"A Wrinkle in Time," Vocabulary from Chapters 7-9 25 words

Madeline L'Engel's perennial favorite "A Wrinkle in Time" begins the adventures of the extremely smart Murry children across space and time to track down their father.

Learn this word list that focuses on strangeness. Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-9, Chapters 10-12
  1. bilious
    irritable as if suffering from indigestion
    The green of the marble reflecting on their faces made them look bilious.
  2. wary
    marked by keen caution and watchful prudence
    "Wary" also means "openly distrustful and unwilling to confide"--both definitions fit the situation, because the risk of being reprocessed makes the man cautious about stepping out of line, and the questions make the man distrustful of the children's intentions. With nothing to hide or confide, the man is not completely unwilling to talk, but to protect himself, he decides to report the children.
    The man looked at the children warily.
  3. remote
    located far away spatially
    His voice sounded old and strange and remote.
  4. recourse
    act of turning to for assistance
    “Now, my dears,” the words continued, “I shall of course have no need of recourse to violence, but I thought perhaps it would save you pain if I showed you at once that it would do you no good to try to oppose me.
  5. insistent
    repetitive and persistent
    "Insistent" also means "demanding attention"--both definitions fit the multiplication table, which is repetitively rhythmic to help young children memorize it, but IT is now reciting the numbers in order to focus the attention of the children and take away all of their independent thought.
    The number words pounded insistently against Meg’s brain.
  6. obliquely
    to, toward or at one side
    She tried looking at the mouth, at the thin, almost colorless lips, and this was more possible, even though she had to look obliquely, so that she was not sure exactly what the face really looked like, whether it was young or old, cruel or kind, human or alien.
  7. diverting
    providing enjoyment; pleasantly entertaining
    It’s lucky for you that you amuse me, my dear, or I shouldn’t be so easy on you. The boys I find not nearly so diverting.
  8. synthetic
    not of natural origin; prepared or made artificially
    “Of course our food, being synthetic, is not superior to your messes of beans and bacon and so forth, but I assure you that it’s far more nourishing, and though it has no taste of its own, a slight conditioning is all that is necessary to give you the illusion that you are eating a roast turkey dinner.”
  9. bland
    lacking stimulating characteristics; uninteresting
    "Bland" here is a synonym of "opaque" ("not transmitting light") and "vacant" ("void of thought or knowledge"), which are used in these descriptions: "The pupils grew smaller and smaller, as though he were looking into an intensely bright light, until they seemed to close entirely, until his eyes were nothing but an opaque blue" and "Charles Wallace stopped and turned slowly to look at Calvin with his cold, vacant eyes."
    He seemed to be looking directly at Calvin as he spoke, and yet Meg was sure that the bland blue eyes could not see, and that someone, something else was looking at Calvin through Charles.
  10. connotation
    an idea that is implied or suggested
    The Prime Coordinator does not like the negative connotation that Calvin has for the word "hypnotized"--according to IT, "for you, as well as for the rest of all the happy, useful people on this planet, I, in my own strength, am willing to assume all the pain, all the responsibility, all the burdens of thought and decision."
    “But you’re being spoken through, aren’t you, just like Charles Wallace? Are you hypnotized, too?”
    “I told you that was too primitive a word, without the correct connotations.”
  11. swivet
    a panic or extreme discomposure
    “I’ve been in such a swivet—It may not do any good, but at least I can try.”
  12. marionette
    a small figure of a person operated from above with strings by a puppeteer
    Then his whole body twirled wildly, and went rigid. He started his marionette’s walk again.
  13. pedantic
    marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning especially its trivial aspects
    His voice took on the dry, pedantic tones of Mr. Jenkins.
  14. annihilate
    kill in large numbers
    It is so much kinder simply to annihilate anyone who is ill.
  15. endure
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    Rather than endure such discomfort they are simply put to sleep.”
  16. ominous
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    There was something ominous to Meg in the very compactness of the room, as though the walls, the ceiling, the floor might move together and crush anybody rash enough to enter.
  17. sinister
    stemming from evil characteristics or forces; wicked or dishonorable
    Then Charles Wallace giggled, a giggle that was the most sinister sound Meg had ever heard.
  18. monotonous
    sounded or spoken in a tone unvarying in pitch
    Charles Wallace’s strange, monotonous voice ground against her ears.
  19. efficient
    being effective without wasting time or effort or expense
    And that’s why everybody’s so happy and efficient.
  20. deviate
    cause to turn away from a previous or expected course
    “Yes. Every once in a while there’s a little trouble with cooperation, but it’s easily taken care of. After today he’ll never desire to deviate again.
  21. placidly
    in a quiet and tranquil manner
    Normally, Charles has a placid personality, which is strange for a five-year-old. Here, his placidity is strange because he can read and brighten his sister's moods, but under the spell of IT, he doesn't care that Meg is upset and pleading to see their father.
    “Charles!” Meg pleaded. “Let me in to Father!”
    “Why?” Charles asked placidly.
  22. distort
    twist and press out of shape
    She looked out of the column, and there was Charles Wallace in the cell, an alien expression distorting his face.
  23. insolent
    marked by casual disrespect
    “Hi, Pop,” came an insolent voice.
  24. repellent
    highly offensive; arousing aversion or disgust
    IT was the most horrible, the most repellent thing she had ever seen, far more nauseating than anything she had ever imagined with her conscious mind, or that had ever tormented her in her most terrible nightmares.
  25. miasma
    unhealthy vapors rising from the ground or other sources
    For everywhere she looked, everywhere she turned, was the rhythm, and as it continued to control the systole and diastole of her heart, the intake and outlet of her breath, the red miasma began to creep before her eyes again, and she was afraid that she was going to lose consciousness, and if she did that she would be completely in the power of IT.