"A Wrinkle in Time," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-3

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 stormy winds and moods. Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-9, Chapters 10-12

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. frenzied
    affected with or marked by mania uncontrolled by reason
    In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind.
    "Lashing" is a "beating with a whip or strap or rope as a form of punishment"--this word and definition almost personifies the wind, which is supported by Charles Wallace's observation that "if I concentrate very hard I can understand the wind talking with the trees." But to Margaret (Meg), the wind is scary because it is a frenzied force lacking reason; worse, it seems to echo the direction of her own life and emotions.
  2. frantically
    in an uncontrolled manner
    Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky.
  3. scorn
    look down on with disdain
    During lunch she’d rough-housed a little to try to make herself feel better, and one of the girls said scornfully, “After all, Meg, we aren’t grammar-school kids anymore.
  4. savagely
    in a vicious manner
    —You asked to have the attic bedroom, she told herself savagely.—Mother let you have it because you’re the oldest.
  5. crevice
    a long narrow opening
    Wind blew in the crevices about the window frame, in spite of the protection the storm sash was supposed to offer.
  6. fury
    a feeling of intense anger
    Meg would turn white with fury when people looked at him and clucked, shaking their heads sadly.
    "Fury" also has the "property of being wild or turbulent"--this would fit the nature of a high school teenager who's unhappy with the way she looks, upset that she is in danger of being left back in school, tearful because her father is missing, and willing to let her anger take on an older and heavier boy in a fight that results in her having a torn blouse and big bruise under one eye.
  7. batter
    strike violently and repeatedly
    The furnace purred like a great, sleepy animal; the lights glowed with steady radiance; outside, alone in the dark, the wind still battered against the house, but the angry power that had frightened Meg while she was alone in the attic was subdued by the familiar comfort of the kitchen.
  8. sullen
    showing a brooding ill humor
    Meg looked up at her mother, half in loving admiration, half in sullen resentment.
  9. moderation
    the quality of avoiding extremes
    “You don’t know the meaning of moderation, do you, my darling?”
  10. shrill
    having or emitting a high-pitched and sharp tone or tones
    “I’ll go with you.” Meg’s voice was shrill.
    The physical quality of Meg's voice at this moment is close to wailing. "Shrill" also means "being sharply insistent on being heard"--while Mrs. Murry hears Meg's protests, she is still going out in the storm to see what their dog is growling about. This makes Meg shrilly insist on going with her mom, because she doesn't want to end up losing another parent.
  11. indignant
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    “You peeked!” Charles cried indignantly. “We’re saving that for Mother’s birthday and you can’t have any!”
  12. severe
    unsparing and uncompromising in discipline or judgment
    “Mrs Whatsit,” Charles Wallace demanded severely, “why did you take Mrs. Buncombe’s sheets?”
  13. sulky
    sullen or moody
    Meg looked sulkily down at the floor. “Nothing, Mr. Jenkins.”
  14. ferocious
    marked by extreme and violent energy
    Meg bared her teeth to reveal the two ferocious lines of braces.
    "Ferocious" is not an adjective often used to describe braces, especially since braces are meant to straighten teeth to make them pretty instead of sharpening them to make them dangerous. The ferocity of the braces comes less from the barbed lines of wires and more from the way Meg is deliberately using them to reveal her anger at the principal's questioning of her father's occupation and whereabouts.
  15. bellow
    shout loudly and without restraint
    “Stop bellowing,” Mr. Jenkins said sharply.
  16. belligerent
    characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight
    “Do you enjoy being the most belligerent, uncooperative child in school?”
  17. antagonistic
    incapable of harmonious association
    Try to be a little less antagonistic.
  18. tractable
    easily managed
    Maybe your work would improve if your general attitude were more tractable.”
  19. stifled
    held in check with difficulty
    Meg let out a stifled shriek.
  20. peremptory
    putting an end to all debate or action
    But Charles Wallace held up his hand in a peremptory gesture.
    "Peremptory" also means "offensively self-assured or exercising unwarranted power"--this could describe the nature of a five-year-old boy who both interrupts an adult while she's speaking and scolds her for stealing without consulting him first. But Charles Wallace's age actually makes him seem less offensive and his "uncanny way of knowing" gives him a powerful assurance that is scarily unusual.
  21. assimilate
    take up mentally
    I need fuel so I can sort things out and assimilate them properly.”
  22. clench
    squeeze together tightly
    He clenched his fists. “But I love her. That’s the funny part of it. I love them all, and they don’t give a hoot about me.
  23. morass
    a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot
    “I guess so,” Meg said, but her happiness had fled and she was back in a morass of anger and resentment.
  24. plaintive
    expressing sorrow
    “My, but I wish there were no wind,” Mrs Whatsit said plaintively.
  25. grievous
    causing or marked by grief or anguish
    What grievous pain a little fault doth give thee!”

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