"A Wrinkle in Time," Vocabulary from Chapters 4-6

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 darkness and light. 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. extinguish
    put out, as of fires, flames, or lights
    Did a shadow fall across the moon or did the moon simply go out, extinguished as abruptly and completely as a candle?
    "Extinguish" also means "put an end to; kill"--although the example sentence is using the word to describe the darkness that might have come from the extinguishing of the moon, this other definition could fit how Meg thinks about what is happening to her, as she loses her grips on light, sound, and feeling.
  2. corporeal
    having material or physical form or substance
    The corporeal Meg simply was not.
  3. tangible
    perceptible by the senses especially the sense of touch
    Darkness has a tangible quality; it can be moved through and felt; in darkness you can bark your shins; the world of things still exists around you.
  4. void
    the state of nonexistence
    She was lost in a horrifying void.
  5. inexorable
    impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, reason
    And this feeling of moving with the earth was somewhat like the feeling of being in the ocean, out in the ocean beyond this rising and falling of the breakers, lying on the moving water, pulsing gently with the swells, and feeling the gentle, inexorable tug of the moon.
  6. ineffable
    defying expression or description
    There was an air of such ineffable peace and joy all around her that her heart’s wild thumping slowed.
  7. shimmer
    a weak and tremulous light
    Suddenly the three of them were there, Mrs Whatsit with her pink stole askew; Mrs Who with her spectacles gleaming; and Mrs Which still little more than a shimmer.
  8. ephemeral
    lasting a very short time
    For some reason Meg felt that Mrs Which, despite her looks and ephemeral broomstick, was someone in whom one could put complete trust.
  9. earnestly
    in a serious manner
    “Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything,” Mrs Whatsit explained earnestly.
  10. radiant
    emanating or as if emanating light
    Then she smiled her radiant smile.
  11. apprehension
    fearful expectation or anticipation
    “Sshoww themm,” she said to Mrs Whatsit, and at something in her voice Meg felt prickles of apprehension.
    "Apprehension" also means "the cognitive condition of someone who understands"--this would not fit Meg's feelings in the example sentence, but it describes the state that Meg will be in after Mrs Whatsit transforms into a beautiful creature that takes them on a journey through the air.
  12. exaltation
    a state of being carried away by overwhelming emotion
    She was a marble white body with powerful flanks, something like a horse but at the same time completely unlike a horse, for from the magnificently modeled back sprang a nobly formed torso, arms, and a head resembling a man’s, but a man with a perfection of dignity and virtue, an exaltation of joy such as Meg had never before seen.
    "Exaltation" also means "the elevation of a person, as to the status of a god"--Calvin would agree with this definition because, while Meg is overwhelmed by the joy she sees, he falls to his knees in front of the transformed Mrs Whatsit. But Mrs Whatsit would disagree because she recognizes the existence of God, so she tells Calvin to stand up.
  13. resonance
    having the character of a loud deep sound
    The resonant voice rose and the words seemed to be all around them so that Meg felt that she could almost reach out and touch them: “Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.
  14. obscure
    make less visible or unclear
    “The atmosphere is so thin here,” Mrs Whatsit said as though in answer to her unasked question, “that it does not obscure your vision as it would at home.
  15. disperse
    cause to separate
    It had not lessened or dispersed with the coming of night.
  16. incapable
    lacking ability
    It was as though the shadow had somehow reached out with its dark power and touched them so that they were incapable of speech.
  17. despair
    abandon hope; lose heart
    “My child, do not despair.
  18. perturbed
    thrown into a state of agitated confusion
    Charles Wallace accepted the explanation serenely. Even Calvin did not seem perturbed.
    "Perturbed" is an antonym of "serene" ("not agitated; without losing self-possession")--but in these two sentences, the unperturbed Calvin is ranked as slightly less self-possessed as the serene Charles Wallace, and they both stand in contrast to Meg, who sighs sadly at her inability to understand how people can save time by traveling across wrinkles in time.
  19. illuminating
    tending to increase knowledge or dissipate ignorance
    For a brief, illuminating second Meg’s face had the listening, probing expression that was so often seen on Charles’s.
    "Illuminate" means "make lighter or brighter"--similar to the next example sentence, where comprehension is connected to light rather than darkness, here Meg's understanding is connected to a brightness in her face and an excited happiness in her actions.
  20. comprehend
    get the meaning of something
    “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
  21. seethe
    be in an agitated emotional state
    The Darkness seemed to seethe and writhe.
  22. dwindle
    become smaller or lose substance
    Then, slowly, the shining dwindled until it, too, was gone, and there was nothing but stars and starlight.
  23. clarify
    make clear and comprehensible
    The globe became hazy, cloudy, then shadows began to solidify, to clarify, and they were looking into an untidy kitchen with a sink full of unwashed dishes.
  24. malignant
    dangerous to health
    The coldness deepened and swirled all about her and through her, and was filled with a new and strange kind of darkness that was a completely tangible thing, a thing that wanted to eat and digest her like some enormous malignant beast of prey.
  25. propitious
    presenting favorable circumstances
    You will just have to wait until the propitious moment.”

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