All artists—whether they are writers, painters, sculptors, poets, or composers—are  kas-ka Gan.

    • KAVEN

      The persistence of magic. The greater the magic, the longer it persists.

    • KES

      Pronounced like  kiss. A person’s kes is linked to his or her vitality. Even the  BEAMS  have kes.

    • KHEF

      Literally speaking,  khef  means "the sharing of water." It also implies birth, life force, and all that is essential to existence. Khef can only be shared by those whom destiny has welded together for good or ill—in other words, by those who are  KA-TET.

      Khef is both individual and collective. It implies the knowledge a person gains from dream-life as well as his or her life force. Khef is the web that binds a  KA-TET. Those who share khef share thoughts. Their destinies are linked, as are their life forces. Behind the multiple meanings of this word lies a philosophy of interconnectedness, a sense that all individuals, all events, are part of a greater pattern or plan.

    • MA'SUN

      A war chest. Roland uses this word to describe the cave in STEEK-TETE where Ted Brautigan, Sheemie Ruiz, and Dinky Earnshaw have stored weapons for his  KA-TET.

    • MIA



      See  MID-WORLD  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.

    • MIM

      Mother Earth.

    • NA'AR

      The Manni term for Hell.

    • OLD ONES


      In some parts of  MID-WORLD, Lady Oriza is considered to be a mythical heroine. However, in the  BORDERLANDS, she is the pagan goddess of the rice. (An oriza is a seedling rice plant.) According to local folklore, Oriza gave birth to the first man, and from this man's breath came the first woman. To honor Oriza's part in the creation of the human race, the old folks of the Calla still say, "Can-ah, can-tah, annah Oriza," which translates as, "All breath comes from the woman." According to another old tale, Lady Oriza's father, Lord Grenfall, was murdered by the infamous harrier Gray Dick. In revenge, Lady Oriza threw a specially sharpened plate at her father's killer, cutting off his head. A female society called the Sisters of Oriza was formed in honor of Lady Oriza's triumph. These women specialize in throwing the deadly weapons known as Orizas. The titanium Orizas have a whistle underneath them so that they hum as they fly. They are decorated with fine blue webbing that resembles seedling rice plants. On the edge of each plate (near the thick part of the rim that is safe to grip) two of the rice stalks cross, forming the great letter  Zn, which means both "here" and "now."


      See  OUT-WORLD  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.

    • POL-KAM

      The  pol-kam  is a dance, faster and lighter than a waltz, danced in the Great Hall of  GILEAD.

    • PRIM

      The Prim is the original magical  DISCORDIA, or soup of creation, from which the Multiverse arose.


      In High Speech, prophecy is the information a person gains by having intercourse with a supernatural being. The term does not necessarily imply sexual intercourse, although, as we saw in  The Gunslinger, many demons will not give prophecy unless a sexual price is paid. Prophecy is, as its name implies, prophetic. It describes events—in the distant future, a distant past, or in a distant place—which the seeker could learn about in no other manner. To seek prophecy is dangerous and should not be embarked upon lightly.

    • REAP

      Reap is both the season and the festival of harvest. In the days of  ARTHUR ELD  it was celebrated with human sacrifice, but by the time Roland was born, Stuffy-Guys were thrown onto Reap bonfires instead of people. During the season of Reap, people decorate their houses, and their stuffy-guys, with Reap charms. Reap charms can also be painted on the body or worn like pendants. Although it is followed by the Year’s End festival, Reap is the true closing of the year.

    • ROONT

      See  ROONT  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.

    • SAI

      Although used in  LOW SPEECH,  sai  appears to be a form of address that originated in High Speech.  Sai  is a term of respect and can be roughly translated as "sir" or "madam."


      Seppe-sai was the name Roland’s mother gave to the pie seller in the low-town of  GILEAD. It meant death-seller. During the heat of summer, his pies often became poisonous.

    • SH'VEEN

      A jilly, or mistress.

    • SIGUL

      A sigul is a sign, symbol, or insignia which is secret but full of meaning. It often has religious, political, or magical significance. John Farson’s sigul is the same as that of the Crimson King – a staring red eye.

    • SILL

      To desire or to yearn. If used patronizingly, it means that you long for something childish.

    • SKIN-MAN

      See  SKIN-MAN  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.


      See  SLOW MUTANTS  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.


      See  STARKBLAST  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.

    • TAHEEN

      The taheen are creatures that belong neither to the natural (physical) world nor to the magical  PRIM. According to Roland, they are misbegotten creatures from somewhere between the two. The taheen have the bodies of men but the heads of beasts. They are also known as the third people or the  CAN-TOI. The  CAN-TOI  (or low men) are rat-headed taheen that believe they are becoming human.


      This term means to gossip about someone you shouldn’t gossip about.

    • TET

      A group of people with the same interests and goals.  Tet  is often joined with other terms, such as in the words  KA-TETtet-ka Gan, etc.

    • TET-KA GAN

      The navel. When babies were born in the  IN-WORLD  baronies, the umbilical cord was cut and a cedar clip was placed just above the newborn’s tet-ka Gan, or navel. The clip would be wrapped in blue silk if the baby was a boy, or pink if the baby was a girl.


      Thankee sai is the polite term for thank you. Its equivalent is "thank you, sir," or "thank you, madam."


      This is an old term for a  BILLY-BUMBLER. (See  BILLY-BUMBLER  in the  LOW SPEECH Glossary.)

    • TODANA

      The term  todana  is a variation of the word  TODASH.  Todana  means "death-bag." People with the touch, or psychic perception, can perceive todannas around those who are close to death or who are destined to die in the near future.

    • TODASH

      Todash is the monster-filled void that exists between worlds.  THINNIES  are thin places where todash leaks through to our world.


      The holes in reality.

    • TRIG

      Clever.  Trig  implies craftiness, and can also imply untrustworthiness.


      Extremely clever.

    • TWIM

      This means "two." It can also refer to a twin.

    • URS-KA GAN

      The Song of the Bear.  Urs-A-Ka Gan  means the scream of the Bear.

    • VES'-KA GAN

      The Song of the Turtle.

    • Zn

      The Great Letter  Zn  stands for both "eternity" and "now," but it also means "come," as in  come-commala. The green rice tendrils which decorate the ornate plates thrown in honor of Lady ORIZA take the shape of this letter.

This is just an excerpt of some of the terms from The Dark Tower Series. A more-complete list of all the terms in the series (except The Wind Through the Keyhole) can be found in the revised edition of Robin Furth's Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance.